The Importance of Being Balanced

If you think of your relationship as a plane taking off down a runway, what needs to stay in balance to have a  smooth take off? Here are five gauges you may want to keep an eye on as you move forward in a relationship.


If you can keep these areas in balance you may save yourself from a painful crash at the end of the runway.



The time gauge measures how much time you spend together. Generally it means time together alone.

You know that couple that started going together a few months ago? You know, the one that seemed to disappear? You sorta see them around but they are always together ignoring everyone else. This couple may have their time out of proportion. Spending time with your boyfriend is important and leaving other relationships is part of courtship. But this leaving should be a gradual transition. Or I could be wrong. What do you think?

You don’t want your time together to outstrip your commitment. When you first start moving down the runway resist the temptation to push this gauge to 11. If you do this you may alienate the friends you have. Those are the very friends you will need down the road.


LowThis can be a touchy subject :-). Some courtship models decry touching the opposite sex as a sin.

This is one of the topics you will want to talk through at the beginning of your relationship. Where are the tick marks going to be on your gauge? At what point do you plan to start holding hands?

The amount of touch should be closely tied to your level of commitment. Some couples decide not to kiss until they are engaged. Other couples don’t kiss until their wedding day. I have yet to meet a couple who made such a commitment and later regretted it. Many couples regret going to far to soon. Self restraint in this area can build a great deal of trust later on.


MediumTalk is a measure of how much time you spend Facebooking, texting, chatting on the phone or whatever.

The more you talk the more involved you will become emotionally. The more connected you are emotionally the more painful the breakup will be if it happens. This gauge hurts a lot if you let it get to red before the other gauges.

Make sure your level of talk is anchored to your amount of commitment.

One of the challenges to long distance relationships is that you spend a lot of time talking without spending time together. This takes away your opportunity to see how your girlfriend interacts in real life. If your primary interaction is over the phone it is possible to get a skewed view of the other person. This is something you have to consciously guard against if you are in a long distance relationship.

What do you think? How do you make long distance relationships work?


HighCommitment is the standard by which the other three gauges should be measured. It helps to periodically check the other areas of your relationship against this gauge. Also realize that your boyfriend might not be as committed to the relationship as you are.

Broken hearts happen when one person is more committed than the other.

It can be hard to tell how committed the other person is to a relationship. One piece of advice is to look at actions more than you listen to words. How committed is your girlfriend to the other relationships in her life? What do you think? How can you tell if your girlfriend is committed to the relationship?

Here are some other indicators to pay attention to:

  • Time is a measurement of priorities.
  • Talk is a indicator of emotional connection.
  • Touch is a indicator of attraction.

Thanks to Jimmie Seibert, the Pastor of Antioch Community Church. A lot of this came from him first.

What do you think?

  • Is there a gauge that’s missing?
  • Do you find this helpful? Why or why not?

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  • Sarah Lanciault

    Touch is a touchy subject. Hahaha! =) Very funny…

    This is a great post. The structure of it reminds me of my favorite verse in the Bible, Philipians 4:6-7. What I love about these verses are that they don't simply say “Don't worry and be at peace,” but God instead lays out instructions of how to get from point A (Worry) to point B (Peace). This post does the same. It's so easy to say I'll be a pure single and later have a happy God-centered marriage, but the actual journey between the two points can be dangerous without at least an outline of instructions of how to get there.

    The only thing I would add is a sixth gauge titled “His & Her Individual Commitment to God.” If all the gauges are in red but that sixth is still in green, the relationship will be as the house that is built upon the sand with no true foundation. But maybe that emphasis should be left for another post… ;)

  • ejrathburn

    I actually agree with all of this! Way to go Thomas! Great post :)

  • calebhobart

    Aha. Quite thankful that I know people that ask this question-At what point do you plan to start holding hands?

    It really brings quite a pleasant and simple joy.

    Boundaries and balance are healthy discussion topics. I find them to be quite edifying conversations as well as within a group. Doing so helps establish paths for friends to understand one another and for those with certain convictions to communicate them while others may not hold them. However, having communicated the position in a respectful manner allows the different backgrounds to come together and learn about one anothers history.

  • Minda

    Good stuff, Thomas. Being a writer, I read a lot. So here are 2 books I'd recommend for those in a relationship:
    -Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship. by Joshua Harris
    -Too Close Too Soon: Avoiding the Heartache of Premature Intimacy. by Jim Talley and Bobbie Reed

  • Travis Lundbech

    I find this very helpful. I've always had a hard time keeping my priorities straight between a relationship and other areas of my life. Looking at relationships from this perspective helps me to see them in a new light, and consequently, with more hope.

  • Shaney Lee

    One thing I would add-it is important to balance out each individual's commitment first, then check to see if they are in balance with each other, and then balance everything else out compared to that. For example, I have known people who, as soon as they have gotten into a relationship, jump to a “high” commitment level, and start cutting time with friends, family, and service to God. While the amount of time they cut would be healthy for a couple who has been courting for awhile and is close to being engaged, it is at a very unhealthy level for someone who just started courting. Commitment should start out at a lower end at the beginning of the relationship and gradually build over time. I'm not saying that a couple should start out with a 0 commitment level, but they shouldn't jump in with a commitment level of 8 or 9. A commitment level at about the same level as for good friends is probably a healthy level to start at (what I would define as around a 5 or 6). As the couple progresses in their courtship, the commitment level should naturally go up, and the amount of time/touch/talking involved should be directly related to that increase.

    Two couples who begin a courtship may both have “9” commitment levels, but is that a healthy level to start out at? Commitment may be out of balance not only if one person is more committed than the other, but also if both people are either more or less committed than they should be at any point in the relationship.

    • Thomas Umstattd

      Shaney, I think you are right on the money. To have a smooth take off you have to slowly gain momentum. If you start to fast to soon you are in for a rocky start and you may run out of gas before you take off.

  • Bamccracken

    Great article. Just a heads up, remember the difference between “to” and “too”.

  • Lindeman Clan11

    A pastor reminded us that we're to treat each other like sisters and older women. He gave an example ” Do you hold your neighbour's wife when you walk with her?” Then don't do anything you wouldn't do with your neighbour's huband or wife.

  • Hearohisrael

    Numbers 30 talks of the authority and responsibility of her father .I see little involvement done of even talked about .God has put the father in a specific role , not to control the relationship but to help guide as God works with each individual involved individually to show his will. His job is to establish the perimeters the two are to stay in not the kids! Where are the Dads !!

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  • graet adoboe

    how can i indicate my opposite sex or partner if he/she can not take me far to marriage ,thou she sound so committed?

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