Relationships between young men and women can be a hot topic. I have mentioned before that as a young girl I thought you had to date before you got married. It was all I had ever seen or heard of. As a teen I began to read and hear about courtship and within a short amount of time was convinced that courtship was the only right way to go about getting to know a prospective spouse. I was adamant; courtship was the only way to go. Period.
I began to discuss the topic with my friends and found it very frustrating that they did not see eye to eye with me. Some agreed that you should wait until you were of a marriageable age before pursuing any close relationships with someone of the opposite sex, but they did not all agree that courtship was the only way. It used to make me want to shout at them, "Don't you see? You are wrong. I am right!" Over the years the topic has come up time and again with my friends, probably in part because it is one of those topics I do not have the sense to stay away from. I found it interesting to hear what my friends thought about courtship versus dating, what they have read, and what they have been taught on the subject, and yes, there have been a few hot moments.
As time has passed I have come to see my friends' points of view are not "all wrong." They have taught me that no one's relationship is going to look just like someone else's. I have learned that it is not so much about what you call your relationship, but what your definition of that relationship is. Still, even though I do agree that relationships will vary as each person's circumstance varies, I believe that there are a few key guidelines that couples would be wise to follow.
My mom has always emphasized the wisdom of waiting until you are ready to marry to pursue any kind of romantic relationship. She meant several things when she told me this. One, that a young man does not seriously pursue a girl until he is financially able to support her. Second, that both the young man and the young woman are mature enough for marriage. It is easy to become infatuated with someone, but it is a lot harder to love someone faithfully for the rest of your life. If a young person is not ready to be responsible or commit to marrying someone, then they are not ready to seek any type of romantic relationship. I have not always agreed with this but over the last few years have found it to be a sound bit of advice. Why pursue a relationship with someone and potentially get emotionally attached if you are not ready to consider marriage. This road will lead you to break-ups and heartache. To my way of thinking, there is no point in such a relationship and it can set a harmful pattern of getting together and breaking up, a pattern that is just setting you up for divorce.
Another thing I have read many times that makes so much sense, is if you are going to get married and you know it, than do it. Why wait? This only opens the door to temptation. You began to think of the other person as belonging to you. You think, "Oh, it is okay if we kiss all the time, after all we are going to get married." Next thing you know, this logic has taken you to far and there is no turning back. God meant for intimacy to be special, and He meant for it to be saved for marriage. Whether or not you plan to marry one day or not is not the issue. Being faithful to God is. If you know you are going to get married, do it. Do not drag it out, if you are not ready for marriage financially or emotionally, then you should not have allowed your relationship to escalate to this point.
As a guy, if you are not ready to support a wife, but a certain girl has caught your eye, maybe you even feel God is telling you that she is the one, then do the honorable thing, wait. Do not pursue a deeper relationship with her that will awaken emotions better left sleeping. Waiting will make the prize all the more precious in the end. Are you afraid that if you do not say something someone will steal her away? Look at it this way. If she is God's chosen one, then you have nothing to worry about. Right? Everything will work out in His timing.
If you are a girl, and you know that a guy is the one for you but you also know that he is not ready for marriage, do not push him. Keep your distance. You can be friends, but do not try to be more than that to him. Wait on the Lord, and pray for your special guy. If he really is the one, then God will open his eyes to you all in good time. Do not make the first move. Let him. It is all about God's order and the way He meant for things to happen. In the end, your young man will love you more for knowing that you waited patiently for him to grow up and get to a place where he could support you. In the end, you will be happier then you ever thought you could be.
The number one issue in my book would have to be, do not pursue a relationship unless you have the blessing of your parents, and you feel that God has given you the green light. God gave us parents and godly counselors for a reason, if we refuse to seek wisdom when we are looking for a spouse, we may end up covenanting our lives to a person we will grow to hate. Our parents know us better sometimes then we know ourselves. They may be able to spot something in the other person that we cannot see because we are too close. We are infatuated, but they are not. They are not looking through rose-colored glasses. They see the whole picture, right past the good looks and charming manners to the heart. No, I do not believe in arranged marriages, nor do I feel that parents are always the best judges, I am just saying, that if your have godly parents, or mentors, they sometimes can spot things that you will be unable to see, and the wisest thing you could possibly do is seek their advice.
Often times young people reach their twenties and wonder where their Mr. or Miss. Right is. They start looking at everyone of the opposite sex as marriageable material. Instead of being able to enjoy the company of others as just friends, they feel pressured to always be on their best behavior just in case so and so is their future spouse. If that is not ridiculous, I do not know what is.
I love spending time with two of my friends because I can tell when they interact with guys that the last thing on their mind is marriage. They are kind, considerate, and always willing to help out or have some fun, but they look at guys as brothers in Christ, not marriageable material. That is the way all young folks should view each other. Not as future mates, but as children of God.
I do not claim to be an expert on relationships, nor do I claim to always be right (I have hopefully learned my lesson in that area), but I am always looking for opportunities to share the wisdom that has been passed on to me in hopes that it will save someone else some heartache and help to guard them from those emotional scars which are much to common these days.
If you are longing for someone to love and share your life with, may I encourage you to think about what I have shared today? As you pursue a relationship, remember that though your story will be different then others, and that there is really not one "right way," that there are some steps you can take to guard your heart, and make your season of courtship or dating be one of the best seasons of your life.
Keep your eyes upon the Lord and seek His will.