(Part 3 of 3)
Myth #1: I have to marry the person I’m seeing.
What’s your reason for dating or being engaged? If your answer isn’t, “to find the person I want to spend the rest of my life with,” then I would highly encourage you to reconsider your reason and motivation. But if you are truly seeking the answer to that question, then you know there are two answers to the question “Is this person right for me?” It’s a 50/50 chance that the answer is either a yes or no.
There’s no such thing as a failed relationship or engagement. If the outcome of your relationship/engagement is discovering that you two are not a good fit for each other, and you break things off, then that relationship is just as successful as the one that ends in marriage. . Because at the end of the day, you were able to answer that critical question: Is this person right for me?
Use the time of dating or engagement to truly get to know your significant other. As long as you keep Christ as the center of your relationship, and always seek His will, you can’t go wrong. If you want to learn more about purposeful dating, check out this blog post.
Despite cultural pressure, and the fear of a “ruined reputation,” you do not have to marry the person you’re dating or engaged to. Which leads me to my next point.
Myth #2: If we break up my reputation is ruined.
While this may feel like a cultural “truth,” rest assured, it definitely isn’t a biblical one. It’s also up to us, the future generation, to change this cultural norm. We have to stop looking at people as damaged goods if they’ve already been engaged or seriously dated someone.
Ladies, don’t be crippled by this fear, I know our culture tends to judge us more harshly than it judges the guys, but do not underestimate God’s grace in allowing you to move forward in your life. If you have Him as the number one goal in your life, everything else will fall into place.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
In myth #1, I mention how essential it is to date or pursue an engagement with Godly intentions. However, you may have heard of the age old saying that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. It’s equally important that your actions during dating are honorable and that you are preserving your purity. Maintaining the dignity of the relationship, and the person you are with, ensures that you have lost nothing, whether or not the relationship works out.
Some might start dating someone at a young age. Although they’re not ready for real dating (that's dating with the intention of marriage), they rush into it anyway. Years may go by until they realize this isn’t the right person for them. But instead of ending the relationship, they stay in it because they fear no one else would want them. Please don’t let this be you.
Myth #3: The red flags will eventually go away.
Red flags are red flags for a reason. They are not meant to be ignored. While everyone’s red flag list may look different, here are a few that make it to most people’s list: abusiveness (verbal, physical, or emotional), uncontrollable anger, dishonesty, addictive behavior (substance abuse or sexual sins), and manipulation, just to name a few.
My advice is, if something on your red flag list keeps coming up in a relationship, then allow that person some time to work on themselves and heal before you continue your relationship. As hard as it may be, sometimes a break is what you both need. Know that you cannot change someone. That person has to be willing to do the change themselves. Even if their words are promising change, don’t turn a blind eye to their repeated actions. Please don’t enter a marriage hoping or wishing these destructive behaviors will go away, because they most likely won't.
Myth #4: I’m marrying my partner, not their family.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m marrying this person, not his/her family.” Truth of the matter is, you are marrying their family as well. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Family plays a huge role in our life, whether we like to admit it or not. When someone signs up to be with you they are also signing up to be part of your family.
Whether your parents are angels on earth, or quite the opposite, it’s the Lord’s commandment to honor them. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12) Notice how this is the only commandment out of the ten commandments that has a reward attached to it.
Everyone has a different relationship with their parents, siblings, and extended family. Some families want a lot of involvement in the wedding (and even marriage) planning, and some will have little to no involvement at all. It’s important for your and your partner to discuss your boundaries and make sure you are setting up healthy ones with each other’s families. It's also essential during the dating and engagement period to understand your partner’s family dynamics, how they will be involved in your life and know what you’re signing up for.
Myth #5: Engagement is all about wedding planning.
As my husband (then fiancé) and I stood during our engagement prayer ceremony years ago, Fr. Markos Ayoub leaned in and asked us if we knew what marriage was all about. My husband and I looked at each other and smiled, nervous to say the wrong answer. Then he said, “It's about preparing for the marriage, not the wedding day.”
The wedding industry in 2020 (the year of COVID weddings) was a $55 billion dollar industry, and is projected to reach $73 billion this year. If you’ve ever been a part of planning a wedding, you know how crazy some of the costs can be. Add comparison, envy, and jealousy to the mix and trying to outdo the next wedding can drive a couple. There are so many little details that you can spend all your time and energy obsessing about, and unfortunately some engaged couples do just that. They forget that the wedding is just one day, but their marriage is for a lifetime. They spend all of their time together picking out invitations, deciding on color themes, and visiting numerous venues. Although all those things are somewhat important, the more important thing is getting to know each other and strengthening your relationship so you can enter marriage on the right foot.
If you’re currently dating or engaged and feel like your relationship can use some work, then be proactive about it! Do your homework in educating yourself about what a healthy relationship or marriage is all about. Read books, listen to spiritual talks, attend a marriage prep course, and if you want to take it a step further, seek out couples coaching. I’ve recently started providing couples coaching services that include discussing things like communication, conflict resolution, partner style & habits, financial management, and much more. If you’re looking for a more experienced couples coach, then I recommend you check out Makar Naguib and Andrew Bourtos.
Here is a list of things couples wish others would stop doing:
Telling them about their partner’s past. It's not helpful or even relevant the majority of the time.
Comparing their timeline to everyone else’s.
Asking them when they’ll get engaged or married. Everyone is on a different timeline.
Cutting off your friendship because they’re in a relationship and you assume they’re too busy for you.
If you see them in an unhealthy or toxic relationship, and you’re close to them, then please speak up. They’ll know you have their best interest at heart.
This is the second post in a three-part series about myths around singleness and marriage.
Part 1 - 5 Myths about Singleness
Part 2 - 5 Myths about Marriage