The Relationship Triangle and its Endless Potential

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It has been said that opposites attract. This was true of my relationship with my husband. We came from very different backgrounds. While he grew up in the North, I was born and bred in the South. He was a Catholic; I was a Presbyterian. He grew up in the suburb of a city and spent summers at the beach. I grew up in a small town and spent summers at the local swimming pool. He ate only meat and potatoes and I loved all southern food, still do!

You may wonder how two people with such different backgrounds met. After my freshman year, I transferred from an all-girls school (Wesleyan College) to the University of Georgia. My mother’s opinion of the university was clear. “It’s a matrimonial bureau,” she said. At the time, I was wondering if that was actually a bad thing. As if reading my mind, Mother then issued a warning. “Don’t fall in love with a Yankee or a Catholic.”

Jay and I met in September and married the next September. This year, my husband and I will celebrate our 56th anniversary. That’s a long time for two people to live together without killing one another, isn’t it?

The truth is when we got married, Venus and Mars collided. As a result, our differences soon lost their fascination. As with any marriage, more serious differences tend to multiply rather than diminish.

In time, I knew there was something missing in our marriage. We didn’t have a bad life. But I realize now our relationship was merely a matter of existing, not thriving. Needless to say, we were not the picture of harmony, peace and patience.

To be honest, even now there are days when our marriage doesn’t fit into that frame. So, what is the real reason our relationship has lasted so long? It isn’t because we’ve given up our God-given differences. Nor is it what we’ve done or not done. It’s because we’re on the same track, going in the same direction and sharing a common goal. That is to grow in our relationship with one another and with God. Yes, it requires a lot of work on our part. But coupled with God’s faithfulness and infinite grace, how can we go wrong?

As Mahatma Gandhi said, Spiritual relationship is far more precious than physical. Physical relationship divorced from spiritual is body without soul.

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God has put the soul into our relationship. What then is the secret to a healthy, growing marriage, or friendship? It isn’t a secret as much as it is a commitment to honor God in the relationship. As an illustration, envision what I call the relationship triangle.

One person is on the lower left point of the triangle. The other person is on the lower right point. Visualize God at the top of the triangle, drawing each person to Himself. As each side moves toward God, what happens? That’s right! They grow closer to one another.

In light of this illustration, I’m fascinated by a quote about the geometrical triangle. “It is indeed wonderful that so simple a figure as the triangle is so inexhaustible in properties. How many as yet unknown properties of other figures may there not be?”     (August Leopold Crelle, a German mathematician and engineer during the 1800’s.)  

In the math world, it is said the study of triangles “is a rich area of geometry filled with beautiful results and unexpected connections.” (MathWorld Classroom)

It is also wonderful that so simple a reality as the relationship triangle is inexhaustible in its attributes. How many unknown characteristic traits have we yet to discover as we grow closer to one another and to God. Whether it’s in a marriage or a friendship, a Christ-centered relationship is a rich component of life. Like geometry, it’s filled with beautiful results and unexpected connections.

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What if we were to allow God to be the apex of our relationships? And what if we were to allow our differences to enhance our relationships rather than drive us apart? We may not know any more about math. But the potential in our relationships would be endless. And the world would be a better place, wouldn’t it?

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Comments
2 Responses to “The Relationship Triangle and its Endless Potential”
  1. Mary Beth Welsh says:

    I am so thankful that by God’s grace, both of you began looking towards Him making Him the apex of your triangle. You and your marriage relationship have touched the lives of many and they look to your example and how the Lord has been at work in your lives. It has obviously touched the lives of everyone in our family and we are so incredibly blessed. Love you!

  2. Millie Welsh says:

    Hey Mom! Still enjoyed this post — IN SPITE of your use of a math illustration! 🙂 Grateful y’all have modeled God as your Apex!

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