At this point, I feel that it would be helpful to tell the story of how I met my (late) first wife, and the circumstances that led to our engagement and marriage.
In February 1971, I was four months from graduation (Ambassador College in Pasadena, California). It appeared that I was going to be reassigned into the ministry of Jesus Christ. (I had spent the previous summer between my Junior and Senior years serving in Indianapolis, Indiana.) To be most effective in this full-time calling, I knew that I needed to be married. Yet, I had just ended a relationship that I recognized had been a terrible waste of time for the several months that I had been involved. It was a shattering, devastating experience, and I wondered what I had done wrong—what I had been missing in my assessment of the relationship. The woman that I had been interested in had turned out to be very immature—and would have been a terrible match. Yet, because I had been much too “involved,” I was completely unable to see this until it was over.
I decided to immediately seek counsel with a faculty member who was also a senior minister. It did not take him long to discern that I had not truly sought God’s guidance in the selection of a mate. I had made my choice, without being certain that it was God’s choice. I went straight back to my dormitory and began a 48-hour fast (going without food and water), accompanied by much prayer and Bible study. It quickly became evident to me that the minister was correct—I had not been fully seeking God on this matter, but rather I had merely assumed I was.
I determined to obtain God’s counsel at every turn in any future relationship!
Within a couple of weeks, I had thought of several graduates I felt I should ask for at least one date. But this time, I was determined to take it slow, allowing time to be absolutely certain whether God was guiding me toward a particular person, whether there should be a second or third date, or more. I decided in advance that, no matter how interested I was after the first date, I would make myself wait three weeks until the second date. About a week later, I had enjoyed my first date—13 hours of sledding, including lunch and dinner—with the woman who would become my wife and the mother of our three children.
A little older than I, she had all of the maturity and more that had been missing in all previous dates and relationships I had experienced. While I had known this young woman at a superficial level for several years (she had been a senior when I was a freshmen), I had no idea that she could have been such a perfect match for me. I wondered why I had never thought of dating her. In any event, I took the early weeks of our dating very slow so that I could keep my commitment to God to be truly sure that He was putting us together—that He was the matchmaker in this enormous decision to affect both of us for the rest of our lives!
This occurred over 33 years ago, and, three children and numerous grandchildren later, I have never had any regrets. Over and over again, in ways far too numerous to recount, we have seen the hand of God in our marriage, guiding, sustaining, teaching, blessing, protecting—and never abandoning us!
You can learn the lesson I did, without the anguish. Although we have already covered the basic purposes of dating, we have not yet covered in detail the crucial need to be close to God throughout the process. He is willing, even eager, to help you and to guide your dating experience—but only if you actively and regularly seek His counsel.
All human beings need wisdom, and are designed to correctly function when using it—in every situation. Wisdom comes from God. If you seek Him, He will meet all your needs with wise—and perfect—answers (Luke 11:9-13). Also, try to make the following passage part of your daily prayer: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him” (Jms. 1:5).
Proper dating is a process based directly upon godly principles. There are not specific laws or commands for every question or circumstance that might arise in life. The Bible was never intended to answer every single question the human mind might have about every single issue. Otherwise, it would be millions of words in length, instead of the approximately 750,000 words that it already is. While some things are clearly spelled out through law, the Bible is a living book (Heb. 4:12), written in a way that clear principles and guidelines can be found and applied to all of life’s important decisions.
Pray about dates before you go out—and not just the “big” dates! Solomon wrote, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:6). After each date, pray about it again, asking God for His assessment and guidance in any possible next step.
Do not allow friends or others in the world to pressure you into dating their way. Be on guard and ask God to give you a clean, right perspective. While none would ever consciously say this, never allow yourself to unconsciously conclude, “Everything is going fine. I can now proceed on my own without God’s guidance.”
But God is not the only Person you should directly involve in the dating and courtship process! Depending on your age, it is also essential that parents be involved, at least to some degree, in crucial dating decisions.
Parents in the Picture
A common basis for dates and courtship today is, “Let’s get away from the old folks, and go off by ourselves! It’s not fun to hang out with our parents (or other adults) around!” However, remember that parents have their children’s best interests in mind. Although they need not be told about every aspect of every date, parents who care (sadly, not all do) should be generally kept “in the loop.”
