That’s a fact: We’re bombarded by dating advice.
One three-minute glance at a grocery store checkout and you’ll walk away with hundreds of dating tips, promising the health of your relationship will be something on par with a Shakespearean classic. (They aren’t wrong, of course, seeing how Romeo and Juliet panned out.)
Our culture is so desperate for knowing the “surefire” way to make your relationship last that there’s no shortage of advice out there. Just Google “Things Healthy Couples Do” and you’ll get over 38 million results!
But a lot of advice we’re being fed is conflicting. One article tells us that our relationship failed because we didn’t play hard to get, while another places the blame on not seeming eager enough.
Not only do most of these tips conflict with one another, they conflict with how we’re called to live as Christians. Seeking out worldly counsel is going to create a worldly relationship, and Romans 12:2 reminds us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Our best bet for a healthy relationship is to seek the Lord for wisdom and guidance so here are seven things, based on the Word of God, that healthy couples do.
1. Encourage Each Other Towards Christ
What’s the key difference between a worldly dating relationship and one that’s godly? That’s right! The never-fail, Sunday school answer: Jesus!
A relationship that’s Christ-centered and Scripture-focused is going to be a lot healthier than a similar relationship based on worldly values. By pointing each other back to Jesus, you’re being proactive against sin, preventing your relationship from becoming an idol, and “(spurring) one another on toward love and good deeds”(Hebrews 10:24).
Start today: Talk about what God has been teaching you lately, share a Bible verse that recently stood out to you, listen to a sermon podcast together or ask how you can be praying for one another.
2. Have Deep Honesty
We all knew the importance of honesty (or at least the consequences of dishonesty) before we upgraded to shoes with laces. But honesty in a dating relationship means a lot more than simply not lying. It’s allowing another person to see the not-so-pleasant baggage that you’re carrying. You know–the type of stuff you’d be mortified to post on your Instagram. But remember, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 2:9).
Start today: Discuss some of your hopes and dreams and your fears and failures.
3. Spend Time Away from Each Other
One of my biggest pet peeves are couples that morph into one person when they start dating. Brangelina? Bennifer? TomKat? No, no, no! Your relationship is going to thrive if you still have your own interests and your own friends!
Remember, Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us that God comes together with you and your future spouse to form a cord of three. If you and your boyfriend aren’t two separate people, your strong braid of three becomes a flimsy little twist of two.
Start today: Plan a fun adventure with some of your friends and do something your S.O. wouldn’t particularly enjoy.
4. Take Care of Themselves
A healthy relationship is made up of two people who take care of themselves well. Yes, we are called to serve one above ourselves (Philippians 2:4), but 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that we are “God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in (our) midst.” Not making yourself a priority in your own life isn’t honoring to God and it will leave you feeling spiritually and emotionally exhausted.
Start today: Create a list of self-care ideas and intentionally schedule time to take care of yourself.
5. Seek Out Mentorship
The best teacher is your mistakes. The second best (and much less painful) teacher is other people’s mistakes. There’s so much wisdom in the body of Christ that can save you a lot pain, heartache, and sin. Proverbs 13:20 reminds us, “He who walks with wise men will be wise.”
Start today: Find a couple whose relationship is a few steps ahead of your own and meet with them as a couple and as individuals.
6. Believe the Best about One Another
This one can be a tough one! In our fallen world, it’s so much easier to jump to conclusions than to believe the best in people. This knee-jerk reaction can intensify in our relationships. But, 1 Corinthians 13:7 tells us, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Start today: Take 10 minutes to write down a list of reasons you love and appreciate your boyfriend or girlfriend. You can share the list or keep it as a positive reminder when times are tough.
7. Grant One Another Grace
What happens when you take one imperfect person and add another imperfect person to the mix? Exactly! You get an imperfect relationship.
We’re all going to mess it up big time at some point, but 1 Peter 4:8 commands us to, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Start today: Ask God for the ability to forgive your partner for any wrong you might still be holding onto.