Human relationships and personal interactions are a valued asset in our world. In any culture, throughout history, the institution of marriage has been a foundational assumption to the well-being of civilization. Pew Research recently indicated only 7% of 64-year-olds had never married. Yet, more folks under 35 say they will be single forever. Young men and women are frustrated with the chaos caused by personal relationships, and it appears the next generation is losing hope in marriage.
What am I to make of the chaos when dealing with personal relationships?
If love is PATIENT…
Then why the chaos?
Most of us think of chaos as complete disorder: getting lost on a road trip, your computer’s hard drive explodes before a term paper is due.
However, another explanation describes chaos as the unknown, infinite possibilities that exist. From the beginning, the Creator of the Universe takes chaos—the unknown, infinite possibilities—and shapes existence into something beautiful.
At the beginning of a personal relationship, it initially feels simple, uncomplicated, and euphoric before the complexity and disordered confusion sets in. Most bail when chaos occurs.
Struggles, turmoil, and pressure seem to come with relationships. It is important to note that God uses that very chaos that feels disorienting as a means to orient us. Therefore, dynamic relationships become a life lab for us to understand ourselves and learn to love.
How do I create a healthy relationship?
Dr. John Van Epp outlines five forces that bond us to another. The first dynamic is what I KNOW about the person. When I spend time talking and doing things with someone, a deeper understanding of the person occurs. It takes time and actually being together. It’s challenging to really get to know someone solely through the internet.
The second dynamic is TRUST. As I spend time gathering pieces of information, I begin to form a picture of what I think this person is really like. The more positive our picture, the stronger our trust and attachment.
Next is Rely – As I learn that I can trust them, I then begin to rely upon them to meet more of my needs. This produces a deeper definition of our relationship and willingness to actually commit to the relationship which is the fourth dynamic. Our closeness then begins to express itself in intimacy or physical touch.
Know > Trust > Rely > Commit > Intimacy
To create a healthy relationship the level of each bonding dynamic should never exceed the previous level. Simply put, one should never be intimately or sexually involved with someone more than their level of commitment, one should never commit to someone they can’t rely upon and one should never rely upon someone they can’t trust and one can’t trust someone they don’t really know.
In the process, God is teaching us how to love—to consider others as more important than ourselves. The well-being of civilization may need relational chaos. It offers hope to the union between one man and one woman. After 30+ years of marriage, it is worth it.