Matt Pavlik’s book, Marriage From Roots To Fruits, will be published April 2015.
Objectivity in Dating – Part III
How do people end up choosing an unhealthy person to date or marry? In my experience as a counselor, it is skipping over the time in a relationship when objectivity is at its highest. The following is continued from Part II.
Flaws are not bad; no one is perfect. But, some people are closer to being ready for marriage than others. If you marry someone who is farther away, you will need to invest more effort up front to have a working relationship. When someone like Sally is “in love,” he or she will more easily overlook flaws. This can happen because Sally let herself be in such a need to find a car that she is desperate to have the first one that appears to make her feel comfortable. Desperation directly results in a loss of objectivity. The longer she spends with the car, the more attached she becomes to it.
Be Objective, then Subjective
Attachment and passion are subjective. This is good because they can keep a couple together – after they have committed to each other. But before marriage and before going on too many dates, it is important to stay objective and evaluate a potential mate. This requires patience and being tough, some would say. When you are first meeting someone, this is the time you are most objective. The longer you know someone the harder it is to be objective. That is why it is so hard to break up with someone the longer you have spent together – you’ve already formed an attachment. Staying objective early on prevents you from getting into a relationship with a person who is not ready to be in a relationship – due to “maintenance needs”.
The process of selecting a date or a mate is a subjective one. It is supposed to be. But for these very reasons, it can also be a daunting one. Seeing a counselor during this time provides the added objectivity to help you sort through your values and feelings so you can make a wise decision. NRC counselors are available to help you find the right person and be the right person.
- Be willing to act tough (look objectively) on where you are at in your relationship (it’s maturity), while offering total acceptance of each other.
- Consider bringing your relationship in front of a pair of trained eyes, so you can work through any difficulties early in your relationship.
1 Cor 13:7-8
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another … in honor giving preference to one another.
Objectivity in Dating – Part II
How do people end up choosing an unhealthy person to date or marry? In my experience as a counselor, it is skipping over the time in a relationship when objectivity is at its highest. The following is continued from Part I.
Then it happens. Sally is all set to drive to work one day and the car refuses to start! It’s only been four months since she purchased it. When Sally is the owner, the seller is not responsible for the car – she is. She makes arrangements to take it to a mechanic and finds an alternate way to work. The mechanic calls her later that day with the news, “Your car needs $477 worth of repairs to get it working again. There’s also an oil leak. It will eventually need to be fixed and it will be at least $2000.” “Whoa,” reels Sally, “this car I love is costing me dearly!”
This could happen to anyone. Even if a person is careful to select a mate, there are no guarantees. Our relationships will always require hard work. However, it is possible to do our part to avoid unnecessary heartache. It would be nice to think God would always prevent us from buying a car that needed a lot of work, but He doesn’t. At least He doesn’t all the time. And He is less likely (or we are less able to hear Him) if we are not praying and asking Him to help us make the decision.
A Better Way
Let’s take a closer look at what Sally could have done differently to reduce the likelihood of getting a lemon (but note that once you have a lemon you make lemonade). First, it is positive that she took the car for many test drives. This provides opportunities to experience the car and see how it performs in more than just one drive. However, if Sally has already determined that this car is the one for her, she has already lost most of her objectivity. So while continuing to spend more time with her selection, she is only “falling more in love” which means she is increasingly more likely to overlook any flaws.
To Be Continued
Flaws are not bad; no one is perfect. But, some people are closer to being ready for marriage than others…
Stay tuned next week for Part III.
- Before you are married, are you both feeling “in love” and maintaining objectivity to choose the right person at the right time?
- After you are married, are you acting like an “owner” or are you still thinking like a “renter”?
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
Objectivity in Dating – Part I
How do people end up choosing an unhealthy person to date or marry? In my experience as a counselor, it is skipping over the time in a relationship when objectivity is at its highest. Let’s consider an example to illustrate this idea.
Sally, 24 years old and a recent college graduate, needs to find transportation quickly so she can get to work every day. She looks around and takes a car for a test drive. She likes the color, feels comfortable sitting in the car, the car looks to be in good shape, and the car handles the road with ease. It is love at first sight! She comes back the next day and the next, taking the car on drives. Each time she takes the car out for longer drives. Sally is in love with this car!
Sally plans the date of purchase (the wedding), signs the financial papers and finally drives the car away never to return because she is now the proud owner. From this moment forward, everything is different. Sally must drive this car everywhere she goes. She needs this car to take her to work every day. She has to take the car in for maintenance to get the oil changed, rotate the tires, etc. Her whole perspective on the car changes from being a distant admirer, to an up-close admirer, to an up-close owner.
Then it happens. Sally is all set to drive to work one day and the car refuses to start! It’s only been four months since she purchased it. When Sally is the owner, the seller is not responsible for the car – she is…
To Be Continued
Stay tuned next week for Part II.
- Check your heart. Are you making a dating decision too fast?
- What is the difference between leasing (dating) and owning (marriage)?
- Are you allowing God to be a part of your mate selection?