Society today promotes antagonism between young people and their parents—often couched benignly as a “generation gap”—and this hostility includes viewing nearly all adults as the “enemy.” Worse, authority figures of any kind almost seem to carry the label of “arch-enemies.”
A virtual battlefield now exists between parents and their teenagers. The Fifth Commandment—and it is a commandment!—is “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16). Yet, millions of young people today show little or no respect to the people who brought them into the world, and who worked to nurture, feed, clothe and teach them. They are too busy feeling misunderstood—when, in fact, their parents understand them only too well.
No parents want their children to learn lessons the hard way. If you refuse their counsel, this is the path you choose, ensuring a future of much pain and possibly irreparable harm. (Read Proverbs 13:15).
How many times have you heard your parents say, “When I was your age, I thought I knew it all”? However, most teenagers ignore this, still acting as if they “know it all.” Young people often feel that parents do not understand their present circumstances. Yet, the reality is that “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9). Every parent was once a teenager. They have experienced every phase of the teen years.
Listen carefully to your parents. Tap their knowledge. They can offer sound advice in a broad array of areas. Keep their counsel close, and take advantage of their many years of experience. Ask them about dating and courtship instead of relying on what your friends have to say. In a world cut off from God, peers and friends can offer little or no sound advice!
What Makes a Good Date?
Everyone wants each date to go well—to be successful. There are certain earmarks of a good date that all should strive to achieve.
Today’s fast pace of life affects almost everyone. The rat-race existence that describes the day-to-day routine for most is everywhere, at times seeming to create an almost palpable nervous tension in the air. First dates and beginning dates can be nerve-racking experiences, especially one-on-one. Before the date, both man and woman are worried about whether they look attractive or will say the right things. (Then there is the man’s worry about even asking the woman for a date.) Rest assured—the date will not go perfectly! However, going with the right perspective greatly increases the chance of success.
One of the best ways to create a relaxed atmosphere is to use humor to break the ice. But be certain that it is clean—and mature. Some people consider it “funny” to continually act immature, but this turns mature people off. Avoid silliness at all costs!
As men and women get older, there is a natural tendency to look deeper into all dates as prospective mates. An attitude of “hyper-analysis” can develop, with every first date becoming an opportunity to “size up” a potential husband or wife. This can turn into trying to remake the other person. This never works (Jer. 13:23)—and the last place to ever offer suggestions of almost any kind is on the first couple of dates. Possible relationships can be ruined in an instant if this advice is ignored. The only time to do this is much later—and then only when solicited.
Focus first dates on the principles discussed in the previous chapter instead of trying to “quiz” the other person. Both parties will enjoy a date much more if they can get to know the other person. This objective is almost non-existent in dating today. Try to make this a goal in your dates, and, as explained, choice of environment must be conducive to conversation.
As also mentioned earlier, some feel it is impossible to understand the opposite sex. As you have seen, this is simply not true. Dating should be a time to get to know how the opposite sex thinks. Be sure to be open with each other without prying or probing into personal matters.
It is essential, especially to girls, to feel comfortable on a date. Always strive to make your date feel comfortable, whether in a group or one-on-one setting. Ask questions about the other person and be genuinely interested in the answers—this opens people up, and puts them at ease. Continually strive to cultivate a cheerful, thoughtful attitude. It will enable you to enjoy yourself more, and it will provide your date with a pleasant experience.
Are You a Good Date?
In life, there are optimists and pessimists, and which of these roles you choose will make an enormous difference in whether you and your partner enjoy the date. Strive to enter dates anticipating a good time. Be enthusiastic (but with sincerity)! It will leave a great impression on all those you date. Keep the big picture in mind—always remembering that there is much more to a date than sensual pleasure.
Of course, if you practice the first goal of each date—to make sure the other(s) have a good time—this will certainly classify you as a “good date.” Be considerate of others. Ask them what they would like to do, or what they would like to talk about. (Again take note, men—you must be willing to take the lead when necessary.)
A good date begins with how you prepare for it—and your dress speaks volumes about what kind of date you will be—and what kind of person you are.
