This time last Friday I was starting to get ready for the marriage of my son, Andy, to his fiance, Alice. It was an incredible day! Proud Dad for sure 🙂

I had the privilege of marrying them and so thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you the 3 tips for healthy relationships that I shared with them (rooted on 1 Corinthians 13:1-10 which was read at their wedding).

Our relationships are often challenged; whether within our family or friends, and we shouldn’t be surprised by this. We have an enemy who is committed to dividing and destroying relationships, and we must ask for God’s help to not cooperate with that enemy.

So what were the commitments I invited Andy and Alice to make?

1. Think the best

We all fall short of our best selves because we all have been bruised by our life- stories. It’s easy to be critical. It’s easy to focus on the faults. It’s easy to dig for dirt OR we can choose to mine for gold. We recognise that people are fragile and broken, and so we handle them with care. With compassion and empathy. It’s an attitude that says “I’m on your side, not on your case.” Think the best – and you’ll draw out the best.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13 how love is patient and hopeful and enduring – believing, expecting, and drawing out the best in each other.

2. Forgive the worst

Forgiveness is the most essential ingredient to relationship endurance. It’s inevitable that we’ll drive each other nuts at times – that we’ll cause hurt and pain. Our daily choice to forgive paves the way for healing and reconciliation.

Again, in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul reminds us that “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

That’s what it means to forgive! Love doesn’t keep a tally of failure. And that’s not easy. Forgiveness is a choice – not a feeling – a choice to let it go, to not bring it up again. No one deserves our forgiveness. We offer it as a gift. As a kindness. As an act of love. It’s costly and it’s beautiful. Relationships cannot survive without it.

3. Love the most

We should look to outdo each in acts of kindness. Kindness truly is a relationship super-power, with a proven unstoppable ripple effect that is good for us, good for our relationships – good for the whole world. With over 4 decades of relationship research behind him, John Gottman says this, “being mean is the death knell of relationships – whereas kindness glues us together.”

No wonder Paul kicks off his famous reflections about love with these three words – Love is kind. Kindness is thoughtful and thought through.

The Greek word that Paul uses throughout 1 Corinthians 13 is ‘agape’.

Agape love is a sacrificial, self-less, other-centred love. A love that gives and expects nothing in return. When people commit to ‘agape love’ each other, those relationships will go from strength to strength whatever life throws our way.
I passionately believe in these simple, yet challenging principles, although – as someone whose first marriage ended in divorce – I’m very aware that sometimes things don’t work out. Life is messy and complicated.

But, with God helping me, I’m committing to these three things in my marriage with Amy, and hopefully all my relationships.

I pray that God will help you too – to think the best, forgive the worst, and love the most.