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.
I 1000% agree, don’t date until after the divorce is final and after you’ve had time to grieve and heal. I never understood this until I’ve just finished the year of waiting before I could file. I’m a little surprised at how frequently I’m now asked about dating.
I’m not ready, not by a long shot. I’ve grieved, I’ve reached an amazing place. I would not be where I am had I jumped in and started dating. I really can’t see myself ever dating again but I have truly given it to the Lord and if His plan includes someone else I’ll let Him bring that into my life. I so appreciate your sharing your story!
Great article. I think there is a fine balance that comes into play when approaching marriage. Good men take the time to get to know you slowly while working towards marriage. One of my former pastors stressed the importance of dating through all the seasons at a minimum before even considering marriage. Again that is a minimum as he preferred you wait two years before getting engaged to really get to know a person. That being the case, I would add a third guidepost to your list- that a woman should date in community for 1-2 years before engagement/marriage. Marriage is a lifetime commitment and should not be rushed. God’s daughters are worth the wait!!
I godly man with a heart FOR his woman will desire to move the relationship forward and marriage is the first step in joining the families permanently. I believe there is a balance between rushing and stalling the relationship and it likely varies greatly among individuals due to history and other circumstances like children, homes, etc.
For me, we were both clear with our desire to one day be married again and I asked that if Mr. Wonderful ever came to a place where he knew that wasn’t a possibility to please tell me and protect me from further attaching to him he he knew it wouldn’t be best for himself, his children, his future, etc. I agreed to the same. With that framework, we felt safe moving forward and trusted the other enough to be honest when the hard questions came up.
Step/Blended family living is so challenging. I cannot stress how bringing together two families with unique histories, traditions, menus and more pushes one out of her comfort zone. It stretches you in ways that are wonderful and woeful and exposes every selfish, lazy, weary trait in everyone. I am grateful for the many months/years of blissful and rather carefree dating that we enjoyed and the foundation it laid for bringing our children into one home. At times when dating, I was so ready to just be married already! But now I see the wisdom in waiting. I learned things about my now-husband and we were very aware of the challenges we would be facing once united under one roof.
FYI – we dated for 20 months prior to marriage. We were engaged for five months. We discussed a future together from about six weeks into the relationship. I would have married him at six months and it would have been so much more challenging for the children.
I just did the math once again … we dated for 22 months before getting married (I usually just say “almost two years). So, yes we knew each other, it was fairly quick. We weren’t rushing, but always moving forward – does that make sense?
Sorry for the rambling!
Pray for me. This is an area that I really struggle with. I am prone to think that there isn’t a man alive who I will EVER be able to trust EVER again. That makes me very sad. I have to really be vigilant not to hate all men all the time everywhere. It’s a battle for me.
Kim–I felt the same way for a long time; I could never, ever imagine trusting another man ever, ever again. My prayer to God was kind of a challenge: “Lord, if you ever want me to be in a relationship with a man again, you’re going to have to do a lot of convincing.” I was resigned to and comfortable with the fact that I’d most likely live alone for the rest of my life. Then…I ran into a friend I’d known since high school. Neither of us even wanted a relationship but we wanted friendship…which very unexpectedly but fairly quickly (2 months) grew into much more. We are planning to be married within a year or so. I am sooooo blessed by this relationship, which was so very unexpected and in so many ways a “God thing.”
My point is, continue to pray, to heal, to be very cautious. I pray every day for God to protect my heart and his, for us to see the truth in each other’s characters. If it’s the Lord’s will, He will bring a man into your life. If not, God willing, you will, at some point, be ok with that.
God bless you!