Monthly Archives

July 2018

‘Disagreement Doesn’t Equal Divorce’, Why Successful Couples Remember This

Marriage, Relationship Difficulties

Couples don’t always agree, and that’s okay. Sometimes there are big arguments, and lots of respectful discussions, some compromise, and time to think about things afresh. But in any successful relationship where there is mutual love and respect, people will have disagreements. We don’t need to have the same opinion all the time, and remembering this is good. 

I need to start this by saying that I know there are many couples out there who are facing really big arguments. They’re feeling overwhelmed and may need outside help, like couples counselling to get through it.

But there are people who worry that every small disagreement will result in divorce or breaking-up. This belief isn’t correct and can cause problems.

I Always Used To Worry 

I was having dinner with some friends, and most of us were fairly recently married. We were talking about the advice we would like to give our ‘unmarried selves’ if we could travel back in time.

One of my friends said ‘I would tell myself that disagreement doesn’t equal divorce. I thought if we disagreed, even over something small, there was a problem. But I have learned to see it as a healthy thing.’

My wife and I still don’t see eye to eye on everything

This comment reminded me about an important relationship dynamic.

My wife and I do agree on the things we feel are important to us, like faith, the importance of friends and family, and values, for example. We wouldn’t be married otherwise. However, my wife and I still don’t see eye to eye on everything.

My Wife and I Disagree

Let me put it like this; we disagree on how to decorate our home. Our interior design ideas aren’t a million miles away from each other, but there are disagreements. Sometimes this results in compromise, sometimes one of us needs to let our idea go. (Read Why Compromise Can Sometimes Be The Worst Decision)

I could also say that we have different views on how to play sports with friends. I want to go all out, everyone tries their best, and some win and some lose, (I lose more than I care to admit). She wants it to be a bit more fun and less competitive. This has caused some problems, and we both seem unable to back down on this point.

We sometimes see things differently

When we read the Bible together, we don’t always agree. Thankfully, we often do on the ‘big’ issues, but we don’t always on every individual passage. We sometimes see things differently.

These examples, as well as others, can cause some tension. But disagreeing well, and not letting it become an argument as much as possible, is healthy.

Why Is Disagreeing Healthy? 

Just to make it clear and say again, I’m not talking about arguments where hurtful and unhelpful things are said. (Read How To Have A Good Argument) But learning to appreciate disagreements can be good because it shows:

  • An appreciation that no relationship is easy
  • You feel safe sharing your opinion
  • You respect each other.

No Relationship Is Easy

No romantic relationship, no friendship, no family relationship, no work relationship, or any relationship, is always easy. There are times when you feel let down, get annoyed at each other, and don’t get on.

If we tried to stop all disagreements, then we would just be trying to get people to do what we want, or be forcing them to agree with us all the time. That isn’t the sign of a healthy relationship, but signals control or fear.

Realising there will be disagreements signals that we accept relationships aren’t always easy and take a bit of work. People are different, and no long-lasting couples experience smooth sailing all the time.

You Feel Safe Sharing Your Opinion

If people share their opinion and feelings with you, it means they trust you enough to do it.

In romantic relationships, trust is so important. When we feel scared or unable to share, then there’s a problem. It may be that we fear a disagreement will lead to a break-up. But if you trust each other and know you’re willing to keep putting the work in, you will feel safe to share, even if you disagree.

You Respect Each Other 

It’s easy to get on with people who agree with you. It’s easy to have a good time with someone that says ‘yes’ to all the things you say. But it’s hard when people disagree with you, unless there is mutual respect.

Our aim can’t be to forget these differences, but to respect each other

In dating relationships, and even more so in marriage, you will see eye to eye on lots of things and enjoy spending time together. It’s the reason why you’re a couple. But you’re still two different people, with different personalities, and different views.

