Over the years, I’ve spoken to countless individuals regarding the hot subject of dating and marriage. Undeniably, it’s a genuine desire of many unless they are called to be celibate. Those who have told me they are contemplating celibacy gave me reasons that typically fall short of the right reasons, generally not because they are called by God, but invariably, due to a warped and paralyzing view of relationship and marriage. For the most part, many can’t wait to get married and enjoy the blessings of marriage! So…you think you’re ready for marriage?
Here are three things I have learned before I married the love of my life.
It doesn’t help that most of our ideas about meeting our Knight-In-Shining-Armor or our Drop-Dead-Gorgeous-Sizzling-Ladaay are anything and anywhere between “You’ve Got Mail,” “Notebook” (I swear every girl sixteen and above owns that DVD) and “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days.” The struggle is real I understand, or maybe I don't. This is typically a girl’s challenge but I’m not counting out the guys. The point is, your love story is most likely not going to look like a Hollywood Best Rom-Com manuscript. If it does, hey good for you and I will envy you from afar but I’d really love to see how the real story ends. The reality is your love story is more likely going to look like…
Boy Meets Girl…Girl Meets Boy…Boy takes 3065.37 minutes to finally decide to ask her out for coffee…Girl talks to 245 of her friends and ask them what they think about Boy…Coffee happens…bunch of nerves happen…Dates 2, 3, 4 happen…Boy decides if he wants to forgo other options and seriously pursue Girl…Girl, after talking to another 312 of her friends, decides she really likes the guy…then alas…Girl finds out that he snores like a pig…Guy sees her without make-up…Guy loses his temper…Girl throws a tantrum…
You get the picture. Reality bites.
I know when your wedding day happens, you’ll live to tell your stunningly beautiful and romantic story. But meanwhile, stop floating on clouds. Unfortunately, we live in a very superficial world. Guys, stop looking for that supermodel. If you end up marrying one for the right reasons, good for you. Girls, one day, he might lose all his hair, his six-packs might become Fatbelly United. By all means, make sure you are attracted to each other, but not just to looks, but also to the beauty of each other's hearts. For beauty is fleeting but the heart beats to the very last.
Girls tell me all the time, “But you don’t understand, Cornelius, he’s so cute and funny! He makes me laugh.” I tell them, “Well, he better be cracking some really funny jokes when the roof is leaking and there’s no food on the table. He better be real funny then!”
Guys on the other hand, “Man, she got more curves than the race tracks!” Well, she better have all the right curves in the all right places when she’s dumping on you all the cleaning and diaper changing and all she does is shop all day (your money) and party all night!
Ok, these examples could be exaggerated for the sake of humor but nonetheless, the point is to get past the superficial. Be wise. Be practical. Someone cleverer than me said, “Don’t marry someone you can live with, marry someone you can’t live without.” That’s good wisdom.
2. Stop Waiting for The One
From sixteen to twenty-eight years old, at the prime of my dating years, I didn’t date at all. Too scared to date. Too scared to miss it. Too scared to make a mistake. Too scared to marry the wrong one. After all, there is D-One I’m supposed to date and marry. I was too spiritual for a coffee date. I was too spiritual for my own good. I was too spiritual. Now years later and wiser, I don’t believe there is THE-ONE but I believe there is ONE that the Lord knows you will eventually marry. Let me explain. It’s not rocket science. If there is only one person who’s the exact ONE for everyone on the face of this earth, ordained from the beginning of time, your names written and locked in in Heaven’s Book of Marriage, and you, heaven forbid, marry Debbie, whom Johnny down the street was supposed to marry, then Johnny would end up marrying somebody else that Stefan in Sweden was supposed to marry…then you would have screwed up the cosmic plan of forever marriages! Well, you get my drift. Truth is, people make bad decisions about who they marry and yet, in our mistakes we can never screw up God’s goodness and His infinite wisdom. He knows the ones who are potentially the right fit for you. He can lead you to the right person. He will provide. He's a good Father. Step out. Put yourself out there. Get fear behind thou. Go on that coffee date. Get some sushi. Get to know people. Weigh out the options. Date well. Date healthy. And by the way, rejection is redirection. There's someone better for you who deserves you. You need to depend on His wisdom and guidance to make the best decision and then choose to commit to your spouse for the rest of your life.
