Monthly Archives

October 2018

2 Proven Traits That Make A Relationship Last

Interesting Research, Marriage

I came across some very interesting research the other week. It was about one of these theories that says it can tell how likely a couple is to stay together/get divorced based on two key factors. I think these things are never fool-proof, but they can offer so much insight into what makes a healthy relationship and something we can all learn from. 

I was listening to this very short podcast episode from Relationship Matters (Ep. 70) a while ago, and the presenter and co. were discussing a piece of research that looks at creating healthy and happy long-term marriages, and what were strong predictors of relationship success. 

One phrase they used to describe marriage was ‘it’s a training ground’, which I really liked. 

It stresses that traits need to/can be learnt and improved. It’s not like some people have them and the rest are destined to have bad relationships forever. Or that some ‘lucky’ people are able to demonstrate them all the time. 

We all need to work on getting/keeping these traits, and they can help build the stable and enjoyable relationships we crave.  

#1 Forgiveness

The first trait they spoke about was forgiveness. Married couples that forgave/learned to forgive each other were the ones that were much more likely to stay together long-term. 

This may be unsurprising as it’s something that is spoken about or hinted at a lot. But what does it actually mean?

For example, I know I need to forgive friends when they let me down, but I can find myself holding grudges or talking negatively to others about them. Sometimes it’s because, without ignoring the fact I have been really hurt, I’m not really trying to forgive. 

Forgiveness allows us to get back in sync with each other

I find forgiveness isn’t a one-off event but actually a frequent and often daily thing in my marriage. Whether my wife needs to forgive me for something ‘small’, like when I leave the dirty dishes on top of the dishwasher instead of putting them inside it, again! 

Or big things that lead to arguments, like when family traditions clash and cause problems and one of us begins to act unreasonably. 

When we choose to forgive, we’re choosing to not let negative events/problems define our relationship. Forgiveness may be a process and may take time and is often hard, but forgiveness allows us to get back in sync with each other. 

We need to actively choose to foster the trait of forgiveness, and not allow mistakes and bad choices to define the relationship. 

I think communicating about everything, big or small, acknowledging when we have hurt each other, and actually saying the word ‘sorry’, are vital. Otherwise, the grudges, anger and negative emotion will cause a barrier over time, that will make it harder to foster connection.  

#2 Self-Control 

The second trait of self-control was one that may seem obvious to some of us, but it wasn’t one I would have thought of before hearing about the research. However, when you break it down it makes a lot of sense.

Self-control essentially allows people to approach marriage in a healthy and respectful way. It means they will resist the urge to flirt or cheat, and won’t be aggressive or violent, and will be more likely to make sacrifices for each other. 

Self-control allows us to stop, or resist doing it in the first place

All of these things are, I would say, part of the minimum requirements needed to make a relationship strong, long-lasting, and mutually fulfilling. (Read How Successful Relationship Avoid Letting Anger Win)

When my wife and I are stressed, it’s easy to shout and be harsh with each other, but self-control allows us to stop, or resist doing it in the first place. It allows us to focus on the other’s needs and not just focus on ‘me’ and what ‘I’ want all the time. 

Good To Know 

We don’t marry perfect people. We marry people who are willing to learn

Whether we’re married, or want to get married one day, this research can help us to remember what it takes to build and keep building a good relationship. 

The research also pointed out that the process of being together also increased these factors. Which is why I like the phrase ‘training ground’. No one is perfect, we don’t marry perfect people. We marry people who are willing to learn to foster healthy habits. (Read Quick Guide: Discover What All Good Dating Relationship Have In Common)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we tried to forgive more and forgive quicker. Yes it takes time, yes we may need to discuss things first, but it’s something we need to work on to help our relationships. Imagine if we practiced self-control too, by stopping and thinking about the other person and not just our needs.

I think these things would help make our relationships strong, and help bring/increase the security and enjoyment we crave in our relationships. (Read What 35 Years of Marriage Really Looks Like)

How else could these two traits be beneficial? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 29/10/2018

Will God Answer My Prayers About Who I Should Date?

