I’m a proponent of dating before and after marriage. Dating, in my opinion, is a very good thing on both sides of marriage. What you used to win a heart before marriage helps you keep a heart after you’ve married. But if you’re not careful, you can get deceived by the pre-marriage dating process.
Let me explain.
Please know that this blog isn’t about people purposefully lying in order to get anything out of the other. But there is an unanticipated deception that takes place in the dating process. I’ll describe it this way, back in bible college, twice a year we’d have a weekend called, “College Days.” They were strategic weekends when high school students were invited to the campus. They got to experience everything the college had to offer. We students affectionately called these weekends, “Deception Days.” Why? We lived here every day and the food, the chapels, the decor, well, everything that was presented during “College Days” was not the real life on an average day at Central Bible College. Thus, students were committing to a place they haven’t really, truly, seen.
Thus, when we date, there is more of a deception in the dating process than we will realize. You both are putting your best foot forward (as you should). You both are looking to see the best the other can bring (in terms of their manners and demeanor). Maybe we can say it this way: Dating is a showing of, not where someone is, but the potential someone possesses. It’s not really who they are but glimpses of who they really can be.
It’s for this reason I am very much a proponent of dating. I think dating is good and, if approached in a healthy way, is a phenomenal tool to prepare you for marriage. Why? As I said before: What you used to win a heart before marriage helps you keep a heart after you’ve married. (I probably should do a blog on my dating philosophy as “courting-only” peeps are ready to send me letters.)
Now back to our marriage thought…
What I find happening with couples is this: You already see that you are different based upon your genders, but when the “Honeymoon Stage” is done (whenever that is), the reality sets in of who or what you married. You realize that “College Days” experiences are not the “every day” experiences. We’ve all been there. I remember when Anne and I started realizing that we married someone different from we dated.
- Anne doesn’t really like Stryper. She just tolerated it on our dates.
- Dave is not as organized/clean as Anne anticipated.
- Anne tolerated my sports fandom. She actually hates football.
- Dave may be with Anne, but his workaholic mind is anywhere but with Anne.
- For Dave, going with the flow is best
- For Anne, a precise plan is best.
It is usually at this point I get couples writing or calling me about the “disconnect” they are experiencing. I hear things like “we’ve just become so different” or “we are drifting apart.” I submit to you this: Neither are true. You haven’t “become” or “drifted”; you’re recognizing how different you are. And this can be a very good thing. Your differences can be the place upon which your marriage takes that “next level growth” approach. How?
Your differences become a place to appreciate your spouse.
So often, we use differences to attack one another. What if you stopped and realized that your differences are not what you use to compete with each other but the way you complete each other? If you both are the exact same person, then one of you is no longer necessary. Scripture says we are created “…wonderfully complex.” And when you see your spouse through that lens, you can stop attacking and start understanding. I find many marital fights are less about “being different” and more about differences are not being valued. Stop trying to change your spouse. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Your job: Love your spouse the way Jesus loves you.
Your differences become a place to invite God in.
You can approach your differences from one of two ways. First, they can be your excuse of why you can’t get along. But if you do, then that better be your excuse of never having a friend because there’s always going to be characteristics in others that are not going to be “like you.” Or two, you can see the differences you possess as invitations for God to work. I love the words of the Apostle Paul who said that God’s “…power works best in weakness.” It’s not that your differences, themselves are weak, but where you are different can have the potential to be weak areas if they’re not handled correctly. So when you see some differences rise up, approach it in this way,
“Lord I need you. Shape my heart and change my attitude. Before I expect to see a change in her/him, please change me. I invite you in this moment and ask you to give me wisdom to know how to navigate through this. Help the character of Jesus to be developed in me.”
Being different isn’t an excuse to stay the same. Differences are our starting place to get the real marital work done. Marriage is work, but I think it’s fun work. As I so often say, marriages that fail are not those that had to work at it but those that stop working at it. So don’t stop because you are discovering differences. Start pushing ahead together as you discover differences.
When you are willing to work through your difference, you’ll discover a greater and healthier relationship than you’ve ever imagined.
Go out on a date. Spend some time talking and showing value for each other’s distinctness.
Love you all. Praying for you.
Thanks for letting me ramble…
BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.