Okay….I’ll admit. I watch The Bachelor on ABC every Monday night and it is my guilty pleasure. I know, I know, it is probably a total waste of my time. I say the word “guilty” because I totally understand how produced the show is and it honestly is a very odd and abnormal concept of a dude dating 30 girls to find one he wants to propose to in the end. HOWEVER, with that being said, I still watch because I think I just like to watch other humans interact and fall in love because I always say that I love love.
Love is something that I think our culture has taught us how to obtain the complete wrong way (this includes dating shows haha!). When talking to the ladies here, the hook-up culture and the Instagram DM’s have changed the way that we expect a man to treat us. Ladies want to be ready for when the right guy comes along, but I see women all the time allow men to barely even treat them like a girlfriend… let alone a potential wife. When watching The Bachelor with some of my girlfriends, the conversation of “being ready” for marriage has come up a lot and I’ve thought a lot about what that means. I make no claim to know everything about dating and marriage, but with the mistakes I made while dating and with what I know now about how my husband treats me and loves me, I have a few thoughts about “being ready” that I think might help some of my single lady friends.
My first piece of advice is don’t give a guy the privileges of having what only a husband should have. Know that until there is a ring on your finger, YOU OWE HIM NOTHING. Jumping around from guy to guy, relationship to relationship, allowing yourself to jump right into acts of what sometimes could feel like ownership of each other before even building a foundation friendship and trust can be so destructive to the heart. So many women get hurt because they let a guy into the places of their hearts that only a husband should have access to. Don’t ever let a guy make you feel like you HAVE to do something. This could be a huge life decision, moving in together, having sex, changing careers, paying each other’s bills, etc. Be careful of the power you give away to someone before marriage. A guy worthy marrying one day will show that he is trustworthy to do all of those things with. Also let’s be real, getting drunk all the time and sleeping around with a different guy each weekend… a magical man isn’t going to fall out of the sky and get down on his knee wanting to get married. It just isn’t going to happen, and if it does, it would be a very unhealthy marriage guaranteed. Set the bar for how you want to be treated and don’t give away too much too fast.
This leads us to the next topic: old-fashioned courtship is still cool.
I remember when Matt and I were dating and we were about to have to spend over a month without seeing each other because we were both traveling a lot for work. We were dreading it. The day that we had to say goodbye, we went to a coffee shop in Nashville called Crema, and he had something to give me. What I received was 46 (FORTY-SIX) letters wrapped in twine that he put in individual envelopes…talk about a romantic!! He wanted me to have something from him to open each day we were apart. I will always remember that gift because it showed how much he cherished and valued me. The idea of pursuing each other in dating is not cheesy/ lame or unnecessary. Dating is such a sweet season of life that is exciting and can be so fun building a best friendship with the person you love. Again— set the bar for how you want to be treated. Make him pick you up for dinner, open the door for you, and get you flowers and in return tell him how amazing he is and how appreciated he is (most guys love words of affirmation!). I’ve never heard of anyone who has regretted courting someone they see a potential future with so go all out!
I think most of us would say that getting to know yourself and loving who you were created to be before getting into a serious relationship is a good idea. This is my third piece of advice: work on being the best version of yourself so that you can one day make your future spouse the best version of himself. Before I met Matt, I feel like I allowed myself to date other guys for years, but then went through about a 6 month period of literally not dating anyone so that I could just enjoy being single and focus solely on my career at the time. That season I learned more about God and about myself than any other time in my life and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. I felt like it gave me the clarity to enter into dating Matt with confidence and excitement. Being in a committed relationship does take vulnerability, so you can’t expect for that to come naturally until you are in a healthy, vulnerable place with yourself. Even when you are married, it takes time and effort taking the steps to be a healthy you, inside and out. Seek wisdom in older women, read books, focus on building solid friendships, pray.
Again, I don’t claim to be an expert, but what I do know from the almost 4 years I’ve been married makes me want to share with others. Marriage is incredible. It is hard. It takes humility DAILY and serving each other. It is NOTHING like The Bachelor tv show. Entering into dating and then a marriage thinking that the other person will bend to your needs/wants constantly is just a false reality. My mom always told me growing up that “marriage isn’t 50/50, it’s 100/100” which is so unbelievably true. Unless both partners are constantly serving each other (helping build each other’s careers, cook/cleaning for each other, loving each other’s families and friends, taking care of one another when sick, etc etc.) there will always be disappointment and unmet expectations. A person cannot “complete” you, but what they can do is bring more joy than you knew was possible.
I hope this little bit of insight and advice helps someone in their thinking about relationships. Love is more important than anything in this world, which is why I get so frustrated when I see people who desire to have more love in their lives doing things backwards. I pray this world would have more strong marriages, more loving families, less divorces, and more women who support each other in their relationships. Love is so much fun so go out there and love harder than you ever have before! Cheers!