It’s Fall! A glorious season full of family, celebrations and romance! Hannah Felding, a romance novelist, recently sent out a survey polling the readers’ choice for the most romantic season of the year. Fall came in at 43 percent, followed by Spring at 31 percent. Of all the brides surveyed, a whopping 28 percent got engaged on a holiday or other special occasion. So while others are thinking about pumpkins and turkey, I’m encouraging those that are hoping this will be a season of romance to pursue clarity in your dating relationship so you’ll have discernment regarding whether to hit pause or pursue marriage. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; in other words, it’s easier to stop something from happening than repair the damage afterward.
Eight Reasons to Pause
- The Faux Spouse – When a relationship looks and acts like a couple, with no verbal commitment declared for an “overextended” period.
This has become prevalent in both the Christian and secular communities and is indicative that one of you is satisfied with all you’re receiving in the relationship and feels no need to move toward a deeper, more committed relationship. It’s convenient; I have someone to accompany me to social events, someone I can talk to, someone to listen to me, and someone who validates me. If the relationship is called into question, the response is often, “I never said we were more than friends. I never said I loved you.” Truth be told, you were receiving the perks of a committed relationship without the cost. Perhaps it was unknowingly, but it’s very self – centered rather than an other-centered mindset. If you’ve invested in a relationship and it’s not moving toward the commitment you desire, PAUSE.
- Spiritual Beliefs – If our faith is the funnel where we process all of our decisions, our hopes and our beliefs, then it’s the mainspring of our life. If your partner doesn’t share your faith, they don’t have the capacity to truly understand your heart. You’ll repeatedly make decisions your partner won’t understand, and often it will lead to frustration or contempt. Don’t become emotionally committed to someone that doesn’t share your Christian faith. You’ll find yourself having to choose between your marriage and your faith. PAUSE and pray for their salvation.
- Emotional Maturity – Do both of you have the capacity to demonstrate goodwill, respect, humility and empathy while asking what you want and listening to what you don’t want to hear? If not, emotional intelligence can be taught and grown. Until goodwill, respect, humility and empathy is more common than uncommon, I suggest you PAUSE.
- Stormy Relationship – Is your relationship littered with sharp conflicts? Do you have the same unresolved fights over and over again? If you can’t resolve dispute in a safe and non- threatening environment, then PAUSE.
- Extended Family Expectations– Our partner/ spousal relationship permeates all of our other relationships for better or worse. When you marry someone, they become a part of you legally, and they have influence on overextended family relationships. They have sway over how holidays are spent, decisions concerning aging parents’ care and family financial decisions. If your potential life partner wouldn’t respond to your loved ones needs the way you would want them to or make decisions based on what’s the best for you, your Mom, Dad or siblings, then PAUSE.
- Life Vision– Opposites attract, but compatibility keeps us connected. Take time to explore the wishes, hopes, and dreams of your partner before you commit to marriage. Rarely do couples stay connected if they don’t share a similar vision for what they want their life to reflect long term. Example: One is firmly committed to all their children attending and finishing college even it means one of the parents needs to work three jobs to provide that opportunity. The other doesn’t think it’s primary that all the children attend college. Another example: one wants to live a quiet, more solitary life, and the other wants to live in a metropolis. The early stages of a romantic relationship overlook many differences, but they become significant differences over time. PAUSE and make sure you want the same lifestyles.
- Do They Fit? If significant family and friends are reticent about your relationship, ask them WHY. If there is something concerning that seems obvious to those who know you so well, you may need to listen to what they’re telling you. Often, in the throes of a new relationship, hearing criticism about your new “beloved” may not be welcome, but others may see things more clearly from an outsider’s perspective. At the very least, hear these people out. If they are cautious, then slow down and PAUSE.
- Should I continue in a relationship with someone porn addicted? Not unless your partner is ready to get serious about dealing with the problem. Both of you need to understand that pornography is as physically addictive as any drug. The addiction is based on neurochemical changes that occur in the brain due to prolonged exposure to stimulating sexual imagery. Because of its neuron-chemical basis, it’s tenacious, progressive and destructive in nature. Unless this disorder is addressed and resolved, your relationship cannot move forward on a healthy footing. Marriage will not fix the problem. It will only complicate matters and increase your pain. PAUSE
As obvious as these issues may appear, and as much as you may feel you understand them intellectually, it should come as no surprise that what initially seems unimportant may take on greater significance as insights occur throughout the relationship.
Pursue clarity in dating. Take some time this holiday season and look in the marriage mirror for compatibility, godliness, character, and then attraction. These are the ingredients necessary before you pursue an emotionally intimate, satisfying marriage.
Lisa May is Executive Director of Live the Life South Florida. She can be reached at [email protected] or by mail at 5110 N. Federal Hwy. Suite 102, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308