Sixteen years ago, one of my close friends got married on Valentine’s Day. It was a special day not just because she was getting married but because it was the first-ever occasion that Joe, my now-husband, and I went somewhere as an official couple. We’ve now been married fifteen years. We have three children, are in the process of adopting, have moved houses more than we’d like, and I’m happy to say, by God’s grace, are still very happily in love.
In honour of Valentine’s Day this month, I’d love to share a few things I admire about Joe that I think are worth looking for in a potential spouse and aiming for in our lives to improve relationships of any kind. No marriage is perfect, because no person is perfect. Joe and I are certainly in-process and in-progress people. We, like everyone, have tough days, rough patches, disagreements, tears, pray plenty of desperate prayers, and give our fair share of apologies. We’ve on many occasions called in older, wiser people to help us get back on track and improve weak areas.
One massive game-changer we both had going for us though, that deserves credit for any joy and bliss is that we each entered marriage was our own rock-solid commitment to follow Jesus. That bedrock has certainly been the reason our “house” has remained standing after plenty of storms. We can’t take much credit for the fruit of this; we can only testify that Jesus’ words are true. He’s a foundation that can keep you standing come what may (see Matthew 7:24-27).
In addition to the build-your-life-on-Christ advice for marriage and life, here are three things I enjoy and respect about Joe that can add value to any relationship—whether a work colleague, friendship, dating relationship, or marriage. They are three “C”s: 1. Comical; 2. Competent; and 3. Character
First up, comical.
The definition of comical is “causing laughter especially because of a startlingly or unexpectedly humorous impact” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Want to improve a relationship, be a better friend or colleague? Laugh more! Smile often, and lighten up. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Let down your guard, and laugh with people.
Being an adult means responsibility and, at times, disappointments. My advice: Marry someone you can be yourself with, laugh alongside, and laugh at yourself with. Remember, laughter is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22).
It’s one thing for someone to be a great person. It’s another thing for them to be a great husband or wife. To be a spouse, you’ve got to have capacity and competence at not just doing your own life well, but embracing and devoting yourself to another imperfect life and handling that well.
Competency is important because respect is vital to any healthy, lasting relationship. Does the person you love have competency to just get stuff done and make good decisions?! Can they solve problems, pay bills, and figure stuff out—cause, I assure you, much of adulthood is being able to figure stuff out.
Are they competent with people? Listening? Saying, “I’m sorry”? EQ, not just IQ.
Finally is character.
Character is king when it comes to any healthy and committed relationship. Okay, the person you like is gifted, talented, excelling in work. Smart? Going places? Excellent! But, I have to break it to you: When you’re ill and the budget is tight and your kids are trying every bit of your patience, you’ll wish for a patient and kind husband—not a profound and talented one. When the budget is tight and one of you has lost your job, you’ll want someone who can remain honest, strong, and full of integrity—not cut corners to make ends meet. Character and the fruit of the Holy Spirit cannot be overemphasised.
A person of character is a person who does the right thing when no one is looking.
The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians chapter five are signs of Christ-like character, and they are vitally important for any lasting, joyful, committed relationship. It takes time for a person’s character to be revealed. (Hint: This is usually seen under extreme stress and pressure, so make sure you’ve known someone long enough to see this).
Comical, competent, and character are three areas that when on-point, a relationship can not just survive, but be built with joy as well.”