When you were a little girl, did you dream of your prince charming or fairytale wedding? As we grow into adults, sometimes we still hold onto those dreams, as unrealistic as they may be. Deepak Reju, author of She’s Got the Wrong Guy, joins us today to encourage singles and those dating to ask the right questions and check motives when it comes to considering marriage. Be sure to grab a copy of his new release for more insight into dating.
Here’s a conversation that I’ve had on occasion. An engagement is broken off, and a young lady confesses to me or my wife about the wedding proposal:
“I was surprised when he asked me. I still wasn’t sure, but I said, ‘Yes.’”
What? If you “were not sure” you wanted to marry him, why did you say “yes” to him? Let me suggest three reasons…
The Dastardly Deception of Disney
I have three young daughters. Aside from daily choruses of “Let it Go!”, the other things that my girls often do is:
- Pretend to be in their own wedding, where they force their brother to be either the pastor or the groom. The girls take turns in being the bride.
- Watch Disney movies where there is always a prince charming who rescues the princess from some kind of deadly peril. In the end the guy always gets the gal, and finishes the movie with a big kiss on her lips.
- Play Barbie, where Ken is an essential part of whatever they are doing. You can’t have a Barbie without a Ken doll, can you?
You get the point. From a young age, they dream about getting married. They dream about meeting the man of their dreams—a tall, good-looking man who will sweep them off of their feet, worship the ground they walk on, and cherish them until the day they die. In my girls’ little hearts is stirred a good desire to marry a godly man, but I wonder if all of this girls-meets-a-great-guy thing is taking that good desire and turning it into an idol? An idol is anything we worship more than God (Romans 1:25). When my girls plan, talk about, play, and dream about marriage more than anything else, they are making it into an idol.
The Magical Moment
Teenage romance novels and Hollywood chick-flicks build the marriage idol further. All of these things—playing wedding, movies, romance novels, etc.—point to one magical moment, when a man gets down on one knee, pulls out a ring, and asks his girlfriend to marry him.
What woman has not dreamed about this moment? It’s an astounding event when you think about it—a man chooses you. All of your fears of being lonely for the rest of your life, or not ever being a mother, go up in smoke with just one question, “Will you marry me?”
Part of the magic of this moment is that the guy surprises you. You didn’t know it was coming, but you probably could have guessed it, especially if you have been dating for a while. But your uncertainty about the guy or the relationship maybe even made you think that the proposal was still a ways off. And yet, he asks, and you say “Yes.” You might be a degree uncertain about him, but you know you want to get married. And you think something like, “We can work out uncertainties in premarital counseling,” or “He’s a good guy (or maybe good enough guy?).”
Or maybe, honestly, you were just so overwhelmed by the magic of the moment—a beautiful picnic, a romantic dinner, or a walk on the beach, plus the ring….yes, a big, beautiful diamond ring on your finger. You were so excited by it all you just had to say, “Yes!”
You’re Marrying Your Dream
Every once in a while, I get to know a couple and I feel like the guy is just a means for his girlfriend to accomplish her dream of getting married. She has wanted this all her life, and she is excited about getting married. The guy is almost like a pawn in her master life-plan. She needs him to have a wedding day. How can I tell?
- The wedding planning machine is churning overtime. She’s planning fast and furious with her mother and sisters, and he is off on the side, simply doing whatever she wants.
- When she talks, she expresses how excited she is about the wedding day, or about getting married, but she doesn’t talk specifically about him very often.
- There are obvious things about him that are problematic, but she seems blind to them, or not wanting to deal with them, lest this get in the way of her plans.
What’s the Alternative?
As hard as this sounds, if you are not sure about him, the right thing to do is not say “yes” in that magical moment, but say something like:
“I really like you, and this is been a really special night. But I’m just not sure yet. I’m so sorry, but I don’t think I’m ready yet to say, ‘Yes.”
Wow. That sounds like it ruins that magical moment, right? In a way it does. In Disney movies, the magic lasts forever; but in real life, it does not. Marry a guy who you are uncertain about and you’ll live with the consequences of your choice.
Saying, “I’m not sure” is much safer than making a huge emotional commitment that is hard to turn around from. The relational and emotional pressure to maintain an engagement and to follow through with wedding planning is huge. It is much harder to stop everything once you are deep into the engagement process than if you are still just dating.
When you get married, you want to be certain about the guy. Marry the guy; don’t get married just to fulfill your dreams. How do you do that?
First, be certain you are in love with him. Marry the guy because you genuinely love him; don’t get married just because you’ve always dreamed about it.
Second, have conversations about important things before you get engaged—faith, family, finances, your future, etc. If you are not sure what to ask or what to talk about, I’ve written up some suggestions right here.
Third, while you are dating, get others involved. Have other couples meet up with you and help you sort through relational dynamics. Talk to your discipler or mentor about the relationship. That way, if you run into things that you are uncertain about, you can get their feedback and grow in greater confidence in the relationship.
Fourth, pray about it often.
Fifth, don’t ever be scared to say “no” if you decide that marrying this guy would just not be a wise decision. Do this during the engagement if needed. Working through the uncertainties before the wedding day can prevent a life-time of regret.
Sixth, and finally, find a solid, Bible-believing pastor who will do premarital counseling with you and your fiancé. He should lay good marital foundations by teaching you what God’s Word has to say about marriage. But he must also ask you hard questions. Your pastor should not presume you should get married, but rather, he should poke and prod your relationship to make sure the two of you getting married is a wise-decision.
So, don’t wait. If you are dating someone, do the hard work now by praying, having significant conversations, and getting help from your pastor, family and church community. That way, if you find your boyfriend getting down on one knee and holding out an engagement ring, you can be certain about marrying him. Marriage, when built on godly foundations, which you can enter into with great confidence, can be a wonderful thing.