Every Great Relationship Has These Three Things . . .

Our relationship may look perfect on Instagram, but there’s been quite a few less-than-perfect moments. We got married young (22 and 19), and it often felt like we had no idea what we were doing. Through trial and error, we started to find our bearings and are now—ten years later—enjoying life more than ever before.

We know every relationship is different, possessing unique dynamics that reflect the individuals involved. But we decided to highlight three things that all great relationships tend to have.

(You can apply these truths to any relational dynamic, whether that’s a parent, sibling, friend, spouse, teacher, coworker, boss, etc.)


The big picture. Just as our eyes tell us where to step, our vision directs our lives and relationships. If you don’t take time to develop a vision for your relationships, you will inevitably inherit someone else’s beliefs. These beliefs can be limiting and keep you from flourishing in your relationships. For example, you may have grown up in a house marred by divorce, abuse, and selfishness. That script, if unaddressed, will create a similar narrative for your life. Sadly, you may find yourself reverting to similar behaviors as a defense mechanism, despite the fact you hated them as a child.

But when we get a picture of God’s purpose for relationships—which is to make us healthy and whole human beings through the giving and receiving of love—we’ll navigate conflict and disappointment in a beautiful way. If you don’t have a vision for a relationship, when times get hard (and there will always be hard times) you will find yourself either running away or committing destructive behaviors. Without vision, relationships perish. Fight for vision.


Intentionality is the day-to-day work. It’s what happens when we put the vision into practice, giving it form in our lives. Greatness is in the details, and if you’re going to have a great relationship, you’ll have to pay attention to those details. Intentionality is expressed in the thoughts you think, the words you speak, and the things you do. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important in the busyness and surprises of life. That’s why we cannot let the urgent overwhelm the important. Relationships are the building blocks of our lives. There’s nothing more important to God than people, so let’s be intentional in how we steward the people God’s placed in our lives.


Nothing great is realized without sacrifice. Scripture frequently reminds us that the only way to find life is to lose it. We live in a world that tells us that we can have it all, and if we don’t have it all, something’s wrong. But that’s simply not true. You can’t go north without rejecting south. Take a look at the word decide and notice the last three letters “ide.” Now try to think of another word that ends with those same letters . . .

Here’s a few that come to mind: homicide, suicide, pesticide. What do all of these words have in common? They all convey an element of death. The word decide is no different. What it essentially means is you are choosing an option by killing the alternatives.

Decide is a killer word.

To sacrifice is a decision to exchange a short-term negative for a long-term positive. This is exactly what Jesus did on the cross. He sacrificed his life (a short-term negative) for an eternity of intimacy with us (a long-term positive). That’s why Hebrews tells us that Jesus was able to make the sacrifice with joy.

When we infuse our relationships with vision and intentionality, we will find joy, even in the sacrifices. And it’s in the sacrifices, losing ourselves as we love others, that we find the life, purpose, and belonging we’re all searching for.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. —Jesus

(John 15:13 ESV)


Do you have an important relationship that is floundering?

Which of these three qualities is your relationship lacking?

 How can you use these principles to revitalize your relationship?


*Filmed at Till Kitchen


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  1. Jessica Nilam

    Thank you so much for sharing this truth. I’ll be sharing about this topic at church. I’m confident it’ll bless other people as much as it has blessed me.

  2. I’d like a T-shirt with Julianna’s face on it please. Thanks.

    P.S. the first point is so right on! And the other two.

  3. Thank you for sharing your advice!

    “The big picture stuff is always in the details”

    “To sacrifice is a decision to exchange a short-term negative for a long-term positive.“

    So good.

    … Julianna you articulate very well, love the way you communicate because you realize the whole idea in simple yet tangible terms.

    Bless you both!

  4. Christina Casimira

    This is so relevant! As a young adult who’s just moved to a new city it feels like every relationship is restarting from scratch – including my relationship with God. This reminder is so timely – I get so frustrated when my new relationships don’t look like the ones I left in my hometown and I forget what it takes to make healthy relationships – that until I get intentional, until I start focusing on the vision of the what could be instead of letting myself get discouraged at what is, I won’t move forward. I HAVE to put the work in. This isn’t something I forgot – it’s something I ignored because I was getting lazy. This post was a kick in the pants – and for that I’m thankful!

    • Arayna Sullivan

      Could not have said it any better! (Minus the part about moving to a new city). But especially the part where you said you had begun to ignore it due to laziness. So true…

  5. I love these three values all relationships should have! Vision is an area where I can grow, thank you for sharing these together as a couple. I really admire your relationship as husband and wife. It is very evident that you both value each other so much and are so intentional with your words and actions. Just seeing you both interact was an encouragement to me, and you’ve lead me to pray expectantly for my future marriage relationship! Thank you again!!

  6. That was practical & great. I love when people add “the how” to “the what”. Thanks

  7. Brooke Herzog

    Wow.. loved reading this. Decide as a killer words, seriously such a great concept. Thank you!! x

  8. Lidia Sanchez

    That is so true, any good relationship happens by accident. Thanks for the advice. I Know it supposed to be an advice for relationships, but I think it applies to other personal areas as well.

    God bless you .

  9. WOW!! This is awesome. I love that you are sharing about relationship stuff. We need a good Christian perspective.

  10. This is great advice for our generation. Thanks for this video

  11. OMG!!! Love this advice. Thank you so much for sharing this!!

  12. Hello,

    Julianna and Addison,

    Sou brasileira e estou gostando muito de ler o que vcs estão compartilhando. Assisti ao vídeo de abertura, as primeiras palavras e o post de hj que são três verdades aplicáveis aos nossos relacionamentos. Que Deus continue abençoando vcs! Desculpe escrever em português! Entendo o que vcs escrevem, porém ainda não consigo escrever em inglês! Vocês tem abençoado minha vida!!!