The One Thing to Avoid If You Want a Healthy Relationship
After what seems like a lifetime of being single, it can be hard not to become all consumed by the excitement of a relationship.
Maybe you were used to always being alone at weddings or parties. But suddenly, you have a brunch buddy, someone to think about when you wake up, a person to occupy your thoughts and recent text and call logs on your phone.
It can be easy to find your identity in another person without even realizing you’ve done it. This especially true if you identified as “single” up until this point.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t celebrate or invest in your growing relationship. But keeping yourself focused on Christ and remembering your first identity as a child of God will make the relationship better.
Fear destroys the self
All insecurities in life come from forgetting who we are — a child of God, created in his image and likeness. The fear of rejection is a powerful manifestation of this idea. That fear can drive you to do crazy things that don’t line up with the identity of a Christlike person.
As a single person, I felt absolutely certain that once I was in a relationship, I would know exactly who I was.
Like most cradle Catholic girls, I was told that God would call me to be one of two things: a nun or a wife. Those were my two options. Everything else was just a waiting game until my number was called.
So that’s how I lived.
It was an empty life.
That emptiness didn’t go away when I started dating, it just took on a new form.
Air, or nothingness, will take the form of whatever vessel it is inside. That was my identity. I just moved the nothing from a vessel of single to a vessel of dating. It didn’t change the makeup of my self, it just changed the shape.
The problem wasn’t that I was in the wrong vessel, or that I hadn’t been assigned the title of religious sister or wife yet.
The problem was neither of those were my true identity.
Yes, it’s true that our vocation is a vastly important call in life that should not be taken lightly. But our primary call in this life is to be a child of the Lord and walk in his footsteps. He calls us to be his children whether we’re single or married, as everything we are.
Maintaining who you are in a new relationship
Knowing we are created to live in God’s light is a great first step. Living it out is a totally different story. Because as with all good things, it’s easier said than done.
The best piece of advice I can give you is this: Knowing who you are is hard work.
It’s like eating right or building virtue or working out. These are things that, even if we like them, don’t come as naturally as ordering in take-out to watch television. The goodness takes work.
The one thing to avoid
Regardless of your vocation, remember to not lose yourself. Here’s how:
Carve out time to be alone
Making space for yourself to be alone is hard, especially when you’re in a new relationship. It’s great to have someone in your life who you want to be with all the time. Maybe they even make everyday errands like grocery shopping seem fun! But it’s vital for us to remember what makes us unique. Spend time every day alone for at least an hour doing something that you love, all on your own.
Ask questions and reflect
Don’t feel the need to say you like something just for the sake of having it in common. Not liking baseball isn’t a sin, and you don’t need to share every interest.
If you’re not sure about something new, try it and then reflect afterwards on it, asking yourself honestly, Is that something I enjoyed and want to do again?
Celebrate your roots
Spend time with your family and friends who have always been there for you. It will be hard to balance a life with a new person so involved in it, but make sure to keep those who know you best (and always have) close by. They’ll keep you in check if you start to slip.
Be open about your needs
If you need space, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Whether that means physical space or emotional space, it’s entirely okay to call the shots in your relationship.
Pray, pray, pray
Ask God to show you who you are. He literally created you, after all. He knows you better than you even know yourself.
Remind yourself daily
For a long time, I’ve had a sticky note on my mirror that reads this simple message, and that’s helped me to stay rooted in my identity no matter what: Remember who you are, and whose you are.