Good Monday All!
Hope you had a great week. Thank you for participating in the “True Friends” exercise last week. Many of you got to share your feelings and old memories with special people in your life, and others discovered who considered them to be true friends. I got several surprise texts and made some unexpected calls. Overall, true friends are hard to find and some of them were celebrated last week in a big way. Thank you for sharing.
I digress… Marriage, Dating and Relationships
This weekend, my husband and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary. We met when I was 14-years-old and he was 17-years-old. He was singing in a gospel quartet and I was singing in a gospel trio. The essence of the story is, Vickie, one of my friends (who was actually one of his best friends), was having a “get together” at her house for a bunch of young gospel singers and church friends, and invited all of us. I had never met him before that day, although our paths had crossed months before. So during the time of Vickie’s “get together,” I had been praying for God to send my husband (yes at 14), because months earlier, my “church boyfriend” had broken up with me. I was more agitated than upset about the break up because I felt like the time spent talking on the phone with him and our little church outings was a waste of my time. I wanted to skip past dating the rest of the wrong people and just focus on the right person because I wanted a marriage and family like my parents had. I didn’t know how to go about doing that, so every single night, while lying in bed, in the dark, as if I were having a sleep over with a friend, I’d spend time talking to God. I talked to Him about my life, asking Him how to do little everyday things. I wanted His take on how to pick the right friends, take care of my hair and how to take care of my dry skin at the time. Over time, I found myself looking through the Bible and finding answers to my little teenage, seemingly minor questions. I also began researching every scripture I could find on marriage, in hopes to discover what a husband was supposed to be and what a wife was supposed to be. I quickly found that what a man/husband was so supposed to be looked a lot like the type of man my dad was to my mom. So my dad became my literal standard to measure “the right person” by, and the scriptures I found became my checklist.
At Vickie’s “get together,” I met some funny and talented young men who I soon realized would eventually become close family friends. A while after talking with a bunch of the guys, I met this tall, curly-haired 17-year-old young man that Vickie “really wanted me to meet!” We started chitchatting that night and I liked that he was smart, knew about world issues and was very funny. I didn’t really pay much attention to the obvious signs that reminded me of my tall, confident and smart father, but we did exchange numbers and continued chitchatting, hanging out and performing with the rest of the groups in the weeks to come. We became fast friends and quickly started officially “dating.” As I continued studying scriptures during this time, I learned some things about myself. I had too much mouth, too much attitude and was too opinionated to be ready for something like marriage. As a teenager, I was a petite, feisty, sassy and outspoken, “wise beyond my years,” comical, “dance to my own drummer” type of person. I was also a leader and an independent thinker. These are great qualities to have, but I realized I had some personal work to do if my solo would become a duet the right way. I started with using Proverbs 31:10-31 as a guide or template to follow as I stayed true to my authentic self - much like using a baking recipe to learn how to make a cake.
My husband and I dated seven years before we got married and waited five years after we got married to have children (so that we could spend married time living and enjoying life together before starting a family). So although we have been married for 28 years now, we’ve been together for 35 years. I still have all of the qualities I had before we met – I have just matured. As a result, here are just a few lessons that I’ve learned throughout the years about marriage, dating and relationships:
Marriage is like a couples’ figure skating performance – two separate people, moving in unison, in the same space, at the same time. It’s challenging because you will make mistakes, and you might fall, and when you do, your spouse can be hard and cold toward you. But if you get up, refocus and start again; in time, with lots of practice, it is beautiful sight to see.
Don’t waste time dating someone you wouldn’t consider marrying. If unacceptable qualities and behaviors present themselves early, if you ignore or dismiss them, you may be giving them permission to continue.
If you want your way all the time, you are not ready for a relationship. Single people can do whatever they want to, when they want to. If you are in a relationship, you are not single.
Marriage is a committed marathon - not a quick sprint. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage because there is no such thing as a perfect person. However, there is a difference between marriage and a mess. If you commit to doing what’s necessary for a “marathon,” you won’t pass out because you were only prepared for a “sprint.”
If you find yourself dating someone to make yourself feel complete, you are dating him/her for the wrong reason. You will never find true self-fulfillment through someone else. You will always be searching for external validation - which means you will never be enough for you.
Relationships take communication, individual growth, respect and love. If any of these four things are missing there may be major problems ahead. Life will present situations that require us all to communicate, grow, regard others and love unconditionally. If you are not willing to do these things, you may not be ready for a relationship.
Marriage is about two functional people uniting to create a functional life together. If one of you is toxic in any area of your life, you are bringing that toxicity into your marriage. It’s like adding dirt to your coffee and cream in the morning. Deal with the dirt before you get married.
If you are dating someone and waiting for him/her to change - that day may never happen. So, don’t settle for someone you know that you are settling for. That is not necessarily a sign of devotion – that could be a sign of desperation.
It only takes one person to destroy a relationship, but it takes two people to make it work. No matter what has happened, if the good far outweighs the bad and you are both willing to do the hard work to make it better, you may have a fighting chance. This may be a good time to seek qualified counseling. However, you can’t make someone love you - or stay. Know the situation you are in and let prayer lead the way.
Exercise: What are some of the things that you have learned in some of your past or current relationships? How can you make your marriage, dating experiences or relationship stronger, better or more functional? I am looking forward to reading your comments.
Please Note: I want you all to know that I (or my team) am reading all of your emails, messages, etc. Some of your responses are respectfully too personal or sensitive to mention in my posts, but know that I am reading them. I hear you, I am smiling regarding your outcomes, I am cheering you on and, most importantly, praying for you. I am so glad that this blog is helpful to you. That was the sole purpose for starting it. Thank you for sharing.
Have a great week…on purpose!
Copyright © 2015 by Angela J. Williams. All rights reserved.