Our aim can’t be to forget these differences, but to respect each other, even when there is a disagreement. Respect means that disagreements will not lead to disaster because you’re drawn to each other and appreciate each other because of who you are. It’s not just because you always agree or never argue. (Read After Your Arguments, You Don’t Walk Out)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we remembered that disagreements don’t mean disaster or divorce. Remembering that relationships aren’t easy but take work, feeling safe, and having mutual respect, means that disagreements can be put into the right perspective without them evolving into a big argument or fear.

Do you think disagreements are a good thing? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 30/7/2018

Can We Really Trust What Our Culture Says About Relationships?

Healthy Relationship Rhythms, What The Bible Says

One way or another, we’re often taught that dating, marriage, and romance, is all about ‘me’. I need to make myself happy and find someone who ticks all my boxes and meets my needs. But this self-centered attitude often leads to unfulfilling relationships, because great relationships involve two people giving all they can for the sake of the other person. 

I was watching a new TV drama the other day, and the characters that were dating and their dating dynamics really caught my eye (unsurprisingly). The show was about this family, and one of the sub-plots involved the daughter finding a new boyfriend, and him meeting the family members.

She was keen to introduce him to everyone, and get him involved with everything. He was more reserved, quiet, and wanted them to just do things on their own. He wanted it on his terms, she wanted things on hers.

No matter which fictional character you agree with, I was struck by how they both had an idea or preference, and just expected the other one to do it their way. They were very uncompromising and only thinking of their own perspective.


I’m always disappointed when I see this attitude of selfishness, in real life or on TV.

Deep down, I think we all want a romantic relationship where we feel we can rely on each other, be vulnerable, and stick together no matter what. Selfishness doesn’t lead to this. Good relationships can only come from being selfless and keeping the other person’s needs in mind, and not just our own.

In a consumer culture, we need to remember that people are not ‘things’

In a consumer culture, we need to remember that people aren’t ‘things’, and strong happy relationships aren’t just ordered from an app.

Our culture says only think about number one, but people in happy relationships realise this isn’t how it works. (Read Quick Guide: Discover What All Good Dating Relationship Have In Common)

(The following extract is taken from page 82-83 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Every man [and woman] must decide whether they will walk in the creative light of altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness . . . Life’s persistent and most urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’
(Martin Luther King Jr)


In the last chapter [of the book], we introduced the idea that Christian dating (like every type of relationship we’re in) is defined by selflessness. In fact, we can date in a God-glorifying way only when we put our girl/boyfriend first.

This doesn’t only turn everything our culture says about romance on its head; it turns everything ancient culture has said about marriage on its head too!

Biblical Principle

Paul’s comments about marriage were set against the status quo of the day, when women were seen as second-class citizens. But as he wanted to make marriages stronger, so he challenged couples to see each other through God’s eyes.

The idea that both the husband and wife should consider each other’s needs and serve each other must have raised a few eyebrows (check out 1 Corinthians 7:1–6). The real game changer was Paul instructing the husband to love his wife ‘just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’ (see Ephesians 5:25–33).

These passages don’t surprise us today because we expect people to treat each other well in marriages, but Paul is asking for a lot more than for spouses to tolerate each other. He’s asking them to out-do each other in selflessness.

Who can give more? Who can show more sacrificial love? It’s like a competition! This radical attitude will not only bless their relationship, but it will also be a stunning witness to the ultimate self-giving love of Christ.

Counter Culture 

Dating built on this understanding of selflessness is bound to create revolutionary relationships. Dating someone who is as committed as you are to demonstrating this kind of love carries the potential for an incredible relationship.

Paul would encourage you to seek selflessness, and then seek it again and again and again.

It seems like a very high hope for a new dating relationship, doesn’t it? It doesn’t happen overnight. Over time, small seeds of selfless acts grow into something beautiful and strong that will lay the foundations for a good, God-focused relationship and potential marriage. (Read Why Esther’s Story Should Still Impact Our Relationships)

In a world that says think about your needs only, we can realise that this advice will only lead to disappointment.

Reflect on dating couples you know who look happy, whom you admire and who seem to be building towards marriage. At the heart of their relationship will be a commitment to take selflessness seriously.

