Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guidelines for Before You Date

I'm no expert, but here are some guidelines I discovered were really helpful.

§         You've allowed yourself a respectable length of time to grieve and you can recognize the ins and outs, ups and downs of your own grief experience. (Notice I'm not telling you how many months---this is different for everyone. You're ready when you're ready, but you must be honest with yourself).

§         You've established relationships with godly and wise women and/or married couples who will helpfully hold you accountable for dating behavior and boundaries. For example, a friend of mine dated a man for three years before they married. They lived hundreds of miles apart, so their visits always required an overnite---and he became a regular houseguest at members of her church, not at her house. BUT BEWARE of anyone who believes they have the inside track on God's will for your life--if you should marry, and who you should date! Also, beware of friends who urge you into romance so they can vicariously experience it with you. Run like the wind from both these types of nut cases!

§         Decide if you want platonic/friendship-only dates, or if you're actually seeking a husband. You may not be able to tell, such is the cloudy state of grief. So guard your heart. Set your boundaries. Understand that you've been in the habit of loving a man for however many years, and even if you won't admit it, you're very vulnerable.

§         Seek contentment in yourself and your relationship with God; a man cannot provide this for you. Honestly pray for contentment in singleness. Honestly journal to see evidence of God's answer to this request. Ask God for wisdom to determine if He has given you contentment, OR if He's holding out to motivate you to seek His will about some sort of change in attitude, location or job that you might need to make.

§         Learn how to deal with loneliness. You don't have to like it, but you can develop skills to live with it and glean its wisdom. God's cure for loneliness is not marriage, its ministry. The loneliest place in the world can be in a bad marriage. If you think widowhood is bad, marrying the wrong person will make widowhood look like a blessed relief! But real ministry, giving of yourself, brings you a sense of purpose and belonging. As you meet others' needs, God sees that your own are fulfilled. Bottom line, if you want to get married so you don't feel so lonely, you're not ready to date. I know that sounds harsh, but loneliness is a pathetic reason to get married.

§         And finally, since for many people dating is a precursor to marriage, here are some very unromantic realities to deal with. Times have changed since you were a blushing bride, and you have changed, too. If you get married again, your new husband will likely be entirely different from your first husband, and that's a really strange thing to wrap your mind around. But you're entirely different, too--you've been through a whole new set of experiences, you're in an entirely different season of life, you probably have children or other dependent family members to consider, and you have, ahem, your own set of faults and idiosyncrisies to consider, a.k.a. "baggage." Love, romance, goosebumps and thrills await in a new relationship, but it won't be the Princess and Prince Charming this time around. The good news is it can be richer and deeper because you are wiser and more mature.

§       So, for this second chance at love, take care of these preliminaries right away:     Know what you're comfortable with and/or willing to put up with for lifestyle and finances. For example, can you really live with a night owl if you're an early bird, or vice versa? Are you a neat freak or a totally-don't-care kind of housekeeper? Does a man have to have a certain income or profession for you to really respect him? etc. Be willing to ask the tough personal questions of him. I'm serious! Do a background check. Know him long enough to discover health and mental health issues, STD's, addictions, and what the rest of his family is like--his kids, his parents, etc. Marriage is for a life-time, so deal with these questions now, and the lifetime ahead of you will be much sweeter!

What guidelines for dating would you suggest? I'd love to hear from you.
ferree


5 comments:

  1. I think your last paragraph is what I think about the most. Who is this person, really? Is he hiding something? I am not ready to deal with that at this time. I think I would like a non-romantic relationship, a friendship with someone.

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  2. Though I have never been a widow before loosing my husband nearly three years ago, I can fully appreciate the fact that we serve a God of second chances. Such was my experience in "finding" my husband Buck after 14 years of singleness following a divorce.

    In my early years, I searched for love in all the wrong places, but finally came to the place where I put my life in God's hands. It was when I surrendered my future: telling the Lord that even if it meant life-long singleness, I trusted Him to know what was best for me; from that point, I had peace! After learning to be content in my aloneness and looking to Him to be my husband, He brought Buck into my life when He knew I was ready. His timing is always perfect!

    Thank you for these helpful guidelines, Ferree!

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  3. God's timing IS perfect, Teri and Renee'. He doesn't push us into relationships we're not ready for, and I love how Renee' can confirm that with her own life. Teri, may God bless you as you take this journey step by step and wisely continue to determine what you're ready for and when. <3

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  4. I know I'm not ready to date, but these are Great tips and words of wisdom to keep in mind if I do get to that place.! Thanks for sharing them.

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  5. ,,,BEWARE of anyone who believes they have the inside track on God's will for your life...

    awesome advice for everything, not just relationships.

    ReplyDelete

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