Relationship or Partnership?

It has been close to a month since the last entry and I apologize for not posting an article or two during that time. The truth is, I had a couple pieces written and ready to go, but I felt as if it was the wrong time to be sharing them. I am thankful for the busy season and short break from writing because it has allowed me to get re-focused and really put certain things into perspective.

As I get closer to married life, the concepts behind sustaining a healthy relationship have been at the forefront of my mind. I think about people who have been married for years or even a short time. I think about those who have been dating or engaged for years. I wonder what their relationship lives are like and if they are “healthy”. What does healthy really look like? I think I had some ideas before, but a recent church sermon painted the clearest picture I have seen in some time.

The pastor talked about the differences between relationships and partnerships, and how some people get the two confused without even realizing it. The main difference stated was that relationships have a deeper commitment, whereas a partnership simply has a common goal attached to it. When the common goal is met or not met, you move on to the next thing. The partnership is strictly based on the results achieved or not achieved and it can be thrown away in an instance like trash on the side of the road. There is no “sticking things out” or being mindful of the processes one goes through in life. There is no sharpening iron with iron, selflessness, or a desire to build the other up because we want the other person to be the best version of themselves. Partnerships are a shallower, less meaningful version of a relationship where true commitment is absent.


Coopersville, Michigan (Photo Credit: Lauryn Borst/L.B. Photography)


With these clear-cut differences in place, it is easy to discern what is relationship and what is partnership. The presence of true commitment is the deciding factor in a relationship, but what if the waters become muddy? What if the commitment is no longer as strong or as present as it once was due to some unfortunate seasons in life? What if the commitment to making each other better people and leaving behind selfish ways is not what your relationship was built on? Maybe you got so comfortable having someone “fun” around, that you neglected what you really needed?

All of the questions above are extremely valid when you take a look at your own relationship. Ask yourself if what you are in is a relationship or a partnership. Do not let comfort, the amount of time you have spent together, and all the memories you have shared cloud your vision of what you really need. Do we make each other better? Can we talk about anything and do so in a calm, rational way? Are we truly communicating and not just going through the motions.

If you ask yourself these questions and do not like the answers, talk to your partner about it. Really talk about it and figure out how things can change, and yes, they do need to change. If nothing is done, you risk wasting even more of each others time on something that was never meant to work out in the first place. I am not saying there will never be times where you get frustrated with one another. It is a given that two people will not see eye to eye when it comes to everything and that is perfectly okay. What is not okay is bottling things up, being afraid to say what is on your mind in fear of conflict, and existing with someone else because you are comfortable or too afraid to move on.

Relationships only have two outcomes: they work or they don’t. There is no middle ground. Figure out why it works or why it does not and move forward having learned something valuable about yourself. The lesson may bring your outstanding joy or it may cause you  heartache, but you will live to see another day. Keep learning and keep climbing.




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