Monthly Archives

November 2018

How To Stop Letting Jealousy Rule The Relationship

Marriage, Relationship Difficulties

Jealousy is a feeling that can ruin any romantic relationship. In a world where we’re being bombarded with pictures and images of ‘perfect’ people, and where we’re constantly meeting (and comparing) ourselves to new people, we can all experience jealousy. If we want to thrive, we need to stop letting jealousy rule the relationship. 

I remember seeing a friend getting very protective over his partner when she spoke to this one guy. It was very strange to see because he was usually so laid-back. I thought it was obvious that there was nothing sinister going on, but it really affected him.   

Some of us will be able to relate to this story. Either because the person we’re with, or we ourselves, have been jealous. It may still even happen from time to time. 

How do we address these issues in a healthy way?

Now I know that sometimes, unfortunately, there is something sinister happening. And people do sadly end up cheating and being unfaithful. So I’m not saying if we see something that worries us then we should just pretend it doesn’t mean that. But this post is about something else. 

Constantly On Edge 

This is for those of us who are in a fairly new relationship deciding if it will move forward, or maybe we have been in one a while and are a bit worried about it for some reason. We know deep down that jealousy seems to be constantly putting us on edge and not helping us in our situation, or our partner may be experiencing it a lot. 

So how do we address these issues in a healthy way, making sure it doesn’t ruin our relationship? 

I have written about jealousy before, particularly on how we may deal with it as an individual (Read I’m Not Jealous, I Just Care!) But in this post, I want to focus on how, as a couple, we can approach the issue. I would say three things are vital: 

  • Talk About Being Jealous
  • Talk About Insecurities 
  • Talk About It Soon 

Talk About Being Jealous

This may sound easy, or even straightforward, but it really isn’t. 

Often we talk about everything linked to it, like why were they talking to that attractive person, all night?! Or why were they ‘clearly’ flirting?! If we’re feeling jealous, we need to actually bring it out into the open. 

If we are the one who is on the receiving end, we can’t just say ‘you’re just jealous’, and use that phrase to insinuate that they’re in the wrong. Maybe we did go too far, maybe not, but we need to at least realise they are hurting. We need to see it from their viewpoint. 

Instead of talking about the things they are doing, or the reason why it’s not ‘my’ fault, we need to actually talk about the jealousy. This will take courage on both sides, and just admitting to that emotion will be painful, but we need to talk about it. 

Talk About Insecurities 

Again, I want to say that sometimes we may see something and have a legitimate concern, or maybe the person we are with did go too far. If we’re the ones being accused, we need to be willing to see things from the other person’s view if we really care about them. 

However, if jealous is an issue we are constantly dealing with, it may be because of an insecurity. 

Good communication at this point is needed more than ever

For example, it may be that we are unsure how committed they are to us and the relationship, and some situations highlight that. The truth is, until we talk about the commitment issue honestly and openly, the feeling of jealousy will never go, and will weaken the relationship. 

Whether we’re the ones getting jealous, or the person we are with is, we cannot just ignore the deep issues it’s linked to and brush it off. Good communication at this point is needed more than ever. (Read How To Communicate Well When We’re Annoyed) 

Talk About It Soon

Like with most problems, the longer we leave it, the biggest the problem gets. If we don’t talk about it, the negative emotions will come out passively, or as angry exchanges, which will not be good for anyone.

It needs to be addressed. The sooner the better. 

Imagine If…

We all want our relationships to be strong. Any relationships, no matter how ‘sorted’ it looks, will involve the couple dealing with jealousy at some point. Maybe only a few times, or maybe in a big way, but it will happen. 

Imagine if, we made sure we: Talk About Being Jealous, Talk About Insecurities, and Talk About It Soon. That way, we wouldn’t let it ruin the relationship. (Read 2 Proven Traits That Make A Relationship Last) 

What other advice have you heard when it comes to jealousy? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 26/11/2018

The Best Advice For Getting Over A Break-Up

Break- Ups, Interesting Research

Break-ups are part of dating sometimes, but they are not easy and they’re not fun. Logically, we may be able to gain some perspective, reason it all through and tell ourselves it’s okay. Yet this isn’t stopping the emotional roller coaster or pain we’re experiencing. However, the latest research from psychologists offers us three bits of advice to help us deal with the heartache of a break-up. 