3. Wait On Purpose
Waiting sucks. I was in my later 30s and my wife early 30s when we got married. I know…the clock is ticking, the hormones are raging…the sex drive is…too fast too furious. I get it. But there is a right kind of waiting. And I'm not referring to just waiting to have sex; I'm referring to waiting for a compatible spouse. We live in a time and age where marriages are treated flippantly. There is a waiting that is purposeful, one that is honoring to God, one that's going to be worth it all. My wife and I prayed and waited a long time. The lonely nights, the tears on the pillow, the watching Netflix on a Saturday night eating Taco Bell by yourself, believe me I understand and I've had many of those. But, when I finally found Tiffany, all of that pain pale in comparison to the beauty that I get to behold right before my eyes! I don't think about the disappointment and loneliness anymore but rather, I rejoice and celebrate the promise fulfilled everyday! You have so much to look forward to!
For fear of sounding too cliché, there’s a popular saying that goes, “Don’t look for Mr/Ms Right, be Mr/Ms Right.” Ya ya ya…blah blah blah…we’ve heard it all before. Nevertheless, there is some wisdom in that. Except I’ll put it this way: Be Mr/Ms Right…Pray for Mr/Ms Right…Look for Mr/Ms Right and do all that simultaneously. We cannot ignore or underscore the importance of preparation. If you prepare well and commit to a lifelong attitude of learning, maturing, responsibility and integrity, you increase the chances of having a great marriage.
While waiting, focus on the things that God has for you. Pursue the destiny and purposes of God for your life. Serve the Lord. The more intentional you are in pursuing your calling and passion, the easier it is to find a compatible partner with similar pursuits and passion. You’re not going to find him at the strip club. In the famous story of Ruth and Boaz in the Bible, where did they meet and find each other? In the fields. In other words, they were going about their lives purposefully. Boaz wasn’t couching, playing countless hours of X-Box. Neither was Ruth watching vicariously endless episodes of The Very Desperate Housewives. I have no problems with either of those but spending extended time on those ain’t gonna put much pizza on the table. Just saying. There's something very attractive about a person who's diligent, intentional, and living life on purpose.
1 Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech. 2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.” Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” 3 So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.
5 Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?”
Boaz was a wealthy and influential man. He was noble and well-respected, a man of character. He was hardworking, focused, diligent. You could say he was ON purpose. Ruth was hardworking and a woman of purity and character. The Bible says she was “virtuous…did not go after young men, whether poor or rich” (Ruth 3:10-11).
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. Proverbs 24:27
What am I saying? Prepare yourself well before you build a family. Here’s some advice…
a) Get a J-O-B. Don’t just be begging for the S-E-X. Straight talk. We all have to learn responsibility and provide for our family.
b) Make your bed. Before you get to make love with your wife on the marriage bed, learn to make your bed. I’m talking more than ironing your bed sheets here; I’m talking about learning discipline. Truth is, nobody wants to marry a slob. Pick up your socks. Wash your clothes. Invest in a nice cologne, not Old Spice. Girls dig guys that smell fresh, can I get a witness ladies? Brush your teeth. You don't need spinach hanging in between your teeth on a date.
a) Work on your security and confidence in God. You're most attractive that way. You don’t need to be feeding on guys for that.
b) Don’t give away your purity cheaply. Guys can be predators but you don’t have to be easy prey. You are beautiful, you are virtuous, you know who you are. You know your worth. Stay that way. Protect it. God can redeem our past. It’s going to pay off handsomely someday.
c) Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz. While you are waiting on your Boaz, don’t settle for any of his relatives: Broke-az, Po-az, Lyin-az, Cheating-az, Dumb-az, Drunk-az, Cheap-az, Lockedup-az, Goodfornothing-az, Lazy-az, and especially his third cousin, Beatinyo-az. Wait on your Boaz and make sure he respects Yoaz!” (go ahead have a hearty laugh!)
Guys and girls, work on your fears and insecurities. There's grace and forgiveness for our mess-ups. God is that good. Let Him heal you and make you whole. No waiting is in vain unless you let it be. Make it count. Prepare well. It doesn't mean it's going to be rosy and smooth-sailing, but you can look forward to a great marriage.
“So it's not gonna be easy. It's going to be really hard; we're gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me... everyday.”
― Noah to Allie, The Notebook
God is the matchmaker. You choose. May you prepare well. May you find abundant joy, hope, grace, purpose, and significance in this season. May you soon find marital bliss with your forever love.