Often I am asked about dating, and the best way to find that special someone to spend the rest of your life with. I tend to think in systems first, then we can look at individual decisions. Any discussion that includes the monumental and life-altering approach to marriage must include higher level perspectives.
A life time of happiness can only be found in Jesus. Even then you will have ebb and flows that tend to disrupt and challenge happiness. The promise of aggregating an entire life of happiness can be found. The question isn't, "How do I become happy?" The question should be, "How do I become healthy?" When we are healthy, we find that we are happy?
Healthiness and happiness in dating requires a process of answering some basic questions that address heart, mental and spiritual health. It is foolish to think that we can make great life decisions, specifically in vetting a potential suitor for marriage, when our heart, mind and spirit are not healthy. So here a few priority questions we should answer and pursue health towards:
- SCRIPTURE: Is my heart calibrated to the authority of Scripture? Am I willing to align my emotions and behaviors with Scriptural truth?
- SEEKING: How engaged is my heart with pursuing God's Kingdom as a first priority; over all recreation, peer relationships, financial pursuits, vocational dreams, etc.? How are my personal decisions impacting the mission of my local church?
- SHEPHERDS: Do I have a spiritual leader who is invested into my heart, mind and spirit? How much do I care what my pastor thinks, or says about my life? Am I willing to be teachable to experienced and mature mentors when it comes to relationships?
- STAGES: Have I identified my life's purpose? Is my life heading intentionally toward a destination, or is my life being lived randomly? What streets (predefined road or course, characterized by boundaries, providing direction for the steps that I must take) are directing my life? Are my individual steps (decisions) congruent with my streets (paths) and overall life-purpose?
All these questions spotlight behavioral norms, demonstrating a heart, mind and spirit that is calibrated to make wise decisions. Until these questions are addressed it is a bit chaotic to talk about dating itself. When the brain fires off romantic chemistry storms it is so easy to be deluded, thinking that a guy is your knight in shining armor, when he really is just a guy who eats Armour bacon at night.
The American culture of romance permeates the dreams of boys and girls, men and women. The alure of a drunken chemistry love for someone captures our sense of need. Yet, the unmapped system behind chemistry-focused-dating has netted a 30-40% marriage failure rate. If you were about to board an airplane that was projected to have a 30-40% crash risk, would you get on the plane? Maybe there is a better system. Maybe there is a wiser system. Maybe there is a more principled system. And don't worry, we aren't suggesting that romantic chemistry is unimportant; it's just not nearly as important as vetting for character.
To reduce your risk in the return on dating investments, it is important to have a great system to think through how you will ultimately identify a qualified suitor. Also, it is important to know how you will develop the relationship once you have a suitor. What does it mean to develop? What will you develop? Is development simply an unpredictable process, or can you know what you are developing and how maturity will insure outcomes?
These are all great questions! Below is a map that contrasts chemistry dating with character dating (it is discussed in the message 2 of the 5 videos below). The video teachings will also give you provocative insights about how you have dated in the past, and considerations of how you might want to do it in the future.
DOWNLOAD - Marriage Scouting Combine Handout