Three Goals in Dating That Lead to a Successful Marriage - Part Two: Finding a Mature Person
In part one, we discussed the importance of your own maturity, if you are to have a successful marriage. But now that you are committed to being a mature person yourself, what does it mean to find a mature person?
The Mythical Perfect Person
There is a difference between finding a mature person and finding a perfect person. The latter does not exist and perchance they did, they’d not give us the time of day. Besides, none of us would want to live with a perfect person. We’d feel judged each and every day. Perfect people have a problem with imperfect people!
So why do some still hunt for the perfect person?
Every man has the perfect Eve in his imagination. Every woman has the perfect Adam in her mind. We see them as perfect!
Unfortunately, this goes way beyond what is a healthy ideal of seeing the best in another person. Instead, we project that perfect image onto the other person in opposition to the facts. That depiction distorts reality. Inevitably, we see what we look for though it really isn’t there. We take no notice of what is there that does not align with that likeness. When we lock into this projection, the red flags waving in our faces provoke no concern. We barge ahead off the cliff though we believe with all our heart a bridge awaits us.
For this reason, the Christ follower must search for an individual who sincerely works at imitating Christ on the job, in the home, and at play. A husband, for instance, must find a “prudent wife,” not the perfect wife (Proverbs 19:14). He must find “a wife of noble character” (Proverbs 31:10 NIV). "She is worth far more than rubies."
Joy’s Second List
Eight years ago, when Joy wrote what she expected of herself, she also penned what she wanted in a husband. Here is the list over which she prayed:
WHAT I DESIRE IN A HUSBAND:
- Loves Jesus more than me
- Unconditional love for me and who I am
- Respected by people around him
- Funny/happy (but real)
- Sensitive to my female tendencies
- Someone I can trust fully and follow for my whole life
- Speak kindly of people—forgives everyone
- Desire to always be learning and growing
- Doesn't play games or try to make me jealous
- A dreamer and a doer
- Wants to know my dreams and asks my thoughts and opinions
- Hold me tightly
- Desperately needs me but isn’t needy
- Honest about struggles and lets me be the keeper of his secrets; also wants to be the keeper of mine
- Is my very best friend
- A desire for a life beyond the mundane, and acceptance of trials
- Words that match actions and are not simply words
- Not perfection of the above but an honest desire to try
At the wedding I commented, Matt, after meeting you and learning from Joy that you fulfilled everyone of these on the list, I said to Joy, “If you do not marry him, I will find him a wife.’"
The crowd roared with laughter. I then said, "Matt, thank you for seeking to be a mature man who demonstrates these qualities."
But Matt also thoughtfully processed who the other person ought to be. His buddy wrote to me, another "key part of our intent was to support each other in finding the women who'd be our 'forever’ partners. By that we meant, We both wanted (and still do) women who a) wanted to intentionally pursue the Lord alongside us, b) to be our partner in sharing His love with the world, c) who would demand that we strive to grow as Christian men, husbands and fathers, and d) who were full of life and joy themselves and would share that with us each day, for life, no matter what. Your Joy fits every one of those criteria."
A Key Indicator of Maturity: Their Reputation
We can recognize godly, wise people by way of their credible reputation. First Timothy 5:9–10 speaks of "A widow . . . having a reputation for good works.” In 1 Timothy 3:7, Paul describes a potential elder in the church as having “a good reputation with those outside the church."
Though the Bible never asserts another human being must be sinless, it does recognize there are mature people who will be “well spoken of” (Acts 10:22; 16:2; 22:12).
Joy remarked in her vows to Matt, "I've actually never heard anyone speak poorly of you. Only the opposite. Matt Reed? Oh I love that guy. Matt Reed? Incredible man."
Two More Key Indicators of Maturity: Friendship and Their Relationship with Their Parents
Perhaps one great evidence of maturity is the ability to be a friend and to be friendly (not all friends are friendly!).
One of Matt’s groomsmen shared how he has been best friends with Matt for twenty-nine of the thirty years they have known each other. He said about Matt, “He is one of the most interesting, passionate, and loyal people I know. He creates friends from all walks of life.”
One of Joy’s bridesmaids said, "I have walked closely with Joy through many years of friendship. We lived in the same apartment complex in our single days and we logged many hours of life together. We have always joked that our friendship prepared us for marriage because we have very different personality types and we had to work at it . . . hard work . . . but it was so worth it.”
When studying another person and investigating their maturity, ask yourself, do they know how to be a friend?
Another hint concerning a person’s maturity is how a man treats his mother and how a woman treats her dad. This will point to how they will treat a future spouse. A person who has hostility and contempt toward a parent raises a red flag. This differs from a son or daughter experiencing colossal disappointment toward the parent’s failing actions. There is a difference between rejecting the sin and rejecting the sinner.
Red Flags from Family and Friends
We must also be careful to not pursue a person who has shown serious red flags to the people who have cared the most for us. Such folks know that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. We lie to ourselves when we refuse to face the negative truth our loved ones voice about a new date.
Yes, this new person can change, but if they have not changed already, we are obtuse to think we will change them for good and for God. What family and friends see as unhealthy and even toxic must never be ignored.
Our friends and family can help us a great deal during the first several weeks and months of a relationship when we are more likely to have a distorted view of the relationship because of the romantic feelings kicking in.
Doing Relationships in the Light
A major teaching that Joy brought to other singles for over ten years was this simple truth: do relationships in the light. She urged those who watched her videos and read her blogs to involve the people in the relationship who had their best interests at heart. On the one hand, when love surges, it "believes all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7), as it ought. On the other hand, Proverbs tells us that "the naive believes everything” (Proverbs 14:15). Thus, we need objective people to speak into our romance who are willing to say, “This isn’t true love. You are two naive people fooling yourselves about each other."
Doing the relationship in the light is vital. But this assumes that both are chasing after the Light of Christ. I love what someone profoundly heralded, “Dating philosophy: Run as fast as you can towards God, and if someone keeps up, introduce yourself.”
That’s it! Joy and Matt are panting (not just for each other!) because each has been running after the Light, which leads to my next point, as we will discuss in part three.
Questions to Consider
- Everyone knows that the perfect person does not exist. So why does that not always keep people searching for him or her?
- How can someone’s reputation tell you whether or not they are a mature person?
- In what ways can someone’s relationship with their parents help you decipher their maturity?
- Why can it be so hard to hear friends and family share their warnings about someone you are dating?