People are generally slaves to fashion. In the past, this included trying to look as wholesome and clean-cut as possible. Modern trends virtually require people to spend hours before a mirror carefully creating an unkempt look. The goal—especially among men, but very much including women—appears to have become one that seeks to look terrible!—baggy pants, worn too long, too low and without belts, over-sized shirts, unpleasant colors designed to clash, wild, though carefully contrived, hairdos, often covered in grease, with unshaven face, tattoos, body piercings, ostentatious jewelry (and in too many places), and clunky, unflattering or untied shoes.
This “fashion” trend has been established almost entirely by rock stars and big-city youth street gangs, who try to maximize a kind of “shock factor” appearance, which is designed to draw attention to themselves. Many strive to be known for how different they look—from anyone else on planet earth!
The hidden goal in such dress, yet it is discussed openly by the millions who practice it, centers around trying to stun others with styles that can only be described as outrageous, repulsive, even grotesque—seeing who can go the furthest and look the worst. Amazingly, many people actually think they look good at the end of the process!
Be careful who you are copying. While being a slave to fashion is never good, following modern trends is taking a bad practice and turning it into something worse—a foolish, degrading, time-consuming, expensive and usually sensual practice that results in an awful finished product!
On the other hand, while you should always try to look your best, it is wrong to approach your appearance with “I must look drop-dead-gorgeous” or “Hollywood handsome,” done also to get maximum attention. This represents the other ditch. Your perspective should be to present—give—the other person a neat, clean and well-kept appearance.
Also strive to be polite and respectful through both words and actions. Remember again. Everyone can improve in their manners. Therefore, learn more. It will bring a level of class to the date that will make it more enjoyable—and memorable!
Asking for a Date
There is a correct way to ask for a date—and a variety of ways not to do this.
For instance, if you are organizing a group date—and pre-planning is important—the opinion of others involved could be helpful. So often, teens want to do something together, but they gather and do nothing!—usually ending up just “hanging out.” At the very least, nothing is accomplished, and this generally leads to trouble, which often is all that is “accomplished.”
Be sure to plan something before you go out. Dating is a constructive, mentally stimulating and fun activity when done properly—loitering around late-night convenience stores, malls, diners or in parking lots does not equate with beneficial group dating!
If you have progressed to one-on-one dating, how should you ask for a date? First, the man should initiate the request. But he should be organized and purposeful—the initiation should generally not happen by chance or be driven by convenience only.
The first few times a man asks for a date may involve some anxiety. But view it as an opportunity to grow in courage and leadership (characteristics sorely lacking in men today).
The Role of Religious Belief
The question of religious belief, and/or affiliation, plays an enormous role in determining whom you should date. In fact, it is the very starting point of whom you should even consider dating.
The general principle for those in God’s Church is to not spend a lot of time with those in “the world” (Jms. 4:4). Further, Amos 3:3 asks, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” The answer is a resounding “No!” God states plainly, “Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (II Cor. 6:14). This passage offers no exceptions to the rule.
Christians must avoid every circumstance that involves extensive fellowship with those of different beliefs. This includes business partnerships, clubs and organizations involving fellowship agreements—and, obviously, this instruction is inseparable from the very personal activity of dating and courtship, which could, and generally will, quite literally, lead to being “yoked together”—married!—to an “unbeliever.” Actually, one who has God’s Spirit—who has been baptized and converted—is prohibited from even dating one who does not. (Also note Romans 8:9 and 14.)
Those who are young, and beginning to group date, could, on rare occasion and under very special circumstances, go out with a group of wholesome, decent friends when it involves a school activity.
Let me repeat a previous point for emphasis to explain why you should be very careful here. There was once a time when people spoke of those who “got in with the wrong crowd.” There has always been a certain “wrong crowd” in every school, and in every society and every age. But things have radically changed, and not for the better. Again, today, the wrong crowd has generally become the only crowd. Clean, wholesome friends are very few and far between. If you have even one true friend, you are rare.
Understand! Your friends—good or bad—will influence you. Even the best of friends will have a completely different set of priorities than any who are striving to live God’s Way. Their thinking is in no way geared toward God or His Church. Therefore, be extremely cautious if you do choose to occasionally group date with those of different belief, and allow your parents to be the final arbiter of whether the “exception” you want to make is really an exception.
Again, if you choose to date those of different beliefs, they will influence you. Remember, your mind is already naturally hostile against God (Rom. 8:7). While they may not set out to purposely influence you, it will slowly happen with time. God realizes—and this is why He gives His instruction—that you will eventually be pulled away from Him into disobeying His laws.