I remember talking to a friend who had just broken up with his girlfriend. He was understandably upset, and while it wasn’t a total surprise, he had hoped it would turn out differently. 

If you asked him about it at the time, he could tell you all the reasons why it was probably best for both of them. Why it wasn’t going to work out long-term, while giving all the good reasons why they had separated. But he would also have these emotional outbursts and want to get back with her.

Emotional Bond

I thought, and still think, that this is totally understandable. A relationship isn’t only about reason or logic, it involves our emotions too. 

Breaking an emotional bond is hard in any situation. Some break-ups are mutual, some aren’t. Some may be coming for a while, but others are a complete surprise. The common denominator though is that all of them leave some emotional pain and heartache.

The emotional bond is probably going to be harder to deal with

So whether we can or can’t reason with ourselves that it’s for the best, we need to understand that the emotional bond is probably going to be harder to deal with. This needs to be addressed if we want to get over it.  

New Research Offers 3 Tips  

Saying to someone there is plenty more fish in the sea, or saying that it could be worse, may be logical and help to an extent, but it doesn’t help people get off the emotional roller coaster. However, new research from psychologists may be able to help us.  

The research suggests 3 main strategies to get over heartbreak. 

  1. Think Negatively About Your Ex
  2. Accept Your Lingering Feeling Towards Them 
  3. Distract Yourself

Think Negatively About Your Ex

This strategy involves us critically examining our ex and remembering that they’re not perfect. 

This will help because it reminds us that it’s unhealthy to just remember the good bits, which can cause us to fall into the trap of thinking that no one else will ever make us happy again. This will also cause us to be stuck in the past, rather than putting our energy into moving forward. 

Taken too far, this can become really negative and make you feel worse. I had a friend who would endlessly list and exaggerate all the things that she (now) thought was wrong about her ex. But it made her really bitter and she processed her emotions in the wrong way. (Read The Worst Advice You Can Hear About Rejection)

Thinking negatively can help us gain the right perspective if it’s balanced with the other 2 strategies. 

Accept Your Lingering Feelings Towards Them 

This involves accepting that the emotional bond is still there.

We can’t ignore it

We can’t ignore it, pretend the feelings don’t exist or try to cover them up with another dose of anger. We’re allowed to say and accept that breaking the emotional bond is hard.

It will also help us to dig down into why we like them. Was it because of their sense of humour or the way they treated you, etc. These characteristics can help us to look for the right things in the next partner when the time is right.

Being able to realise what was good and reminding ourselves that they will not be the only person who has a sense of humour or who will treat us well, will help us to focus on moving forward. 

Distract Yourself

This strategy is as simple as it sounds. It’s about putting things in the diary, keeping ourselves busy, and meeting up with friends. 

The research suggests that this will not necessarily help reduce the feelings we have for our ex, because we all know just ignoring a problem won’t make it go away. However, it can make us feel more positive and optimistic because we won’t just sit there and think about the break-up.  

New research seems to offer us some real tangible and practical advice

Doing things we love to do or used to do, but haven’t in a while because of the past relationship, will also help create a more positive and forward-looking mindset too (Read Revealed: Why Some Break-Ups Feel Good (After A While))  

Imagine If…

All three strategies can help people overcome the pain of breaking an emotional bond. While there is no magic formula, and everyone is different with unique situations, new research seems to offer us some real tangible and practical advice. 

Imagine if you made sure you did indeed: Think Negatively About Your Ex, Accept Your Lingering Feeling Towards Them, and Distract Yourself, and enabled others to do the same, we could find real help in times of need. (Read Break-Ups, Anger, and Frustration, What Should I Change?)

