My senior year of college brought me a lot of unanswered questions. While many of my peers were planning weddings, starting careers, or applying to graduate schools, I was still in limbo because I did not know my next move. There was the option of going back to my hometown, but with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, I did not expect to find a great job in a small town. So I considered graduate school, but I had not fully decided what graduate degree I wanted to pursue. My initial plan was to leave Liberty University and go to graduate school somewhere else, but I just didn’t know what move to make next.
Also during my senior year, I was dating someone (I’ll call him “Bob”). When I went home for Christmas break, I did a bit of soul searching. I had the thought, “If I don’t go to graduate school at Liberty, I may never see Bob again.” Interestingly, the thought of never seeing him again didn’t cause me much angst or upset. It only weighed on my heart like a small pebble. Then I had the thought, “If I don’t go to graduate school at Liberty, I may never see Eric again.” This weighted on my heart like a boulder. At the time, Eric and I were just friends, but when I faced the thought of never seeing him again, it broke my heart. At that moment I realized that I cared far more for Eric than I did Bob. So, I stayed at Liberty University for graduate school. I prayed for God’s will to be done and for him to lead Eric’s heart toward us as a couple if we were supposed to be together. Thankfully, He did! ~smile~
James Dobson once said, “Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.” (Obviously people heal and move on after a painful breakup, so Dr. Dobson did not mean for you to literally marry someone you cannot live without.) When I considered marrying Bob, I found myself looking for ways that I could live with Bob’s flaws and the life changes that would result from our union (and I would imagine he was thinking the same thoughts about me). In retrospect, I realize that I was trying to make the conditions “good enough” to consider marriage; but, in the end, I knew we were not a good pair. When it came to marrying Eric, on the other hand, I needed no convincing. My time wasn’t spent trying to figure out how I could live with him. I just wanted to live with him… forever!
If you are dating someone who only half interests you, don’t think you are doing him or her any favors by staying in the relationship. Don’t consider marrying anyone if you find yourself asking, “Can I live with him or her?” Years into your marriage, you will find great peace in knowing that you did not settle and that your spouse did not settle with you. If you are only half-interested in your boyfriend or girlfriend, consider slowing your relationship down so you can look at it objectively.
If you are keeping people at arm’s length due to fear or feelings of inadequacy, prayerfully work through those with a counselor before moving forward in any relationship. However, if you know in your heart of hearts that you are in a relationship simply for convenience, companionship, or free food, it is time to let go. Ask yourself how you would feel if someone was using you, or worse, settling for you. Even though it can feel like Mr. Right or Mrs. Right will never come, marrying someone just to escape loneliness is not the answer. It’s like my Uncle Willie says (and now that I’m married, I fully agree), “Be careful who you marry, because the only thing worse than being lonely is wishing you were.” Put your trust and confidence in the sovereignty of God to match you with the One He has for you (even if it’s not the one you’re with now).
Are you pursuing marriage with someone you can live with, or can’t live without?