Dating is a funny thing. It’s not overtly discussed in scripture, and those living somewhere between single and married often ask us for advice. So, I figured it was time to write a post specifically for those who are in serious dating relationships, or want to learn principles for dating when they meet that special someone.
If that’s not you, I’m guessing you’ll know someone who might want to know. This post won’t be exhaustive by any means, but I do hope to hit on some of the big topics “daters” should consider.
Dating is like buying a house…
Selena and I are happy to share that we just purchased a home! After 18 months in transit, we’ve settled. To say it’s a relief would be an understatement. The home buying process is intense… and that’s partly why we’ve not blogged as consistently the past two months (thanks for your patience).
Like marriage, buying a home is a BIG decision with huge consequences. Oddly, I see quite a few parallels between the two. After all, both require serious commitment, investment, time, and energy.
Surely marriage is a much bigger commitment than buying a house, but I’m hoping that our experience will prove insightful…so here we go! (Note, they’re in no particular order.)
5 things to consider when dating toward marriage
1: Share a vision and a dream
For the past year, long before we started looking for a house, we started keeping a list of non-negotiables. Our list included a garage (we’ve never had one), location (close to family/friends, strong community), budget/price, and many other things. This was HUGE for us. When it came time to start searching, we knew what we were looking for, so eliminating options was very straightforward.
While dating, you must both understand the non-negotiables in your relationship and agree on them. The list is actually quite short in my opinion: faith. In your marriage, no one thing will impact your relationship more than your belief in who Christ is, what he’s done, and who you are as a result. If you disagree on faith, you will disagree on most important things. That’s why it’s the one topic we’d discuss if we had the chance to talk with every young couple who’s reading this. (Check out Habakkuk 2)
2: Take personal inventory
I’m self-employed, which comes a long with a mixed bag of good and bad implications. One bad one is that it’s much harder to buy a house. Banks require TONS of paperwork to convince them that you’re loan-worthy. We had to take a hard look at our finances in a way we hadn’t before. We learned our financial limits and shortcomings very quickly as the bankers ran the numbers… and numbers don’t lie.
When you’re dating and considering marriage, a good introspective look will only help prepare you. Will you ever be perfect? No. But that’s not the goal. The goal is count the cost of marriage and make sure you understand the weight of covenant. Marriage is wonderful, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows! Like all relationships, it’s messy. Do you understand what lifetime commitment really means? And do you understand the true definition of love?
Of course, there’s abundant grace when you’re in Christ. You will never be fully ready for marriage – no amount of how-tos or tips will prepare you – but you can count the cost.
3: Surround yourself with good advisors
We could have never found the right house without a team of advisors: our realtor, our mortgage broker, the title specialists, the inspectors, underwriters, and an appraiser. Each person assisting us (and thank God they were all honest, hard working people!) helped us see problems we would’ve missed. They poked and prodded at the home and paperwork with a common goal in mind: getting us into a solid home within our means. This guarded us from getting fixated on the external qualities of the home whilst missing bigger underlying problems.
When dating, it’s VITAL that you surround yourself with honest, godly counsel. Godly advisors will have your best interest in mind according to God’s design. Then (this is just as crucial), listen! If you’re in a relationship and everyone around you – your pastors, mentors, friends, and family – is throwing up red flags, it’s time to listen up. What are they seeing that you can’t? (See Proverbs 12:15 and 11:14)
Conversely, if people around you give you their blessing, you can move forward with knowing you’ve received godly counsel. (Note: the source of your counsel is just as important as the counsel itself. Make sure to get Bible-based advice.)
4: Inspect your foundation
Once we found a home we liked, we had to look closer. Surface attributes (bedrooms, baths, price, layout, etc) can be quickly confirmed, but we had to check the structure of the house before pursuing further. The most costly issues in home purchases involve its foundation, wiring, and structure.Thus, we got a home inspection. Nobody wants a house that will collapse or burn down!
Your marriage must have a strong foundation, and the only strong foundation is Christ. He is our only true standard of love and only he provides guidance for loving and being loved when one side of the relationship is unloveable. Why else would we hear so many times, “I love my spouse, but I’m not IN love with them”? Folks who buy into that ideology don’t understand what love is. They don’t see that love is an action and a choice long before it includes feelings of romance or attraction.
5: Focus on the important, flex everywhere else
You know what wasn’t on our non-negotiables list? The paint. Is color important? Perhaps, but it is purely external. In fact, our house looks like a smurf…no joke. It’s bright royal blue and stark white. We decided to view the home because it met our non-negotiable requirements. As it turned out, it’s perfect for our needs! We would have never found it if we were overly concerned with external qualities.
When dating and considering a marriage, emphasize what matters most and be flexible everywhere else. When Selena and I were dating, I fell in love with her personality, her love for Christ, and her ability to see beauty in almost anything. If I had loved her only for her external qualities like attractiveness, hair color, physique, and so on, my “love” would have faded as soon as she changed. In fact, as we grow older I find that I love however Selena changes (think: pregnancy), because she’s still her. She is not a body with a soul, but a soul with a body. Your spouse’s appearance will change, but their soul is eternal.
A final word on dating
Selena and I dated for 4 years before getting married, but the day I asked her out I told her that I wouldn’t be dating her if I didn’t think I could marry her some day. That single statement cemented the entire culture of our relationship. We both knew the end game was a lifelong commitment to each other. Everything we did was within this context.
I think “casual dating” is ridiculous. Love, by definition, is enduring. Love has no condition or expiration date. When you date casually, knowing it’s temporary, you’re basically saying to each other, “I’m just using you for my pleasure now, and as soon as that stops, we’re done.” That’s not love. That’s selfishness.
If you do date or are dating, let it be with their soul in mind and marriage in view. And may you seek out all understanding and wisdom through reading God’s word and seeking counsel on how to pursue them.
Then, if/when you do marry, may you find immense joy with one you’ll spend the rest of your life with!
If you want more, there’s a good book by Matt Chandler called “The Mingling of Souls“. Definitely check it out if you’re engaged, dating, or seeking wisdom for when you are.
Married person: what’s the one piece of advice you’d give to a single person?
If you’re dating, what’s one question you have regarding healthy dating?
Feel free to leave questions and comments below!