One of the most dreaded holidays for singles is lurking around the corner…
Is it almost February 14 again?! … <gasp> (or <sigh>) Valentine’s Day! And I’m still single. Oh God.
God, how could you allow such a holiday to develop? It sucks.
I don’t have anybody, but I sure wish I did.
I don’t have anyone to kiss and hold. The dog doesn’t count. So I absolutely hate this holiday, with all its red candy boxes and stupid roses and romantic getaways and sexy lingerie and mushy cards. I hate being single. I Hate. This. Holiday.
This is the sentiment of many singles, even Christian ones, towards Valentine’s Day.
It’s real, this distaste for being unattached during a season steeped in romance. Christmas was barely getting over and Valentine’s Day product was already up in most stores, which increases the annoyance factor for many.
Whether married before or never married, many Christian singles hate the thought of passing another Valentine’s Day without having a special someone to romance and be romanced by.
Some single Christians have the wisdom and patience to wait on the Lord, work on one’s own issues, redirect a self-centered focus to an others-centered focus, and be involved in ministry as they are seeking a marriage partner for life.
Others get easily distracted and find themselves involved in yet another romantic relationship that they find later was unhealthy, unhappy, and unstable. And it blows up or dies.
Many factors contribute toward the demise (or explosion) of a romantic relationship that started with what looked like much happy promise and ended painfully. Hopefully, the break-up happens while dating, before a marriage happens. As many of us know, divorces are even more painful than breaking up during the dating phase because emotional and soul ties and legal issues will affect the divorce timeline and how deeply your marriage will dissolve. Divorce laws differ from state to state.
The spiritual issues affecting a marriage, however, remain constant. Unless you learn from your mistakes with Biblical repentance, wisdom, prayer, and healing, the wrong kind of dates will continue to dominate your life.
Some of the spiritual issues are veiled during the dating phase as the potential mate puts their best face forward. They try to hide their worst so you won’t recognize them for who they really are and run. I call these unsavory characters “wolves” and “wolfettes” because they will devour your life, your spiritual/emotional/financial/social/mental vitality, right out of you.
I can’t tell you how many single-again Christians have told me if they would have known such-and-so about their former spouse, they would not have married him or her. They weren’t talking about small matters. They were talking about deal-breakers that ended up breaking the marriage.
Both men and women can get themselves trapped in a horrid relationship that was supposed to be romantic, soothing, uplifting, and positive, but turned out to be domineering, agitating, depressing, and negative.
How can you recognize the wolf or wolfette, the potential purveyor of doom and chaos, who’s trying to wedge themselves into your life? How can you uncover veils of secrecy designed to keep you blissfully ignorant until you suddenly realize the horrible relationship you are now trapped in?
I researched several sites and articles, both Christian and secular, and compiled a short list of the top twelve red flags—deal breakers—to watch for as you navigate the dating scene.
My thing is I look for red flags because they have to be uncovered. You cannot ask the person what they are because they are like blind spots and they are usually not aware of their serious issues. Once you—and once I—discover a red flag, you—or I—have to figure out when and how, not if, we are going to jump off that spiritual and emotional suicide train and “safen” ourselves.
I know everyone will have some personal differences as to what they are looking for and what they are avoiding when reviewing the list below. This is simply a compilation of the qualities that showed up the most in the lists I reviewed. Hopefully my list, along with the resources in today’s references section, will be just the beginning of your journey from here to a healthy marriage.
NOTE: Before we even get to the top 12 red flags to run from, you might want to see if you are actually ready for a “real” relationship. Many singles do not know themselves or understand themselves or why they keep ending up in unhealthy relationships. For insight on that, please see my blog from 6/5/16, “32 Worst Reasons to Get Married Ever-er.”
Top Two Offenders from which all other red flags emerge:
1 False or shallow spirituality, and
2 Character issues.
False or shallow spirituality. To begin with: If your potential date/mate is not a follower of Christ, and you are, the Bible teaches that you are not equally yoked; read 2 Corinthians 6:14–18.
“Equally yoked” describes when a large wooden collar or bar was custom crafted for a farmer’s particular beasts of burden, generally oxen, who would be using the yoke to pull a plow. Each ox having one yoke custom crafted on each side for it and its pull buddy made it smooth and easy for both oxen to pull a heavy load together.
If a yoke made for one animal was placed on another animal, it wouldn’t fit right. Then the poor animal would chafe under its load, carrying an ill-fitting yoke that made it painful to pull what would typically be a light and easy burden. This hurting animal was now said to be unequally yoked to the other animal. And never would a farmer in his right mind place two completely different animals together under one yoke, say a horse or a donkey on one side and an ox on the other.
Now do you understand why the Bible teaches do not be unequally yoked?
