Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Looking for Love? Having Realistic Expectations

While it’s good to have standards and consider the spiritual, intellectual, social, emotional, and physical aspects of your ideal person, it’s also wise not to expect perfection. The “right one” will be the one best suited for you if you include God in your love life. Make a list and pray about this important choice.

Love will be more successful when you don’t expect a man—or anyone—to be faultless. Of course, we know that men and women are different in many ways, so the more we learn about the opposite sex, the greater chance we’ll have for better communication, with less frustration and more mutual enjoyment of each other.

In Finding Mr. Right, Stephen Arterburn reveals that the heart of a man is the most important part of his anatomy. “Often women focus on the wrong traits and mistake character flaws for strengths. They desire the confident, self-assured man, and mistakenly end up with an uncaring and demanding jerk. Wanting strength, they may shun a man who has a sensitive side, who actually is interested in who they are and how to please them.”

He also says that the wise woman looks for the inner man, not the exterior. “…the inner man who is secure enough to love, free enough to laugh, and humble enough to learn.”

It’s also important not to have unrealistic expectations about marriage. Some people idealize the fantasy of what they think marriage is supposed to be, and sometimes a reality check is needed.

I have a coworker friend who’s been married for over a decade. He and his wife have a large family and, from seeing them at a few work functions I surmised that they had a happy, strong marriage that was conflict-free and breezy. I once said to him, “You guys make it look so easy.” His easy grin turned serious when he replied, “It’s taken us years to get to this place.” Huh. I needed to heart that. I needed to know that marriage, like any relationship, has its ups and downs. It takes dedication to live out the commitment.

As challenging as it can be at times, marriage can also be amazing. The bride and the bridegroom are a picture of how Christ loves the Church. It’s a commitment before God and man to love, honor, and cherish this person all the days of your life—for better or worse. Even when he scatters his clothes on the floor or you are sick. Even when your kids are screaming and you haven’t talked to another adult all day. But when you’ve found someone who accepts you even when you have PMS, and he passionately loves you and loves God with all his heart, you know you’ve found a really good thing.

As you think and pray about what you want in a life partner, keep a realistic view of marriage, both the bright side and challenging side.

Friendship or Dating – Discerning the Difference
Another place to open your eyes and have realistic expectations is in knowing where you stand with a guy. “The Unknown Zone,” the peculiar place between friendship and dating where you don’t really know what your relationship is or where you stand. It may turn into something real and lasting, or it may not. How can you know when he doesn’t communicate or his signals are mixed?

Michelle McKinney Hammond gets to the heart of the matter in The Unspoken Rules of Love. “If he does not ask you to have an exclusive relationship with him, assume that you are not in one.” He needs to be initiating and pursuing you. If not, she continues, “Consider and enjoy your other options. Do not behave as if you are in a committed relationship when you are not. Doing so will only entangle your heart and set you up for disappointment and heartbreak. If he doesn’t tell you he wants to be in a committed relationship, consider yourself officially ‘just a friend.’”

A pastor I know once said, “The proof of desire is in the pursuit.” If a man wants to get to know you, you will know his intentions. You won’t have to guess. Don’t give him excuses like maybe he’s busy, maybe he’s shy, maybe he’s had a family crisis, or maybe (fill in the blank).

Bottom line: For whatever reason (you don’t even have to know what it is) if he is not pursuing you, then you need to let it go. March forward with your life and trust God for the right man for you.

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