Last Thursday I picked my 5-year-old up from kindergarten and she informed me that she has a boyfriend. I asked “Who?!!” and she said that she wasn’t sure what his name is. Evidently, when you are 5 small details like names are not important when it comes to relationships.
As adults, some of us continue to struggle with knowing what is important in a significant other. I certainly did. Like so many young adults, I chased the experience of dating, grew addicted to the highs and lows of dysfunctional relationships, and suffered through bringing these bad habits into my marriage. The fact that I am now married to a beautiful follower of Jesus is only because of God’s tremendous grace (and only after we suffered through difficult years of rebuilding trust and love).
Monica and I seem to be an exception, as so many with similar stories have very different endings. Today we spend countless hours in pre-marital counseling with young couples, observing relationships of others, and preparing for weddings I’m officiating. I see clear patterns of what works, and what ends terribly. I see how awful compromises of morals and logic are made when strong feelings get in the way. On the other hand, I see how some go about dating in such a calculated way that no one can ever meet their “standards.”
Asking the Right Question
The biggest problem I’ve noticed is that most singles are trying to answer the same question: “Who should I date?” But that’s the wrong question. The question you should be asking is “Who should I marry?” Lift your eyes above the here and now—above the fun of dating a stranger, the emotional rush of a long phone conversation, or the pursuit of premarital intimacy—and start to think about dating with the end in mind.
Ladies, sometimes it seems that when a guy “finally” gives you attention everything else goes out the window. But if you focus your attention on finding the traits that make a good husband—and not simply a good date—you’ll be much more likely to end up with “happily ever after” instead of heartbreak.
10 Things a Woman Should Look For (And a Man Should Be)
In no particular order. You want to marry a guy who is:
- Submissive to authority. Rebellious guys might grab your heart for a moment, but they will not lead you or themselves well. You want someone who will admit that he is not always right, and be willing to change when others point that out to him. Does he listen to others and yield to wisdom? (Hebrews 13:17)
- Honest. Does he say what he means and do what he says? Does he go out of his way to speak with whole, complete, and concentrated truth? Without honesty, you cannot trust what he says—including when he says he will commit to you in marriage. (1 Corinthians 13:6)
- Kind. Is he nice to others around him? Don’t expect him to be consistently kind to you long-term if he is not kind to others. (2 Timothy 2:24)
- Selfless. Does he think of your needs, and the needs of others, ahead of his own? Is he generous and willing to share his possessions and time with others? Husbands are called to love their wives selflessly and sacrificially, “just as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25).
- Patient. Is he willing to wait for good things? Does he value you enough to wait for you? “Patient” is the very first word used to describe love in the famous “love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
- Courageous. Will he stand for what is right when it is difficult, embarrassing, or unpopular? Will he stand up to protect you? (1 Corinthians 16:13)
- Gentle. Can he control his strength, and balance it with grace? (1 Timothy 3:2-3)
- Diligent. A diligent person can be counted on to provide. Does he work hard? (Proverbs 12:24)
- Faithful. This insinuates a reputation. Anyone can fake the things on this list when trying to impress a girl. Does he have a reputation consistent with these character traits? (Proverbs 20:6)
- Committed to Christ. Christ should be the focus of his life. This looks like yielding to His word, being prayerful, living in community, and being committed to a body of believers. If this is there, #1-9 will be too. (Galatians 5:22-25)
Men, strive to develop these qualities, by trusting fully in Christ and submitting to His Spirit. Women, look for a man with these qualities. Of course, no man is going to be perfect—you can’t marry Jesus—but choose someone who is striving to be like Him.
Ladies, anything that didn’t make the list that should be there?
(Originally posted January 28th, 2013)