Once upon a time, I went out to dinner with the husband and wife directors of my son’s dance school. Between the two of them, they juggled at least 3 full careers and all four of their children both danced and were involved in sports. In spite of the stress of all that they were juggling, they seemed to be the poster children for the perfect marriage.
I couldn’t resist in asking them how they met, so they told their story.
“How did you know that he was ‘the one’?” I asked the wife.
She smiled and chuckled. “Well, I had a list!” she stated with a gleam in her eye.
“You had a list?” I asked incredulously. Not what I was expecting.
“Yes,” she said, “I had a list and he pretty much had everything on it.”
I understood right then why I had gotten into some relationship fiascos in the past. I hadn’t had a list.
So I went home, researched, and made my list. I must say it worked FABULOUSLY!In my counseling practice, I encounter many people who are looking for a relationship, are between relationships, just got out of a bad relationship, or are not sure if the relationship they are in is good for them.
Many of us tend to be far more emotional than rational when it comes to love. This may not help us pay enough attention to red flags or find a compatible partner. When we feel attracted to another person and have butterflies in our stomachs, it’s easy to run headlong into the relationship and pour our energy into making it work….even if it shouldn’t or won’t.
Healthy relationships exist when two people have positive relationship habits and are a good fit for each other. Most of us could probably easily brainstorm dozens of desirable partner qualities. As part of my own brainstorm, I developed two lists—140 Must Haves and 140 Can’t Stands—to help individuals think about what they are and are not looking for in a mate… before the relationship starts.
Partner characteristics are organized into 14 domains: Activities, Affection, Attraction, Education, Financial, Habits, Health, Marriage & Family, Preferences, Sexuality, Social Life, Spirituality, Traits, and Views & Attitudes. The task is to select the top ten priorities from the Must Haves and the top ten from the Can’t Stands.
Below are a sampling from each domain:
The Must Haves & Can’t Stands lists are to be kept handy as a means of making sure that the brain stays engaged when things are heating up. In addition, clients are encouraged to share their Must Haves and Can’t Stands with a close friend, mentor, or other person who will help hold him or her accountable.
It is estimated that the honeymoon period lasts only about two years. When the butterflies fly away, you want your relationship to remain healthy and happy. Best to plan for one that will!
Must Haves & Can’t Stands for Friendships
My pastor is always saying that you are likely to become just like the five people you spend the most time with. In other words, the friends and cohorts you surround yourself with will exert influence on your habits, attitudes, speech, how you spend your time, and even what path in life you wind up taking.
Just as we can have well thought-out lists for the partner qualities we are looking for and those we wish to avoid, we also can benefit from choosing our friends and associates intelligently and on purpose. Your inner circle should be comprised of folks who share the same character, beliefs, and standards as you do.
They should be a help, not a hindrance to the lifestyle you want to live and the course you want to take. Taking the time to identify and write down the qualities you must have and ones you can’t stand in your relationships can help you distance from those who don’t fit and sidestep unwise attachments in the future.
Healthy Relationships and Christian Counseling
Most of the time, getting where you want to go requires a map and a plan. Relationships are no different. Whether you are seeking a mate, friends, or to get your life on a better track, Christian Counseling can help you learn from past mistakes and/or establish a blueprint for healthy relationships.
“Paradise Found,” courtesy of Nathan McBride, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Happiness,” courtesy of Andrew Welch, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “The Cliff,” courtesy of Ricky Kharawala, unsplash.com, CC0 License