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Book:  Relationship Goals

Author:  Michael Todd

Purchase:  PrinteBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Todd, M. & Stanford, E. (2020). Relationship goals : how to win at dating, marriage, and sex. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook.

Three Big Takeaways:

  • If you're single, I'm sure many people and messages in this society have made you feel like you aren't enough without a significant other. The pressure to find a mate seems intense and unyielding, and you feel it from all sides. You didn't have a date to your best friend's wedding last spring, and he's been trying to fix you up with someone random ever since. People at your church whisper when you come around, “She's still single? What's wrong with her?” Your parents keep pressuring you to hurry up and marry someone because they want grandkids. All of that can make you start to feel like you're “less than.” Being single can start to feel shameful. Your life seems incomplete or even like a failure. This kind of thinking can cloud your judgment until you find yourself rushing into relationships that don't suit you, settling on someone – anyone – just to satisfy others and calm your fears. But these types of hasty decisions have serious consequences. Our high divorce rate may have less to do with bad marriages and more to do with bad singleness. (pg. 46)

  • I always encourage people to pay attention to patterns, not potential. All of us have the potential to do better in our weak areas, but can we live with each other's patterns? For instance, she may seem flirtatious to you, but she says it's just her personality – she's bubbly and likes talking to everybody. Can you live with that? Transformation in this area might come eventually, but even if so, there's no timetable on it. (pg. 78)

  • These days, kids are growing up in one-parent homes where they only get half the adult gender modeling they need. Or their parents are living together but aren't married, and the kids grow up feeling vulnerable because they know that the foundation of the family - the parents' relationship – is based on an unofficial agreement that could vanish in a moment at one person's whim. Or the parents do get married for the sake of the child, but they don't really want to be married, so it's more of a duty arrangement and maybe the home is a place of conflict and resentment. Or the parents are divorced and the kids get volleyed back and forth between homes like a tennis ball. Are we being honest with ourselves about what our relationships are doing to our kids? One generation’s bad relationships beget the next generation’s bad - or worse - relationships. Now, I know we all make mistakes. And I know some people are single parents who never asked to be in that position. Besides, people can change, and God can bring good things out of bad and totally amazing ways. But hear me: God's ideal is that we should reproduce out of love, not out of our dysfunction. (pg. 151)

Other Key Ideas:

  • Many of us don't have our aim directed when it comes to relationships. We take whatever comes. We do whatever is comfortable. But we don't really know where we're going or why. Don't believe me? Have you ever known a girl who dated pretty much any guy who happened to show an interest in her, without ever stopping to think about the kind of guy who would really be right for her? Or a couple who have dated for a long time and have gotten so comfortable with it that they aren't making any move towards marriage? Or a married couple who have let their former passion turn into a business partnership for child-rearing and home maintenance? (pg. 15)

  • Even though the top relationship goal we have on our minds right now probably is finding or improving a human relationship, it's important to see how our relationship with God should come first and above all other relationships. It's the relationship, our ultimate relationship, and all blessings flow out of that relationship. In fact, one of those blessings is that he enables us to do our other relationships at their highest possible level. When we put God first, he'll bless the rest. (pg. 27)

  • People are so often trying to get a person without first understanding their own purpose - or at least without taking it into account. But a close relationship is going to have a huge impact on how well you can fulfill your purpose. This isn't about being selfish. No, it's about finding a partner who will help you to fulfill the purpose for which God put you on this Earth instead of getting in the way of that. While you're looking for someone to date, someone to marry, or a new friend in the town you just moved to, you can be working on your relationship with God and working on doing what he's called you to do. When that person who gets your purpose and believes in it and loves you finally comes along, he'll fit right into your life and will help you move further along the path as opposed to holding you back from that path. (pg. 33)

  • The more comfortable you are with you, the more people will be attracted to your authenticity and confidence. The more secure you are about your gifts, talents, and calling, the less you'll feel you have to prove. (pg. 47)

