In my previous posts, Singles Are Not Unfinished Business and The One Key To Maximizing Your Singleness, I said singleness is a blessing and contentment is the key to celebrating and maximizing your singleness. While you are embracing singleness and a blessing and growing in contentment, what should you do in the meantime?
3. CREATE A GOD-HONORING CHECKLIST.
The third courageous move singles can make to celebrate and maximize their singleness is to create a God-honoring checklist of what you should look for in a spouse.
Instead of focusing on finding the right person, you should become the right person. This preparation includes becoming emotionally healthy, physically fit, and spiritually active. This preparation helps us to discard baggage we bring into relationships. We all carry baggage from past relationships. Those of us who are married brought 3 or 4 carry-on bags onto the plane of our relationship. The more emotional baggage you can discard before marriage, the more time you can devote to building your marriage. This way you won’t have to deal with old conflict that has grounded you for years.
Some naively think that marriage is the magic bullet that will fix all their personal problems. This is fantasy. If these issues are not dealt with through counseling, mentoring and personal obedience, marriage will only highlight issues and expose what is in your carry-on luggage. So, spend time identifying your issues. In fact, I would suggest that you not seriously date anyone until you have allowed God to heal you of some of the junk in your life. You can identify your issues through prayer, close friends giving you feedback, counseling, strength inventories, and self-examination.
After you have identified and begun allowing God to help you discard your baggage, what should you look for in a potential spouse? Though not exhaustive, the following is, what I hope is a God-honoring checklist for what to do while you are waiting for God to bless you with that special man or woman.
- Pray and look for a potential spouse who is a genuine follower of Jesus. Although I know that there are some “saved dogs” and “hoochies” out there, this doesn’t change the biblical command to marry someone who is a genuine believer in and a follower of Jesus. Non-believers inevitably draw believers away from Jesus more than believers draw non-believers to Jesus. This does not mean a believer can’t bring a non-believer to Christ. In my experience, I have seen it work the other way more times than I care to remember.
- Look for a potential spouse who has similar likes, values, and interests. If your interests include sports, traveling family, children, education, then you are probably going to enjoy the company of someone with similar interests. Similar interests and values increase the enjoyment of your time alone with that individual. Very few things are as painful and annoying as being with someone with whom you have very little or nothing in common.
Now, incompatibility is not all bad. I have found the adage that opposites attract to be true in my marriage. I am a sports fan; Tonia is not. I was an English major in college; Tonia was an engineer and math major in college. Tonia likes to cook; I like to eat (well, I suppose that is more compatibility than incompatibility). But, we made a decision early in our relationship to be open to learning from one another and grow from each other’s likes and strengths.
But, how can you increase compatibility in your relationship? Here are some key questions to help you improve compatibility. How you answer these questions will determine whether incompatibility will enhance or create unsolvable conflict in your relationship.
Am I willing to make adjustments or will I have a posture of selfishness and stubbornness?
Am I ready to make emotional progress?
Am I growing emotionally and spiritually? Or, will I remain stagnant?
Am I willing to put in work to learn from someone who is different than I am?
- Determine what qualities you want in a potential spouse. Create a realistic list of qualities and attributes that you want in a wife or husband. As you make your list, determine what are the deal breakers and those things that are negotiable. Tonia’s lack of zeal for sports wasn’t a deal breaker for me. She had so many other qualities that overshadowed her lack of passion for baseball, football and basketball. I didn’t want to run the risk of losing a good woman just because she didn’t like sitting watching the game with me. She has learned to love the sports I love, but I would have missed out on a good and godly woman because I was unrealistically particular.
- Place your life and future spouse in God’s hands. Through prayer and obedience, put your life and future in God’s hands. He can see the future and we can’t. Trust him.
- Clarify your life’s purpose, mission or destiny. According to Andy Stanley, direction determines our destination. Where are your headed? What path are you taking?
- Use your “spontaneous yes.” One of the advantages of being single, you have the ability to be flexible and say yes to things without clearing it with a spouse or a spouse’s schedule. Use those yeses now because they will not be there when you get married.
- Commit to sexual purity before you begin dating someone. God’s standards, regarding sex before marriage, have not changed. Don’t wait until you are in the throes of temptation to develop a game plan. Commit to sexual purity right now. If the man or woman cannot respect your commitment to sexual purity, then he or she is not worthy of you. Ask God for strength, wisdom, and insight to fight sexual temptation.
- Commit to debt-free living. Money and communication conflicts are still top the list of the things that destroy marriages. If you can get a handle on God’s instructions regarding your finances now, you would have dealt a severe blow to an issue that can deal a serious blow to your relationship. If this is a problem for you, do whatever you can to get a handle on your finances right now. Good Sense and Financial Peace University are excellent curricula for helping people become better managers of God’s money.
- Connect with a network of gospel-centered single men and women. God created us to be part of a larger community of followers of Jesus, so we can strengthen and be strengthened. Like-minded believers can be a source of encouragement, support, and challenge when you are struggling in your singleness. Small groups or communities are great places to connect with other singles whose lives are being shaped by the gospel.
- Hang out with healthy and normal married couples. As you hang out with these couples, you get to experience real time marital interaction, conflict and conflict resolution, cooperation, laughter, and marital joy. You will find out that marriage is not a fairytale, storybook fantasy. But, it is a God-ordained human relationship that has deep valleys moments and Everest type experiences.
This checklist of what singles should look for in a spouse is not complete. But, I hope it will challenge singles to think seriously about looking for the right person. More importantly, I hope the list will motivate singles to become the right person as they look for a spouse.
Turn Your Minutes into Moments
What would you add to this checklist?