Ever had anyone say to you, “boy, you sure got lucky with your husband, he’s such a good catch.” I’ve had people say this to me, and frankly, it’s kinda annoying. Am I blessed having him as my husband? Absolutely! Was it luck? Heck no! It was all done on purpose!
When I was in junior high and high school I was of course interested in dating and there was certainly boys that caught my eye. But, I didn’t catch any of theirs. I was overweight, until I got peaceful with my self confidence I could be annoying and we came from a small town, which meant small selection. Girls, of course, outnumbered the boys. As you may imagine this was difficult on my self esteem. There was many a tear shed, lot’s of self-pity and plenty of times where I had to plaster on a fake smile when a friend started dating a boy I’d had my eye on (small town, this wasn’t taboo friend behavior).
College years. I was enrolled in a course that was pretty much all girls. I was living in an apartment, so didn’t meet any of the gentlemen living in the dorms. I wasn’t part of any of the extra curricular groups. I made a bunch of girl friends enrolled in the same course and we’d hang out and some of us would head to the bars. Of course, still interested in meeting a guy, having a boyfriend, someone to kiss on New Years. Not surprisingly though, the bars weren’t exactly the kind of place to meet Mr. Right. I don’t even recall anyone catching my eye as a long term prospect.
Into young adulthood. More and more of my friends were getting married. I also made a lot of friends that were older then me and had been married for several years already. I started noticing things. One friend whose husband cheated on her. Another friend who was being abused. Another relationship where I thought the wife took advantage of the “I’m a girl” to get her husband to do things for her that I thought perhaps she could have done herself. I started going to church and reading what the Bible had to say about marriage.
I also started realizing that part of the reason I did not have a boyfriend was that I had standards. I recognized that if I lowered my standards I could have gotten a boyfriend much quicker. But I was unwilling to do that. I was seeing enough marriages struggle and enough children affected by their parents’ struggle that I was not willing to pay those consequences. It was not easy! It was darn lonely! Going camping and being the odd one out, celebrations where I didn’t have a special someone to share it with. Seeing people laughing, holding hands and giving and receiving affection. I wanted all of it! But I was not willing to compromise!
If you look around you and observe the relationships that are struggling, are you surprised by their struggle? Sadly, that answer is often no. It’s like everyone around the couple can see that they are a poor match but them. So how did they get there? Why do they continue in a toxic relationship, often causing emotional trauma to themselves and their loved ones around them. Sometimes ending up in a divorce that was so long coming that it’s turned into a bitter, dirty, painful separation. Why the mess? I personally believe that self-confidence is often the root of these types of scenarios. A lot of people choose to be in a relationship, any relationship, simply because they do not like being alone. People choose to continue to be abused, because they do not know they are capable of success on their own. People are changing their friends, changing their hobbies, changing their jobs and compromising their standards in an attempt to save a struggling relationship, believing if they simply make enough changes to who they are that it will result in happiness. They don’t see that the friends they chose, the hobbies they had, the job they loved and the standards they had were reasonable and they simply had to have patience. With patience they would have found someone that meshed well with their lifestyle and happiness would have been possible without overhauling your entire self. So often a physical attraction blinds people to everything else and you end up with great sex and an awful life because everything else is incompatible.
Being in and ending a poor relationship has a lot of consequences. There is often a financial burden. There’s the loss of friendships and familial ties. If there was children involved it can have consequences you don’t even recognize until they’re adults.
I want to encourage you, if you’re single, or in a relationship but not yet married or have children, take the time to take a serious analysis of what your standards are. And then, do not compromise on them!! If your self-esteem is low now, I guarantee you, enduring a bad relationship will not help it!
Here are a few of the things I did to ensure I snagged myself an amazing marriage – the first time, on purpose!
- He is my best friend. I have no secrets from him – none! He is the one I WANT to go to when things get tough. This was a must for me! It was a common denominator I noticed among all the successful marriages I could observe.
- While we each have our own interests we also have a lot of interests we both enjoy doing together. If I had no time to do the things that were only my personal interests because my time was completely filled with doing things with him that were shared interests I would feel no lack. I would feel no need to have time away. We don’t just have things that we “choose” to be interested in to support one another, we genuinely have a lot of interests that we both really enjoy and would do whether we were a couple or not.
- At the beginning of the relationship seek the honest advice of friends and loved ones. And then listen to it!!! If they are true friends and loved ones you know they have your best interests in mind. So even if you don’t want to hear it, if they tell you your new love interest is not a suitable match believe them! Be genuinely open to hearing that feedback!
- Our physical attraction and happy beginning of relationship emotions often blind us to obvious signs of a poor match. Take time to reflect often, asking yourself, could I live comfortably with what I know now for the rest of my life? If you rate the relationship as, “good, if only xyz behavior would change,” run! You cannot count on that particular change! Change happens and you learn to grow with each other, but you cannot enter into a relationship with an obvious behavior of concern and just hope that particular behavior is going to change and change for the better. If they treat their mother with disrespect that’s not going to change! And they will allow their children to treat their mother with disrespect. If they lie to their friends, family or work and consider it “harmless lies,” they’re going to do the same thing to you. If he’s awful with his money and you’re good with yours you can’t expect that he’s just going to allow you to take over and keep your together finances on track.
- Know that love does not always conquer all. You may truly love each other. You may be a beautiful human being and so is he. But if you want children and he doesn’t, that’s a potentially un-resolvable issue and needs considerable analysis and discussion. You cannot simply believe that love conquers all and move into marriage believing he’ll change his mind with time. The act of getting married and/or being in love is not itself sufficient to overcome incompatible traits. And note – incompatible does not mean negative. We simply have traits, beliefs and interests that sometimes differ greatly from someone else’s. This doesn’t mean they’re bad, or wrong and it doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It simply means you’re incompatible and you should wait for someone that you are more compatible with.
If we take the time to shop around and analyze our vehicle purchase, our homes and our jobs, for goodness sake, takes some time to be on purpose with your relationships! Let’s stand firm in our knowledge and assurance of ourselves and change those divorce rates! And if you don’t have enough self confidence right now to ensure yourself a good match on purpose, do it for your future children, if you plan on having them!