I speak to married couples on a regular basis, but some of the most important decisions in a relationship happen before the wedding. The choices a couple makes while dating build a foundation for the rest of their lives together. Dating the right way is crucial.
So when I speak to young single adults, here are a few of the things I tell them about dating:
Date by faith and not by fear. When we make decisions out of fear, we are in danger of making our fears come true. Consider a couple who decides to live together before they get married. They do this because they worry they might not be compatible. That fear—and avoiding commitment because of it—starts off the relationship in an unhealthy way.
Or consider someone who doesn’t wait for the right person, but instead follows any man or woman who shows interest. In the process, they align themselves with an immoral or negative person because they fear no one else will love them.
Dating by fear is likely to end in heartache—the same result you’re worried about. But acting in faith makes your dreams come true. Put faith in God’s Word and do marriage God’s way. That’s the foundation for building a dream marriage.
Date to explore, not to impress. This means being honest with one another and asking deep questions as you get to know one another. Some couples are so focused on impressing a potential mate that they don’t reveal their real selves until they are married. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Ask the hard questions when you’re dating. How many children do you want? What are your ideas about raising kids? Where do you want to live? How do you handle money? Where will we go to church?
I know couples who have broken up over differences in opinion related to these questions. It’s much better for those differences to reveal themselves while you’re dating than after you marry.
Date non-sexually. Make a decision: Between now and the time we get married, we’re not going to be sexual. We’re going to put parameters on our physical affection to make sure we don’t put ourselves in a compromising position.
That means setting specific boundaries. For example, we’re going to hold hands and put our arms around each other, but we’re not going to fully embrace. We’re going to kiss, but we’re not going to French kiss. We’re not going to be alone together in the dark. We’re not going to watch inappropriate entertainment.
And we’re especially not going to have sex before our wedding night.
Date intentionally. This means being serious about who you date and how you go about the process. In other words, you are not dating just “to have fun.” You aren’t just hanging out together, especially in a relationship that becomes romantic.
If you’re not serious about where the relationship is going, don’t let it become serious. If it does become serious, then it should be for the purpose of exploring compatibility. You’re on a road together, heading toward a destination: your wedding ceremony.
Who you are as a dating couple will impact who you are as a married couple. It doesn’t guarantee a successful marriage, but a troubled dating relationship will definitely start your marriage on the wrong foot. Be intentional about whom you date, and how you date them. That’s the key to staying on God’s path to marriage.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today