About a year and a half ago I came across the following questions one could ask others to help reflect on the relationship with your ‘significant other’.
● If someone did have concerns about our relationship, what do you think those concerns would be? (This gives them a little distance to speak in a way that won’t seem threatening to you and that may help them be a bit more honest.)
● If we did get married, what do you think my two greatest frustrations will be with my future spouse?
● What might I be compromising with this choice?
● Tell me honestly, if you were to rate the wisdom of this match on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “a disaster within weeks” and 10 being “you couldn’t do better,” where would you put us? (The 1-10 scale allows them to put their advice in perspective; no relationship is perfect, but you want to get a feel for just how imperfect your marriage seems to an objective observer. I’d be wary about anything less than an “8.”)
Back then, I copy-pasted this text to a note on my desktop. Once in a while I glanced at it, telling myself I would ask these questions some day. I never did (or at least not specifically). However, in between the lines of conversations with my mom, grandma, sister, aunt, and friends I did actually get some answers to these questions. I know, they’re all women!
My dad’s advice in the matter was the following: “list your own priorities in life and see if this relationship fits your list. If not, you’ll be leading an unhappy life.” Whew. Simple enough. NOT.
Just FYI: my dad lives on another continent since I was 12, so our father-daughter relationship is less than ideal. I guess giving advice is a lot easier when thousands of miles separate us.
Some of the concerns I heard (from non-Christians, mind you):
“I think it’s going to break you apart if you stay in this relationship, because the different beliefs that both of you have are already clashing. They have such an impact on you now, I can hardly think what they will do to you in the long run.”
“The two of you are so different, not just regarding faith, but also in personality. You are so outgoing, energetic, adventurous, extrovert. He seems to be holding you back, being way more laid back, quiet, introvert.”
“He’s so concerned with healthy living, it is a tad extreme, if you’d ask me. He’s influencing you more than you realize.”
“He has never taken his responsibility financially. You really have to be careful that you’re not going to be the only breadwinner the rest of your life.”
I admit: these quotes have been edited a bit by me 🙂 People did not always say things as straightforward as I put it down here. Now here are some reactions I heard from Christians:
“You are going to be struggling a lot. It is for our own good that God said: ‘don’t be unequally yoked’. It will be tough. It will be challenging. It really is up to you whether you think it worth it.”
“It might be that God actually put the two of you together so that he (Manoah) might get to know Him!” (Oh, wishful thinking!)
Now I did not tell anyone that Manoah has been watching porn since he was about 14. What would people say then? It is something that I found really hard to accept at first. I am glad that he wanted to tune it down since the start of our relationship. And I am glad that we can openly talk about it, including my fears of him mentally comparing me with all these porn stars. Ughh. Thankful I am too that he is aware of the (often) degrading nature of women in those vids.
Anyways, others also think my frustrations in marriage might be that I might have to take initiative for action most of the time. Manoah is a thinker. I am a do-er. Another is his tendency to shy away from (loud) groups of people. Even when they’re my family or friends. He just finds a lonely spot and goes to sit there. And I then feel torn between him and my friends. Another might be the way he deals with money. Spending it while not having it, you know what I mean.
What I might be compromising is not something I really heard others answer for me, but I can answer that one myself: the biggie here is God. My relationship with Him has suffered since I am together with Manoah. Mainly because of guilt and the feeling that I have to choose between God and Manoah.
Currently, I believe my folks and friends would not rate our relationship ‘8’ or higher. So there’s lots of work work to do. I just do not know where to start (or rather continue, since I guess I already started long ago).