I am not an expert or a professional. This comes from my own experience, things revealed to me from counseling, reading, life experience and the revealing by the Holy Spirit.
Dating should be a learning experience. Dating should be about having fun and making friends with the opposite sex and not finding a spouse. Make friends and spend time with them and enjoy their company. Do not get your heart involved right a way. I also recommend that you date several people at once. Dr. Henry Cloud speaks about this very thing in his book “How to get a date worth keeping”. Each of us needs to learn how to have healthy relationships before we can have a healthy marriage.
You can still have friends and spend time with them while healing. However, think twice before entering into a romantic relationship if you are healing from another. If you truly care for that person you give them a healthy you, not a broken you. Two broken individuals do not make for a healthy marriage.
Do you like them short, tall, blonde, brunette, rich, poor or any of those similar traits? Dr. Henry Cloud challenges you to throw that list out. Often times the reason we are attracted to those characteristics can be related directly to areas in our life that we are unhealthy relationally. Example he speaks of a woman who was worried that she did not appear feminine enough. This was due to a history of how she was treated by men in her life. She specifically chose men who were body builders and were tall. Yet she found they did not have much else in common. She continued to be hurt and frustrated. It was not until she threw out her type and looked at the heart that she was able to enter into a relationship that was healthy and truly made her feel beautiful. (No he was not a body builder.)
I Samuel 16:7
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Don’t settle. Listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all relationships and look for the red flags. We may all have the opportunity to enter into a relationship that will lead to marriage but does that mean we have to take that step? Do you want to settle for good or would you rather have what God desires for you?
Amos 3:3 Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? (NIV)
Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
We often speak of equally yoked. Remember that just being yoked with a believer does not mean it is equal. Spiritual growth and spiritual maturity need to be considered.
I once heard a Pastor speak on marriage and relationships. He stated that the sign of a thriving healthy relationship is the spiritual growth of the two. He said look back when you met that person and look to where you are now? Have you grown in your faith and your walk with Christ as a result of the relationship and fellowship with this person? If you can see that growth and you can confirm it by others seeing it as well. Then you truly have been blessed. He actually suggested seeking your friends out and asking if they have seen God working in your life since you met this person. Can you imagine spending a life time with this person? How much the Lord will bless you compared to how much he already has?
How do you speak love? Many of you may have read the book “the Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. This is a great place to start. I have found that each of us have things that “may mean” love to us. Growing up I often associated someone listening to me not just hearing me as a sign of love. If they just said uh huh or ok but did not respond to what I was truly saying I felt unloved. To me this meant they did not love me. Is this correct? No. But I still find today it makes me feel loved if someone truly listens to what I say. They are spending quality time with me.
We each need to understand what makes us feel loved and how others in our lives feel love. As Dr. Chapman suggests we need to speak their Love language. I encourage you to explore this about yourself and those you love.
I have been blessed to know many couples who have been married for a very long time. I call them senior saints. I am not afraid to ask questions of them regarding life and marriage. The one thing I have learned is marry your best friend. Don’t just marry someone you have dated. You see there is a difference. My own brother once told me I am not the kind of girl a man dates, but the kind they marry. I must confess I did not marry my best friend. I do believe that was a mistake. Who is your best friend? This may be something you want to prayerfully consider. Is your best friend the one person you want to talk to? Are they the one you feel safe being transparent with? Nothing is hidden in this relationship? Could this be the person you feel safest with? I would also hope that this is the person who is described above in the section on settling. Is your best friend the person who points you always to Christ? Are they the one that full fills the statement of iron sharpens iron?
Fools rush in:
Are you humming a song that came to mind or are you thinking of the movie with Matthew Perry and Selma Hayek? Well both may be appropriate. I used to rush into relationships. I would give my heart away before getting to know the individual. Have you ever done that? Have the scars to show for it?
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Time and time again other couples have told me to spend time as friends and get to know one another before giving your heart. Dr. Henry Cloud reminds us in his book “How to get a date worth keeping”, to not look for a spouse. Just make friends and date several people as friends. God will lead. So guard your heart. Don’t rush in.