Imagine your future relationship, your spouse, your marriage.
What does it look like? What does it feel like? What are your standards?
After a long-term relationship ended, a precious mentor of mine said to literally list out the things that were “must-haves”…and then to patiently wait until you got just that…easier said than done, friends.
I have a Dad who sets the bar way high, but even he can’t always be the benchmark for my relationships. Instead of looking to movies, books, and men we are surrounded by, we need to look to the Truth. We need standards that are based on Love and covered with grace.
Here’s a quick peek at the “must-haves” I came up with:
I want my spouse to follow Jesus, not just to attend church. While I do want that, I also hope that he would intentionally seek God’s will for our life.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:14
I want prayer, often. Prayer before dinners, before work, before bed. Prayer before big interviews, tough decisions, and hard discussions. Prayers of praise after promotions…or after I manage to not burn dinner.
Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
I want forgiveness. Just like our God forgave us, I want my spouse and I to freely offer grace when attitudes flare up, dishes are forgotten about, or I burn dinner…this one is going to be a work in progress.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
I want hard work. Not just at our 8-5 jobs. I want my spouse and I to be intentional and hard-working in the home…understanding that it takes effort to have a loving home that serves the Lord.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
…and I’d really like a guy who enjoys the outdoors, obsesses over dogs, brews the best coffee, and likes breakfast for dinner….but that’s all negotiable.
While it felt silly listing characteristics that I hoped to have in a future spouse, it also gave me a little time to examine my heart and analyze my own actions. Your own standards need to be set before the first date, for you and your date. I’m not saying to interrogate him over dinner or to list off your guidelines. I’m just urging you to have set standards in mind and to be honest with yourself about your wants and needs from the get-go.
I say this because I have made the mistake of letting good looks, humor, and fun keep me in committed relationships. I allowed relationships to start and continue without expectations or a biblical backbone. This doesn’t mean they weren’t and aren’t great guys or that the relationship was a train wreck, it’s just that Jesus wasn’t at the center…or anywhere in sight for that matter.
…and I’ll admit that I’m half to blame because in the midst of walking with guys, I stopped walking with my Father. I wasn’t even meeting my own standards. So it’s really no surprise those relationships did not succeed.
Moral of the story: We must set expectations and to stay true to them.
I encourage you to pray over your (God’s) standards. Write them down. Don’t forget these. Don’t brush them aside or let them slide. Have them set from the get go, from the first date.
Take some time and evaluate your relationship.
Are there expectations in place? Are you meeting your own set expectations?
See your potentials through the Lord’s lens it will become clear whether you are on to something good or not…and trust that our Father has it all under control.