I chose to write this draft today during my quiet time with God because He re-arranged my thinking. Blog first, novel second, dishes third. I intended to do the dishes first. My husband might ask, “Are you sure you heard from God?”
LOL. I asked my incredible husband if he had any ideas for this blog. He told me he didn’t think there was any one right way to choose the “right” spouse.
I had a list of qualifications for the person I wanted to marry. My apologies if I happened to date you and it didn’t work out and by some miracle you are reading this. Possibly, most probably, God in His infinite wisdom, had a different plan for the both of us.
Anyway, on my list which I never wrote down, which I will swear is not true if you quote me, I wanted a man smarter than me. Being a Christian, I’ll refrain from lying, but I won’t like it. So, this is why I often quote my husband, because as annoying as it sometimes is, he is smarter than I am, and I get to take advantage of it.
I probably wrote this before, but at age nineteen when we decided we were crazy in love and heading for marriage, he said, “I will never leave you, but if you ever want to leave me, just light up a cigarette and I’ll know you want me gone. You’ll be free.”
He hated the smell of cigarettes. I knew that. I didn’t take it well. Craig and I are opposite in many ways, including how we perceive the world. That can be a blessing, or not. I felt the heat rise and I said, “Well, if that’s how you feel, I’ll say the same thing to you. If you and I marry, I will commit to you forever, but if you want to leave, feel free.”
That was almost forty years ago now. For the rest of my list, if you’re interested:
1.) He had to be a Christian because I was a Christian.
2.) I wanted to feel comfortable around him. This list is not in order of importance after #1. This is something I didn’t realize was important to me until after our second date and I could eat with ease in front of him.
3.) He had to have a sense of humor.
4.) I needed to like his looks, his way of carrying himself, all the personal stuff. I dated a guy in college that took judo, like Craig did. He dumped me. That hurt, but one thing I hated was him coming over right after gym smelling like the gym plus some. Craig came over after showering up. Yay!
5.) Okay, I’m being brutally honest here, I came from a home where my dad worked hard and my mom raised all of us kids, sewed, cleaned, baked, etc. I wanted a husband to work hard at a job to provide for the family so we could have kids and I could be a mother at home. Craig and I were on the same page with that.
6.) Communication and honesty are huge on my list. If I couldn’t talk to my husband and be real with him and be vulnerable with him, and strong in my opinions with him, we would have never made it.
7.) I wanted a husband worthy of respect who would respect me.
8.) I wanted a guy my family would approve of, that my friends would approve of. When I was in college, my friends started telling me, “Connie, you’ve got to meet this guy.” His friends were telling him, “Craig, there’s this girl…”
The night before our wedding, after three years of dating (and he never got mad at me during all that time, “can you imagine that?”), I talked to my younger sister, “I hope I’m not making a mistake” for hours. I was crazy about Craig, but I hadn’t dated much and I knew I was committing for life. FOR LIFE. Aughh! How could I be sure?
When he got mad at me the first time, I thought, “Oh, God!”
I am an extrovert, he is an introvert. Introverts, in my experience, get quiet and avoid their spouse when they’re upset. Very unnerving to an extrovert. Anyway, no marriage is perfect.
As a sociology and psychology major in college, it seems I learned that:
9.) It’s best to marry someone in your own socio-economic level. If you are poor and you want to get rich, just do it together. I would add to that, learn all the differences in the culture so you’re able to adapt along the way.
My aunt always wanted to go to college and she didn’t get started until she was in her fifties. She told her husband that if she went, she wanted him to go with her, figuratively speaking. She wanted him to grow along with her so that they didn’t grow apart. He was agreeable. They stayed married until death parted them.
So, how do you pick the right person?
1.) Pray like crazy.
2.) Notice every thing that annoys you and remember you are committing to it for the rest of your life. Most of it will not change. Being in love makes one overly optimistic.
3.) Be compatible with your religious beliefs.
4.) Talk about how you handle money and how your family handled money. Many marriages break up over money problems. Whoever is better in handling the finances needs to do so. Once again, communication is imperative. Talk about this stuff before you get married.
5.) Be sure you can communicate in a loving manner. Talking; Listening; Repeating what you think you heard them say back to them; Respecting their opinion; Listening until they’ve finished; Listening without formulating a come-back as they’re talking; giving them the benefit of the doubt if they’ve been honest in the past; Listening as if it were you talking to them; and then talking only if you’re not about to spout ugly, hurtful things at them. If you are tempted to hurl anger and pain at your loved one, then stop and say, “I need some time to sort out my response, please.”
If you can’t do these things while you are dating, it will only get worse when you get married. People tend to hide their worst things, unintentionally or sometimes, sad but true, intentionally. If their basic character is sound, and you can weather the storms, you will have a successful marriage and a bonding like no other.
If you find yourself making excuses for your perspective spouse’s behavior continually, don’t get married. There are many people on this planet, you have time or you may continue in a saner, happier single life. If the issues can be worked out, great, but take your time!!!
Joining lives with someone is a serious commitment. According to “Focus on the Family,” many people that live together first and then decide to marry, end up breaking up. Maybe the man doesn’t respect her, but it’s usually him that leaves.
There are wonderful men and women out there, please don’t get me wrong. If you are single and reading this, live your life to the fullest and prepare yourself to be ready to serve and love and to respect, and to receive love and respect and service. It’s a life-time work that gets sweeter and sweeter and is hard hit by the media and by co-workers and by other negative forces. Like Paul said, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in 1 Corinthians 12:31, “Keep on desiring the better gifts. And now I will show you the best way of all.”
He then leads them into the famous chapter on love – 1 Corinthians 13.
My husband, the man I love more now than I did in the 1970’s, says the one you are married to now is the “right spouse” for you, unless they are cheating on you or abusing you. Cheating, Jesus said, is grounds for divorce, although God never intended for people to divorce. Abuse is grounds for separation in my opinion and many professional’s opinions, as well.
God made us in His image to love Him and to be loved by Him and to be loved by your family. If a spouse is not loving you, but hurting you, you need to get out, especially if children are watching and soaking up the behavior into their impressionable brains and spirits.
If you are afraid to date, pray and venture forth in safe places. God says in Genesis that He set Adam and Eve in a family. That was a model for us. It is a good thing if done well.
We got pre-marital counseling before we got married and the one thing I remember is hearing, “Don’t hit your partner below the belt.”
When fighting, and you will disagree, don’t bring up a ton of stuff – stick to the issue at hand and don’t be mean about it – or hit below the belt. That left an impression. Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” in the book of Matthew.
You should enjoy the person you’re intending to spend the rest of your life with. I still smile almost every time I greet my husband as he enters our home. If you don’t like them, he or she is the wrong one, something’s missing. Jump ship.