Picking a Solid Spouse: Episode 269

Picking a Solid Spouse: Episode 269

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Roundtable: Know What to Look For

What qualities are most important to look for in a future spouse, and how can you spot them when you’re dating? This week, I turn the roundtable over to four married folks who reflect on what character qualities came to the surface post-marriage, and how they saw hidden gems in their husbands and wives long before they were put to the test.

Culture: Get Lost

You’ve seen the bumper sticker: A girl needs to be so lost in God that a guy has to seek Him to find her. Author Dannah Gresh uses it as the premise of her new book Get Lost, where she argues that instead of guy-crazy, we need to get God-crazy. She encourages women to take men off the table for a short season while they reprioritize their relationship with Jesus. Then, with new eyes, they can look at relationships beyond themselves, see important qualities in the men they date, and move toward marriage in a healthy, God-centered way.

Inbox: Nineteen and Waiting

He’s 19 and getting his life together, so marriage is most likely a few years away. But he still notices and thinks about girls — a lot. Is there something wrong with that? Should he avoid women until he’s in a position to marry? Counselor Jared Pingleton weighs in.

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  • Ugh. Where do I begin with this bad advice....

  • Oof. I hope Author Dannah Gresh's book is only read by the super-beautiful, which is the ONLY subsector of society that the whole "take dating off the table" approach ever works for. Dannah Gresh is a very pretty woman. It might have worked for her.

    I'm not saying that knowing who you are in God's eyes isn't important in authentic relationships -- but the whole "do a dating commitment" if you're serious about God and your spouse thing is what's gotten our Christian subculture into trouble (and extremely protracted singleness) in the first place. Urgh.

  • I have been hesitant to ever write up a 'list' of what I wanted in a husband, but awhile ago I sat down and thought out what he must be. I came up with two. He must be passionate about loving God and following him no matter what. He must be serious about his faith and  knowledge of God and growing in it. A man like that is attractive.

  • Stabilty is not a "manly attribute."  Just because you don't consider yourself stable doesn't mean that other women aren't either (and just because your husband is doesn't mean all men are).  

    And as far as a guy's relationship with his mom (or parents), you are operating under the assumption that everyone's parents are loving, decent people.  If someone's parents aren't they probably don't  have a good relationship with them.  

  • Technically, I can agree with most of what Dannah Gresh said.  However, for those of us who go for months or years without going on a single date, the idea of taking a 10-day fast from dating is laughable!  I had my first date at the age of 26.  The relationship didn't last long (maybe 3-4 months.)  It was over 2 years before I was asked out again...I was nearly 29, and that relationship lasted only 6 months.  Now I'm nearly 30, and haven't been asked out in 7 months.  If someone decent asks me out, you better believe I'm going to accept that date invitation.  But I think I get what she was trying to say.  I really do.  

  • According to Jesus, a peaceful house is a blessed one.  According to Proverbs it is better to not be married than to share a house with a nagging, quarrelsome, discontented women. Therefore, I look for peace in a woman, appreciation and a willingness to be pleased.

  • MissC: Exactly. Before I got swept away into the Christian "I have to redeem my relationship past by eliminating my relationship future" subculture, I dated a few guys when I was 18/19. I didn't go on another clearly defined date for another 5 years. I was 23. I averaged one relationship a year, for only a few months each between 23 and 25.

    Like I said, if you are extraordinarily beautiful, or live in an area where men greatly outnumber women, I see how having guys beating down your door to take you out could be a problem -- but most, normal average people don't have that problem.

    I, too, understand the "theory" behind what she's expanding on. Of course one should have a healthy view of oneself in the light of how God values you. If you can't value yourself, you'll likely seek out love, attention and affection from people who similarly disvalue you. I get it. You need to have a healthy, realistic, honest opinion of yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses and those areas of no-compromise for what you expect from a spouse and your marriage -- but I don't neccessarily think that to develop those things it is mandatory to "take a break" from dating. If anything, I learned many of those lessons from relationships -- failed ones, and the successful one that ultimately led to marriage. I think the idea that you have to be "so lost in God that a man has to seek him to find you" sounds pretty on paper, but holds no water when you put it to the test of scripture. It's a great saying for wall-art in the youth group, but it holds no real merit in application to real life.

