You’ve been together for a while now. People are used to seeing you with your boyfriend/girlfriend. They are starting to ask questions. “When are you guys getting married?” “How much longer are you going to play the dating game?” “Are you both not tired of waiting for – well – you know!”
There comes a point when you have to choose, unless you are both comfortable dating indefinitely (which is not a good idea). Some couples have no doubt that they have found the love of their lives; whereas, other couples wrestle with the question, “Is he/she the one for me?”
Some relationship coaches may be comfortable telling their clients, “You are most definitely meant to be!” Call me hesitant, but no matter how compatible or incompatible a couple may seem to me after working with them, I never feel comfortable saying “God wants you two to marry,” or “God most definitely does not want you two to marry!” Eric and I do, however, let our couples know if we have concerns, or know of specific areas where improvement is needed before tying the knot!
If you are in that in-between stage, and you are trying to decide if you should continue connecting with this man or woman, consider the following questions:
- Are we growing closer or farther apart? In the beginning of a relationship, most everything seems beautiful. Each day is a buffet of emotions, and you get to drink in new tidbits about each other. However, time is the true test of a relationship. When couples get married while they are in the lovey-dovey stage, it makes me nervous. Eric and I enjoyed our share of butterflies, but we also got to see each other in truth before we got married. After passing through the blissfully happy stage, notice if you and your sweetheart are growing closer or growing apart. Sometimes the more you know, the less you like; and, sometimes the more you know, the more you love!
- Are our goals and paths converging or are they warring against each other? If you and your sweetie get married, will one or both of you have to give up on goals and dreams God placed in your heart? Are your goals for the future lining up, or fighting to prevail?
- Do we have the same moral standards? Do you have the same beliefs about how to treat others, how to interact with authority, and what is right and wrong? If one of you holds to high moral standards and the other lacks the same character, consider what your life will be like if you marry. Personally, I don’t think I could marry a man who has no problem stealing, cheating on his taxes, lying, or rebelling against noble authority.
- Are we both passionate about our faith or is one of us dragging the other along? Our faith defines us. If you are passionate about serving Christ, but your sweetie is not, marriage should not be your next step. Unless the Holy Spirit regenerates his or her heart, you will feel and be lonely if you marry. When God saves a person, He changes him or her from the inside out. He or she is a new person and cannot look at the world in the same way. Therefore, if you have been changed, but you marry someone who has not, you will look at the world in different ways. You won’t have a partner in the faith. You won’t be able to serve Christ together. If you are truly born again, that should be a scary thought.
- If we don’t get married in the next five years, is it likely that we will still be together? When I asked my godfather how he knew my godmother was the one for him, he said that he asked himself, “If I’m not married in five years, who will I be dating?” The answer? My godmother! If you cannot imagine dating anyone else, that is a good sign.
- Am I proud to be with this person? When you are out with your sweetie, do you dread running into your friends? Do you avoid talking about him or her with others? Are you embarrassed to be dating him or her? If so, figure out why. If your reasons are shallow, maybe you are not ready for a committed relationship. However, if your reasons are sound (e.g., he or she is lazy, does not take care of himself or herself, is rude to others, is unfeeling, is shallow, is braggadocios, etc.), decide if you want to go the rest of your life hiding from other people. Marrying someone you are ashamed of is not doing anyone any favors. Consider how hurt you would be if you got married and discovered that your spouse was ashamed to be with you. Don’t continue a relationship with someone you don’t respect and hold in the highest regard.
- Can I envision myself raising children with this person? Even as a teenager, I remember thinking (in regards to one of my boyfriends), “He’d probably let our kids watch anything!” If you would not trust the physical, emotional, and spiritual safety of your kids in this person’s hands, don’t marry him or her. If you question your sweetie’s ability to care for his or her own flesh and blood, how can you trust him or her with your heart and well-being?
- Do I trust him or her? Does your relationship have a history of cheating or random break-ups? When you go to bed at night, do you wonder where your sweetie is and what he or she is doing? Or, are you confident that he or she is being true to you? Are you always expecting another we need to break up talk, or are you at peace knowing that your sweetie is stable-minded? If trust has been broken in the past, have you both worked through the pain and come to a place of trust and peace again? If trust continues to be an issue, it will probably remain an issue. Don’t tie yourself up with someone you do not trust.
- Do I battle a constant uneasy feeling? I know this feeling all too well! That sick feeling in the pit of your tummy that says, “This is not right.” Sometimes, we can think of many reasons to attribute to that feeling; however, sometimes, it does not make sense. Once, when I was dating a guy I did not know very well, I battled this uneasy feeling for a while. Finally, I asked God to reveal to me what it was about him that had me feeling so uncomfortable. After asking this guy a series of random questions I had not previously planned to ask him, he confessed to having an ex-wife and kids in another state! And honestly, I’m not sure if he was ever planning to tell me! Perhaps these “random” questions were placed in my mind by the Holy Spirit. God was faithful in revealing why I was uncomfortable. Even if He had not, I knew something about our relationship was not pleasing Him. Before getting married, it is important to determine if your uneasy feeling is fear, or the Holy Spirit saying “no.” If you are a Christ-follower, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. If you ask Him to reveal to you whether you should continue dating someone or not, I believe He will faithfully answer. He may not answer you in the way you are expecting, but He will answer. When Eric and I were dating, even when the going was not always perfect, I had a complete peace and want everyone to have that same peace.
- Am I in this Relationship for the Right Reasons? Maybe you got into this relationship as a rebound, but then never broke up with him or her. Maybe you were lonely and you attached yourself to someone else who was lonely. Maybe you were a big man on campus and you were expected to date the head cheerleader. However you and your sweetie came together, make sure you are in the relationship for the right reasons. Is this someone for whom you want to sacrifice daily? Is this someone who is heading in the same direction as you? Do you like who you are when you are with him or her? Does he or she spur you on to greater achievements? Are you planning to marry this person, or are you just killing time until the right one comes along? If you are not in this relationship for the right reasons, gently end it now before the bond grows stronger.
Don’t be rash in your decision to stay together or break up. Take some time, pray, look at your relationship from all sides, and then make an informed decision. Many well-meaning people break up with their sweeties hastily without thinking it through or praying thoroughly. Don’t be rash, but be prayerful and completely honest with yourself.
Should you keep connecting with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or should you part ways?