2 Corinthians 6:14
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Growing Past Barriers in Your Marriage
God made us to be growing and changing. But we are not always growing at the same rate. Sometimes we experience slow growth, and others times fast growth. A growth spurt is usually preceded by a period of rest and even complacency, followed by a period of difficulty and frustration, followed by a determination to choose faith over fear. When faith is excercised and the barrier is past, there is once again a period of rest.
The Sound Barrier
In 1947 Chuck Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound. As pilots approached the speed of sound they experienced a barrier called a shock wave. When they hit the shock wave, their plane shook and they retreated. Many pilots died in crashes. But Yeager found that when he accelerated past the sound barrier the plane flew well. Before the barrier is reached, there is resistance. After the barrier is reached, there is peace.
There were planes which could break the sound barrier prior to Yeager. When these pilots went up and approached the speed of sound, the plane shook violently. The more the plane shook, the more frightened the pilot became. When a pilot would try to slow the plane down, often he would crash. The same thing happened to other pilots because they responded to the resistance with fear and backed off from their attempt to achieve a break through.
When Chuck Yeager attempted to break the sound barrier, all the same things happened. His plane shook violently and he became afraid. But, he responded differently to his circumstances. Instead of giving up and slowing down, he decided, “if I am going to die, I am going to go out in style.” Instead of slowing down, he sped up and the rest is history. It’s okay to be afraid, because everyone encounters fear. But what you do after that makes all the difference.
The Love Barrier
Thankfully God has provided a man and woman some “rocket fuel” to get their marriage off the ground. This fuel is potent stuff. I am speaking figuratively about the onboard hormones (and biochemicals) which drive mutual attraction. These are more than sufficient to bring about feelings of being “in love.” When two people are “in love” there is a sort of magical effortlessness to the relationship. It is this effortlessness that drives the two together.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending upon how you look at it, this state of effortlessness does not last forever. Eventually it runs it course and the same effortless effect is no longer present. This is when a marriage is most vulnerable to shakes and fears. Life and marriage are not without challenges. At this point there develops a fork in the road. How will the couple interpret this lack of feeling in love? Many couples will conclude that because they are no longer in love, there is no point in staying in the relationship. They fear their own lack of ability to produce effortless love. When love becomes work, they back away in fear.
It takes a certain amount of maturity to break this Love Barrier. Marriage is about hanging into there and pressing forward even in the midst of shakes and fears. Press on, pray, and persevere until you make your break through. You will need to overcome by expanding your horizon. Believe in faith there is something better ahead. If you don’t look out very far, then it is easy to make a hasty decision that looks good in the short term. A short term gain might reduce the immediate pressure, but it will mean the eventual crash of your marriage.
Once you’ve experienced moving past a barrier, you are forever changed. Your brain chemistry maps a new neurological path directly related to your new experience (of successfully breaking the barrier). The next time you are faced with the same barrier, it will be easier to push through. The same barrier will no longer be challenging to you. Enjoy this time of rest, because God is infinite and there are always new horizons to explore.
- What barriers are you facing in your life? In your marriage?
- What fears are preventing you from moving forward past the barriers and into doing what is right?
- Is there anything you need to strenghen your faith? Ask Jesus for it now. When there are strong shakes and fears, consider counseling to help you break the love barrier.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
…because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
Where to Focus
Happy Valentine’s day! I hope your weekend is enjoyable. Forming a healthy, mature marriage relationship is one of the hardest things you can set out to accomplish. To make it easier to know how you are progressing, let’s divide marriage growth into three stages. These stages are overlapping in the sense it is possible to be working in all three at the same time. But each stage builds on the previous one.
#1 The Preparing Stage
The goal in this stage is to emerge with two healthy adults. But individuals in this stage are not mature enough to sustain a healthy relationship. If too much pressure (expectation) is applied, conflict will result and the relationship will fail. This collision is setup when two people meet and fall in love instantly – only to find out later they did not know the person as well as they thought they did. Each person needs to be able to function as a whole person. If you are in the stage and are already married, you will need invest significant time and effort before you will see the fruits of your labor.
#2 The Practicing Stage
The goal in this stage is to emerge with two adults who know how to work together as a team. The individuals are healthy enough to practice being a team – but they are not yet skilled at teamwork. Functioning as an individual is different than as a team. Teamwork takes time to learn. The individuals probably do not have a clear picture of their overall marriage objective(s). This will take time to define and negotiate. Be prepared to uncover areas which require a closer look at your individual health.
#3 The Performing Stage
The goal in this stage is to put the team to good use. The individuals know how to function as a team. They have energy reserves to pursue a purpose greater than they can individually. The can find a common objective and pursue it together. If any growth is needed here, it might simply be spiritual growth that allows the couple to seek God and understand His plan for their marriage.
- What stage best characterizes your marriage?
- If your greatest need is the first stage, consider individual counseling or pre-marital counseling.
- If you need help in the second stage, consider marriage counseling.
- If you consistently reach the third stage, consider mentoring other couples!
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.