Ignoring II Corinthians 6:14, some point to I Corinthians 7:14—“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy”—and argue that this verse justifies Christians getting married to the unconverted.
This passage has nothing to do with dating or courting! The context is a believing husband or wife who was called into the truth after the couple were already married. In such cases, God made the decision to call only one marriage partner into His Church, and the automatic result was an unbelieving mate.
In all matters involving religious belief, be certain that you use great discretion. If you feel God may be calling a person into the truth, seek counsel with your parents or a minister before dating. However, be careful you are not deceiving yourself into thinking that the person is about to “join the Church.” While this virtually never happens, many fall into this self-deception.
“But Our Beliefs Are Similar!”
A more complicated question arises. In this age, many of even those who are true Christians have compromised their religious beliefs, having grown confused or lukewarm on many doctrines they once understood. In such cases, when contemplating marriage, the same principles apply as above. If the person in whom you are interested does not believe the full truth of God as you do, you are in disagreement with him or her, and you still cannot walk together. Potential marriages between such people would still involve at very least a partial unequal yoking together. The fact that this may be to a lesser degree is irrelevant.
Make yourself come to grips with and admit this reality!
Grasp this all-important point. The true Christianity of the Bible is far more than just “one’s religion.” Real Christianity is lived 24 hours a day, seven days a week! It touches on every facet of life—the truth about the afterlife and the nature of salvation, whether or not God’s Law should be kept (including certain annual Holy Days, along with God’s Sabbath—and various pagan holidays that should not be kept), the Bible’s many financial laws, its various dietary laws, the role of husbands and wives in marriage, the nature of God, understanding of prophecy, matters having to do with health and healing, the truth of what is the gospel…and much, much more!
There is a related understanding that applies here, and it is intrinsic to virtually every marriage. The Bible teaches that there are principles of correct childrearing—and they are almost diametrically the opposite of what society believes and permits. Proper childrearing is a full-time job, and it involves both parents nurturing the children in a unified way.
If you decide to marry one who holds merely similar beliefs—but not truly the same beliefs—you ensure that your children will grow up exposed to subtle nuances and influences reflecting different beliefs, invariably practiced by what must be a less committed spouse. Those even considering marriage to one of different beliefs have very wrong priorities. Because of what prophecy reveals, more is at stake here than meets the eye!
Do not dismiss religion as merely “something that can be worked out.” God expressly forbids His true servants from marrying those of different beliefs—yet this instruction is one of His truths that many people ignore. While certain other differences can be worked out, religious differences—where the truth of the Bible is concerned—cannot. This is the last area in which you should attempt to compromise—to “work things out.”
Other than the rare exception already addressed, dating outside your beliefs or apart from those who are converted should never be done. The reasons include all the principles previously discussed. There are many reasons why it is unwise to even date, let alone marry, those of different beliefs.
On a related note, many have made the grievous mistake of urging others to “get baptized so that we can get married.” This mocks God and the true meaning of conversion by trivializing it into a necessary, minor detail that one orchestrates en route to what will be a marriage that God is not involved in! God sees through all such charades.
Are Necking and Petting Wrong?
We have already discussed sex prior to marriage, but there are other aspects of this subject to be understood.
We have seen that society is almost entirely driven by sex. Sexual influences abound—everywhere. Both men and women in this society are programmed to think that sex is good in practically any situation or circumstance.
God created human beings male and female. By extension, this means that He designed marriage and the family relationship—and there cannot be families without sexual relations. As the Designer and Author of sex, God determined where it belongs—within marriage (Heb. 13:4)!
While sexual intercourse brings a husband and wife together, to share the wonderful sensations that God created for the marriage relationship, any form of it outside of marriage is expressly forbidden—and is sin (Gal. 5:19-21)!
But what about “necking” and “petting,” more commonly known as “making out”? To most teenagers today, the very question of whether these are wrong seems absurd. Simply put, petting is a form of caressing or passionate embracing, and necking is heavy kissing. These belong in marriage—and nowhere else, no matter the opinions of friends or society. Think of it this way: Do you want someone else putting his hands all over your future wife? Then don’t put your hands all over someone else’s! Also, in a society where women have become much more aggressive, it now needs to be emphasized that the same is true for them.