Church Dating Culture, Finding A Date

I believe God wants to be involved in our dating lives and wants us to enjoy finding someone and falling in love. I think God wants to be involved when it gets messy too, giving help and support. But I don’t think any of this means we should ask him to show us ‘the One’. If we’re praying this prayer then we’ll be disappointed, but we can pray for other things.  

I really don’t believe in ‘finding the one’ myth. I think it robs us of God’s better plan for us. I firmly believe God wants us to be involved in ‘making the one’ and bringing discipleship into dating. (Read Why Believing In ‘The One’ Is Very Overrated) 

It isn’t about sitting on the bench wondering ‘why haven’t I been picked yet’, but getting involved in the game. Asking about what type of person we would say yes to and why, learning to communicate well, learning to argue well, and realising what healthy relationship expectations are.

But this doesn’t mean God is forgotten. I think we still need to pray about it and involve him. Waiting for ‘the one’ means we think God will do all the work, ‘making the one’ means we think we will do it with him. (Read How To Stop Waiting, And Start ‘Making The One’.)  

Where Does Prayer Fit In? 

So where does prayer fit in then? What should we be praying for? I think there are 3 key things we should ask for if we’re dating someone, and wondering whether to commit more to the person in front of us. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I always say we should pray that God allows us to: 

  • See Behind The Masks 
  • Highlight Our Real Values
  • Remember It’s A Good Gift 

See Behind The Masks

I always use the word ‘dating’ to cover a wide range of stages. Whether we’re looking at online profiles, meeting someone for the first time, or celebrating our 3 year ‘official couple’ anniversary, I always say dating mainly comes down to this question: ‘Do I want to invest more into the person in front of me?’

The answer to this may be ‘no’, and that may happen after one date or after a few months. Yet if it’s a series of yeses, it will lead to a long-term relationship, and maybe even marriage.   

What I think this means, is that we date in order to really get to know the person in front of us, and vice versa. A successful relationship isn’t about wearing a mask to impress, or hiding who we are, but about creating settings where we can be honest and real, and really getting to know each other.

This is hard, especially if we’ve been hurt before. Asking God for the courage to do this and for wisdom to show us when people aren’t doing this, is really important. As well as patience, so that we don’t reveal too much too quickly before appropriate levels of trust are built.

Highlight Our Real Values

I heard someone say the other day about how his wife loves snowboarding more than anything, and going out and partying. He hated doing both. He said ‘If compatibility is just about hobbies, we wouldn’t be together’. 

People often think that compatibility is about having shared interests, but that stuff really isn’t the most important thing. It’s really about sharing deeper values and the vision for your lives. 

This is where the relationship can deepen and be sustained

If the deeper things line up, and the things which mean the most to you in your lives are in sync, then this is where the relationship can deepen and be sustained. 

Some of us are still working out what our deeper values and vision are, but praying that we understand ourselves more and what God is wanting us to priorities in our life, will make it easier for us to spot common values in others too. (Read Are You Thinking About Compatibility In The Right Way?)

Remember It’s A Good Gift

While being intentional, thinking things through, having the hard chats to define the boundaries, and being respectful, are all vital in dating, we need to remember that relationships are a blessing from God. 

They’re meant to be enjoyed. 

Often I find people can focus so much on the serious side that they forget God wants us to enjoy falling in love. It’s meant to be a blessing. 

Praying for the strength to have the chats and defining expectations is needed, but also pray that we’re able to relax with each other and just discern if we enjoy each other. It will help us discover if we want to commit more. This is something we can ask God to help with. 

Imagine If…

We’re constantly told in church to learn about becoming a better friend. To learn to make more sacrifices, be there to help them, etc. We’re told to do the same with family, work colleagues, and our community. We should think through how we could love them more and act on it. 

I don’t think dating is any different. 

