Last week I introduced a conversation about finding “The One.” (Part One) We were asked this question during a Facebook and Instagram Live Q & A a couple weeks ago. I decided to write Part 2 and Part 3 as if I were sitting down with Weston when he's 22 years old, dating a girl, and getting ready to pop the question. These are the questions I’d ask him:
1. Are you inspired and challenged by her walk with Jesus?
Weston, this is the most essential characteristic someone can possess. You need to know this is of utmost importance. Ask yourself, does she truly love Jesus. Your mom loved Jesus more than she loved anyone else in this world, including me. Because of that I could have confidence that no matter what life threw at us, she would walk in step with the Lord and allow Him to lead her.
One of the most dangerous things you can do is think that you can change her - that if she’s not where she needs to be spiritually, somehow you can bring her along and make her into the person you want her to be. Missionary dating is NEVER a good idea, buddy! Don’t flirt to convert! Your mom used to tell gals to run after Jesus as hard and as fast as they can and then look up. She would say, “If that guy that you’re interested in is running right beside you, pursuing Jesus with as much ferocity, then it’s a good indication he could be 'The One.’”
I know right now you think she’s cute, but what’s most important is that’s she’s Godly. Beauty will fade. It’s fleeting. Charm is deceptive. At some point, and I know it’s difficult to imagine right now, her physical appearance is going to change. Her love for Jesus must grow brighter even as her physical radiance dims.
Now obviously no one you meet is going to be perfect and have it all together in their walk with Jesus. I know some Christians who are guilty of creating “wish lists” for their future spouse that Jesus himself would have trouble living up to! (That’s a joke. Jesus would crush it. But no one else would.) The main question you need to ask yourself about her, buddy, is “do you love who she is becoming?" Do you trust and love the work of God in her life? Is she pursuing Jesus with everything she has. If she is, character flaws, past wounds, sin issues, and external complexities will be corrected and sanctified by Jesus himself. She will refuse to excuse her sin. She'll be vigilant about putting to death the sin nature in her own heart.
If she loves Jesus this much, you may have found your girl.
2. Do you enjoy doing things with her?
Weston, I can’t stress to you how important this is as well. If you don’t enjoy your time with her now, the relationship won’t last. The couples that play together stay together. Your mom and I would often counsel couples as they were going through marital challenges. You’d be amazed how many of them didn’t have a true friendship at the core of their relationship. Friendship is quite possibly the most neglected part of romantic relationships. Don't get caught up on butterflies, flirtation, and furtive glances. Those are fun and exhilarating, but the excitement you feel at the beginning won’t sustain you to the end unless you continue to cultivate your friendship with each other.
So, do you have common interests with her? You enjoy running . . . does she? You enjoy sports . . . does she? You enjoy travel . . . does she? You enjoy certain genres of music . . . does she? I’m not saying you need to have everything in common, but you do need to have many things in common. You need to have things you regularly enjoy doing together. A great friendship makes the good times twice as good and the bad times half as bad. A great friendship will produce the romance, intimacy, and sacrificial love you desire. If you find yourself enjoying your other friends more than you enjoy her company, that’s a major red flag. Other friendships will come and go in seasons, but your friendship with her has to last forever. She must be your very best friend.
If you have that kind of friendship with her, you may have found your girl.
3. Does she challenge you to be a better version of yourself?
This is a bit different than the first one, buddy. Aside from being challenged by her relationship with Jesus, she should have the ability to bring out the best version of you.
Let me give you an example. Your dad is a pursuer. That’s how I’m wired. It’s part of my personality. When I lock my sights onto something I go after it one hundred percent, no holds barred. I’m usually fairly decisive about what I want for my life and I always have been. Your mom brought out the best of that in me. She encouraged me to pursue my dreams. She fostered my pursuit of the Lord. She compelled me to want to pursue her. Weston, if another woman were to enter our life and peak my interest, but I wasn’t compelled to pursue her with the same tenacity as I did your mom, I would be compromising. And she wouldn’t be the right one for me.
Even before we got married, your mom drew out my desire to be a Godly man. I wanted to take on the difficult responsibilities of managing a household, pastoring my family, and eventually being the best dad to her kids I could possibly be. Even now I look at you, buddy, and your mom's life and legacy inspires me to shepherd your heart better.
If this girl is the one, she won’t have to manipulate you or persuade you. If just by being her, she brings out the best in you and inspires you to be a better version of you, you may have found your girl.
4. Do you line up on major issues?
Weston, this is imperative. There a few major things married couples tend to argue about most - major issues that can typically lead to divorce. Finances, Parenting, In-Laws, Sex, and Life Pace being five of those. With each of these issues, you need to make sure you are aligned. There is nothing exhilarating about having these conversations. They certainly aren’t sexy conversations, but they will do much more to foster your intimacy than staring in each other’s eyes.
For instance, when it comes to finances, how does she feel about debt, budgeting, saving, spending, and tithing? Does it align with how you feel?
When it comes to parenting, how does she feel about discipline, schooling, sports . . . heck, having kids in general and the timeline for that? Does it align with how you feel?
What is her relationship with her parents like? How often will you see them? How involved do each of you want your parents to be in your life? Does it align with how you feel?
I know you two are following God’s way and waiting to have sex until you’re married, and I’m so proud of you for that, but you should begin talking about expectations you each have for your future sex life. You should talk about any past issues, mistakes, sins, hurts that could affect your future sex life. Get it all out on the table now. You don’t want secrets to surface later. And you need to grow comfortable communicating about awkward subjects like sex.
Finally have the discussion about how you each see yourselves operating life. How often do you want to be hanging out with other people? How often do you want to be at home having quiet evenings just the two of you? What are weekends going to look like? What will vacations look like? What are your expectations about holidays? Birthdays? Be intentional about these conversations.
After these discussions, if you see eye to eye or you can come to alignment on them, you may have found your girl.
5. Are you believing the myth that marriage will eliminate your problems?
Marriage doesn’t fix your problems! Marriage is a magnifier. The issues you have right now, unless dealt with before marriage, will exacerbate! If you have poor conflict resolution skills now while you’re dating, marriage certainly won’t fix it! I know couples who jumped into marriage because they thought the stress of the season - dating, engagement, the wedding planning process - was the root of their problems. They mistakenly thought that once they got married and “slowed down” everything would resolve itself. And then all of those problems resurfaced with a vengeance shortly after marriage. The root wasn’t the season they were in. The root was the sub-level issues underlying their relationship.
When pressure and stress hit her life, notice how she deals with it. Notice how she treats you. Notice how she treats others. Notice how she treats her family. This will be a good indicator of how things will be five, six, seven years into marriage. When your Mom and I decided to move to Indianapolis to plant Resonate we were overwhelmed with financial stress, career stress, and relational stress, but she continually lead the way in surrendering her feelings and emotions to the Lord. Having her by my side in every season, but that season especially, helped me be able to lead our family to follow Jesus and take big steps of faith. She was steadfast and immovable even in the toughest of times.
When you notice issues in your relationship, DON’T IGNORE THEM. Don’t sweep them under the rug, and don't assume they’ll resolve themselves. Don’t avoid them. Address them. If you can’t live with these things, don’t step into this marriage.
If you are comfortable with how she deals with life's stresses and pressures, you may have found your girl.
We’ll talk about numbers 6-10 next week on the blog. Stay tuned!