“The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.”
Words of Solomon. And part of the introduction of a series by Andy Stanley, the pastor of North Point, in his Love, Sex, and Dating sermon.
Andy offers tips for single people, and for those who are already married. It’s a worthwhile watch, listen, or read for anyone wanting to become better at serious relationships.
He continues after the words of Solomon saying words are meaningless. Commitments are meaningless. Both are meaningless, without preparation. Without a plan.
Your past will determine where your future goes. Not your promises. Promises are just empty words, even if you do have the best of intentions.
Your Past Influences Your Future
The paths people choose determine their outcome. Their future. It’s not where are they and what they have promised that bears fruit. It’s their behaviors, patterns, and habits. And those are formed over time.
Although we rarely do, perhaps when dating we should ask a person where have they been? That alone will give us a better idea of where are they headed than hopes, dreams, and empty… words.
The past is a better indicator than a promise. A wedding vow is a promise. But if you’re truly committed to becoming the person that the person you’re looking for is looking for, commit now to being someone that can keep their commitments later. That simply means, live now as you hope to live later.
Can you keep your commitments later? Your past and present are telling. Put good habits in place now. So that when you say “I will” and “I do”, you actually can and will.
Get in the habit of following through. Don’t just be one of those who mean well, but be ready to fulfill what you’ve promised.
If you can keep your promises now, you’ll be good to go later. Get in the habit.
Being Whole and Healthy
Forgiveness. You need to develop the habit of forgiveness. It’s a hard one to learn, a tough virtue to swallow. But if you’re serious about your faith and your future, get into the habit now.
Next, confession. Not necessarily as the Catholics do, but get in the habit of accountability. You need to develop a habit of confession.
Embrace these habits. These need to become your patterns. Your behaviors. You’re equipping yourself to be able to do what you say.
Also, as a single person since there’s no better time, you need to address your unresolved childhood issues.
A lot of us are going to deny that there are any issues. But consider this. If you don’t even talk with your living parents, or you don’t visit, you don’t communicate, you have issues.
If you attempt to build intimacy and start dating before you become a whole and healthy person, then every attempt at a relationship will feel like there’s a … hole.
To avoid a hole, become whole. It takes effort, intention. But it’s worth it.
You need to first become a whole, healthy person or you’ll be dumping those issues on your spouse.
You’ll never be less motivated, but you’ll never have more time. Turn around and face and address issues from your childhood.
Your dad drank too much, your mom ran off. Your dad said those mean things or he wouldn’t come to your ball games? All of it. Address it. All this drama with your parents, if you don’t talk, you have issues and will continue to have issues.
If you have any leftover angst, anger, bitterness at your parents? Your spouse will catch it. Spare yourself counseling and fights, and practice forgiveness. Work through your issues.
You may not realize you have issues. But your spouse will. True, they won’t know why you’re acting a certain way, and you don’t understand why they won’t shape up. But it all comes down to issues. Parent issues, not spouse issues. It’ll likely take the form of you overreacting when they said this. Or jumping the gun because all he said was-
You can’t see this in a mirror. Daddy issues. Mommy issues. But couples facing these issues go to counseling, and months later, you realize, I’m still mad at my mama.
If you had divorce in your home, it’s normal to be sad or angry. Resentful.
If dad was there, but not really. If mom was there, but only kind of. There’s nothing wrong with you. But you don’t want to drag that into your relationships.
As he puts it, you need to listen to that message. It may save your first marriage.
And again, when it comes to dealing with family drama, you’ll never be less motivated, but you’ll never have more time.
Single people, deal with it now.
Ladies. Don’t dress like a commodity and don’t accept being treated like one. If while you’re dating you get in the habit of being treated like a commodity, in your marriage you’ll be treated like one.
Fishing lesson. Bait your hook based on what you’re fishing for.
If you fish with your body. You’re going to catch body snatchers, every single time.
If you fish with your bodies, you’ll get treated like a commodity.
And girls, a lot of us will say “All men are alike.” To which Andy responds, “No. All the men you date are alike. All the men who ask you out are alike.”
It may be slightly offensive, but if you take a good honest look at your last 10 dates, what is the common denominator in all those dates?
At some point, you have to acknowledge the common denominator.
You were created by God. In His image.
God created you. And you are so much more than a body. Save the body for later.
Go out fishing for your one with your brain, your job, your faith in God. If you fish with your body, you’ll get jaded.
Be prepared to keep the promises you make. And if you catch him with your body… you’ll have to keep him with your body.
Get Out of Debt
Get out of debt.
Student loans, credit cards, personal loans, all of it. Get out of debt.
You can get out of debt a lot quicker as a single person than as a married person.
And if you have so poorly managed your finances as a single person that you have a lot of debt, then in marriage, nothing will change.
Debt is an unnecessary layer of a relationship. Get rid of it.
Want a motivator? You won’t believe how creative you’ll get, but if carry unnecessary, dumb debt, like credit card debt, and your beloved says they won’t tie the knot until you’re debt free? You want to be one who keeps their commitments. And one of the ways you can prepare to keep your commitments is get out of debt and never get in it again. You get out of debt, then we’ll marry. A loved ones says that and you’ll get creative real quick.
I don’t want to ruin my credit score to marry your debt.
And Honey, if he loves you, he’ll get out to debt. He’ll get creative.
Break Your Bad Habits
Broader idea. Break your bad habits.
Marriage was not designed to solve any problems.
Great things get better. Bad things get worse.
If you have a bad habit now, you’ll have it then.
Addiction, drinking, gambling, porn, and debt. it’ll all just be worse when you marry.
Don’t you hope the guy/girl you marry someday, before they marry you, don’t you hope that they break all their bad habits? Before marriage?
You need to be a whole person looking for a whole person.
Marriage Complicates Things- Not Simplifies
Once you get married, everything gets more complicated. Your issues are now his issues and vice versa.
Whatever their issue is, six months into your marriage it will be your fault. You don’t believe it now, but just wait. If she has a drinking problem, he has a gambling problem, six months in, it’s your fault. Amazing how creative married people get, but it’s true.
This next idea of how to protect the sanctity of your future marriage is going to fly in the face of what our culture says. And it’s going to be tough, trust me. But at least try to postpone the physical as long as possible. Not just sex, but everything. Postpone it. Delay it.
People regret getting intimate too soon. First date, second date, first month. It’s a regret. You don’t have to be someone’s regret.
It’s okay to not be that person. You’re looking for the one. Not everyone.
Self control is a path. It’s a pattern, a behavior. Self control now, equals self control later.
The men and women who are most promiscuous before marriage are more likely to have an affair after marriage.
No one gets together and says, I regret we didn’t get intimate sooner. No, it’s quite the opposite. So delay the physical aspect as long as possible.
While a lot of these tips in today’s world and society may seem out of step with what’s normal in our culture, perhaps that’s for the best. Divorce rates are on the rise. Aim to be part of the statistic that stays married and stays pure.
Which is why it’s important to note that living together before marriage is not doing your future any favors.
Statistics tell us that those couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce, or not marry at all.
And girls and guys move in together for different reasons.
A guy moves in to see if he wants to stay. A girl moves in as a hopeful step towards marriage.
But different perspectives. Not the same goal. It’s damaging.
Take steps to safeguard your future marriage. And even if you aren’t a Christian, you’ll be a better person for takings the steps listed above.
Which of Andy’s tips for dating did you think you were most likely to follow? Are there any you think you’d be unlikely to go along with?
Comment with your favorite dating tip below.
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