Bring discipleship into dating

Imagine if we remembered to bring discipleship into dating as well, and prayed to God to help us learn to date well, as we searched for and found someone to commit to. (Read I’m Single And Hate Dating, What Can I Do?)

I pray that you know God is invested and cares about your search, and he wants you to grow and be involved in the dating process.

What do you think about praying for these things? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 22/10/2018


My 5 No-Nonsense Tips For Singleness. Part 2

Guest Blogs, Singleness

In part 1 Lora Thorley, who heads up a ministry for single Christians called ‘Honoured’, shared two of her top tips for singleness. In part 2 she continues to share her valuable insights in a down to earth and honest way. So here it is, in her own words:

As I said in part 1 – being single can suck. But I know that God blesses us in all situations, and will not press pause on our lives just because we’re not coupled up.

So I’m going to keep sharing my 5 no-nonsense tips, so that this truth can become more of a reality in our lives.

#3 Look After Yourself

In my experience self-care and self-love are the keys to a happy single life. It helps remind us that we are valued and precious.

Often in a relationship, another person will make you feel this way by the little things they do to treat you and look after you. If you’re single you might have a great support network around you but you will also need to do things to look after yourself.

For example, every night I make myself an amazing dinner – even if it’s just me eating. If I just cooked beans on toast for myself every night I think it would reinforce the lie that just because I’m alone I’m not worth bothering about.

Instead, I treat myself like the Queen that I am and it helps build self-love and self-esteem – both of which are needed to love others.

Don’t see it as self-indulgent to treat yourself with love

This will look different for different people. It might be treating yourself to a gym membership or organising yourself a birthday party or sending yourself on holiday.

Whatever it looks like, don’t see it as self-indulgent to treat yourself with love – otherwise you’ll just be waiting for someone else to come along and fulfil that role, and who knows how long that could take!

#4 Build A Robust Relationship With Hope

I wonder if you, like me, swing between optimism and cynicism when it comes to your romantic future.

Some days I’m feeling like the right person is just around the corner and I can swim in the warm waters of anticipation and excitement. On other days, and I particularly find this after talking to other single Christians in the same boat, I despair of ever meeting anyone.

However – our hope is in the Lord.

Keep reminding yourself that we don’t hope in vain

So let’s keep looking at the bigger picture. We know there is joy and love in our future because of Jesus. That’s not some kind of abstract religious idea – it’s real joy and real love. We can put our hope in the fact that Jesus has adventures ahead for us.

So keep filling your life with scripture that reminds you of this. Fill your life with people who speak God’s truth over you.

Keep reminding yourself that we don’t hope in vain and although our earthly lives may not run exactly as we expect – God has a plan and a hopeful future in mind for us. (Read Quick Guide: When Saying ‘Being Content With Singleness’ Is & Isn’t Okay)

#5 Slay, Slay Every Day!

Something about being single can make us feel like we’re constantly on the back foot.

You might struggle with loneliness or sadness at times.

You might not have the emotional support which can come from a loving relationship.

You might start to wonder if there’s something wrong with you if you’re still single.

Often the church can seem like it’s made for families and if you’re not part of a couple or family you might feel a bit disconnected.

All this can leave you feeling a bit vulnerable or a bit of a victim at times.

The power of Christ lives in them as much as married people

But part of running Honoured is reminding people that they are not second class citizens in the church. And the power of Christ lives in them as much as married people.

For that reason, we have no excuse not to go for it in life. Step up, step out and take a risk. Whether that is taking on some new challenge or new area of responsibility in your church, going for it in your career, tackling a new project; we’ve got to live with passion and confidence. (Read 5 Cliches Said To Singles, Have You Heard Them All?)

Imagine If…

I could go on and on talking about this subject, but this is just a flavour of what the Honoured movement stands for and what we promote. Imagine if we remembered we were made to thrive, no matter what our relationship status is.

