What am I getting myself into?
I received an email from a man who wrote them with a sense of bewilderment. He had been dating a woman for six months and had strong feelings for her. Being that they were both in their late 30′s, they felt they knew what they wanted out of life and didn’t see the point in waiting too long to get married, so he was contemplating popping the question. But, he didn’t want to make a decision based purely on emotion. With the rate of divorce being so high he was questioning his ability to detect whether or not he was making the right decision. His question is one that is on many people’s minds: How do I know I am with the right one?
There are many indicators to help you know if you are with the right person and the way you feel about someone is certainly one of them. Usually, when you are with “the one” you feel a strong, familiar, peaceful connection to him/her in addition to the romance and excitement. But… we all know feelings change and fade. The honeymoon always comes to an end. This is the secret of a strong and lasting marriage… learning to love each other even more when those feelings of romance aren’t present. But, if you can’t rely on feelings as the proper gauge, what is there you can count on?
A New Trend Among Dating Couples
Here’s an interesting trend: more and more couples who are not yet engaged are attending marriage preparation courses and retreats in an effort to boost their discernment process and feel as confident as possible about their chosen partner. I spoke with one such couple, Julie and Brian, about this and the Julie, gave a notable response: “We just want to know what we are getting into so we don’t waste each other’s time.” I had asked Julie specifically why she would attend if she and Brian weren’t engaged, yet. “It’s too important… I don’t want to get a divorce, I’d rather have a long and happy marriage.”
Fair enough. So, if you love the one you’re with, is it enough to be in love and agree on the issues of children, faith, finances, etc.? Some people would say yes, but hearkening back to the gentleman who had emailed me describing his sense of being perplexed, it was clear he still wanted some sign, some indication he couldn’t doubt that his girlfriend was the person God had intended for him.
If you find yourself in these same shoes, I’d like to offer you a simple, yet very effective way to help you discern whether you are with Mr. or Mrs. Right. Just ask yourself these three questions:
1. Will my relationship with this person bring me closer to God?
2. Will my relationship with this person make me a more loving person?
3. Will this relationship allow me to use my gifts and talents?
If our goal in life is to spend eternity with God in heaven then this first question is one we should always ask ourselves. If you answer it honestly and follow through, you take a huge step in knowing if this person is the right one for you. Even if you’ve only been together a short time, you already have some insight into your behaviors as a couple. Are you comfortable discussing your beliefs with this person? Is faith and morality as important to your significant other as it is to you? Do you share any spiritual goals? The answers to these questions all indicate one of three things: either the relationship is moving you toward God, it isn’t, or you need to start talking about these things to find out.
Regarding the second question, it’s important to understand that I’m not talking about romantic love because that should naturally be a yes. This question focuses you on detecting if your relationship with the person you are dating will enable you to grow in love for God and others? Genuine love is self-less. It focuses on others. So in your relationship, are the two of you focused on making the other happy, or are you in the relationship for your own benefit? Another way to tell if your relationship will help you become a more loving person is by defining how open the two of you are to new life. Two people who are committed to each other but not yet married reveal their openness to new life by never using artificial contraception at any stage in their relationship which means you remain celibate until marriage. But in addition to that important point, ask yourself if you, as a couple are comfortable sharing your faith with others?
The third question might sound odd, but it is really an important thing to consider. when you think about living the rest of your life with this person. God endowed you with gifts and talents for a reason… so you can use them for His glory and the good of others. This question will help you determine the level of harmony between the two people in the relationship… Is your significant other supportive of your interests and goals? Does this person encourage you to follow your dreams and stand beside you to cheer you on? I might add here that this is something you should feel comfortable doing in return. Can you get behind this person up on all his/her pursuits?
If you are wondering if you are in a relationship with the right person, I encourage you to take some time and reflect upon these questions. They are tools I use often in other types of decisions I must make as well and are very effective.