How to Find a Spouse
In the previous two Letters, Part Zero and Part One, we have been discussing “How to find a spouse,” featuring advice from Pastor Stephen Davey. If Dr. Stephen Davey had a list of things to DO, then Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a former radio talk show host who often took calls from listeners expressing their dating woes, had a unique list of Don’ts in her book, Top Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess up Their Lives. Using brash terms like stupid, “Dr. Laura” holds nothing back as she allows single women to learn from the mistakes of others. Although my milder personality would probably choose a softer term, I kept the word stupid in this Letter, as I summarized her list. For the most part, her book says that finding your identity in someone else (and I would add: someone other than Christ) puts your happiness in someone else’s control, and never ends well.
Dr. Laura’s Ten Stupid Things:
If you feel like a spouse is the answer to all of your woes, you are heading for disappointment. Overly-attaching yourself to someone is often the number one reason that someone wants to become unattached! Fast!
When my daughter Christine was 2-yrs-old, my little butterfly loved attention of her three buffalo brothers. Once while buckled into her car seat in the third row of our Ford Excursion, she asked Casey (then age 9) to sit next to her. He said he wanted to sit one row forward, so he could more easily exit when we arrived at his practice. She broke into tears and wailed to me, hoping my ears in the front seat would recognize her desperation two rows behind me. “Mooooooommmmy!!!! Casey won’t make me happpppyyyyyy!” she sobbed.
Let’s all have a moment of prayer for Christine’s future husband.
Seriously, attaching our happiness to anyone else is a perfect recipe for perfect unhappiness. Become the best unattached YOU, [bringing glory to God]. Have dreams; forge a purpose; have an identity; make a commitment to things outside of yourself. You can only become the best spouse by becoming the best YOU first.
This principle doesn’t end once a woman puts on a ring. (Read “The Needy Queen” in a previous letter, The Bad Queens for how “attachment” looks within marriage.) Becoming the best YOU, aligned with Christ, will make you a better wife, because that is the One with Whom your husband should be aligning as well. (2 Cor 6:14 says that believers in Christ should only be yoked with believers in Christ.)
If you are dating a jerk, now’s the time to leave him. In Dr. Laura’s words, “You don’t have to settle; you can SELECT!” (Emphasis mine)
You are worth it!
When I was in high school, I had a suitor, who quickly became a stalker with a side of creepy when I didn’t share his admiration in reverse. What began as love notes and personally recorded songs sent through the mail, quickly became threatening phone calls and eventually mystery hang-ups. (Before the invention of caller ID, he would call my house, ask for me, and then hang up as soon as I got to the phone.) Once I cracked the case of the mystery phone-hang-up artist, my older brother called the guy and told him the familiar poem of the 70’s: “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it is yours. If it doesn’t come back to you, it never was.” Except, my big brother, … in my defense, … being the sweet, protective big brother he is, …said in a threatening tone, “If you love something, let it go. If she comes back to you, she’s yours. If she doesn’t, and you call again, I will hunt you down and rip you apart with my bare hands.” The suitor never called me again.
I think “stupid courtship” is coming back to someone when you shouldn’t.
This one seems so simple: if a situation is self-defeating, then leave it. When you have a dream, a defined purpose and a calling, and your significant other is defeating that, it is probably defeating “the you” that God meant you to be.
Don’t be devoted to self-defeat.
A true future spouse will be devoted to that which you are devoted, so be sure your devotions are worthy of …um…devotion.
Bryan Heath has a song that says, “I am not my family tree.” You have incredible, God-given value, and nobody –particularly a future spouse – should be trying to convince you otherwise. Your past (or your family’s past) does not have to determine your future; Dr. Laura says it this way: “History is not destiny.” Your choice in a spouse matters.
Things happening in the premarital bedroom (or backseat of a car) are not love. How do I know? Ask any man who has ever paid for “passion”. Why would someone pay for it? Because it feels physically good – not because it increases a relationship with the one he paid.
OK, some will argue it is not all lust, some is expressing love; but it is all against God’s Law. To really spell L-O-V-E, let him show you he loves you enough to preserve you for the wedding night. Show him you love him enough to treat his body as a beautiful temple deserving respect. Express love to each other by waiting.
In this day, movies and daytime television advertise premarital activity as not only acceptable, but expected. I saw one recently that said, “Wait until the third date.” The “third date”???!!!!!
“They” say it is respectable if you wait to go to bed together on the THIRD DATE?!!!!
I hope you didn’t just argue, “Oh good, I’m not THAT bad; I wait until the fifth.”
The Bible says differently. It clearly says, “Wait until the wedding night.”
How is that possible in this day and age? While the world says, “No way!” God says, “You can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.” (Phil 4:13)
Stay strong, and your marriage will be too!