Searching for people who want this too, and dating in a way that is selfless, will help us explore God’s hopes for our relationships – and we’ll experience the rewards of doing things his way.

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we questioned the messages we heard more from our society. In a world that says think about your needs only, we can realise that this advice will only lead to disappointment. Long lasting and fulfilling relationships involve sacrifice,  patience,  and compromise.

When both people are being selfless, it will help us build the romantic relationship we really want.

Do you think selflessness is a better way? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 23/7/2018

Revealed: The Best Way To Build Better Friendships, In Half The Time?!


In a society where loneliness is on the rise and technology can sometimes hinder authentic human interaction, the importance of friendships needs to be shouted about more. But how do you improve friendships, or build one, in a way that doesn’t feel forced in amongst the busyness of life? Well this great tip should help us as we pursue real and worthwhile friendships.  

Do you ever have one of those eureka moments?

Where you pause and think that is genius and yet so simple?

Those times when you think you kind of knew that already, but could never put it into words?

Well, one of these moments happened to me when I was chatting with a friend recently. We were talking about work. He asked me how Naked Truth Relationships was going, and then I asked him about this relatively new job.

He was talking about how he is trying to make the team more social. Like getting them to go out somewhere as a group away from the office; e.g. going out for drinks after work sometimes, or going for a walk, or playing sports together, etc.

Context Over Time 

He’s always been good at doing things like this and trying to foster relationships. But he was emphasising the need for different contexts. I was intrigued, so asked him why this was important.

He said he remembered reading this theory which stated that if you want to build a friendship, you do need to spend time together, but that isn’t enough. You also need to hang out in different contexts as well.

In a new environment, the strength of your relationships doubles

According to this theory, just by spending time with someone in a new environment, the strength of your relationships doubles. So while spending time with someone increases the strength of your relationship, experiencing a different context together multiplies it.

Therefore, spending time with people at work and then going out for drinks all the time, isn’t as beneficial as spending time together at work, going out for drinks, doing team-building exercises together, sharing a meal in each other’s homes, playing sports together, etc.

Applying Simplicity  

It’s strange because this is something we probably realise already. Our close friends are people we see in lots of different contexts, not just in one place. We already know it’s true, but probably wouldn’t have said that or explained it like that before now. (Read What A Fishing Proverb Taught Me About Relationships)

This is why, for example, just going out on dinner dates isn’t a good way to get to know someone. Doing something like a dance class, going on a hike, visiting a museum, spending time with each other’s friends, means we truly get to know someone.

Just spending more time after the service together feels a bit forced

Another example is taken from church. Lots of churches now (like many have always done) emphasise community. The need to build relationships and be family. To build authentic friendships. (Read I Wouldn’t Have Survived Without My Church Family)

Yet we live busy lives and we feel like just spending more time after the service together feels a bit forced and a bit awkward.

But we can follow this new theory. We can arrange a social at the church, or arrange to meet up outside the church, do an activity, go visit somewhere else, spend time with each other’s families, in each other’s homes. Just by changing the context, we experience a different bit of each other.

Imagine If…

Obviously, this isn’t foolproof. There will still be people we will not fully ‘click with’ because of different personalities or whatever. And obviously, the more time you spend with a friend the closer you become. But carving out time is hard sometimes.

Friendships are so important but often forgotten

Imagine if we weren’t put off from investing in people because of time pressure, but rather put the effort into trying new things or activities in order to gain shared experiences and see each other in a new light.

Friendships are so important but often forgotten. This theory from my friend revealed how we can all build better friendships and a real community. (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving)

What is the best advice you’ve ever heard for building friendships? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 16/7/2018

Stories From The Dating Scene: I Loved Him, But The Relationship Was Dysfunctional. Part 2

Guest Blogs, Real Life Stories

In the second of this two-part article, our anonymous guest writes about her break-up, what she learned, and what she would do differently next time. By taking the time to really reflect on what happened, she has been able to find God in the mess, and learn more about herself and healthy relational dynamics.

