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There’s no growth without conflict! Romantic ideas often take over when you dream about a romantic partner.

We think that we can find perfect joy if we just find a soulmate, when we will be ‘perfect for each other’. Well, sorry to have to burst your bubble, I just have to mention that unfortunately no one is perfect, and there is no couple who is perfect for each other, not even in your case.

The good news is that this is actually very positive!

In order to avoid misunderstandings, I want to affirm that romance IS GOOD! Candles, romantic dinners, moonlit walks on the beach, flowers, poetry and so on are great. We mustn’t scorn romance, and we guys need to be better at understanding that girls like romance. However, there are some romantic ideas that are totally off-track, and it’s often girls who get most caught up in them.

Let’s look at a couple of examples of romance, as many people would imagine it. These examples aren’t just unattainable, but could also be damaging to you.

‘Your girlfriend likes everything about you, and you like everything about her.’

It’s perfectly obvious that no one is perfect, so NOT EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU IS GOOD! If you have a partner who thinks you are perfect, then perhaps you will avoid conflicts and disagreements, but you will continue to have a sense that you are perfect, which is far from the truth and not at all good for you. If this is the case you will not develop as a person. You’ll become proud and lose contact with who you really are. And if you imagine that your partner is perfect, then sooner or later you’ll be very disappointed, once you’ve passed the blind love stage and you discover that your partner wasn’t quite as perfect as you thought.

‘You always agree on everything, and never argue.’

‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another’ (Proverbs 27:17).

When our thoughts and opinions meet other people’s, they are tested (sharpened) and refined, and we mature, if we are willing to change when we see that we have made a mistake. Selfishness and laziness are the two motivating factors that make us desire unity at any price. This is because, at the core of our being, we only want to give cheap love. We only want to love when it’s easy. God has created a variety of different personalities and personality types, and that’s how it should be. Conflict is an unavoidable part of life and love, but it doesn’t need to be negative. If you can learn how to resolve conflict while keeping love intact, you will develop into a better person, both for yourself and for those around you.

The most romantic relationship to be found is when two imperfect people love each other unconditionally. They aren’t blind to each other’s weaknesses, but they are humble enough to help each other grow as people. Through give and take, and working on their relationship, they also develop their ability to relate to and love their children, the rest of the family and other people around them.

It’s good for us to have someone in our lives who not only loves us but also challenges us to become a better person. In other words, a happy marriage between two people who are not perfect for each other is a tool to improve each person.

Here are a couple more romantic bubbles I’d like to burst:

‘The right one’

The idea of finding ‘the right one’ is pretty widespread in Christian circles because many people think that God has a special person who is the only right one for you. This is because of a combination of romantic ideas and an expectation that God will just hand everything to us on a plate instead of us having to create our own relationships. I don’t believe God handpicks the ‘right one’ for us, but I am convinced that He will help you to make a good choice when you are looking for a marriage partner, if you choose to involve Him in the choice.

In Norway alone there are about 150,000 people of each gender who are between two years younger and two years older than you. If we were to extend the age limit a bit, and also include people from nearby countries, we’re suddenly looking at millions of people who could be Mr or Miss Right! There isn’t just one of them who would suit you, there are tens of thousands! There are great opportunities to make good relationships.

‘I just HAVE to be with him’

As a rule it’s usually girls who fall for this idea, but guys aren’t immune from it either. Maybe you think you’ve found your soulmate, or ‘the right one’. Because you’re so much in love and think that the other person is so fantastic, you unconsciously overlook everything about the other person that tells you that this is a bad idea. It can often be your own insecurity and discontent that makes you vulnerable to this. You experience the positive hormones that being in love release, and you’re more happy now than you have been for a long time. You therefore think that only this relationship can make you so happy, and you think that you have to cling to it despite the warning lamps flashing.

This is where the saying ‘blinded by love’ comes from. This notion experienced a revival at the start of the 2000s with the Twilight series. I think that part of the reason the series was so popular is that it was built around this romantic idea. Bella can’t live without Edward, and he can’t live without her. They’re willing to do the most ridiculous things to be together, or even to take their own lives if they can’t be together. This is just a new version of Romeo and Juliet, and this notion can be life-threatening!

Think about this question: What makes me more happy in the end: Doing what makes me happy right now, or doing what is right?

The paradox

Ironically enough, I would in fact say that I have a soulmate, that I am married to ‘Mrs Right’, and that I just have to be with this woman. The fact that this is the case in my life isn’t the result of fate or something that’s been handed to me on a plate. On the other hand, it’s a result of my wife and I having created a good relationship together, despite seeing each other’s mistakes or shortcomings and often disagreeing about things.

– I have a soulmate as we have learned to live in a close and open relationship. We’ve developed our personalities and our perspective on life together. We live for the same values, and we have the same goals in life.

– I’m married to Mrs Right because the moment I promised to love and honour her unto death, she became the right one. We entered marriage, which there and then received God‘s blessing. We are sure that it’s God’s will that we should be married because ‘what God has joined together, let no one separate’ (Mark 10:9).

– I HAVE to be with her for exactly this reason.

So if you want to experience the kind of magic of romance that you often read about or see in films, then you will have to create it together with the person you choose to share your life with. It doesn’t happen automatically, and it’s hard work, I promise. But it is SO worth it!

Edited excerpt published with permission from the book Venner for alltid (Friends for Ever) by Gunnleik Hofstad, Proklamedia publishing 2015.

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