Almost every Christian would agree that building relationships that could be called successful is a critical part of happiness. There are no universal definitions of good and bad relationships, so gaining this information from different sources is an exciting experience. This essay seeks to summarize the author’s findings from brief interviews with two acquaintances and draw comparisons between these perspectives and the discussions of relationships in course readings, including the Scripture.
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At an individual level, the meaning of success in romantic connections has different shades, but “success” is always about growth. The first interviewer, a 27-year-old man who will be named John Doe, describes smart relationships as “a deep connection between like-minded people that also share religious views” (personal communication, April 12, 2021). John could not name any negative sides of such relationships, but his discussion of positive outcomes revolved around a sense of direction regarding growing together and the reduced likelihood of divorce. Karen Doe, a 33-year-old woman, exemplifies success with reference to relationships “in which both partners had no previous affairs” (personal communication, April 12, 2021). From her perspective, despite both sides’ inexperience, such relationships would be marked with trust, sincerity, purity, and the opportunity to learn together and from each other.
These findings align with information from both religious and scientific sources. In the Book of Philippians, there are directions for people to be “in full accord and of one mind” to complete God’s joy and live with a sense of direction (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Philippians 2:2). This verse empirically demonstrated positive associations between religious denomination discordance between the spouses and the likelihood of divorce reported by Hwang et al. (2019) chime with John’s viewpoint regarding the criteria of success. Karen’s perspective also finds support from the Bible since the Scripture calls for “fleeing from sexual immorality” and avoiding sinning “against his own body” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Corinthians 6:18). As per Parrott and Parrott (2011), smart love looks beyond appearances and emphasizes stable internal qualities rather than temporary characteristics. Interestingly, both interviewees’ definitions of good relationships do not refer to the physical attraction that becomes weaker with time.
“Dumb” relationships are viewed by the interviewees as the absence of stability and sincere attraction. The first interviewee offers relationships “with a shaky foundation and frequent arguments over tastes” as a negative example and lists break-ups, anxiety, and disappointment as the outcomes (J. Doe, personal communication, April 12, 2021). The second interlocutor mentions relationships that “have been established without genuine mutual attraction” and negative reactions to the partner’s psychological changes (K. Doe, personal communication, April 12, 2021). From her viewpoint, such marriages can lead to financial gains for both parties, dissatisfaction with life, lack of healthy intimacy, a propensity to cheating, and the need to live in lies.
The opinions above are aligned with perspectives in other sources, including God’s wisdom in the Scripture. Parrott and Parrott (2011) emphasize stability, clarity, and respect for the partner’s time as the signs of healthy relationships and argue that attempts to change one’s mate are “what dumb love does” (p. 115). These authors’ discussion also supports Karen’s views since they state the failure to recognize the fluidity of feelings and human impermanence as the features of dumb relationships (Parrott & Parrott, 2011). The interviewees mention one’s search for pretexts for conflicts as a critical barrier to healthy relationships. To resolve it, it is wise to “first take the log out of your own eye” to see the situation more clearly and earn the right to offer critique to others (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Luke 6:42). Thus, in the Bible, the significance of mutual acceptance and not blaming others is stated explicitly.
Role and Effects of Chemistry on Relationships
In the context of human relationships, chemistry is hard to define, which is reflected in the interviewees’ diverse responses. As per the male interlocutor, in an emotional sense, chemistry is what “makes us realize that another person is second to none” and “keeps relationships bright and alive” (J. Doe, personal communication, April 12, 2021). Karen Doe defines it as “an intense emotional response that supports reproduction” (personal communication, April 12, 2021). She also conceptualizes chemistry as a multi-dimensional phenomenon that changes the levels of emotional and sexual satisfaction both positively and negatively.
Chemistry finds reflection in diverse sources and can have different names. From qualitative research, it is known that young people in the U.S. strongly associate it with reciprocal candor, mutual enjoyment, and something enigmatic and hard to put into words (Campbell et al., 2018). These perspectives are broader than those of the interviewees and cover the “magical” element of chemistry. “You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes” is the manifestation of interpersonal chemistry found in the Scripture (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Song of Solomon 4:9). The verse is closely related to John’s understanding of romantic chemistry as the ability to perceive another person’s uniqueness. Godly wisdom encourages people to celebrate this feeling once it is pure and non-destructive, and developing an ability to distinguish between positive chemistry and lust is a central priority for every Christian willing to build relationships.
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In summary, exploring and applying God’s words about love and affection is critical, but studying the perspectives of researchers and common individuals might also add to understanding. From the Scripture and other sources, it can be concluded that success in relationships is linked with purity and like-mindedness, whereas “dull” relationships involve instability, lies, and poor self-criticism. Chemistry is basically the essence of true attraction that fills relationships with meaning.
Campbell, K., Nelson, J., Parker, M. L., & Johnston, S. (2018). Interpersonal chemistry in friendships and romantic relationships. Interpersona: An International Journal on Personal Relationships, 12(1), 34-50. Web.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Bible Study Tools. Web.
Hwang, W., Yoon, J., Silverstein, M., & Brown, M. T. (2019). Husband-wife religious discordance, marital satisfaction, and risk of marital dissolution in two generations. Journal of Family Issues, 40(9), 1201-1223. Web.
Parrott, L., & Parrott, L. (2011). Real relationships: From bad to better and good to great. Zondervan.