Your spouse is to be one of your closest friends, allies, and supports. If they can’t or won’t pray for you, or even go to church with you and get involved, you will definitely not get the spiritual encouragement you will need just getting through life. You’ll be pulling the burden of a marriage next to a spiritual donkey who cannot begin to pull its share.
It’s not the same asking your pastor, Sunday School teachers, or other church friends to pray for you.
It is lonely when so much of your life is wrapped around godly, spiritual places, persons, and disciplines, and your spouse displays disinterest in or, worse, disdain for, your spiritual priorities.
Ask married Christians whose spouses refuse to go to church with them what that’s like.
No matter how cute, nice, friendly, rich, or ardently pursuing your interested potential date/mate is, if you cannot confirm by their direct statements, their lifestyles, their values, and their actions that s/he is actually a real child of God, a follower of Christ, drop them sooner than later and. Run.
The second thing in this category is to watch for the wolf or wolfette who looks so spiritual on the outside, but they are a total fraud inwardly. They can talk a good talk and even go to church regularly. Before long, you’ll notice red flags like the ones I’ll describe in next week’s article whipping in the wind and you’ll find yourself trapped if you don’t exit the relationship soon enough.
I have known both men and women who came to churches and church singles groups specifically to find a partner and drag them off for destructive power games and sex and not a Christ-centered, godly marriage. Not only their dates, but their friends, eventually came back to church, chagrined and heartbroken.
2 Character issues. Most people do not understand the difference between “personality” and “character.”Personality refers to the totality of natural bents, or traits, that are typically inborn and are difficult to learn or change. Personality demonstrates how one is energized, relates to their environment, interacts with other humans, and processes stress, information, and emotions. Personality traits often show up during infancy. Any parent of a newborn can quickly spot qualities that make him or her unique, fun, cute, adorable, predictable, relatable. Any parent with two or more children can tell you what makes each child’s personality different.
Character relates to traits that can be learned that demonstrate one’s values and level of integrity despite personality differences.
For instance, one person could be very outgoing, gregarious, and naturally friendly; an extrovert.
Another person could be quieter, shy, more reserved; an introvert.
However, one could be an honest extrovert or introvert or a dishonest extrovert or introvert. Honesty is a character quality that can be learned. Does this make sense?
So you could see how character issues can impact emotions, interactions, etc.
Someone who is a follower of Christ, who adopts His disciplines, His values, and the fruit of the Spirit as his/her character qualities to develop, will make a much better marriage partner than one who is not. This is because s/he has intrinsic tools to mature them in all areas of their existence: the Holy Spirit living inside of them, the Word of God to teach them, and the people of God to pray for, love on, and disciple them.
Not being a follower of Christ, or being fake or shallow about being a follower of Jesus, and ignoring and/or refusing to adopt His disciplines, values, and fruit of the Spirit as character qualities will not make him or her a good marriage partner. It most likely will lead to the other top ten red flag deal-breakers that I will cover next week.
Advanced Training Institute International. Character quality definitions.
http://atii.org/family/curriculum/character/ accessed 01/28/17
Arterburn, Steve. 10 traits you need to avoid in a significant other. Article for Crosswalk.com. 5/21/15. http://www.crosswalk.com/family/singles/10-traits-you-need-to-avoid-in-a-significant-other.html accessed 01/20/17.
Christian Courtship.com. Christian character traits: a game to evaluate yourself and your potential spouse.
http://www.christian-courtship.com/Christian-character-traits.html accessed 01/20/17
Enriquez, Dorothy. Five godly characteristics to look for in a man. Article for The Praying Woman website. http://theprayingwoman.com/christian-dating-avoiding-the-counterfeits/ accessed 01/20/17.
Family Life Today Choosing a Spouse page.
http://familylifetoday.com/programs/marriage/choosing-a-spouse/ accessed 01/20/17
Fung, Theresa. Five characteristics to avoid in a partner. Article for healthyplace.com. 9/1/10. http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/theunlockedlife/2010/09/five-characteristics-to-avoid-in-a-partner/ accessed 01/20/17.
Grady, J. Lee. Eight women Christian men should never marry. Article for Charismamag.com. 02/19/14. http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/19821-8-women-christian-men-should-never-marry accessed 01/20/17.
Grady, J. Lee. Ten men Christian women should never marry. Article for Charismamag.com. 02/12/14.
Hammond, Michelle McKinney. Website page on resources for single women. http://michellehammond.com/store/store.html accessed 01/20/17.
Lutjens, Glen. Focus on the Family’s Red Flags in a Relationship page. 2011.
Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott home page.
http://www.lesandleslie.com/ accessed 01/20/17
Peacemaker Ministries. Reconciliation Services page. (It is suggested you read the “Read These Helpful Articles” section.) http://peacemaker.net/get-help-with-a-conflict/ accessed 01/20/17
Surbhi S. Difference between personality and character. Article for keydifferences.com. 3/21/16.