Today’s task is two-fold. We want to add to your biblical understanding of marriage by giving you two tasks. The first is reading, and the second is a little more interactive.
For Guys: Download or read online “A Guy’s Guide to Marrying Well.” We encourage you to read the entire booklet, but for the sake of time, it’s not required. The booklet is separated into four sections: Intentionality, Purity, Community and Christian Compatibility. Pick three articles from each section to read depending on your interests and what applies to you.
It’s good to get advice from others who have experienced the blessings and hardships of relationships more than you have. Make plans today to meet with someone who has been married 10 years or more.
If you are currently not in a relationship, your task is to meet with a married man or woman of your same gender. This person should be married at least 10 years and be a Christian you respect.
Ask about their positive and negative dating experiences. Listen to their stories and find some practical applications to take away from your conversation. Ask them what they have learned from their marriage. Find out what qualities are important in a spouse, and ask if there is anything they wish they had known before getting married.
Ask the person to be honest with you about roadblocks in your life that might be unintentionally keeping you from dating relationships. This can be anything from how you spend your time to the friends you have and the influence they have on you. Ask them about your strengths and positive qualities you can bring into a relationship.
Luckily, I've read most of the articles in the Guy's Guide already, but all of them are worth a re-read and I will continue to go through the packet tonight before bed (I was only able to get halfway through on my lunch break). All of these separate pieces offer unique nuggets of wisdom - from reminding us that not all are called to celibacy to reinforcing the man's role as the initiator of a relationship. These are things we all need to hear and understand, and it's great to have a tangible reminder sitting on my desk.
I was also able to take a walk with my good friend Ron this evening. He and his wife have been married for 29 years, and he's a Christian man I truly respect and look up to. It was slightly uncomfortable to ask some of the questions I asked, though. Mostly because I'm not used to talking about relationships with other men and lacked the vocabulary I think would have helped with this conversation.
But I still did get the opportunity. We talked about the dating relationship he and his wife shared before marriage and the lessons he learned from the experience. We talked about lessons he's learned throughout his marriage as well. Ron reminded me of a useful passage in Romans:
3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
We talked a lot about how, as Christians, we live in a fallen world. We tend to seek after perfection, since we're built to seek after God, but will never find that in one another. Satan is lurking around every corner and will try his hardest to make us stumble - when you're living a day-to-day relationship with another person, it's easier to pick up on when the other stumbles. So it's important to be patient through the trials and love one another despite our imperfections.
Afterwards, Ron took some time to give me some advice. We've known each other for a few years now, so he's gotten to know my habits pretty well. I tend to devote a lot of time to work - both in the office and consulting - and though I volunteer with a few extracurricular groups (the Boy Scouts, Habitat for Humanity, etc.), I don't do very much socially. I attend a fairly small church, and everyone but me in my two Bible studies are married. So while I am at the time of my life when I should be dating and looking towards marriage, I'm not necessarily in the right position.
So apart from giving me tips on where to look for active singles' groups, Ron encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone a bit. Visit with larger churches in the area to see what activities are available and be more social within the Christian community. Since the only two non-negotiables on my list are Christian and wants kids - in that order - I should be spending time in circles where I'm likely to meet women who fit that description.
The next few weeks are going to be very interesting as I try to put Ron's advice to use.