A woman emailed me, who is shacking up with her boyfriend. She just found out he was dating someone else. She was telling me what a jerk he was and asking what should she do?
It’s complicated isn’t it? Even though she lives with him she isn’t his wife, so he isn’t officially breaking any sacred vows, although his word should be one. He hasn’t promised forever, he has just said for now. His word is his bond but these are their days of trying things out this is dating with benefits. There are no legal or spiritual vows here. In fact, there are explicit non-vows. We promise to be together while it feels good. Apparently this doesn’t feel good to him anymore.
The answer didn’t sit well with me or my email friend. I don’t like it, but dating is a time to see if you are compatible with that person or not. I hate that humans are used in this way. This idea that relationships work this way is wrong thinking. She is dating a man, while trying to play house, and it isn’t working. In fact, she will have more of a chance of divorce because she lived with him first by sheer statistics. Marriage and living together although they look the same, aren’t.
Case in point. When I married Doug we lived hell on earth for the first years of our marriage. We loved each other but we were so opposite, losing my identity in the marketplace was excruciating, his illness played a part, step-parenting was awful, the demands going on in our lives at the time was tearing me up, and him as well. Trust and believe me when I tell you, that had it not been for my vows, I would have left and I believe that he would have too. Thank God for wisdom, counseling, fasting and prayer, and the ability to be two sane people who had a lot of talking out to do, and we did it, and we still do it. We honored our vows to each other and meant it when we said for better or worse. I am thankful every single day that our character was one of sticking it out for it truly is a blessed marriage with a lot of love these days. Not perfect, but wonderful if that makes sense.
Love is never careless with another human being, nor is it enough to sustain a relationship on its own. Character, strong communication skills, the ability to commit fully, and the common ground on which one stands plays a part in a marriage making it. It is hard enough to tough it out when problems come into a marriage, and they always do, without those critical things in place. Without true commitment, it is precarious and leaves wounded souls who will never be the same again. God doesn’t make rules and set up boundaries because he’s judgmental and mean. He sets up boundaries because he wants to guard our heart.