Stupid Cohabitation (Living Together Without Marriage)
Statistics show that unmarried couples living together ARE NOT LIKELY to stay together once they are married. Wow. THAT is worthy of repeating:
Statistics show that unmarried couples living together ARE NOT LIKELY to stay together once they are married.
So if this letter is How to Find a Spouse, then statistically, STAY IN SEPARATE RESIDENCES.
This mistake is related to all of the mistakes listed above:
- Stupid Attachment (You will lose yourself when living with him);
- Stupid Courtship and Stupid Devotion (You are less likely to do the right thing if it is breaking up, if you are sharing a residence with him.);
- Stupid Passion (How do you stop from eating the chocolate cake if you see it out all the time?)
Living together is tempting when it “makes sense” financially. It’s ironic to me that people, even Christians, will make this argument. Yet, they would never rob a bank, even though that might make sense for their “financial benefit” – because they recognize that stealing is wrong according to God’s law.
So is sleeping together before marriage! Ugh!
Living together makes it easy for someone to become dependent on someone else.
Living together, statistically doesn’t lead to a good marriage.
If someone doesn’t want to continue dating unless they can “take the car on a test drive,” then go ahead and lose the relationship. It is likely that you would have lost it for other reasons anyway even if you had slept with him, but then you would have been the used car, and you are worth more than that.
If someone is a controlling person, you can expect him or her to continue to be controlling. A wedding ring doesn’t change someone’s personality, so your expectations for after marriage should be about the same as who he/she was before marriage.
I remember dating someone who gave me my every wish. What Terri wanted, Terri got. It was heavenly…for a while. Then it went from heavenly to heavy. The pressure of being the rudder of “our” ship was too much, although I didn’t recognize the problem at the time.
Later, when dating Chris, things were quite different. He was attending graduate school on a full fellowship with a monthly stipend, and I was living on Ramen Noodles and cold Spaghettios. I felt like he was rich! Our date night was my “princess” night!
Then one day Chris pointed out the bill. Really? My date showed me the bill and questioned why it was so high?! At first, I was embarrassed for him that he would be such a slave to money. (Oh, the irony of my blindness is killing me here – but I will share anyway.) He went on to say that he loved our time together, but wondered if we could do it without the appetizers, specialty coffees and desserts sometime?
Some who have heard my husband speak on leadership have said he can punch you across the face, and somehow make you laugh and follow his way. I think that night I got “punched.” Inside, I was embarrassed that I had been a burden on his budget. But be still, butterflies of my soul! I fell madly in love with the man who would be so strong as to control the rudder of our ship. His courage to stand up to me (on something with which I could only agree!) made a pattern for much resolution in our marriage. Oh how I pity the woman who has no rudder speaking truth to her.
Stupid Child Conception
“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage!” I sang hundreds of times in the jump rope game of my youth. The song’s principles are not always the case these days.
Somewhere around the age of six, I remember visiting a family friend in the hospital. By chance, we ran into one of my father’s other friends from work, whose teenage daughter had just given birth. In my youthful state, I stared at the young girl and innocently asked my dad, “Where’s the baby’s daddy?”
He looked down with sad eyes and said, “There is no dad.”
In my little mind that day, I had decided that God had made a mistake. I feared for my 6-yr-old-self, (checking my belly to make sure it wasn’t growing) worried that the mistake could happen to me too. Obviously time and education wiped the cover of innocence from my eyes and I eventually figured out the truth of who was making the mistakes.
The term, “baby daddy,” of the 2000’s was coined because of so many conceptions out of wedlock. (Or would those be misconceptions?) Careless women and men, who don’t pay attention to some of Dr. Laura’s other listed “mistakes”, will end up in this situation. Unfortunately, or ridiculously, some women will become pregnant out of wedlock ON PURPOSE trying to get a marriage commitment. Entrapping a daddy, thinking this will change him is as bad as it gets; it’s like risking the life of a child for your own selfish desires to be married. It only multiplies the number of unhappy people in the house.
Stupid Subjugation, Stupid Helplessness and Stupid Forgiving
Some direct quotes from Dr. Laura’s book on these last three “mistakes”:
“If your someone abuses you, it’s over.
It is the saddest thing when someone won’t stop trying to get love from someone who is abusive and offensive to him/her. Some women will use the “any dad will do” excuse to stay with bad men in bad situations. A NO dad home is better than an abusive dad home.”
Be strong and courageous, for the Lord thy God is with you. (Josh 1:9)
Until we “part” again (in Part Three),
- Finding a Character to Marry – Part Zero
- Finding a Character to Marry (How to Find a Spouse)
- Finding a Character to Marry, Part Three