    Should you devote your life in service to God? Certainly. Should that service be conditional on your marital Status? No.

    "Unholy" people get married all the time. Non-Christian people. Sad people. Angry people. Ugly people. Broken people. Lots of people get married. Most of them aren't supermodels and many of them have never given a second thought to God. The idea that marriage is some kind of holy carrot that God dangles in front of us to get us moving is ridiculous at best. A good, healthy marriage can and will draw you closer to God, and in that draw you closer as a couple -- but the idea that you have to reach some spiritual pinnacle or "get lost" in God before you can encouter it is a dangerous falacy that has been leading young women like lemmings off a cliff for nearly a decade now.

  • I almost didn't listen to the section with Dana because of the negative comments about her segment. But I did, and it was awesome advice. I don't think that Dana is trying to get us not to date but to help us as women learn to receive God's love in a healthy way. I know that I struggle with really wanting attention from guys but then I'll get a nudge from God reminding me how much he loves me and everything else pales in comparison. When I'm not aware of His love that desire for guys attention just gnaws on my soul sometimes. I think that all Dana is trying to do it to help us find the true source of happiness in God, the only one who can really satisfy us.

  • @Kellie

    I disagree with you. I think that if that man has unsaved/not-so-nice-parents, it can be even more revealing of his character. I have a friend who is like this example. He grew up and atheist like his parents but came to know the Lord Jesus later. I think I know him better because I can see how much he wants his family to be saved. Also how revealing is it to have a good/decent relationship with someone who's really hard to deal with?

  • Joy-- My husband's parents were borderline abusive when he was growing up.    We have a relationship with them, help them out, etc,  But I can't say it's good, because there has to be caution on our part, especially as we have children,    I just think that a person shouldn't be dismissed as a possible spouse because of his/her family.  It just might be a good thing that a person is not close with their parents,

  • For once I disagree with MrsAshleyTOF - I don't think what Dannah said was that bad. It might be the case that she, uh, isn't very knowledgeable about long-term singleness with few or no dates. But I've surely heard and read worse stuff than this...

  • I'm so sorry that your husband experienced that. I understand what you're saying, but I think it still applies. See, if your husband treated his mother well even when there was anger/abuse, how much better would he treat you when you're angry at him? That was my point.

  • I don't know why Dannah Gresh's segment got so much criticism. She clearly said her book isn't about "being godly so you can get a good spouse" or the dangerous attitude of works that says, "I did A, so God should give me B" All she's talking about is being satisfied with God's love, so satisfied that a spouse is not our primary need and we don't desire one more than we desire Christ. That is very true and beautiful I think. Paul himself wrote he had found the secret to being content in whatever situation, whether in plenty or in want. The secret is ultimate satisfaction in Jesus's love. My mom says she found this out after 2 years of marriage, when she and my dad had to spend a lot of time long-distance. She was so frustrated with the situation until she realized she had been putting an unfair burden on my dad to be her every happiness and satisfaction. She has told me that when she repented and turned to Christ for His true love, it brought a lot of peace into her marriage. Because her worship went from herself (feeling happy and loved by my dad) to God and being satisfied in what He had done. I think Dannah Gresh's advice is very solid. Fasting also has true value, it helps you get your priorities lined up, and focus on God instead of what you're going to eat, wear, or marry (the pagans spend their lives running after all those things). Dannah's point was not that righteousness turns marriage into a carrot dangling in front of us, but that true righteousness helps us realize you know, carrots are nice, and I still want one, but God, you're enough for me right now where I am right now and I will worship you no matter what my life looks like.

  • Ria, I get where you're coming from and I understand the idea, like I said, knowing your identity and peace in God is good and important to lead a satisfied life, but telling someone living in a desert to fast from water is laughable at best and offensive otherwise :p

  • Well, all I can say is, satisfaction in Christ is what I strive for, especially when I'm in the desert. That's when I need "living water" the most^^

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