Define the Relationship

“Relationships must be defined.”

This was the first relationship principle that was given at the first Relationships Empowerment Group I attended through my church.

In college, I often heard it referred to as “DTR”. It made me chuckle a little bit while also wanting to roll my eyes at how often I had used that reference in my own relationships. “Girl, we had to have the DTR talk…”

I ignorantly used this term not realizing it was a powerful principle that should be used in all relationships.

My fiancé and I were engaged to be married on March 7, 2013. We are really excited to marry each other and look forward to impacting the world together. Maybe a little too excited, because upon our engagement, we quickly started calling each other husband and wife. Oh, it was so cute! (at least we thought so).  He would post sweet messages on facebook referring to me as “wife”  I would send him texts calling him my “husband”.  We were living it up with those terms! But, after a while, frustration crept in.  One thing I know for sure, is great frustration shows up when God is trying to shift my direction. Frustration makes me look inward, ask the tough questions, and investigate the situation to come to a solution.

I started feeling uncomfortable calling my fiancé, my “husband” and him calling me his wife. I also felt like we were confusing people and possibly painting a negative picture about relationships.

So, I decided to finally deal with the frustration. I remember looking up the definition for  fiancé; the information was breathtaking! Fiance’ means “promise.” [Flashback: In our first marriage counseling session, our Pastor said that we were each other’s promises from Heaven.]  I guess in all of our excitement, we forgot that a promise takes time to be fulfilled. The time in between is the process. I remember as a kid, my mom promised me $10 for every A I received on my report card. I was so excited! I worked hard and got as many A’s as I could.  At the end of the quarter I had an extra $50 or $60 in my pocket, yay, promise fulfilled!!

See, the process can be exciting if you place the proper value on it.  During the process you are being sharpened, refined, fine-tuned so you’ll know how to handle the promise when it is fulfilled. You will value it and not take it for granted. I remember times when I didn’t place the proper value on defining my relationships and I certainly missed the beautiful and powerful purpose of them. Rushing through process can easily cause unnecessary conflict in the relationship later.

I am happy to say, my fiancé and I had the DTR conversation and it amplified our lives. We are still extremely excited, but have slowed down to enjoy our process of  learning how to communicate, setting up pillars that we will stand on, how to make the best decisions together, likes/dislikes, how to handle disagreement, and intentionally apply the principles we are learning in marriage counseling. We are impacting each other with joy, peace, empowerment, faith, energy, confidence, boldness…it’s been a beautiful experience and well worth it.

Today, take a moment to evaluate your evaluate your relationships.  Do they need to be defined or redefined? Everyone is not your friend, everyone is not your significant other, confidant, family, boo, lover, etc. You can feel closely connected to someone and do all these things for them only to find out later that they didn’t define the relationship in the same way you did.   I’ve experienced that in so-called friendships, romantic relationships, professional, and family and ended up with great disappointment.  You tend to discover the truth when conflict or frustration arises.

So, why do we need to define the relationship?

1)To determine the purpose of the relationship.

2) To know how much to engage or not engage.

3) To cut down on unrealistic or premature expectations.

I could go on and on about this topic, but I want to hear from you! Share an experience about a DTR conversation you have had recently or in the past. What was the outcome—did it amplify your relationship afterward or did you have to disconnect?