Whether you’re celibate, dating or wish you were dating – there’s a beautiful, exciting, fulfilling life for you to live so there’s no need to press pause – go for it. (Read 4 Trends that characterises singleness in our 20s, 30s and 40s)

Which tip do you think is the hardest/easiest to follow? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 15/10/2018


Lora’s Bio
Lora is a writer and a teacher living in Nottingham. In 2017 she launched Honoured, a ministry for single Christians based in Nottingham, Manchester and London. She writes blogs for Honoured as well as various other websites and organisations. She’s passionate about empowering single Christians and encouraging others to step into whatever adventure God calls them to, regardless of their relationship status.

My 5 No-Nonsense Tips For Singleness. Part 1

Guest Blogs, Singleness

Today Lora Thorley, who heads up a ministry for single Christians called ‘Honoured’, shares some of her own story with us. She also shares her wisdom, born out of real and personally-lived experiences, that can help anyone who is single and just wants honest and tangible advice.  So here is part 1, in her own words:

I’m going to make a bold statement here.

I wonder if you’ll agree with me.

Being single sucks.

It doesn’t matter how many married people say to me ‘Oh I’d love to be single sometimes – being married is sooooo hard.’

It doesn’t matter how many empowering Instagram posts I read about how we need to be happy with our single life before we meet someone else.

It doesn’t matter how much I love starfishing in bed and choosing what TV to watch without debate.

I still hate being single.

But God Doesn’t Press Pause 

As I run Honoured, a network for single Christians, I meet a lot of single people every week, and to be completely honest, I rarely meet anyone who is totally happy with being single.

Although I know first-hand how tough relationships can be, being part of a couple has always felt more natural to me.

God will bless and use you whatever your circumstances

But the more I walk through different seasons with God, the more I learn that there is joy to be had in any situation. God will bless and use you whatever your circumstances or relationship status and he doesn’t press pause on our lives just because we’re not totally satisfied with our situation.

He still wants us to keep growing and keep faithful.

So with these thoughts in mind, here are the first two of my 5 no-nonsense tips for surviving and thriving in your singleness.

#1. Don’t Feel Guilty About Finding It Hard

The worst thing about being single is the pressure to feel ok about being single. For some reason, us Christians equate it with holiness – like the more satisfied you are with your single life the closer you are to God. 

Personally, I think this is utter nonsense and sets us up for a season of guilt and struggle. It’s natural to feel lonely, and while we know that God is enough for us, we also know that God made us for human companionship, he put within us the capacity for romance and the desire for sexual intimacy. 

None of those things are wrong.

So let’s invite God into the times when we find it really hard. Let’s give ourselves some grace and acknowledge that it can be really difficult to be single sometimes. Let’s give ourselves permission to be sad or lonely and lean on God in those moments. (Read The Worst Advice You Can Hear About Rejection)

#2 Don’t Wait Around Doing Nothing

I’ve just met too many people lately who’ve said they’re being patient and waiting for God to send them the right person. 

I have no doubt that God sometimes does send someone along in this way or that he could if he wanted to. But we never have this attitude to anything else in life, so why do we have it with dating?

We don’t wait around for God to send us a new job without filling in any applications.

Be proactive and push a few doors in the way you would with other areas of life

If you want to meet someone then you need to make some moves. Join an internet dating site or app. At Honoured we independently review these and give advice on online dating. Ask a friend to set you up with someone.

Go to an event for single Christians (Honoured also run some brilliant events)

Be proactive and push a few doors in the way you would with other areas of life.

And pray – not just for the right person to come along. Pray about the process, pray about each date, pray that you might be a blessing to whoever you meet and pray for God’s discernment and guidance. 

Because you might be surprised by someone you never thought you’d be interested in dating!

Imagine If…

In Part 2 I continue to share my next three tips. 

For now, I want you to imagine how much we could help ourselves and each other, if we embraced these tips, and allowed each other to be more honest and active in this area of our lives. (Read What The Bible Actually Says About Singleness)

What other tips would you add? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 8/10/2018

Lora’s Bio
Lora is a writer and a teacher living in Nottingham. In 2017 she launched Honoured, a ministry for single Christians based in Nottingham, Manchester and London. She writes blogs for Honoured as well as various other websites and organisations. She’s passionate about empowering single Christians and encouraging others to step into whatever adventure God calls them to, regardless of their relationship status.