Part 1 of this article came out last week. Part 2 is written by our anonymous guest again, all in her own words:

‘I Want Harmony Over Truth’ 

I spent the next few weeks trying to save the relationship, but I realised it was a dead end. Any attempt to start a discussion to resolve the issue would be immediately labeled as a ‘conflict.’ 

He would just say, “You didn’t make me feel safe” or “I don’t want to talk because we are different,” or “other girls can read my emotions” to stop the conversation. We never got to the real issue.  

He said he didn’t want to hear the truth because he wanted ‘harmony.’

I cried out to God and prayed for guidance and wisdom

I was devastated. I really loved him and it hurt me deeply to see him being hurt. I cried out to God and prayed for guidance and wisdom. 

To my surprise, what followed was a great time of peace that I hadn’t expected. 

God Help Me To Process Everything 

I fired tons of questions at God, and God used all sorts of encounters to answer my questions. 

Many friends and my family gave tremendous support to me. I also had a blessed time of reflection and repentance before God as I reflected on how some of my behaviours were unhelpful and highlighted some of my own issues.

Now that the relationship has ended, I can see things much more clearly. I realise nearly all decisions and understanding in our relationship hinged on his feelings. 

Recognising Dysfunctional Foundations

He made it explicitly clear he wanted his future spouse to submit to his emotions, and that his emotions were above the truth. 

He didn’t want to communicate, he wanted me to read his mind and do whatever his feelings dictated at the time. And the moment you demand that your partner must meet all of your emotional needs all the time, you create a goal that no relationship can reach.

This cannot be a realistic foundation of a meaningful relationship

So no matter how much I loved him, it was always going to be a dysfunctional relationship because this cannot be a realistic foundation of a meaningful relationship.

It also will always guarantee emotional ‘infidelity’, because every day there is always someone else out there who can give you better ‘feelings’. 

I used to desperately want to satisfy my ex, now it’s a relief that I didn’t (well, I couldn’t). I realise we need to bring our emotional needs to God first, he’s the source of our peace and our solid foundation. We will never be perfect but when we seek satisfaction in God first, then we’re able to love others freely.

I’m not writing all this to blame him. I’m sharing my experience because these emotional struggles are more common than many people think. 

The Right Decision 

Though I really missed our good times together, I was also relieved as I returned to the ‘normal’ world where there’s no need to read other people’s emotions to gain acceptance. Ironically, this actually allows me to freely understand and engage with their emotions in a healthy way! 

I have read many articles on how couples should deal with emotional differences (some just assume women are the emotional ones!). All of them teach the importance of effective communication and listening, with which I agree completely. 

Looking back, I am grateful for the love and guidance from God, friends, and family throughout the healing process. I can only pray for the same for my friend. Only God can fully understand and bring true healing and restoration to the deepest void of our hearts. (Read Warning: A Relationship Should Change Us, But Can’t Cure Us)

We can experience true intimacy with God, which leads to true intimacy with others

Real Healing 

Intimacy means to completely know and to be completely known. 

It means humbly exposing of all our weaknesses, fears and past emotional baggage. 

Just like a luxurious home constantly requires tedious cleaning and maintenance, an intimate relationship always involves great effort, vulnerability, and sacrifice. But because of Jesus’ ultimate vulnerability and sacrifice, we can experience true intimacy with God, which leads to true intimacy with others. (Read Revealed: Why Some Break-Ups Feel Good (After A While))

Imagine If… 

Imagine if we approached relationships like our guest writer. If we decided to reflect on the events which happened and thought about how to do it better next time. If we ran to God for help and guidance above all else and realised relationships are about healthy communication instead of unrealistic demands. How much better would our relationships be? (Read Quick Guide: Discover What All Good Dating Relationship Have In Common)

Q: What good and bad influences do you think shape expectations in your relationships? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 9/7/2018

Stories From The Dating Scene: I Loved Him, But The Relationship Was Dysfunctional. Part 1

Guest Blogs, Real Life Stories

Getting carried away in a relationship is nothing new. But what about when we start to notice things aren’t what they seem, and we can’t live up to their impossible expectations. Should we end it? Have we failed? How do we process what’s happened?  Our anonymous guest writer has decided to share her story with us.  

