Really Bad Dating Advice
Seeing as I've been engaged for a whole month - WOOHOO! - I've heard some bizarre marital advice which I will save for a future blog post. But today's post is about some of the worst dating advice I've been given. When I began writing down all of the - pardon my bluntness - dumb ideas about dating, I realized there's a common thread weaved throughout it, and that is the candy aspect of it all. I call them candyologies - ideologies that are sweet to the taste, but will give mental cavities. These are ideas that are pleasing to our emotions, but they certainly don't hold their weight in gold. When selecting a lifelong partner, it's of the upmost importance that our ideas about a good partner can hold weight. But why do these candyologies take such a fierce grip on our imaginations and vocabulary?? Why does something such as "Bad people can change, and maybe you're the one to change him," stick to our minds better than Granny's advice that "You become the company you keep"? Because those pesky candyologies are oh so romantic! Oy ve! For example (from real life), when your friend introduces you to her new boyfriend, she doesn't want to hear you say, "Honestly, I think he's bad news." No! She wants to hear, "Oh my gosh! He's perfect! Where did you find him? Does he have a brother?" And when that's not your real opinion but it's what you say, a new candyology is formed.
With that in mind, I've come up with a funny little list of really bad relationship advice. Enjoy! ;)
Bad relationship advice #1: "Marry the person who is the most [caring/kind/patient/giving/hard-working] person you've ever met."
Another way it's vocalized is in response to the ever-common question, "How did you know he's the one?", to which the girl responds, "He's the most caring man I've ever met." Yes, that's good. No, it's not sound. Allow me to poke some holes in this romantic fantasy...
If you marry the most caring person you've ever met, when you get into a real marriage and have fights and don't feel like he's caring anymore, should you suddenly be unmarried to him?? Nobody utters those exact words, but it's what we can see happening all around us. We divorce and blame it on the other person by saying, "He's not the same caring man I married," or "She isn't the same happy-go-lucky girl I married". NO DUH! You're in real life now. We don't know how to get real with each other until after the proverbial honeymoon phase. That person is not the same person, because now that person is your spouse, and you will know him/her more intimately than you ever knew him/her as your boyfriend/girlfriend. Rather than affixing your marriage to a temporary quality that is easily displayed when times are easy, build your marriage on the solid foundation of God. At this point a number of you are saying, "Yeah, sounds great...wait, how do I do that?" Great question! Building your marriage on the foundation of God means surrendering your rights to choose a husband to the sovereignty of God, i.e. knowing He is in control of your ticking clock (I'm talking to you, the single 21 year old trying to have kids next year!). Sure, you have the right to choose your own spouse but let me ask, "How has that worked for you so far?" In my own life, I have to admit:
I AM UNQUALIFIED TO PICK OUT MY SPOUSE!
I naturally focus on things like: Is he cute? Does he have a nice family? Does he give me my way? Does he have a good job? And yet, all of those things can change in a single moment. Rather than building my marriage on a foundation of ever-changing fancies, I decided to rest my marriage at God's feet, surrendering my right to choose my husband to the Lord. I heard God say to me, "If you want a good marriage, you're going to have to un-Kardashianize your standards for a good marriage." (And I knew it wasn't a message just for me; it was a message for us all.) I had to quit thinking in terms of what looks good on the outside. I had to look inward at my ideas of marriage and allow God to remove these candyologies. But what He gave me in return was so much greater. My fiancé, Russell, is a wonderful man, but the way I know he is the one is because I let God choose him, not me. And as God knits us together during this engagement period, I've seen signs and confirmations that I could not have imagined in my single days!
But going back to that first bit of bad relationship advice, I disagree with telling someone that he should marry the most kind/caring/etc. person he knows. If that were good advice, if you met Mother Teresa, would she suddenly be your soulmate? Of course not! Rather, marry the person God leads you to marry, not the one you think has the best character traits. And honestly, it's not bad to marry someone who is the seventh kindest person you know. What is bad is when the times gets tough and you're not sure if you made the right decision. Instead of that nonsense, let God select your spouse, and you will know that you made the right decision. But the first decision is choosing to follow God.
Bad relationship advice #2: Stay in a relationship because it makes you happy. Another way we say it is, "This relationship is right, because it makes me (feel) happy."
Let's unsugarcoat this candyology. Happiness is a feeling - an emotion. Emotions don't make you anything. Emotions make you temporarily different, but what makes you permanently different is joy, which is a fruit of the Spirit of God. Happiness is the fruit of an earthly relationship. If happiness is really such a lofty goal, then when you feel unhappy in your marriage, should you suddenly be unmarried? Of course not! Rather than building a marriage based upon feeling, which changes, ask yourself if your potential spouse helps you to grow the fruit of the Spirit of God. That is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5).
Bad relationship advice #3: It's too late to break up.
If you're having a bad dating relationship, why would you expect a good marriage relationship? A sick chicken lays rotten eggs. It's not too late to break up. I hear this conjecture from people who don't think their bf/gf is their God-appointed spouse, but they feel they've walked too far down a one-way street. They're hopeless and settling for a bad relationship.
HEY LISTEN TO ME! I was in a bad relationship...and more than one. It doesn't change. He doesn't change. She doesn't change. It doesn't go back to "how it used to be". You can pray, beg, and plead with God to make your bad, wrong relationship into a good, right marriage, but first ask yourself if it's His will or not. Is it more important to you that you keep your romance in tact than it is that you keep your relationship with God in tact? If so, you will be able to sacrifice the wrong relationship knowing that God has the right person in your future. This isn't the same as an excuse of "It's not you, it's God. God doesn't want us together". No, this new way of thinking is the most authentic you can be. I remember trying so hard to be in a relationship with someone who would never admit God was real. And Jesus?? This dude didn't even know how to spell Jesus. He wouldn't change. I wasn't the right person for him, and he wasn't the right person for me. And I never would be in the beautiful relationship I am in right now if I were still holding on to some unbelieving dude. But I had to honestly admit that although I spent months building this relationship on sand, it was over...before it even started. If you build a house on sand with no real foundation, it will crumble. It doesn't matter if you spend all your time tending to your house: dusting the picture frames, baking cookies, mopping the floors. It will be clean and smell great, but it will still crumble into the sand. If your dating relationship is built on sand and both of you are not willing to give it to God, it's time to do as Elsa does and let it go.
Friends, I have been holding onto this blog post for some time now. In fact, I originally penned these thoughts on Valentine's Day...which isn't exactly romantic. I enjoyed a beautiful first Valentine's Day with my sweet, wonderful boyfriend at the time (now fiancé!). But I knew I wanted to marry him, and I knew I needed to alter my idea of a good partner if I was going to appreciate him for the blessing he is to me. I had to quit searching for the sweetest man I could find and trying to turn him into my Mr. Right. I had to quit trying to justify a relationship based on happiness and emotion. I had to admit that it was time to part ways with ungodly dating. When I gave up ungodly dating, I received Russell, and what a blessing he has been! I hope you're encouraged to boldly ask God for the right spouse and really truly let Him choose. You may be surprised by how perfect His will really is!
I would love to hear some candyologies you've heard! Leave a comment in the section below :)
With love, PriskaTabitha