Do you feel like you and your sweetie are at a crossroads in your relationship? If you go to the left, you get married – and if you go to the right, you break up – there is no other choice… you are at a fork in the road.
That fork in the road can be an anxiety provoking place to be, especially when the answer is not clear. Everyone else in our life may “know” which road we should take, but our decisions are seldom as cut and dry as our confident friends and family make them out to be. But, it is also true that we lose objectivity when our hearts are involved.
So, in the spirit of helping you decide which path to take, I have jotted down a few questions to ask yourself. Your sweetheart may want to take a gander at the list as well. I know this is a tough spot to be in when the answer is not clear and I pray the Holy Spirit will lead you to the best conclusion for you both.
- Have you and your sweetheart continued to struggle with little to no growth? It may be time to let go if your relationship is not moving forward successfully. I am not a proponent of giving up on a good situation just because a couple hits a rough patch, but I am also not in favor of trying to force a relationship into being. Sometimes, two people are just not a good match for each other. It is not fun to admit, especially when the couple holds a strong attraction for each other; but, the truth is we can fall for people we should not marry.
- Have you tried to work through problems but your sweetheart does not seem interested in putting in the time? Even if you and your sweetie are a good match on paper, it is hard to ignore a blatant disrespect or disregarding of your relationship. Two people with the same interests, goals, and cultural backgrounds still will not thrive if one person wants to grow and the other one does not.
- Are your friends and family warning you that the situation is not good? When one person expresses concern and no one else does, it may be a fluke; but, when several people you love (and who love you) are making such comments as, “What are you thinking?” “Are you sure?” “You are too good for…” “Do you have anything in common?” “I am so concerned for you.” … then that is when it is time to step back and seriously look at your relationship as objectively as possible. Our natural instinct is to defensively get angry with these folks; yet, in the long run, we have a feeling they are right. Our friends and loved ones care and we should honestly and humbly try to see where they are coming from when they present concerns.
- Do you find yourself grasping at reasons to stay together? Is the relationship comfortable because you have been together so long, but you are finding fewer and fewer reasons to consider marriage? Are the reasons you were initially attracted to each other fading? Are you discovering life-altering differences? Are you justifying your relationship by telling yourself, “He is such a kind man.” “She gets along with my family.” “I do not have to go down the career path I planned to follow.” “If we love each other enough, it does not matter if we are that different, right?” “Tom and Jan are complete opposites, and they are still married.” Are you more saddened by the thought of being alone than you are by the thought of not being with him or her?
- Does it seem like you and your sweetheart have different goals or plans for your lives? Do you make a good team, or do you hold each other back? Are your life goals heading in the same direction or veering off from one another? Will one or both of you have to give up your dreams to stay in this relationship? God places passions inside of us. I love to sing and I have always been fascinated by personality and relationships. I love trying to get to the bottom of why people behave the way they do. Eric has a musician’s heart and he encourages me to sing. He obviously loves relationships and personality studies as well. The thought of being married to someone who would stifle me at the core of who I am is quite terrifying; and, the thought of stifling someone else is equally depressing.
- Are you staying together because you love him or her, or are you staying together because you are afraid of life without him or her? Chew on that question for a while and be honest with yourself.
- Is it easy to be together? Are you free to be your true self with no reservations? Are you consistently worried that you will upset him or her? Is everything a battle? It concerns me when new couples struggle with one issue after another. Even if you do not always get along perfectly with your honey, there should be a general ease (and easiness of the relationship) between the two of you. You should feel at home. You should be able to let your hair down. You should be able to exist comfortably in the same space. You should not be on pins and needles waiting for the other shoe to drop all. the. time.
- When you picture your life five years down the road, do you see him or her in it? When I asked my godfather how he knew my godmother was the one for him, he said he asked himself this question: “If I am not married in five years, who will I be dating?” He said the answer was my godmother. He could not imagine his life without her. When I tried to picture my life without my college boyfriend, I had no trouble; but, guess who I could not imagine my life without? You guessed it – my college friend, Eric.
- Can you picture raising children with this person? There are some traits we are willing to overlook until we consider raising children. For example, I know I am going to be extremely particular about what my children watch on TV – maybe even more than my mother was – and she was quite the strict one. I remember an ex-boyfriend watching a questionable (at best) movie and thinking, “He and I would completely butt heads over what our kids watched.” It may seem small, but it would have been a major point of contention. That is just one example. When you look at this person, do you think, “I want my children to have a parent like this man or woman. I can see us being a child-rearing team”? Or, do you have one reservation after another?
- Are you spiritually compatible? This is the most important question. Are you both serving the Lord, not just in the same direction, but with the same intensity? Or does it seem like one of you is pulling the other? Are you closer to God now than you were before you started dating your sweetie? Does he or she inspire you to live a more God-honoring life, or does he or she encourage you to loosen up on your values? Do you experience spiritual unity and partnership or do you feel like your significant other’s child or parent when it comes to Bible knowledge or spiritual maturity?
We hope these questions have been helpful and given you some food for thought. As always, feel free to contact us if you have questions.
Everyone’s story is a little bit different. Listen to the advice of trusted friends and family. Prayerfully consider which way to go. When in doubt, do not make a decision. Take some time away if you need to think clearly. When you decide which way to go, move forward in confidence.
We wish you all the best as you determine which path to take. God bless!
Is it time to let go – or time to move forward?