By Michelle Samano

The excitement of being in a relationship is amazing. It’s wonderful to have a person, your person: someone to talk to, lean on, grow in your faith life with, and to love and cherish.

But relationships have their ups and downs: they take patience, courage, but most of all, they require balance.

I met Mike when I was 16 and have been dating him for five years this May. He is my best friend and getting to be his girl is one of the greatest joys in my life. We are also long distance, with him at school in Indiana for engineering and me at school in Ohio for business. His family moved from Illinois to Florida when we graduated high school, so all of our college life we’ve had to learn how to live apart, which, while he is worth the distance to wait for, has been incredibly hard at times.

My experiences (while I’m no expert on the subject) have truly taught me the importance of balance between my dating life and everything else I have going on. While having a boyfriend or girlfriend in your life, especially when you’re hoping to marry one another, is fun, it is not the only thing to focus on at one time. Relationships are healthier when you’re able to understand that they do not require all of your attention at all times. In my own words, balance is the ability to recognize the joy of your relationship while separately being able to enjoy all the other things in your life God has to offer.

There are three recommendations I have to give for couples who want to work on balance in their relationship together:

  1. Are you making intimate time for your other friends? Oftentimes, it’s easy to get caught in the moment with your boyfriend/girlfriend, but it is crucial to remember the other people God blessed you with in your life. Making time for them and remembering how valuable their friendship is to you will actually make your relationship with your significant other stronger because it builds up your ability to have meaningful relationships all around.
  2. Learn to have independent lives from one another. I love sharing things with Mike, and when we are together we make a great team! But being able to function on your own and focus on other things, whether it’s school, a job, or your own hobbies and interests, is important. Those individual things you love or can do make you unique, and it’s healthy when you can maintain your own independence within your relationship. I find this especially helps when you’re long distance.
  3. Maintain your relationship with God, whether you’re currently in a relationship or not. Spending time in prayer or reflection together is important, but most important is your own relationship with the Lord! Allot your own time to read Scripture, pray, and strengthen that individual relationship with God who, no matter who is in your life, will be your strength and greatest love. I love the simplicity but bold truth in 1 John 4:19 which states “we love because he first loved us.” How greater we can make our love if we go back to the source of the greatest love there is, the love that comes from our Father!

The better you are able to balance these three areas of your life with your relationship, the stronger you can be for one another. Strive to foster strong friendships, maintain your independence while being a supportive partner, and love God because he will always be our first and truest love!