Wine or Milk: Is Your Relationship Ripening With Age or Just Going Bad?

Just the other day, a friend and I were eating lunch together. The conversation turned to her relationship, and she described her situation. She has been dating a guy for about two months, and she feels that her relationship has hit a plateau. She isn’t sure whether her relationship will get better with time or if it’s on the downhill slope. Her situation is not uncommon, so I thought I would write an article to help those who find themselves in a similar situation. This article is not meant to inform you about what you should do. Rather it is meant to provide an evaluation to determine how invested you are in the relationship.

Question 1: Can you live with him?

Before you quickly answer with a resounding affirmative, think deeply about this one. Does he do things that bother you? How willing are you to accept his bothersome quirks? If you haven’t seen him do anything bothersome, have you seen him in enough critical situations? By “critical” I mean high-stress situations, disappointing moments, and unanticipated setbacks – you know, the kind of stuff life is full of. Most people can live with anyone when they are at their best, but can you accept the person on an off-day? Most importantly, can you live with his priorities? In other words, does he value the same things you value?

Question 2: Can you live without him?

            There are certain people who have solidified an irreplaceable spot in your heart; is he one of them? Without him in the equation, will you be heartbroken? This is a much more rigorous evaluation than if you can live with him. This question forces you to evaluate the importance of him being in your life. Perhaps you may be thinking that he does NOT hold an irreplaceable place in your heart now but that he may in the future, so what then? To that I say continue answering the questions.

Question 3: Does he make you happy?           

            I’m not so much speaking about whether he can make you laugh or not but the emotion you feel when you are around him. Home isn’t a place but a feeling. Take a minute to describe the feeling of home. Once you have at least five adjectives you may continue reading. Seriously, just think of five adjectives that describe the “home” feeling and then continue reading. With those adjectives, rate how well they define how you feel when you are with him. In essence, does he exude the same types of feelings that you feel from loved ones at home?

Question 4: Is his happiness worth sacrificing for?

This is the ultimate question. Clayton M. Christensen put it best when he said, “I deeply believe that the path to happiness in a relationship is not just about finding someone who you think is going to make you happy. Rather, the reverse is equally true: the path to happiness is about finding someone who you want to make happy, someone whose happiness is worth devoting yourself to” (Page 115, How Will You Measure Your Life).

So there you have it, my four-point evaluation to determine your investment in your relationship. But before ending, I have one last thought. The title of this article is “Wine or Milk,” as we all know that as time passes, milk goes bad and wine gains flavor. Do you know why the flavor of aged wine is better than recently bottled wine? The improved flavor is a result of a continuing chemical reaction between the substance tannin, acids, and other compounds. The aged flavor is more complex and more heralded. Focus on the word complex. It isn’t that wine gets more sweet or more sour with age, but a combination of the two; it becomes more complex.

When you decide to dedicate yourself to someone, do not let a few sour moments divide the two of you. On the contrary, they may be just the thing that can cause your relationship to ripen. Great relationships aren’t born out of complete bliss; they are a mixture of sweet and bitter experiences. Think of your relationship with your family members. You probably don’t love them because everything between the two of you is as smooth and as sweet as condensed milk. You probably love them in spite of that, because you have compromised for one another, practiced a great deal of tolerance for each other, and sacrificed for the betterment of each other.

In the end, sacrifice is what will separate happy relationships from miserable ones. There is an interesting paradox that happens within a relationship; when two parties sacrifice for the other and value the other person’s well-being over their own, both parties gain more fulfillment from the relationship. But there’s a caveat to that statement. Both parties have to feel that way towards one another and if they don’t, the relationship has a tendency to crumble.

With whatever decision you make, to continue pursuing a relationship or not, remember the words of Thomas S. Monson, “Choose your love. Love your choice.”

By: Max Smith

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