  • Many people tend to rush to get married because they think it will solve their loneliness problem. They get sick of being by themselves, so they long to join hands and hearts with someone else. One big problem with that philosophy is that those they enter into relationship with might share the same issue. You're sick of yourself and thank you plus somebody else will make it better - but what if that person is sick of herself too? We're almost trained to think this way: maybe this person can fix me. By the time we realize our mistake, it's already too late, because when broken people hook up, they end up becoming more broken together. (pg. 55)

  • Recreational dating is like, I'll date him, then I'll date him, then I'll date him. It's short-term relationships usually with plenty of drama and complications. It's focused pretty much all on the present, with little thought about the future. This kind of dating can be devastating. Just think about it: how many relationships have you, or people you know, gotten into where you have invested time and effort into something that would only take from you? Your heart gets hardened. Your self-esteem shrinks. You find yourself moving further and further from God. Open your heart to the wrong person and you let him discourage your dream. You used to be passionate about something. But you got with the wrong person, and it started to crush what God placed inside you. You're left in a place where you don't believe in yourself anymore. (pg. 63)

  • Let's just say it out straight - recreational dating doesn't work. Even a committed long-term relationship, as the saying goes, often leaves people feeling like they lost out. Over and over again, I've seen it with dating couples: they sleep together, eat together, have a cell phone plan together - basically it's a fake marriage. But all that makes the relationship harder to get out of that was to get into. The breakup, when it finally comes, is traumatic. Instead of finding a lifetime mate, they've lost so much. The modern way of dating – recreational dating with a vague hope that maybe one relationship will finally go somewhere - doesn't deliver what it promises. (pg. 64)

  • I've heard women say something like this: “My man, he's smart and got a good job. Yeah, he's got some issues. But I look past all of that because he is a good person at his core and God is showing me He wants me to be somebody who helps him grow.” What do I say to that? “Nah! The man is supposed to lead you!” I might ask a bro what attracted him to the woman he's dating. If he's honest, she might say to me, “She wears the leggings - she looks good and the leggings.” My reaction? “ If she likes showing off her shape for men, do you think that just because she started dating you, she stopped showing off for other men? They like the leggings too.”  I'm not saying that anyone has to be perfect but he has to be progressing to become the next version of who God is calling him to be. (pg. 69)

  • If a card came when we started each relationship and told us how it was going to end, we would stop a lot of relationships much sooner. What if a card said, ”You're going to waste four years with this person, you're going to have lower self-esteem, and you're going to hate everybody around you when it ends. Do you still want this relationship?” You would be like, “Heck no! That's not what I want.” But many times it's hard to see the whole picture when we’re in it. (pg. 81)

  • If you find a God-loving spouse who is a good match for you, he can help you win the race of life God has put in front of you, and you can help him when his. But if the person you're dating is consistently weighing you down or holding you back now, he'll still be holding you back if you get married. Be patient and have grace, but if things don't change, you've got to go - better to call it off sooner than later. (pg. 88)

  • Let me go all pastor on you right now and reassure you: if the Lord wants you out of a relationship, he'll help you get through it. And there's something even bigger than that: he'll bless you and he'll bless the other person.When you know you need to end a relationship, you've got to trust God with it. Trust him that you're going to be alright and the other person is going to be alright. He'll help both of you get over the heartache. And the only way either of you can proceed to your purposes in life is if this relationship comes to an end. Breaking up is easy to do compared to the alternative - living with the consequences of sticking it out in a relationship you shouldn't even be in. (pg. 97)

  • I'd go so far as to say that going through a divorce can be worse than losing a loved one to death. Why? Because when somebody dies, there's closure. You bury her. You grieve. You learn to go without her. But with divorce, it's a perpetual loss. Every time you see your ex, it can bring back the emotions and the regret. I can't believe I wasted all that time on her. Or, there she is sitting with her new guy, and here I am alone. I'm such a loser. They're squabbling over alimony and property and visitation rights. Stop thinking of divorce as you're out. Remember that many people who get divorced realize they’re no happier than they were in the troubled marriage. Many married couples who have stuck it out through hard times have realized that the real gold came later. (pg. 160)