“I think he may be an angel. Seriously, he is so perfect I wonder if he is actually a heavenly being.” This was me at twelve. I was so enamored with my boyfriend that I wondered if he could be part angel. ~smile~ How could any human being be so flawless and not be sent straight from Heaven?
Sounds silly, right? Well, it is how many couples relate to each other before they have time to accumulate relational baggage. Before a man or woman hurts you, it is easy to see him or her as flawless. “He dotes on me, brings me presents, and compliments me constantly. What a prince!” “She laughs at my jokes, rubs my back, and insists I spend time with my friends. What a princess!” But, even princes and princesses are human. We are on our best behavior before we say, “I do.” Then, something snaps and, suddenly, we are completely, 100% ourselves – working through the sanctification process while “trapped” in a house with someone else who is also being refined at the same time.
It is hard to hide the truth from your spouse when you share a room!
In the spirit of preparation, here are five facts you and your sweetie need to face before becoming engaged. With knowledge comes power!
- The “Perfect” Person You are Dating Now Will Prove to be Imperfect. This may seem like a well duh statement, but there is a solid chance that you are still seeing your special someone through rose-colored glasses. This is perfectly normal for the stage your relationship is in, but it is important to realize that you will eventually see your sweetie in truth; so, it is best to open your eyes wide now rather than after you are engaged or married. This precious, feminine tulip may one day yell at you in a gruff, manlike voice. That perfect gentleman may end up burping and passing gas at the most inopportune moments. Your sweetheart is an imperfect being – and so are you. You are going to marry a sinner; if you are not fully at peace with that fact, you will be consistently disappointed with your spouse’s failures.
- Affairs Are Easier to Have than You May Think. Think of your relationship as a rope. Right now, it is strong and seemingly impossible to rip. Then comes a painful fight and hurtful words. A bit of the rope frays. One partner tells a lie and gets caught. Another bit of the rope unravels. More arguing, contempt, and emotional abandonment occurs. Before long, the rope is only connected by a thread. At this point, the kind understanding of another man or woman (with whom you share no relational baggage) can seem like a cool sip of water in the summertime. You would not “need” a drink if you were not so thirsty. Marriages, if left unguarded, become affair magnets because it is in our natures to rip the rope rather than to guard the rope. To affair-proof your upcoming marriage, you must do what feels unnatural – dying to your selfishness daily and valuing your partner more highly than you value yourself (Philippians 2:3).
- Daily Couple’s Devotions Will Not Just Happen. Much like guarding your marriage against affairs, you will have to guard your schedule if you want to spend time in God’s Word together. If you do not plan a time for couple’s devotions, you will probably end up neglecting them. Devotions are a discipline, just as exercising and cleaning are disciplines. We cannot count on a driving inner need for time with God. We are humans and we are frail; our attention spans are short. Without a plan, determination, and the decision to persevere, you and your spouse will fail to consistently seek God together.
- Your Future Spouse Will Disappoint You. You may very well enjoy a marriage free from infidelity, abuse, and addiction (and I sincerely hope you do!). However, even in the smallest of ways, your spouse will disappoint you. He may not earn as much money as you think he should (or can). She may not be as respectful as you think she should be. He may decide he does not want a big family anymore. Her dreams, passions, and pursuits may change. Somehow, someway, your sweetheart will not measure up. It is in those moments when you have to choose to love someone you may not find lovable or respectable – seeking God for strength when yours is gone. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).
- You Will Both Change. Some of these changes will be for the better. He may become a far better spiritual leader and friend than he is now. She may become an amazing cook or career woman. Not all changes are negative. However, if you go into a marriage thinking your spouse will always love the same activities, want the same career, and enjoy hours of the same re-runs, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. In some ways, we all do it. “Fifteen years ago you said you wanted seven children and now you are changing your mind?!?” “Well, three is about to drive us mad. Why would you want more?!?” Are you ready to take on a marriage with this person even though you cannot predict how life may change him or her?
There is much to look forward to in marriage, but we want our readers to go into it with a realistic picture. Unmet desires and selfishness is a perfect storm for divorce. If you and your honey can thoroughly discuss and digest these uncomfortable topics, you are in a much healthier place than couples who refuse to face the truth (before and after marriage).
It is not our intention to talk couples out of marriage at all – only to prepare them so they can enjoy a rich relationship with as few surprises as possible. Here’s to going in with eyes wide open! ~smile~
Are you going into marriage with eyes wide open? Are you seeing your sweetheart in truth?