From a single sister in Christ:
I am dating a really, really nice guy. He is a believer and I haven’t seen any red flags. I mention this b/c I believe that he is a man of strong, compelling character. Where we differ is in how we express our emotions, specifically love. We are both 35+.
I have a few questions:
1. How do you prepare for the reality marriage (in my case as I am seriously dating someone) without making marriage an idol?
2. Am I being short-sighted, petty, immature when I become concerned that we don’t have enough “fun” in our relationship?
He works a lot (and would be a great provider) and we do not live close to each other (at least 1 hour with traffic) so it’s like we have a long distance relationship despite living 30 miles apart. It’s hard for us to spend quality time (my love language) in person. He does call at least once a day to “check in” and when we do spend time together I enjoy myself.
He gets anxious when it comes time to plan things in the future b/c he’s often thinking about work and travel logistics. In my mind, we don’t spend as much time as I would like AND I feel like we don’t create the kind of memories that I EXPECTED you would in a dating relationship. I am slightly concerned about how this translates to marriage. Will it be boring? Will he not want to do fun things and travel (btw, I have plenty of friends, am active in church, travel with others and by myself so I’m busy – I just prefer to spend time with him).
3. When does it switch? Is there a moment when you feel slightly more secure and able to “relax” in the security of your relationship?
My man is a great guy but I do wonder what it would be like to be married; and what the day-to-day would be like. He is very “steady” in his emotions (unlike me:( That said, I often wonder how he really feels and if he’s excited about marriage, to me. I hate that I even care about this – but I see other ladies so “in love” and so certain that their guy is all in and while I have the day to day proof (he’s man of his word) – I don’t often “feel it”. Is this something that develops over time? What expectations do I need to manage?
I didn’t mean to write so much but you have been such a blessing, I just had to take the risk that you may address even one of my questions 🙂
These are awesome questions! I am so excited to have the chance to address these important issues with y’all. Let’s start with #1.
1. How do you prepare for the reality of marriage without making marriage an idol?
I think it is important to study what it means to be a godly wife and to learn what godly femininity is and to implement that and seek to allow God to grow you personally before you are dating, while you are dating, while you are engaged and every day of your life. The godly femininity thing is important no matter if we are married or single all day every day. The key, in my mind, would be not to allow the marriage, the wedding, or your man to become more important to you than Christ is. Sometimes it can be hard to monitor your motives, but that is going to be extremely necessary. Monitoring our motives is always necessary. Here are some questions to ask ourselves:
- Am I willing to lay down this dream, this marriage, this man – if God calls upon me to do so?
- Is there anything I am holding back from God and afraid to trust Him with?
- Am I willing to seek God’s greatest glory far above my will in my life and in this marriage?
- Am I willing to obey God about how to honor and respect and biblically submit to this man even if he somehow ends up far from God and he is not loving me the way I think I should be loved?
- Do I think I HAVE to have marriage to be happy and content?
- Am I willing to focus on the sufficiency of Christ whether I get my way or not in marrying this man, in how the wedding goes, in how our marriage turns out?
- Am I allowing myself to be consumed by any fear –
1. What if my husband-to-be dies before we get married, I don’t want that to happen, but am I willing to trust God even if my greatest fears were to become reality? Am I willing to be content in Christ alone?
2. What if there ended up being problems in our marriage and I don’t always feel loved and my needs aren’t being met, am I willing to continue living in obedience to God even if I don’t get what I want and even if things are hard?
3. What if we face trials in our marriage rather quickly, am I willing to trust God even if one or both of us suffer?
4. Am I expecting my husband-to-be to be responsible for my happiness or am I taking responsibility for my own spiritual growth and emotions?
I also believe that as you move toward marriage, once you are engaged, especially, it is important to move toward allowing your man (who is a strong believer in Christ, I am always assuming) to lead you more and more. Are you able to trust him? Do you speak your heart, mind, needs, and desires respectfully? But if he disagrees with you, are you willing to follow him and trust God to lead you through him? This will obviously be different once you are married. The stakes will be much higher. But if you don’t want to trust the man you are seriously dating/courting to lead you now, or you don’t trust his judgment – it is time for a prayerful evaluation. Is the problem your faith in God? Is the problem that this man may not be trustworthy?
It is also important to evaluate your parents’ marriage and your husband-to-be’s parents’ marriage and to realize that what they lived out in front of each of you has “programmed” each of you to believe that certain things are “normal.” What things do you each need to reject from your parents’ marriages and what do you need to embrace as godly examples? What issues might you face because of your backgrounds and your personalities and experiences?
I would love for couples to have godly, biblical counseling from a godly mentoring couple who is living out God’s design for marriage before they get married, ideally. And to let them ask you the hard questions to help you prepare and adjust unrealistic expectations.
It may be good to write out all of your expectations of marriage ahead of time that you can think of – and talk about them together.
I think it is worth noting how your man treats his mom and sisters. What does he do when they are upset? How does he treat the customer service rep at Wal-Mart or the grocery store when he is upset? How does he treat a waitress when the order gets all messed up? Are you prepared for him to treat you that way, as well? Are you willing to forgive and extend grace when he sins against you in anger in similar ways? Does he ignore his mom or sisters when they are really emotional? That is probably how he will handle you when you are really emotional. Do you see him for the man he is – not the man you want him to be or think he should be?
Are you willing to accept this man even if he never, ever changes? Sins, weaknesses and all? Are you going to resent him for being himself later because you expected him to change? Most men do not change when they get married. But lots of times, we expect them to.
Does he read the Bible with you and pray with you now? If not, don’t expect him to suddenly start once you get married. Can you live with that and allow God to lead you through him even if he doesn’t do everything the exact way you want him to?
If he gets a job far away from your family, will you be willing to joyfully follow him there?
If he decides later after you get married that he doesn’t want to have kids, are you willing to continue to respect and honor him even if it means that you don’t get to have children?
If he were to become chronically ill or disabled, are you still willing to honor, love, and respect him? Or is your love and respect conditional?
This is not an exhaustive answer to this question, for sure. I have a lot of posts that may be helpful with this issue, as well. But maybe this will give us a place to start.
You can also search the category on the right side of my home page “birth control,” “bitterness,” “choosing a godly path for career/marriage/motherhood,” “conflict,” “dating/courting,” “developing a feminine spirit, “disrespect,” “divorce,” “engagement,” “fear,’ “femininity,” “growing in Christ,” “honoring God,” “idolatry,” “humility,” “insecurity,” “let him lead,” “marriage roles,” “masculinity,” “preparing for dating and marriage,” “respect,” “romance,” “spiritual authority,” “submission,” “suffering,” “the danger of expectations,” “waiting,” “weddings,”