I am definitely not a math guru, but I do remember that in a math class back in the day, I learned that in multiplying two negative numbers, the sum is a positive number. That is all I know about that math principle, so don’t ask me to explain the how or why. I didn’t care then, nor do I now; I just learned what I needed it to, answered it on a test and ran as far away from math as I could both in high school and college. Maybe not the best approach to learning and definitely not one I will teach my boys, but the whole math thing was never very kind to me.
In the course of my work over the years with people (more fun but still as complicated), I have discovered some pretty basic “relational math”: Two unhealthy people do not equal a healthy relationship. I know, pretty simple and basic. But I can’t tell you how many times that I have seen people make this mistake.
I often hear things like, “If only I had a boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/spouse, I wouldn’t be lonely/sad/unfulfilled/depressed/unhappy.” Or, “I really think that this relationship is going to fix all of the other issues in my life.” And, “I know we’re both not in a very good place, but I think this is what we need to get back on track.”
Now, I am all for people growing in and through a relationship and being encouraged to be a healthier person as a result of the other, as was posted in “A Different Kind of Stewardship.” I also know that we will never be perfect and thus finally ready for a relationship. If you’re waiting for perfection, then you’re in trouble.
My major concern here is when people go into a relationship hoping and praying that the other person is going to fix them or finally and ultimately fulfill them. And, as is often the case, the other person is coming with a similar perspective and goal. As much as I would love to say that two unhealthy people make each other better, it often makes things worse as they have an unrealistic and unreachable expectation for their relationship.
So to help make sure this doesn’t happen for you, I have another simple principle: A healthy relationship is made up of two healthy people. Duh, right? However, I didn’t say perfect, but healthy.
Instead of worrying about the other person and praying that he or she be the best significant other/spouse for you, why don’t you focus on being the best significant other/spouse? This is something I encourage married couples who are having issues and are focusing only on the other person. A great step for them is to work on becoming a better husband or wife. The same applies as you approach a potential relationship. Are you working on becoming a stronger and healthier person, knowing that this is great preparation for that relationship?
I am convinced that a healthy relationship and ultimately a healthy marriage hinge on the foundation that exists. This foundation includes things like a growing faith, good relationship skills, healthy levels of intimacy, etc. But it really starts with the two individuals that make up the relationship.
What are you doing right now, whether you are in a relationship or not, to stay on the path of growth, learning and ultimately being a healthy individual? Are you looking to that other person who is there now, or could be there in the future, to do this for you? If you’re in a relationship, would you say that you are both in a good place or desperately trying to fix each other? Let’s make sure the math equation is in your favor.