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Relationship Advice Unfiltered

Kensington Church

Kensington Church

Always assume the best of your spouse. Always.

One out of a billion
Sam Franjione, Assoc. Student Ministries Director, Orion Campus
I’d say that some of the best advice I received related to romantic relationships happed when my wife and I were dating in college. I was reading the book “Young and in Love” by Ted Cunningham. The author talked about how before the Internet, options for a spouse were limited by proximity. Depending on how far back in history, there were only a handful of people in the pool of options for a spouse because of the size of school or town. Even as recent as 50 years ago, the selection pool may only be a few hundred people. Back then, people said “yes” to one and said “no” to a few hundred. Arguably, this ratio made the “saying yes” to one person easier.




1+1=1
Thaddeus Stewart, Student Ministries Coordinator, Troy Campus
I don’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said in the world of math, 1+1=2. However, when it comes to God’s equation for marriage and kingdom-centered relationships, the equation becomes 1+1=1 (Genesis 2:24). One cannot enter a relationship—especially one as important as a marriage—without recognizing their brokenness, surrendering it to God, and allowing Him to shape us as human beings.

Leave margin
Rebecca Sassak, Discipleship Administrator
First thing that comes to mind is advice I received as a new mom. This advice was from a wise woman with older children who was several steps ahead of my new parenting journey. It gave me freedom and peace.

She said when you are a new mother, you get a lot of advice and opinions. Most of which you do not ask for. Everybody has an opinion and offers suggestions. It’s okay to say, “thank you,” smile and move on. You are not obligated to act on the advice you receive. In fact, your gut, the team of people you choose to put around yourself, and prayer will guide you as to what’s best for you and your child. Trust yourself.

Another nugget I hold close is something shared in Bible study about 10 years ago and I immediately wanted it myself. It’s easier during some seasons, and I now realize it’s a filter to test if I’m balanced. “I try to live my life in a way that always leaves margin to be available for a friend that needs me.” As a result, I do not celebrate the “busyness” of my calendar and I aim to separate my identity from all the “doings” in my life.

Assume the best
Pam Woloson, Help Bank Director
My husband and I have been married 28 years this March. The best words are this:
Always assume the best of your spouse. Always.

God chose you
Melissa Thwing, Social Media & Marketing Manager
A recent podcast episode on Risen Motherhood said something that changed my perspective on my relationship with my daughter. I wished I heard it way earlier in my parenting journey. It sounds so simple, but the timing was perfect, and the truth hit me hard. “God chose you to be the mother of your child because he knew there was no better person for the job. He chose you.”

Love one another
Mervat Denno, Guest Services Coordinator, Troy Campus
“So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you. For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.” John 13:34-35 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Studying your partner
Melodie Lange, Database Administrator
The best thing my husband and I did while we were dating was read books together to truly get to know one another. Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships by Chip Ingrim, Personality Plus by Florence Littauer, Wild at Heart by John Eldredge, and Captivating by Stasi Eldredge, to name a few. These started fantastic conversations about who we are at heart. Not the typical dating kind of conversation about our favorite color, food, or vacation spot. The books encouraged us to ask deep questions of each other like “What role did your mom play in your household and what subconscious expectations do you have of me because of it?” We took a deep dive into studying each other and what marriage was. You go to college for years to study for your job, but not many people take the time to study their partner that they’ll be with for a lifetime.

Insert your name into scripture
Charlotte Kelly, Discipleship Director, Orion Campus
When thinking about relationships and how to act in love, I read a challenge that has helped me.

Here’s the challenge:
Start your day by reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, but with a twist. Insert your own name where it says or refers to love. If you get to a point where you stop and can’t honestly make the statement with your name inserted, stop and pray about what you can do to be more loving. So, I would start the verses below with

“Charlotte is patient, Charlotte is kind. Charlotte does not envy…”

The only man on earth
Linda VanDerGraaf, Kid Care Director
In my small group we read a book on marriages and one thing that our whole group resonated with is this:

“Treat you husband as if he is your Adam. He’s the only man on earth and there is no other.” When remembered, it is quite impacting to the soul. I guess this could go both ways: husbands, treat your wife as if they were your Eve!

Wind in my sails
Chris Cook, Director of Care Ministries
When I was single, I had a couple come alongside me. As I was dating, the husband always reminded me “you are looking for someone to be wind in your sails and not an anchor.” The lady pictured below is that person for me.

Second, I am reminded over and over again by the words of Dallas Willard regarding the spiritual life and applying them to relationships of all kinds: “The spiritual life is about not getting what you want all the time.”

Producing vs consuming
Arthur Harvey, Student Ministries Intern, Orion Campus
My mentor’s words have had a big impact on my life. He said, “You can know within yourself that you have taken a step into manhood when you realize you are known for what you are producing rather than what you are consuming.”

For me, producing looks like asking questions or being involved in conversation rather than sitting passively. It’s showing love to random people on a walk or neighbors. When everyone is being hypnotized by a screen, I break the cycle and bust out a fat puzzle or board game.

Go back a few steps
Stacy Mallard, Guest Services Coordinator, Clarkston Campus
After 36 years of marriage, a common marriage idea we have always disliked is that ‘someone has to make the final decision’ in your home or family. If you get to the point where there is a ‘final decision’ and you are at an impasse, you have missed something along the way of getting to that point and need to go back a few steps until you are in agreement.

We started so very young on this journey—fun fact: we met at church camp! I know the advice above came from the great mentors and examples of strong marriages we’ve seen along the way. We’re still pretty crazy about each other.

What do you mean by that?
Steven Tomczyk, Breakaway Director, Clinton Township Campus
As I have worked with students over the years, I have heard so many of them tell me about how in “love” they are with their significant other. Somewhere along the journey I started responding by asking “what do you mean by that?” I am almost always entertained by how quickly their response turns from trying to define the word, to realizing that they don’t actually know.

This isn’t just a teenage experience. Age does not bring immunity with this blindspot. Our culture uses the same word for expressing “I love pizza” as it does for expressing “I love my spouse.” So much of what we come to believe about “love” subconsciously comes from the media we consume, so when two people coming from two separate journeys begin a relationship, the chances of them having the same definition and expectations of what “love” is are probably zero. In other words, not being on the same page about what “love” means is like trying to play football with someone who is trying to play hockey. No one is going to win.

Rather than being a couple that simply says, “I love you” to each other, be a couple that has also asked each other “what do you mean by that?”

Empathy first
Emily Tank, Graphic Design Intern
I think in any kind of relationship with another human, empathy is critical. God has been teaching me to work toward an understanding of people so that I can respond in a way that connects with them. It is not just simply about doing unto others as you would want to be treated, but about how THEY would want to be treated—which looks so different from you sometimes. Understand that steps of courage for them can look differently than you and applaud them when they take those steps.

Pick your battles
Jennifer Troeger, Director of Database Services
The best advice I received (and share repeatedly) especially with parenting is “Pick your battles, because they all aren’t worth winning.”

Short, sweet, and so true!

Baseball analogies
Ryan Morrill, Kkids Director, Orion Campus
I just heard Louis Giglio talk about father on the Carey Nieuwhouf Podcast. He compared how having a good father in life is like having a backstop in baseball. It allows you to throw your fastest, craziest pitch where you don’t have to worry about running down the street after the ball for five minutes when you miss. Having grown up as an only child, with a love for baseball while living in a hilly neighborhood, I could totally relate to this visual. I want to be a dad who is going to be there for my kids, not to rescue them but to bump up against in case things go a little wild or off the mark as they take risks when they throw down in life.

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