You could say that my relationship experience has been across the board. I’ve been friends with and dated people who are flaky, rude, and annoying as well those who were compassionate, loyal, and steadfast. So far it has taught me that one of the top things people seek in relationships is happiness.
We pursue happiness like it’s the lottery, yet many feel like we never keep hold of it. I’ve often thought that people need friendship counseling – you know, like the pre-marriage counseling many couples get before tying the knot. If you ask therapist Alexandra Katehakis, she’ll tell you that the healthiest (and usually the happiest) relationships are those in which people are allowed to be people.
I wish someone had told me about some of her ideas in middle and high school; it definitely would have led to a happier time in the trenches of schooldom. Take her statement that no one is responsible for someone else’s personal growth. Brilliant. Or that compromise is the best way to “[share] time and space with another.”
Katehakis doesn’t give an example to follow, though. It’s so easy to know all the rules and guidelines yet have no idea how to carry them out. The Bible does speak to this area. Here are 3 of my favorite Biblical examples for healthy and happier relationships:
Rahab: The courage to get what you need
Remember the prostitute who saved the spies in Jericho (Joshua 2 & 6)? I’ll bet you didn’t expect her to be on a list about happy relationships! But the thing I love most about Rahab is very applicable. Imagine it: You’re a prostitute in a major city, and you’ve just heard that some foreigners just broke a sea in half and are taking over the land by sword and spear. So what do you do? You tell them exactly what you want and how you want it. Rahab didn’t timidly suggest that she needed something; she demanded to be saved. Sometimes in our relationships, we need to know when to demand our needs. If you need a change or help with something, ask for it.
Hosea and Boaz: Being champion to those around you
In case you’re not familiar with these charming gentlemen, flip to the books of Ruth and Hosea. Boaz and Hosea stand out to me as guys who stood up for the people they loved. It wasn’t easy, nor was it always fun. I like to think of what they did as being champions for a cause. Hosea took a serious emotional beating bringing his wife home (per God’s request). Boaz takes care of Ruth and then marries her. Whether you are on a Christian dating site or not, their examples are great ones to follow. It’s like 1 Corinthians 13 tells us: love is about trust and loyalty, about being patient through frustrations and being supportive no matter what.
Jacob and Esau: Forgiving the worst
Brothers are known for getting into a few fights, but Jacob and Esau take the cake. Or perhaps I should say take the birthright, since that’s what Jacob did (Genesis 25:27-34, 27:1-40). Esau was understandably angry, but in the end he did forgive his brother. Forgiveness can provide instantaneous relief and phenomenal healing to almost any wound. It will make you happier and it can make the people around you happier, too.
Entire books have been written about how to better treat friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, and I know a list of three qualities hardly brushes the surface! How about you? What are some ways that you’ve stayed happy and healthy in relationships with the people around you?
If you know someone who is struggling to maintain healthy relationships, will you email them this post?
Photo credit: Eric Teela