Not all of us have good instincts when it comes to selecting a dating partner. Reality TV shows provide daily proof of the stupid decisions people make.
Still, if you listen to yourself, usually your gut will tell you when something is “off”.
He may be handsome, but shallow. She may be intelligent, but there’s no spark.
Sometimes two people can have résumés that make them look perfect together on paper; when in reality, the chemistry of their personalities is toxic.
I’ve known people who have thrown caution to the wind without an ounce of discernment about the wisdom of their choice. I don’t recommend this route, as disaster almost invariably ensues!
I’ve also known people who have invested years in a relationship without being able to come to a decision about moving forward or letting go. There are times when it’s truly hard to know whether you should keep working at it, or whether trying to make it work will be an exercise in futility.
For many of us, the divorce culture has had a scarring effect on our hopes for our vocation. There is almost a paralyzing concern to get it right.
How My Dating History Reflects Our Current Dating Culture
I will admit that almost all of my dating history has been complicated in one way or another, even though every man I’ve ever dated has been Catholic. The most significant relationships each lasted around two years before they ended. In every case, marriage was on the table, and in every case I agonized about whether to marry the person.
In one situation, I fell in love with someone who did not fall in love with me. Still not quite over the disappointment of that situation, I started dating someone else, only to become depressed within three months of our first date. As the relationship drug from one year into the second, I was paralyzed as far as marriage was concerned, but I was desperately afraid of letting go, because, well… who knew if I would ever meet anyone again?
The Fact Is, I Didn’t Trust Jesus With the Big Stuff
My attitude betrayed a very immature spiritual outlook. Although I treasured my faith and my relationship with Jesus, I didn’t really trust him with the big stuff.
I wanted to, but it took me two years to admit to myself that I did not love this man in a way that would lead me to marriage. I can say with the benefit of hindsight that I’d sure like to have some of those years back—and I would guess he would too. Who knows who we might have met, had we been available?
God Loves to Make a Good Marriage, So Put Your Trust in Him
In another chapter of my life, I found myself sitting in a chapel agonizing about the relationship I was presently experiencing. There were certain complexities in the situation that made it difficult to discern one way or another. When I opened my bible, I found myself staring at these words from the Book of Sirach:
With three things I am delighted, for they are pleasing to the Lord and to human beings:
Harmony among relatives, friendship among neighbors,
and a wife and a husband living happily together.
Those words leapt off the page at me. It occurred to me that God loves to make a good marriage. Moreover, he takes an active interest in helping good marriages to be formed.
[bctt tweet=”It occurred to me that God loves to make a good marriage.” via=”no”]
I felt an assurance in my heart that night that God wanted to help me to make a good marriage, and that he was committed to making sure that I had all the information I needed to make a decision that I could feel good about.
In other words, I didn’t have to agonize. I could trust that God held our situation in his gaze.
Sure enough, a few weeks later, the Lord provided some insight into our situation that enabled us to decide to go our separate ways. Although it was hard, it was the right decision.
My takeaway is this: God is into making good marriages. Marriage, above all things, is his thing. If you are in the midst of a hard discernment, take heart. If you are truly seeking his will in your vocation, he will move heaven and earth to make sure you don’t miss it.
Keep the lines of communication open with him, concerning your hopes and desires, your concerns and your anxieties. He cares about your success. That’s why he made sacramental marriage a source of grace.