Christian guys are renowned for over-thinking things when it comes to dating. An article I read last year puts it wellâby the time a Christian guy approaches a girl he likes he's heard God tell him he's going to marry her and father her children!
I was angered early in my Christian walk when a female friend told me that she was sick of guys at church being all creepy and weird when it came to dating.
'I haven't been asked out on a date in the last three years' she said, 'and when I approach them to grab a coffee they get all weird and stressed and say they don't like to do that sort of thing unless it's going somewhere.'
When did grabbing a coffee turn into a marriage proposal?
Relationships are more than principles
Imagine a young Christian couple: lots of friends; interests, independent and joint; strong faith. This Christian couple pray about their future, 'well hey, dating has been excellent so let's get married!' He does the right thing and asks her father's permission. Her father prays and considers before finally giving the guy his blessing. ThatÂ´s how I went about it.
So we set about 'preparing for marriage'. We were given a few books at our engagement party to help us prepare for marriage and sexâthere was even a book about babies! HELLO! One of the books we received was called, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. The premise of this book is that there are five love languagesâacts of service, physical expression, words of affirmation, gift giving and quality timeâand each of us has a primary and secondary 'language' in which we receive and express love.
Christians like to be prepared. Everyone does. No one goes into marriage thinking, 'let's just see how this goes.' People want it to work. Leading up to the big day, my wife and I would look at each other and wonder, 'am I as ready for this as I can be?'
But we come from different backgrounds. I wasn't brought up in the church. I have had partners before, some of them sexual. I was focused on being as renewed and pure as I possibly could be in the lead up to marriage. My married life was to be about placing my wife's needs above my own. She needed a pure man; a man of integrity.
During this time a mentor told me about 'The Dartboard Principle'. This idea expands on 'the five love languages' by saying we each have a dartboard. Our primary love language is the bullseye with the goal being to 'throw darts' aiming for the bullseye. But our dartboards aren't mutually exclusive.
I learnt that my wife-to-be's primary love language was quality time. So picture this... While IÂ´m busy with college assignments a colleague at her work is grabbing coffee with her on their break.
'If you're not hitting her bullseye, someone else might be...' My wife-to-be held my hand tightly when he said this. She had noticed me squirm in my seat. I didn't want any other guy hitting my wife's bullseye. The idea burrowed into my mind and anchored itself fast.
I entered marriage with this idea front and centre. I visualised the dartboard and I threw darts! 'Have I spent enough time with her today' I'd wonder. 'I'd better get some in there or someone else will!'
I was hypersensitive to my wife's behaviours and over-analysed everything. Worse, I wasn't spending time with my wife because I wanted to. I was doing it because there was a dartboard to hit and I had to put in so many hours each day.
'What's happened to us?' we wondered. 'Dating was so much fun! This is tense and stressful.'
She's not a dartboard
It all came out one night after an argument. I left our apartment and went for a walk and sat on a park bench. I cried out to God in the silence, 'God, what is going on? You need to do something! I did everything right! Why is it like this?'
Do you know what? God answered me.
'She's not a dartboard.' He said. 'She's a human being.' I listened carefully...
'She doesn't have a love language.' He said. 'Love is her language. Do everything out of love, not out of obligation. Don't think about love languages. Think about her.' I was awe-struck. What a revelation this was for me!
On the way home I stopped and bought two hot chocolates, one dark because my wife loves dark chocolate. I walked in the door and took off my shoes. I jumped in bed and woke her up.
'Hot Chocolate?' She was surprised... 'So random!'
'I love you.' I said and I kissed her, not because her love language is physical expression, but because I wanted to. She noticed.
'I love you too.' She said.
Christian guys need to chill out a bit. By all means, read, talk, pray, fast, seek God, and seek wise counsel. All of this is good, but an over-emphasis on literature and advice may come at the expense of living and loving. God created us for relationship, and we should enjoy these relationshipsânot because we've got to, but because we get to. There's a difference.
David Luschwitz is a writer and teacher from Sydney, Australia. Currently residing in Huelva, Spain, David is writing a book which he hopes will help to connect young people with the message of God's grace.
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