What are the four Cs? If you said cooking, caressing, caring, or cleaning, you “missed it by that much” as Maxwell Smart, the movie detective might say. But, pat yourself on the back for an unselfish thought. It’s a good start.
We all want to be valued and loved, but do we each have the right stuff to make it work? TV shows like “Married at 1st sight”, “The Bachelor” and “The proposal” make it seem easy. It will be love at first sight, first bite or at 1st fight!
Allow me to challenge your opinion. A strong foundation is needed to build a relationship on just as a house. The foundation is your belief system. Despite common myth, Christian married couples who attend church regularly together and pray regularly together (not just say they are Christians) have a *38% divorce rate compared to a 60% divorce rate for those who are CINOs-Christian in name only! Another study** shows that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35% less likely to divorce compared to those with no affiliation. The spiritual connection and the underlying belief system seem to be exemplified together in a behavioral practice which compliments the marriage covenant. So, the first C is Christ centered.
But let’s move on. What are the other three Cs, you ask and in what order?
The second C is Communication. Whether you get your point across by speaking clearly, sign language, smoke signals or radar love-extra sensory perception (ESP), communication that is received and understood is necessary. By the way ladies, most honest men will admit they do not have ESP to read your mind, but they do have ESPN. I will not devote any space here as a primer on effective communication but will note that it is not instinctive as we might think and desire It to be. Each couple must work at learning each other’s preferred methods for communicating verbally and nonverbally, learn each other’s preferred love language, and develop the skills in effective communication***. This requires patient unselfish attention to each other! Oh, there I go setting lofty goals again!
The third C is compromise. Regardless of how well you communicate and clearly understand each other you will not always agree together! Therefore, compromise is critical to meeting in the middle somewhere and resolving the issue with satisfaction from both sides. Okay, you are an only child and not accustomed to compromise or your parents gave you everything or you feel entitled. Perhaps volunteering to feed the homeless with a church group, donating time to pass out food at the local food shelter etc. will give you the experience of an exciting endorphin rush associated with doing good! And perhaps some premarital counseling will go a long way to filling your psychological toolbox. Seriously!
Noncomplimentary personality traits or behavioral patterns can hold back a relationship from growing and make compromise most difficult. Let’s take a few examples where similarities OR differences can be a real challenge. If both persons are impulse buyers with little restraint, saving money or effectively planning a retirement will be difficult. When both are non-confrontational in working out stressful topics, values, opinions or practices, compromise will be difficult at best. If both have the same skill set or career but also the same fears which prohibit success, neither can come to each other’s aid. Personality differences and skill differences can be great for the relationship when compatible to personal safety, interest and/or career. For example, she has fears where he has none (IE Taking risks, facing animals/insects and meeting new people etc.). She has marketing skills, computer skills and accounting knowledge where he only has product knowledge in his business that needs growth and stability. These are great compatible differences!
A caveat is that your similarities or differences are therefore a test of your ability to compromise. Your incompatible personality characteristics, values, beliefs, interests and behaviors are as well.
If you truly appreciate someone (for their uniqueness and compatibility) you should learn to please them by listening to them, compromising on issues, sacrificing or investing your time and money for them etc. These actions eventually become reciprocated by the other who wants to reward you or love you back. The relationship thus builds as a result. So, if you want to be loved, not just pampered, learn how to compromise, sacrifice and give! It is better (more blessed) to give than receive (Acts 20:35 NIV Bible). The paradox here is that the one who gives the most actually receives the most in mental health and peace. Oftentimes they have the most influential power in the relationship because they have earned the respect, love and commitment of the other with their unselfishness.
Kudos to you if you have compromised your time to read this far! The last C is Commitment. Oh my, you say, I could have gone ALL day and not used that foul word! I have friends who stay away from using or discussing that word as if were the great plague. Sticking to a standard or promise requires a discipline that is unselfish, sacrificial and sometimes painful! “Golly-bum, I cannot even give up sugar for a week and you want me to make a commitment to someone for life, you ask?”
Marriage is tied to a commitment written in a contract. That contract is a legally binding document requiring shared properties and responsibilities. Most states today permit either party to cancel the contract uncontested. Marriage, however, originated with God ordaining that union as an agreement that neither can cancel except for death, adultery or abuse. God meant for us to understand the effect of this union socially, psychologically and spiritually as a commitment that was binding. Government later added a legal aspect to further protect the wife and children. Civilization has changed a bit. Women can now earn a living in today’s culture independent of men. Morals on sexual behaviors has loosened and “no-fault divorce” laws prevail. These changes have tempted many to take the easy way out. The voice of selfishness and pride can drown out that of reason, morality and God.
But there is always hope! God has a plan and a reprieve for all of us who have rededicated themselves to Him though Christ, regardless of our past. Whether it is through being reunited with a soul-mate or a new beginning with a soul-mate of His blessing. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these (other) things will be given to you.” (Matthew 6:33).
The superglue of relationships is therefore comprised of the four Cs with Christ being the foundation of the couple’s beliefs and values for which all other behaviors are built and have meaning. The simple recipe for cake must include the four ingredients of eggs, flour, sugar and milk. Any of the four ingredients missing will yield something less than cake and tastes inferior. Likewise, if any of the four Cs are missing, the relationship of a couple will falter.
*Bradley Wright, Sociologist, U. of Connecticut (Focusonthefaily.com)
**W. Bradford Wallace, Sociologist, U. of Virginia (Focusonthefamily.com)