What other advice have you given to people in this situation? Comments welcomed below.  

Originally posted 19/11/2018 

Does Christian Dating Go Against God’s Views On Relationships? Part 2

What The Bible Says

The second half of this two-part article continues to look at how we can transform the dating culture around us, whilst honouring God, ourselves and each other. Specifically when it comes to the temporary nature of dating and God’s call to foster long-term relationships.

In Part 1, we began to look at this important topic. In this second part, we continue to explore how we can uphold God’s word while dating, in a way that is faithful to God’s teaching and genuinely beneficial to us in our circumstances. 

(The following extract is taken from page 85-86 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

What Would Jesus Say?

‘…[The] Pharisees came up, intending to give [Jesus] a hard time. They asked, ‘Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife?’ Jesus said, ‘What did Moses command?’ They answered, ‘Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her.’ Jesus said, ‘Moses wrote this command only as a concession to your hardhearted ways.

In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman – no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.’
(Mark 10:2–9 The Message)

Jesus doesn’t just look back to the law about divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1–4). He is quoting the Genesis story of creation that reveals God’s heart for what relationships free from sin should look like (Genesis 1:27; 2:24). 

Adam and Eve’s later rejection of all this kick-starts the cycle of sin and dysfunction that leads to the damage and pain in marriages, which are often wrecked by divorce. 

God’s Intentions

As we’ve said before, relationships and marriages break down for a whole host of reasons, but none of these lessen God’s desire for us to really mean it when we say ‘I do’!

God realises that in some cases this permanence can’t be maintained, because a spouse can damage it irreversibly. So the Bible allows divorce when a partner commits adultery (Matthew 5:31–32; 19:9), or when an unbelieving spouse abandons their believing spouse (1 Corinthians 7:12–15). 

[We would also argue when a spouse is abusive, although this wouldn’t be based on one or two verses, like in the above cases.] 

God always hopes for more for us in our relationships.

We may not be in Eden, but God always hopes for more for us in our relationships. Deep relationships are not easily forged. Intimacy isn’t quickly formed. Both take practice and require both people to be committed to permanence.

Step 1: Know The Truth

Building towards a relationship that lasts isn’t something that happens in spite of us; it’s something that happens because of us. 

  • Practicing what it takes to build a permanent relationship happens every time we prioritise our commitment over our compulsions. 
  • Giving in to every whim and desire we have is no way to perfect the skills needed to build a lasting relationship.

So how could this influence our dating? It’s likely that most of us will date a few people before we find the person we want to commit to for life. Does this mean we can’t practice permanence? Not if we practice it while we’re dating!

Step 2: Change Our Approach

It’s about the mindset we create as we date. 

It’s the difference between an attitude that says, ‘I’ll see how it goes’, and one that says, ‘I’ll see what I can invest in this relationship.’ 

Do we go around asking people out, thinking, ‘This will only work for me for a few months, and then I’m off’? Do we treat relationships like new clothes, and wear them for only a few weeks before we change? 

How is that preparing us for the lifelong commitment God desires?

If this is the case, how will we be ready to invest long-term with that special someone when the time comes? If we constantly think short term in every relationship we go into, how is that preparing us for the lifelong commitment God desires? (Read What I Wish someone told me about dating.)

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

Imagine If…

As always, so much more could be said and written (Read Church Dating Culture: Is Yours Helpful Or Hindering?) but I hope this post highlights that we can date in a way that is treating people with respect, and laying good foundations to give the relationship the best chance of becoming a long-term commitment.

Imagine if we dated in a way that pursued relationships that could last, and we thought about how to grow the relationship and not just about our short-term needs. It would allow us to transform the dating culture around us, and enable God’s intentions for us to flourish. (Read 2 Proven Traits That Make A Relationship Last)

How else can this principle be applied? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 12/11/2018

Does Christian Dating Go Against God’s Views On Relationships? Part 1

What The Bible Says

This two-part article wrestles with a big problem: dating cultures often foster short-term temporary relationships, and this seems to clash with God’s call for permanence in romance. So can we embrace dating? And should we? Well, I think a simple yes or no won’t really answer these big questions. 

