|| teaching team ||
Several years ago, a well-known Christian counselor and author published a book entitled, Sex Begins in the Kitchen. * He says, sex doesn’t begin in the bedroom. It begins, the kitchen, or living room, or other places. The reason? Sex is not just an act. It’s a relationship.
And when we talk about relationships, it’s important to talk about healthy relationships.
We all have relationships. We all have social interaction.
The question is… are they healthy relationships? Especially when it comes to marriage.
Great marriages don’t all look the same, but one thing is for sure – they are made up to two people working at healthy relationships.
So what does that look like?
What do healthy relationships consist of?
Another favorite author suggests that there are four pillars of good relationships.** Let’s look at those four things:
#1 — love
There are lots of aspects to love and various words used for love.
Love is an emotion. But it’s way more than that.
There is love of friends.
There is physical attraction that is part of love.
But we are speaking here of agape love – a self-sacrificing king of love. A love that says, “I want what’s best for you.
Romans 12:9 (NLT) – Don’t pretend to love others. Really love them.
This kind of love include care, acceptance, support, and a feeling of security. But most importantly, it is unselfish. It is a love that seeks what is best for the other person.
And this flies in the face of our deepest problem. As human beings, we are selfish. Some more than others. But we all struggle with it. And real love means sacrifice for the best interest of someone else.
#2 — respect
Another good word… HONOR.
Romans 12:10 – Outdo one another in showing honor.
What is honor? Esteem, value, recognition, admiration
How do you show someone honor?
Tell them. Make sure they know it from your actions.
Let them know you value their opinion. Their time. Their input.
Make sure they know you value who they are.
A recent article spoke of a relational experiment, trying to find secrets to couples with great relationships. The researchers observed couples in normal communication and noticed something interesting. Those couples with good relationships responded to each other’s requests (the article called them “bids”). They were little things – not really important. But they were invitations to enter the other’s lives or interests.
The wife is reading a book and says, “Hey. Listen to this…” She wants to share something she sees as interesting and is inviting her husband to join her.
Or the husband is doing something (watching a football game, let’s say) and says, “Honey, look at this…” Again, inviting her to enter into what he enjoys.
Couples with good relationships, and ultimately (these researchers observed) the couples whose relationships lasted were the couples who responded positively to each other most of the time.
Two things… positive reaction, and it sent both ways.
These were small things. But they sent a big message. Your interest matters to me. YOU matter to me.
#3 — trust
Any discussion about relationships has to include trust.
And trust goes both ways.
Both parties need to be trusting.
And both parties need to be trustworthy.
Proverbs 25:19 – Trusting in a treacherous (unfaithful, deceitful) man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.
This is a big one.
Trusting someone else involves risk.
And many people have been hurt / let down / disappointed.
And they don’t want that to happen again. So to protect themselves, they put up walls, or avoid close friendships, or meaningful conversations. They don’t want to be vulnerable or open.
But healthy relationships cannot happen without trust.
#4 — understanding
The book of Proverbs says much about wisdom and understanding.
Proverbs 14:33 – Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding…
Like all the other aspects of healthy relationships, this goes both ways.
The husband needs to work at understanding his wife… and she needs to let him in.
And the wife needs to work at understanding her husband… and he needs to let her in.
If both parties are not looking for understanding and both parties are not open, it won’t work.
And this one takes time. It takes a while to develop understanding.
*Dr, Kevin Lehman, Sex Begins in the Kitchen, updated 2006
**Dr. H. Norman Wright, Relationships that Work