Only God decides what sin is and what it is not. Because human beings do not know His wonderful purpose for sex in marriage, they try to twist God’s definition. (Recall the national debate defined by the now infamous statement, “It depends on what the meaning of the word is is.”)
Necking and petting outside of marriage are not the stages leading to the pinnacle of love but rather to the valley of lust! Prior to marriage, these merely add temptation to go further. Recall: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death” (Jms. 1:14-15).
Most understand that necking and petting will eventually lead to sexual intercourse. Actually, God designed this to be so! In fact, necking and petting are the beginnings of sexual intercourse. To believe otherwise is extremely naïve, ignoring the fact that no young person or adult has enough “brake leather” to resist for very long what naturally was intended by God to come next.
Determining “sexual compatibility” has become a catchphrase—actually a copout—used by many today as nothing more than an excuse to have pre-marital sex. The thought here is that couples “need” to find out if they match sexually—just as with personality, perspective, interests, etc.—before getting married. Some want to “test drive the car before buying it.” This unconscious way of thinking has taken root in the wake of so many millions of failed marriages that can be attributed to having had an unhealthy sex life.
With no exceptions, sex outside of marriage is driven entirely by lust. Will you heed God’s Word? Will you obey Him and keep your virginity until marriage, saving yourself as you would wish your future spouse to do for you? If you both do this, the rewards will be wonderful beyond belief.
Masculinity and Its Role in Dating
Before discussing courtship, we must analyze the distinct differences between the sexes. The world today is largely unaware of them and, in a society driven by “equality,” most do not realize that there are God-designed—God-ordained!—purposes for men and women.
If you are a man, are you truly masculine in the way you were designed to be—or are you guided by the thinking and stereotypes of a confused world?
Women, are you striving to be feminine in the way God intended—or do you accept the pressures and influences of society, allowing it to define your role for you—meaning you have allowed loud, brassy, haughty women to become your standard?
True masculinity has been undermined at every turn for almost half a century. Nearly every movie and television “sitcom” degrades men into bumbling fools—Dagwoods stumbling after Blondies—and ineffective leaders who have to be “bailed out” of problems by shrewd, sometimes conniving, sharp-tongued, more competent women. The subtle message is that men are weak, barely functioning “neanderthals,” who only survive through the continual assistance of an intelligent, assertive woman. And “savvy” teens often “assist” the wife/mother in her effort. Men are depicted as morally weak, unintelligent and lacking the character to make any decisions—let alone the right ones!
On the other hand, women are pictured as aggressive—and more masculine than their counterparts. They are pictured as always knowing what to do, and how to manipulate men into doing what they want, while making men think they did things on their own.
Strength and courage are rare in men today, with most having become weak and indecisive. The impact of what millions watch in almost daily entertainment has made ever larger numbers of men effeminate. Tragically, particularly since the 1960s, men have been all too willing to abdicate their leadership roles, leaving women to fill the void. God never intended such confusion. Reversed roles cause unhappiness, unnecessary tension and severe frustration in a relationship. Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled: “As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (3:12).
God created the man first and put him as the head—the leader—over the woman in the marriage relationship. But those even modestly fulfilling this God-ordained role have all but disappeared! No wonder the marriage “misery index” is higher than ever before.
Take note that man was created physically different from woman. He is generally taller, with a deeper voice, a coarser complexion and hairier skin. He has broader shoulders, larger, more-defined muscles and overall of sturdier build. Proverbs 20:29 describes how the “glory of young men is their strength.” More often than not, today’s men are fat, and not very strong. A man should always strive to be fit, healthy and strong. He was designed to be the provider for the family and to be able to do hard, manual labor when necessary.
On the other hand, I Peter 3:7 describes women as the physically “weaker vessel” to whom men must “give honor.” In the six verses prior to this, godly women are described as having “a meek and quiet spirit”—hardly what society is producing for role models.
The differences between men and women are not only physical, but exist on the mental and emotional levels as well. Men are more competitive and more aggressive—generally willing to take more risks when facing challenges. Women are usually more intuitive—they feel things at a deeper level—while men are generally more logical and analytical, which are qualities related to how God designed them to be natural leaders of a family.