Real Stories 

I remember a friend telling me that they knew someone who was a Christian and wanted to skip dating. They were young, wanted to get married, and got engaged to the first person they ever really liked after a few months of knowing each other. 

After the wedding things got messy, and they sadly divorced after a couple of years. 

I also remember someone saying that they felt dating as a Christian was wrong, and whenever they liked someone but decided against asking them out, they felt guilty. They believed if they liked them they should marry them, and by not doing so it was like a divorce. 

Bad Consequences 

Sadly, these stories highlight some of the beliefs that many people carry with them; and can clearly lead to lots of confusion.

People are getting hurt along the way

These people can see that the Bible does ideally call for permanence in romantic relationships, and they realise that dating can lead to temporary bonds, so they try to make it work the best way they can. Sadly, they can end up putting too much pressure on themselves and on a relationship that hasn’t even started yet. 

People are getting hurt along the way. 

Is It A Betrayal? 

In this post, I want to explore this issue because it’s one we wrestle with when it comes to dating. How do you enter a dating culture, which by its very nature produces temporary relationships, and uphold God’s call to permanence in romance? 

It may seem impossible on the surface, which is why I have written many times about why I think God is wanting to transform the dating culture, and not just reject it or embrace it as it is (Read Why I Told Joshua Harris To Redeem Rather Than Reject Dating. and Can We Really Trust What Our Culture Says About Relationships?)

But I did want to explore this specific problem some more. Part 1 of this post will allow us to delve a bit deeper into this topic.  

(The following extract is taken from page 84-85 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Culture Shift 

We live in a culture where the upgrade of four months ago is old news! We want the latest, the freshest, the fastest. Even if it’s only a little gadget to add to our blinged-up phone, if it’s not the latest, it’s not the greatest.

This belief can cause problems for us when it comes to relationships. 

We know that having a long list of people following or befriending us via social media doesn’t constitute deep and meaningful relationships. 

We all have a deep longing for true belonging. 

Did God just get it wrong?

So how does that work in dating relationships, which are often temporary by nature? What would God have to say about the length and depth of our dating?

Dating Is Not Marriage

Dating is not marriage, and it’s not a guarantee of permanence. Ending a relationship that doesn’t have the potential to evolve into lifelong commitment is not only wise; it’s necessary if we’re seeking to date in a God-honouring way. 

So what do we do with the biblical call for lifelong intimate relationships? How do we apply it to a dating context? Did God just get it wrong when he called for lifelong faithfulness between people who love each other?

We need to understand why God called for permanence, and why there are times when he made exceptions to this principle. This is the hardest marriage expectation to apply to dating, but we still think it should guide the way we paint our picture. 

The First Wedding 

The very first wedding vows ever spoken in the Bible are:

The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman”, for she was taken out of man.’
(Genesis 2:23)

See how Adam refers to himself in the third person as ‘man’, and Eve as ‘she’ and ‘woman’, and how he begins with ‘This is’.  Adam isn’t mumbling to himself or whispering sweet nothings in Eve’s ear – he’s not that smooth. 

God’s design for marriage has this hope for permanence built in

Rather, he’s making his first declaration to someone else; he’s talking to the other person in the story: God. Adam calls on God to witness his vow, to witness the permanent fusion between him and Eve. (Read Why The Bible Preaches Faithfulness, Despite Stories of Polygamy)

They are now one and the same. God’s design for marriage has this hope for permanence built into it. 

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

Imagine If…

Part 2 explores what this principle means as we search for love in the modern world.

But imagine if we enable ourselves and others to wrestle with these important questions, as we continued to think about how God’s word can help us build healthy and mutually fulfilling dating cultures. (What Does Faithfulness Look Like When I’m Dating?)

Have you come across similar stories, like the ones shared at the beginning of this post? Comments welcomed below.  

Originally posted 5/11/2018