Is the guy you’re dating a guy you could (or should) marry?
Don’t worry, even if you’re not in a relationship yet, it’s not too early to start thinking this through, and it actually might be better to come up with a plan before those warm fuzzy feelings start clouding your judgment. Of course, if you’re already a bit fuzzy-headed, that’s okay too; a late start is better than no start!
Too often when a relationship feels good, we fail to honestly evaluate it. It’s not so much that you need to have some sort of strict check-list. What you need is a plan of action. Spend some time reflecting on who God made you, what’s really important to you, and on how you operate, then decide: here’s what I’m going to do and ask and consider when the time comes.
No “plan” can ensure that you will make perfect decisions or that you won’t get hurt. But a good plan will help you to avoid some obvious pitfalls and it will help you best discern God’s will for you and your future mate.
Everyone’s plan will look a little bit different, but there are some things that should definitely be included:
First and foremost on your list should be: I will pray. In fact, maybe this should really be items 1-3 on your list. If you are serious (or even potentially serious) about a particular relationship, you should be praying about it daily, and not just as a formality. Pray with a clear head and an open heart.
I will not rush it. It is so important to take your time in letting relationships develop and so worth it in the end. My friend Kathy just celebrated her 6-year wedding anniversary to the one and only love of her life. She is 42 and her husband is 48 and this is the first marriage for both of them. They agree wholeheartedly that it was worth the wait!
Taking things slowly can not only help you avoid mistakes, it can vastly improve your first years of marriage. Over time, you get to see how your potential mate really handles life’s ups and downs, something that doesn’t tend to happen in those first few months of dating. There’s really no substitute or short-cut that can help you to know each other as well or build up the same level of trust.
I will seek wise counsel. Even if you are praying daily and committed to taking things slowly, you need to hear from third parties (i.e. people who know you well and who don’t get goose-bumps when they hold your guy’s hand, or smile ridiculously when they hear his name). Talk to your parents, pastor, mentor, and committed Christian friends. Ask them honest and tough questions and be receptive to their answers. It’s a real warning sign if you find yourself not wanting to talk about the relationship with these kinds of people in your life.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. For more key questions to ask about a potential mate, check out Chapter 6 of Work, Love, Pray. If you’d like to find a mentor to talk to about these kinds of things and don’t have one, consider applying for 4word’s new Mentor Match program, applications are due next week!
What else would you add to your dating-for-keeps plan of action? What questions would you ask to help assess a serious dating relationship?