When we begin a new relationship, we tend to put “out best foot forward.” We try to impress. We go out of our way to be something significant to the other individual. This anticipation and hopefulness often creates the sense of butterflies when we think of that person. Over time, as we grow closer to one another, we lose the butterflies and a sense of peace and contentment replace the butterfly feeling (this feeling of peace and contentment if very different than the feeling of indifference or settling, which is also common in more established relationships. However, the later are signs of an unhealthy or unwell relationship). It’s this peace and contentment that tell us that we are in a healthy relationship; one that God might be calling us into for marriage.
Peace and contentment come when we don’t have to impress anymore, we don’t have to try extra hard to be someone we’re not (which usually resembles perfection), when a reflection of our character is truly seen by the character of the other person. This peace and contentment builds long-term satisfaction. It gives us the understanding of fully desiring someone. Through this deeper level of love and commitment, we begin to discover integrity in our love and relationships.
Paul writes to the Philippians by saying, “So, this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love so much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: beautiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God” (The Message). We discover a sense of security and we reach the point of saying, “I want to know this person – truly know this person.” Or, we hope our mate is saying, “I want to grow closer to her everyday.” No more butterflies, but something better… security, peace, desire and contentment, the things God truly intends for our lives.
So, how do we know when we’ve discovered this sense of stability? Analyze the following four questions to evaluate whether or not your relationship has moved out of the butterflies’ stage and into the place God desires all relationships.
1. Is this person consistent in your life?
When you evaluate whether or not the person is consistent in your life, look beyond when you see each other to see if that person is interested in your emotional and physical well being as well
2. Can you be yourself?
Does the person you’re with know your quirks, what upsets you, motivates you, and makes you excited or happy and cares for you more because of your individualism? Are you comfortable with him, can you trust him and can he be himself when he’s around you?
3. Does he accept you?
Do you accept each other? There will always be things that drive you crazy about another person, but you get to choose what you are and are not willing to accept. Sometimes these quirks are the things you’ll love about one another, sometimes you will hate someone’s imperfections, but if you can’t accept them and continue to move forward then you’re not in a place that can honor God. If you accept someone, you won’t try to change their frustrating characteristics, but rather you‘ll encourage one other to continue to grow and challenge one another to become a better person.
4. Are they pursuing you?
Are you pursuing one another? Pursuing each other isn’t just about making each other feel special and significant, it’s also about sacrificing for each other, it’s about seeing the other person as first. Sometimes pursuing one another just means you offer whatever you can (like homemade cookies, a handmade card or a moment of fervent prayer), and that offering means the world to your significant other. The pursuit is easy in a young relationship, so take note of your character to determine if this will fade.
After answering these four questions, evaluate where you need to grow, and whether or not the growth is worth pursuing. Sometimes the butterflies linger, but there is a point when the peace and contentment claim their place. The excitement of a relationship will hopefully always exist, but the peace and contentment hold a special significance in the future. This peace and contentment demonstrate a mature relationship, one that is moving deeper, and will last the test of time.