I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately, probably because I so miss being in one. At my age, most unmarried women have been hurt by a man at some time, so I completely understand the “once burned, twice shy” fear. But all men are not control freaks; we just tend to be. So mature women tend to prefer friendships with other women, as they can communicate at a more intimate level without fear of encouraging attempts at domination.
Relationships between women take place at a whole different level than a woman with a man. Women are more intuitive about feelings, while men think more concretely—as in, dense. Women tend to be more patient in their pursuits, while men have a harder time appreciating the long-view, and “want it now,” whatever “it” might be. Both men and women expect the opposite sex to understand their unique perspectives, which they usually don’t, any more than an apple can expect to taste like a grape. Fact is, expectations are poison to relationships.
That’s where Christ’s love comes into the relational picture, both within the church, and between men and women. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) The NASB New Testament has 108 instances of “one another” statements, all of them detailing relational aspects within the church. Trouble is, many couples fail to understand that every standard for “brethren” relationships also applies to them. Of course, total compliance to those standards is lemon-cream-pie-in-the-sky in this largely carnal, church social climate, but where such standards are taken seriously and obeyed in interpersonal relationships, there is no “once burnt” to be “twice shy” of.
To establish and maintain godly relationships, we must first cultivate loving intimacy, individually, with our Father, through Christ Jesus. That’s, first, as in before even thinking of pursuing intimacy with another. Of course, already established couples have to try much harder.
Second, we must crucify our expectations. Otherwise, we’ve torpedoed the relationship before it even leaves the pier. Wow! That’s a hard one, as our human nature manufactures expectations by the submarine-load.
Third, we must love one another as Christ loves his bride, the church. Period. That’s First Corinthians Thirteen-love. All else will develop on God’s timetable.
And forth, we must pray hard—together! Because only God’s Holy Spirit can keep those bonds pure and strong.