In addition, a masculine man founds himself on solid principles and spiritual values, and is unwilling to bend or compromise with decisions based on his morals. He has purpose and drive, and uses intelligence and initiative to be decisive. His strength should be far more than just the physical.
Masculinity is the ability to be temperate, to use common sense and judgment, and to be able to take charge when necessary—all of which so few today seem to recognize as vital to the male role. The slide into male weakness is only compounded because, with so few now any longer demonstrating these basic masculine traits, there are almost no role models for young men to emulate.
But you can be different, if you set your will to be—and truly feminine women will notice and appreciate it, because this is the way they were designed to think!
Of course, this is only a brief overview of the many reasons that men are—and should always strive to be—distinctly different from women.
Femininity and Its Role in Dating
What has happened to true femininity? Remember, this is Satan’s world—he does not want mankind living God’s Way. As a sexless being, he wants neither men to be masculine nor women to be feminine! He wants confusion of roles, in every possible way.
Like its masculine counterpart, true femininity is almost non-existent today. The feminist movement has led society from one ditch to the other. Through its distorted cry for humanly-devised “equal rights,” actually seeking to have strong women leading weak men, it has helped to turn the marriage institution upside down.
Sadly, there was once a time when male abuse of women (and they are “weaker vessels”) was widespread. While “equal rights” has greatly reduced this problem, such “equality” has come at a terrible price. Having absolutely no comprehension of the government of god—and no understanding of the need for this government in the family—society has produced families in which husbands, wives, children, grandparents and others of the extended family simply do not see the direct connection of the correct understanding of each person’s role to happiness, peace and unity in the home.
The “women’s lib” movement has also influenced and virtually taken over the rearing of children. As a result, an enormous void now exists, with women no longer being taught about or trained in—through society, school, family or religion—the definition of true femininity or how to exude it.
A truly feminine woman wants to be a woman. She does not want the role of the man, understanding she would be uncomfortable doing something she was not designed to do. God purposely made women unique from men. The feminine woman honors the uniqueness of her womanhood—knowing that this is what is attractive to the masculine man. She understands and respects the differences God installed into each of the sexes.
Women are physically weaker and emotionally different. They cry more easily and often need to express their feelings more openly with others.
A truly feminine woman knows why she was created. She understands the role she was intended to fulfill in marriage—as the man’s support and “helpmeet” (Gen. 2:18). Doing this helps her to be happiest.
A feminine woman recognizes her responsibilities of submission and service. God designed wives to be most comfortable when submissive to their husbands and when responsive to their needs—and to feel fulfilled when they are doing this. They know to disregard that society puts them down, or even lampoons them, as “old-fashioned” or “out of step,” recognizing that society is out of step with God—and miserable as a result!
If you are studying how to properly date, you are not yet married. Be sure to think ahead—into the future—and try to practice this essential way of thinking now. Make it a habit to give, help and serve wherever you are able.
A feminine woman of virtue is also resourceful and diligent in what she does. Ignore the popular image of the “feminine” woman as a helpless woman. This is far from true! She understands finances, strives to be imaginative and inventive, and works hard at whatever endeavor she undertakes.
Another important aspect of femininity, almost completely lost to girls and young women today, is modesty. Are you modest? Are you aware of your posture and stance—the look in your eyes and the tone of your voice? Do you wear provocative clothing that does not cover as much as it should, while also knowing that it is intended to be suggestive and sexually arousing? Or do you dress elegantly and modestly, with dignity? A woman should be naturally concerned about her appearance, yet never in a way that is vain (Prov. 31:30).
Women: Keep your trust firmly in God. Because the man takes the lead in asking for dates, the woman must recognize that it takes real, enduring faith to believe a godly man will be sent to her. The wise woman knows that “taking matters into her own hands” would ultimately backfire. She patiently waits for God to intervene on her behalf.
Are you kind, patient, cultured? Do you have an attractive personality that you are constantly striving to build—to polish? Are you continually happy and joyful, and, if not, are you striving to be?
What is your overall goal? Do you wish to be the best wife possible when the time comes for marriage? Apply these principles of femininity. Take the time to read, study and possibly write out Proverbs 31—the “virtuous woman” chapter. Most of all, enjoy the fact that you are a woman—and that one day a special man will appreciate you for it!
What About Remarriage?
