An Ingredient for Great Relationships

Erik Cooper —  March 19, 2012 — 4 Comments

My wife and I dated long-distance for the first three years of our relationship.

Year 1: I was in Indianapolis and she was in Florida.

Year 2: I was in Nashville and she was in Florida.

Year 3: I was in Nashville and she was in Indianapolis.

Year 4: I was in a jewelry store.

Nurturing a relationship over a thousand mile span sucks, especially when the only phone is attached to the wall and cost $0.33 per minute (my kids don’t believe such contraptions ever existed).

But there’s one strange paradox that distance brings to a relationship: Focus.

Mandy just returned from 10 Days in Cambodia (sounds like a Brad Pitt movie, doesn’t it?). While she was engaging in the lives of some of the world’s most beautiful yet poverty stricken people, I was 8,700 miles away successfully keeping three kids (and unfortunately, the dog) on this side of the dirt.

Something very special took place (as it always seems to) when we’re forced to spend some time apart.

We grew closer.

Why is that? It doesn’t make sense. Except that it sorta does.

Thanks to FaceTime and global wifi networks, we were able to talk multiple times each day. And every interaction we had was precious. Intentional. Focused. She had my undivided attention and I had hers. She arrived home closer to me than had she never been away. That’s worth examining.

I’m not one to lament the cultural decline brought on by Facebook, iPhones, or cable television. Abuse of any of these mediums isn’t the core of the problem, it’s just a symptom.

But it does make me wonder, in the midst of a manic culture where we don’t have to find distractions, distractions find us, how do we re-engage the focus that seems to elevate the quality of human connection our souls long for?

Relationships grow when we give them our attention. (Yeah, I know…it’s sorta “duh”).

Do you have an important relationship that needs some renewed focus?

4 responses to An Ingredient for Great Relationships

  1. Erik – A great marriage takes work, it just doesn’t happen. Thanks for driving that point home 🙂

    • Thanks Dale. The big question is how do we keep this intensity and focus when the reality, stress, and distractions of the everyday tend to steal our attention? I’d love to hear some thoughts.

  2. Erik – I think that you hit the nail on the head when you said “intentional.” When a man is married, his marriage needs to take priority. I’m planning on blogging on marriage later this week or next week. I have had several blog posts swirling around in my mind that I want to be more focused about. I hope you drop in and look at my blog 🙂

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