In our society today where everything is fast and in our culture today where everything is very temporary, is it still possible for a single person, seeking for marriage, to actually develop a healthy friendship with the opposite sex that can eventually develop into a great and Godly marriage? The reason why I said “healthy” is because in my observation there can be unhealthy relationships that can develop between two people that can potentially hurt your journey towards marriage. I am all for healthy friendship within two people who are considering marriage because I believe that friendship is actually one of the healthiest and strongest foundation on which marriage can be built upon. The opportunity to be friends with someone is a blessing from God. Friendships are a very great investment in life.
So let me give you a couple of things to consider and hopefully will help you engage in a healthy relationship with the opposite sex within our Christian community as a single person.
Focus on community before exclusivity.
I have observed that, when a person’s intention in building friendships with the opposite sex is so that, that person can build on a healthy community that can push him/her to grow more in his/her relationship with God first, as a result it becomes a more healthy foundation on which you can journey towards marriage. It can be unhealthy if you decide to pursue marriage in a way where you try to make a friendship exclusive first. What I mean is don’t be friends with just one person first, be friends with different people where you can grow and eventually get to know them.
For the men, don’t look at a girl and treat a girl right just because she is a potential partner for you. Treat and respect every girl in your circle because it is what’s right. When you make it exclusive and you’re only willing to do favors and go out of your way for one specific person because you’re attracted to her, it can potentially lead to exclusivity and eventually into intimacy that’s not right yet for that specific stage in your friendship. If you want to be sincerely kind to a woman, then be kind to everyone else in your circle of friends. If you want exclusivity and intimacy, you have a lot of time to do and enjoy that in marriage. Respect and honor everyone, not just your special someone.
For the women, learn when it can eventually lead to unhealthy exclusivity and if you feel like in the process of the guy helping you, it gets awkward because of the additional romantic words and actions that he does for you. If he likes you let him pursue you. I’m not saying that you say no to every help that your guy friends offer you, just know that there is also wisdom that needs to be practiced in your friendship. And yes, there are times when you’re actually just assuming that he’s doing something special for you when he’s really just being helpful. So learn to practice wisdom in everything that you do. Helping someone in need is Christ like, be grateful to someone who extends it, but learn to guard your heart because it is deceitful in nature and it is the wellspring of all the wrong emotions that can hurt your love life.
Look for a companion, don’t just settle for attraction.
It is most likely very common for a single person to walk into a room and see a number of people of the opposite sex and immediately screen them not for friendship but for attraction. The problem with this is, if you marry someone more for attraction then you can set up yourself for failure because attraction can decrease over time. I’m not saying that attraction within two married people cannot increase because it can but it is usually because of their friendship and not the other way around. I’m also not saying that you should marry someone you’re not attracted with just remember, that it is a very shallow foundation. Attraction can be more and more possible when you have seen a person in a much real and deeper sense. Adam in the garden, needed not just a sexual partner but a companion, just what like he said when he saw Eve, bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.
Friendship exposes the persons involved. It reveals true character and the most important and significant values of that person. Friendship reveals flaws but also reveals the potential of who God is making you to be. That’s why I believe that a person, if possible, should make it a goal to be friends first before courtship.
Timothy Keller in his book, The Meaning Of Marriage said;
“Screen first for friendship. Look for someone who understands you better than you do yourself, who makes you a better person just by being around them. And then explore whether that friendship could become a romance and a marriage. So many people go about their dating starting from the wrong end, and they end up in marriages that aren’t really about anything and aren’t going anywhere.”
For my previous post about dating and marriage. Click the here.