God Centered Long Distance Relationships
The Emergence of the "LDR"
In today's world of increasingly developing communication technology, the world of dating is constantly evolving as well. With chat rooms, online dating sites, Instant Messaging, and Skype, long distance relationships are becoming increasingly popular, and dare I say, easy?
No, let's face it--Long Distance Relationships are not easy. They are easier than they were 50, 25, even 10 years ago, but anyone who is in an LDR will admit they are still hard work. It is for that very reason that anyone can Google "Long Distance Relationship" and come up with thousands of ways to make them work. Ideas for how to communicate, what to do for fun, how often to see each other, sex, and ways to stay in love populate the pop-culture of LDR literature. One thing I have found to be lacking, however, is what I believe to be the most important aspect of any relationship--Spirituality. Therefore, here I aim to help people in understanding how to keep God at the center of relationship, for if you truly want to it thrive, having a rich spiritual life together is the best way cultivate your relationship.
The Relationship Mirror
Your relationship with your significant other should mirror your relationship with God. Let us assume that's a good thing. This makes sense, because in a way, our relationship with God is long distance: we can talk to him everyday, but we don't necessarily "see him", sometimes he feels really far away, but you know that despite the distance you two are madly in love. Maybe you don't agree with that... but my point is that the skills we use in our relationship with God, we can use to keep God in our relationship with our significant other.
Healthy, God centered relationships are a virtue, and just like all virtues they take practice. So here are 5 daily practices to help you and yours develop a virtuous and holy relationship.
Talk about your Beliefs
This should really be the first step in any relationship, but one that couples often skip in fear of being incompatible. Simply stated, if your beliefs don't line up, especially spiritually, it's probably not going to work. Therefore, talk about your faith life in general: who you believe God to be, how you've come to know him, and your specific beliefs about your religion or spiritual practices. Also, eventually, you should talk about what role God would play in raising a family, and finally, talk about how your faith influences your relationship boundaries (i.e, sex before marriage, kissing, modesty, etc.).
When doing something difficult, its wise to seek out those who have done it before, or who have good knowledge of the subject. Find couples who are currently, or who have successfully in the past, head healthy God filled relationships. They don't necessarily have to be "long-distancers". It is these people who can help you get through the rough times, and rejoice with you in the good times. You can turn to them for advice or support, and often times they may help you be a good judge of what is unhealthy in your relationship, or if it's time to break it off. Support is essential. Pastors and other spiritual leaders can also help focus your relationship towards God during these times as well.
Attend Worship Services
Especially when you're together, attend a service. This gives you a chance to experience what its like to live out your faith and worship together. I also gives you a clue as to how you each interact within a community. It doesn't necessarily have to be Mass or a Sunday Worship, even just a prayer service, a wedding, or a funeral can give you these insights as well.
Scripture is at the heart of any religion, so read some together. Pick a book of the Bible to read every week (or two if it's a long one), read a certain amount each day, and discuss what you got out of it when you next talk to each other. Seeing how people read and interpret scripture is essential in understand their faith life. You can even read other books about faith (The five people you meet in heaven, the Shack, etc.) and discuss those as well.
The most important thing you can do in a relationship is pray--not only with each other, but for each other and your relationship. Whether you want to say a specific pray every night before bed, pray before every meal, or just challenge your partner to spontaneously pray, you should do so everyday! It is prayer that will enable you to get through those times when you just want to see your partner, or on those nights when you fight. Pray ceaselessly and your relationship will thrive.
Go and Do it!
Long Distance Relationships aren't easy, and keeping God at the center of them can be even harder. However, if you aim to practice these 5 steps it will be much easier and more fulfilling, and you and your partner will come to be well equipped for a holy marriage!
Questions & Answers
© 2010 R D Langr