Definition of a Great Relationship
Great relationships are probable when both parties have a similar, trustworthy, and valid definition of a great relationship. They must also consistently practice this definition.
This is what Robert Fritz states is the math of relationships – It takes two to say yes, and one to say no.
When both parties are saying “yes” there is a big chance for a great relationship. But if one person is saying “no” there is little chance for a great relationship.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. - Romans 12:9–16
So that highlights some undesired news for relationships. You may be doing everything right, but if the other person is not practicing a definition of a great relationship, the relationship most likely will not be great no matter how hard you work at it.
The following truth table helps illustrate that.
Truth Tables and Reality
There are four options for “practicing a definition of a great relationship” and the “actual relationship”. The Truth Table is a good device to help evaluate your thinking about two separate ideas or elements. Specifically, it helps you unlink the two things that you think are connected.
The plus and minus signs indicate what is happening with that element. In the first two boxes on the left there are two plus signs. That says that you are practicing a great definition of relationship and the actual relationship is good. The second two boxes state that you are not practicing the great definition and the actual relationship is bad.
Without the use of the truth table, you would likely conclude that as long as you practice a great relationship definition, the actual relationship will be good.
Before the remainder of the above truth table is discussed consider the biblical direction to a husband and wife. To the wife, God states that she is to respect or submit to the husband. To the husband, God states that he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Therefore, it is common in a discussion with a couple to hear something like this from the husband, “I would love her if she would respect me.” Or from the wife, “I would respect him if he showed that he loved me.”
That means that each has linked love and respect together. A truth table will help unlink the two items and help each see reality.
100% of Reality
Going back to the truth table shown above, consider the third set of boxes with a + and – sign. That states that you are practicing a great definition of a relationship, but the actual relationship is bad. You are doing the right things to be a great partner, yet the relationship is not working. Why might that be true? One guess would be the other person isn’t putting energy into the relationship. They aren’t doing things that would help build the relationship.
Finally, the last two boxes state that you aren’t practicing a great definition of relationship, but the relationship is actually good. How could that be? It might be like the old saying about a broken clock – it is right at least two times a day. You may not be actively practicing a great relationship definition, but things are working for now. That last set of boxes is likely to be very temporary. Sometimes the relationship is working even though neither party is acting or living with truth and good principles.
Are You Saying Yes?
So, the truth table provides some needed reality to your thinking. Most importantly, it helps elevate the critical reality that even though you are saying “yes” to the relationship, the other person may be saying “no”.
In the example of the husband and wife, the truth table would help them identify that the wife actually can respect him when the husband does not love her and the husband can love her even when the wife does not respect him.
The point – are you doing your part whether they are doing their part or doing what is right? That is the beginning of a great relationship – you deciding to do what is right, to say “yes” even if they are saying “no”.
Is Your Relationship Definition Dependent On Them?
Go back and review your description or definition of a great relationship. Is any of it dependent on the other person? For example, “A great relationship satisfies me” or “A great relationship is where both parties mutually respect and love each other.”
What happens if the other person doesn't do their part? Does your definition leave room for them to not do their part while you still do yours? If the definition requires the other party to be doing something then it most likely needs to be revised.