The following is an excerpt from the chapter "Anticipating Our Triggers:"
The Romance Trigger
As Wallerstein discovered, the prospect of initiating our own intimate relationships is the most universal trigger. Our fear that we may get divorced paralyzes us. Often at this point, we have a strong need to try to figure out why our parents divorced, so that we can avoid their mistakes.
As we grow older, we will naturally compare our lives to our parents.
Becky’s mom was twenty when she married, and thirty when divorced two children later. Though Becky actively dates now that she is in her twenties, she is utterly opposed to marriage before her thirtieth birthday. She wasn’t even aware of the rule she had written for herself until a would-be fiancé pushed for the reason behind her snub. “I love Greg,” she explains. “He is everything I want in a husband. But I know that Mom loved Dad when she was in her twenties too, so I how do I know that this love will last into my thirties? I think maybe if I wait until I’m thirty to marry, then I’ll be over whatever caused Mom to be unable to stay married to Dad.”
When it comes to our own romantic relationships, we desperately want to know that we are choosing well. Because we have experienced the negative side of marriage, we are not anxious to enter the relationship thoughtlessly. In fact, our past may cause us to be so overly cautious, and our expectations so lofty that not even Christ Himself could live up to our requirements.
In reality, people are imperfect and relationships are fluid. As much as we may want to control or accurately predict our future, the fact remains that the “we” of our relationship is like a boat drifting without an anchor. If we are not intentional about our course, we will not reach our destination. As individuals, we will have bad days, make wrong choices and occasionally allow our emotions to overcome our reason. We must marry knowing that our significant other’s imperfections are evidence only of their humanity, not proof of their incompatibility.
That said, here are a few questions to think about when considering marriage:
- Does my relationship with this person enhance or distract from a growing relationship with Christ? What is my effect on this person’s relationship with Christ?
- Are the life goals of this person compatible with the calling I feel God has placed on my life? Can I serve God better with this person or without?
- Do the things I like about this person form a strong enough foundation that the things I don’t like are inconsequential in comparison?
- Have we worked through issues of money, sex, expectations, conflict resolution, spiritual interpretations and the role of faith in our lives and marriage?
- Have I worked through the issues stemming from my parents’ divorce, and do we realize that issues will continue to arise? Do we have a plan for anticipating and dealing with those issues in an honoring way?
- Can I honestly share my feelings and frustrations with this person, and can I support him or her without resentment —even when this person is the object of my hurt feelings or frustration?
- When we have disagreements, do we have enough unity that the disagreement is less a matter of him (or her) against me, and more a matter of us against the conflict?
- When I think of this person as a potential parent, do I like what I see?
- Imagine that you have made the decision to marry this person. Don’t tell anyone, but wear that emotion for a few days. How does it feel? Does it fill you with dread and fear, or peace and anticipation?
- Am I willing to forsake all others (family, friends, members of the opposite sex) to make this person my first earthly priority? Am I willing to choose to love, honor and seek this person’s best interest, despite my feelings at any given time, and regardless of their willingness to do the same for me?
- Does our relationship have the support and approval of those closest to us?
- Are we both capable and willing to put the other’s needs before our own wants?
- Are we both committed to a lifelong marriage, willing to work out our differences in a mutually satisfying manner?
- Is this person my best friend?
- Do I believe, and am I willing to accept, that this person is God’s best for me?
If you can accurately and honestly answer in the affirmative to most of these questions, you have likely chosen well.