2 Things You Should Always Do To Build Strong Communities


We’re encouraged to build community a lot, particularly in churches. Loads of people have opinions on what this means and how we can best do this. But a recent conversation with a friend who recently planted a church reduced it down to 2 bits of advice, which I think are both wise and easy to apply.

If you read any of my other posts, on this site or on other sites, it won’t take you long to realise that I think strong relationships with friends, colleagues, family, and the community, are vital if we want to feel safe, secure, and fulfilled.

I think in a culture which focuses on the individual and self-sufficiency, we can undervalue and ignore interdependence. We can then feel the negative effects due to a lack of community and be worse off as a result.

‘Community’, More Than A Buzz Word

I was speaking to a friend the other day who is involved in a new church plant with some of his friends and family. They’re really excited about it and have wanted to do it for a while.

It’s interesting talking to him about what he wants to prioritise, what the vision is, and how they feel God has spoken to them. But I find it fascinating that they are essentially involved in building a community out of nothing. And trying to gather people and get them to buy in and get excited about this new community.

He really wants to create and foster an authentic community

Community isn’t just a word my friend wants to just throw around. He really wants to create and foster an authentic community. (Read Family’ Is Redefined In Light Of The Cross)

He said he feels that in order to do this it’s important to make people feel like they are wanted and needed. If people feel wanted and needed, they will feel part of the community and want to stick around.

Feeling Needed

It sounds so obvious, so simple, yet it’s easy to forget.

Take church as a case study, we can often be so keen to get people to feel needed that we get them to sign up to help out on different rotas. We can forget to make the individual feel wanted when this happens.

I remember walking into a church once and was instantly handed a form that asked which teams I was going to be part of, I hadn’t even spoken to more than two people at that point!

Now, helping out is part of being invested in a community. We can’t just be consumers. We need to have a role, to feel like we are adding value. I believe part of discipleship is getting stuck in and serving and helping the community.

However, if it happens too fast or on its own, we can feel like we’re being used, and not really wanted.

Feeling Wanted

I remember when my wife and I were looking for a new church. We ended up visiting a lot, and I must admit I don’t like not being part of a church and needing to find a new one.

Anyway, we went to several over a few months. Some we went to once, some we went back to two or three times. The ones we went back to were the ones that welcomed us and made us feel wanted. We felt welcomed in.

They didn’t just say hi, but really took the time to talk

The church I’m involved with now has one of the most genuine cultures of welcome I have ever experienced anywhere. In our first few visits or so, multiple people came up and spoke to us, asked us how we were doing, and chatted for a long time.

They didn’t just say hi, but really took the time to talk.

Moreover, there were also opportunities to serve too, and get involved. I have been in communities where you feel wanted, but you don’t feel like you can add value, or help out, you don’t feel needed. Then I slip into consumer mode and start to complain.

Feeling wanted and needed are so important. (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving)

2 Key Principles

I think this is true in most relationships too, isn’t it? When we think about friendships, romantic relationships, other communities we’re part of, we want to feel wanted. We want to know we matter to someone, and they want to feel the same.

We also want to feel needed. People like to help each other out, feel like they are adding value and making a positive impact on one another.

We can forget to do this, or make it all more complicated than it needs to be

Imagine If…

Imagine if we remember that we can be part of fostering communities and relationships that thrive. It isn’t always easy, but we can make a difference to individuals and communities by making sure other people feel wanted and needed.

It’s so simple, but in the busyness of life and other things that happen, we can forget to do this, or make it all more complicated than it needs to be. So let’s try to strip it back and let these 2 bits of advice guide and help us in our relationships, churches, and communities. (Read Revealed: The Best Way To Build Better Friendships, In Half The Time?!)

How have communities made you feel both wanted and needed? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 1/10/2018