Some special instruction is important here. This may be your second time around looking for a mate. If so, all the principles in this book are still relevant, although many may need slight modification for obvious reasons, and depending upon the uniqueness of your circumstances. But, whether you are age 25 or 50, all are still applicable.
People hoping to remarry can bring a host of issues to potential new relationships. They must address whether only one or both interested parties have been married before. If only the man has been married before, this is one kind of circumstance. If only the woman has been, this is another. Be certain to discuss your previous marriage(s) with your prospective mate. While you do not need to go into highly specific or excruciating detail, the matter has to be one of open discussion between you, including all marriages (and long-term live-in relationships) that a couple may have experienced.
Since you have been married before, you must be willing to ask yourself what went wrong and what fault or faults may lie with you from your first experience. Where can you improve? Focus on weaknesses or shortcomings you may have. Learn from past mistakes. When a marriage fails, it never means that one person was perfect and the other single-handedly ruined the relationship. In all likelihood, whether you were the initiator or recipient of divorce action, you played some role in the demise of the marriage.
Of course, you must also face additional considerations.
Has the other party been married before? Will he or she be able to understand you if you have? Will you be able to set aside your previous relationship, good and bad experiences, truly understanding that you are starting over in every sense? If the person marrying you has never been married before, are you willing to wait for this person to “catch up” with certain aspects of marriage with which you are experienced and he or she is not? Are you prepared to recognize that there may come moments when you both are simply “on a different page”? What will you do when this happens? Are you prepared to be flexible and tolerant at such times?—or are you considering building the proverbial “bridge too far”?
The circumstances that ended your previous marriage, as well as how long ago it ended, also play a role. It may have ended for any one of several reasons, with each carrying its own implications: Your spouse left you; you left your spouse (and, of course, a host of different reasons could possibly come into play—infidelity, alcoholism, etc.); death of a spouse by accident; death of a spouse after a protracted, agonizing illness; loss of a child, with which one or both of you could not cope; bankruptcy, etc.
Here is the point: All such circumstances bear consideration. For better or worse, whatever happened affected you. These could, and probably to one degree or another will, have an impact on your future marriage. But this does not mean that they are automatic strikes against you or factors that “knock out” a potential relationship.
Another factor that could be driving the desire to remarry is that you are lonely. Perhaps you have memories of love and companionship that are pulling you prematurely back into marriage, setting you up to enter another wrong relationship. Be careful not to permit loneliness to rush or push you into a second marriage.
“And I Have Children!”
Also, with the second time around, or because of children born out of wedlock, either one or both people could be bringing children into the marriage. You could soon become a step-parent. Can you handle this (with either younger or adult children coming into your life), and are you preparing yourself for this reality, particularly if it is happening later in life? Just as important, is your prospective spouse prepared for your children (and perhaps grandchildren)?
Get to know all the children in the picture, and include them on some outings during both dating and courtship. Talk with them and help them understand what is happening. But never allow them to dictate the circumstances, let alone the outcome!
A whole host of complicating factors—all important to consider—can come into play with such couples. A “yours and ours” arrangement and a “mine and ours” arrangement are different from what could become a “yours, mine and ours” situation later. And then there is the question of whether you will permit the other person to help “rear” what are “your children.” Also, will he or she want to help you? There must be agreement on the matter of how the children should be reared as part of a joint effort, with both spouses understanding the need to work together in all situations. All these are absolutely crucial issues. They MUST be resolved, at least in principle, in advance of marriage.
Another related point for consideration is that if only one person has had children, this party may feel that he or she is “through” with having more. Is this agreeable to both parties? If one seems willing to “bend,” is this being done largely against his or her will? It is absolutely vital that this matter also be understood and worked out well before any wedding plans.
It is critical that those considering remarriage do not try to makeover a potential new spouse in the image of a previous husband or wife. That marriage is behind you—forever! The person or persons you were married to were unique human beings. So is the person that you may now be considering for courtship and marriage. It is critical you both recognize that you have come to be in love with each other, not merely in love with the idea of reliving a memory. Chasing the past is fraught with problems and is a hope that can never be. If you have not yet fully accepted that there is no way to return to or relive the past, you are not ready to date seriously, let alone remarry.
We are now ready to discuss the most serious stage of dating—courtship!