This story has been written by a friend of mine. She wanted to share her story in the hope that it will help others. So here it is, in her own words: 

It Seemed Too Good To Be True 

I was dating this Christian guy last year. He was charming, smart, funny, and diligently serving the Lord in ministry. We both loved studying the Bible and praying together. We had similar visions of serving together. 

We could chat for hours each day, sharing all our thoughts and feelings about all sorts of things to do with life and faith. He had many things I wanted in a boyfriend and potential future husband.

I thought it was a bit quick, but I got so carried away

The relationship progressed quickly. After just a month, he suddenly started to discuss the prospect of marriage and how we would serve in ministry together. I thought it was a bit quick, but I got so carried away by the excitement as I thought, ‘Maybe he’s the one!’ (Read Why Believing In ‘The One’ Is Very Overrated)

Around this time he made it clear to me that he was very emotional, sensitive and easily upset. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that. I thought his emotional and sensitive side could be a sweet thing.

But I started to realise that this was becoming a big issue and a big problem.

‘You Can’t Read My Emotions’

He told me several times that he wanted me to read and engage with his emotions, otherwise he would be upset or even end the relationship. I was very confused. But because I really loved him, I tried very hard to do what he wanted. 

I began to watch his emotions all the time and always filter my words carefully. Still, no matter how careful I was, he got upset from time to time, every time saying that I had failed to read his emotions. 

But when I tried to clarify things, he would keep saying I valued the truth more than his feelings, and say that ‘You can’t read my emotions, but other girls could’. That really hurt.

He became more obsessed with checking whether I was reading him right. And he said we had too many conflicts, so many that he couldn’t breathe. I was concerned but I couldn’t recall any conflict! I asked him to give an example but he couldn’t remember. 

It Got More And More Difficult 

He said I had offended him in every conversation. Again, neither of us could give an example. And several times he said that I didn’t make him feel safe.

But usually, if I comforted him, or if I managed to read his emotions and respond ‘correctly’ on that particular day, things would go back to being great. He would become very charming, caring and sweet again, for a while. 

However it was still very difficult to read him when he was upset, which could happen any time based on his interpretation of any given situation, which depended in turn on his mood.

At such times, he would suddenly become still and silent. When I noticed and tried to ask what had gone wrong, he would start complaining that I couldn’t read his emotions, but he would never discuss the actual emotions or issues. 

Clear communication of emotions is the prerequisite of success of all relationships

He said he believed that in a relationship, if one person needed to express their emotions clearly for the other person to understand, then the relationship had failed. In my upbringing I was taught the opposite: clear communication of emotions is the prerequisite of success of all relationships, second to love itself.

Though all these incidents seemed strange to me, I tried to understand him. For a long time, I thought it was my fault because he said I was too insensitive and logical.

The Break-Up

Soon, it just snapped. 

A few days after he was talking about marriage again, we had different opinions on an event we attended. We didn’t disagree per se, but I switched the focus onto something slightly different. For me, it was a friendly discussion, but he was deeply hurt, he said he felt like I had stabbed him! 

He didn’t want to hear the truth because he wanted ‘harmony’

He said I disagreed with him and he couldn’t bear any disagreement in our relationship.

I tried to explain I didn’t disagree with him, but he said he didn’t want to hear the truth because he wanted ‘harmony’. Two days later, he couldn’t handle it anymore and ended the relationship. (Read We Disagree, Can Our Relationship Survive?)

Imagine If…

Part 2 looks at what happened next, what our guest writer has learned through this experience, and why she thinks it’s important to have different and more healthy relationship dynamics next time.

But for now, imagine if we were able to be honest about the struggles we face in our dating and romantic relationships, and talk about our emotional needs, fears, and expectations, while bringing them all to God instead of carrying the burden alone. (Stories From The Dating Scene: An Exciting Start, Then We Drifted)

Q: How do you spot, and talk about, unrealistic relationship demands? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 2/7/2018