I posted this on my Facebook writer page recently:

Relational Tip of the Day: If you have been dating a man for a significant amount of time and you have to twist his arm into having conversations about marriage or the future, this should be a red flag. A godly man with a good heart who loves you WILL WANT TO MARRY YOU. If you are begging – as hard as this may be to hear – he is not the one.

And a few responded with, “What do you consider to be a reasonable amount of time?”

I had to beg to be proposed to the first time around. It was conversations and ways I could convince and lists of pros and nagging and pleading. I was insecure. I was scared. I wanted to know what my future would hold. I wanted this man – okay, any man – to want me, love me, marry me.  So I begged.

And he proposed.

And then he broke our engagement.

And we broke up and got back together and broke up and got back together. Still insecure. Still scared. Still needy. Still broken. Still bottomless. And I started begging again. And he proposed again.

And four years and one day from our first date, we got married.

And I always, always wondered if he ever would’ve married me if I hadn’t badgered him into it.

Fast forward twenty some odd years and I’m out of that marriage and grieved it all and healed up and sufficient time has gone by to get me to a place of being ready to date and I went on five first dates and then I found a man who loves me.

And not once did I bring up marriage.  He brought it up first. (I won’t tell you how soon, but it was soon.) And not once did I need to ask him if he were going to propose to me (I knew he was, it was just a matter of when).

So let me say a couple things this time around.

It’s a grown-up man that is willing to commit to you. It’s a coward who is not.  And you do not want to be married to a coward.  Especially a thirty- or forty-something coward.

As Christians, because we believe sex is for marriage, you shouldn’t just be dating/sleeping together indefinitely. Nope. If you’re dating someone, in my opinion, it’s ONLY to determine if they’d make a good marriage partner.  Healthy adults should be able to do this in a pretty quick amount of time. (Not like five minutes, but not like five years either.)

Let me be careful here.  First of all, let me reiterate for the zillionth time that I firmly believe that not only should you not date until your divorce is final (because YOU ARE MARRIED UNTIL YOU ARE DIVORCED) but I also firmly believe that you should wait until at least a year post-divorce-date to even start dating.  You need to be healed up before starting a new relationship. (Beating a dead horse here, but I’m steadfast on this point. Anything prior to at least a year of healing and you’re asking for trouble and selfishly putting your future partner at risk for some major hurt down the line.)  Anywho…

I also don’t mean someone can know – to the point of engagement – at, like, two weeks.  But I believe that if you know yourself well – your strengths and your flaws, your preferences and dislikes (and every adult should, in my opinion) – you are able to determine who would be a good partner for you.  Especially if you’re willing to do the hard work of reading good books and even – gasp – counseling together (something sweet Tall-Shadow agreed to at the TWO MONTH point of dating…because he’s awesome).

So, I’m not really answering the question of “What do you consider to be a reasonable amount of time?”, am I?

Because I don’t think that’s the right question.

I think you need to ask yourself, Am I the only one thinking and talking about our future? And if so, sweet girl, why? Trust me when I say this, you don’t want to beg for affection. You don’t want to beg to be proposed to. You will regret that. You will always wonder.

I want to be super careful not to start sounding all New Agey, but bear with me a moment.

You are created by God in his image. He considers you to be precious and honored in his sight.

I’m not going to say that you “deserve” a good man to love you (because we technically deserve hell, but…) but I do believe that if the man you’re with doesn’t want to marry you, won’t commit, needs to be convinced to be with you, he is not your man. He may be a good man, but he is not your man.

Because if he wanted to marry you, sweet girl – and I say this with love oozing out of my bullhorn from my soapbox – he would be freaking marrying you.

Life isn't always how we want it. When change seems elusive, and we're stuck in old routines, a gentle push or some self-reflection can make a difference. Let these questions be that nudge to get you moving.

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