Love is a tricky thing. Every semester you’ll hear devotionals on the topic. You talk about it with friends and family. You read about it in books. You see Scroll articles on it. You may even watch the Bachelorette.
My wife loves the Bachelorette. In fact, Mondays have become our default stay-in night. We don’t negotiate on our schedules those nights, because we can’t miss a week of the drama.
Anyone who watches the show knows about a contestant named Luke P. The Bachelorette — a southern belle named Hannah — has been enamored with this man for weeks. The problem is that this guy is a huge villain, as proclaimed not only by the show’s other contestants but the fans worldwide. He appears cocky, manipulative and selfish. Yet, Hannah sends home legitimate candidates week after week in favor of Luke.
The Bachelorette produces world-class drama. They are renowned for their ability to stir the pot and produce a storyline that sells every week (at least in our house). I don’t know if Luke is really the villain that he was portrayed to be. Nonetheless, every season I watch the show with my wife, I wonder how these beautiful, successful adults all manage to come together and regress to the problem-solving skills of a middle-schooler.
Everyone talks about love and marriage, and yet few people are successful at it. Fewer and fewer people get married every year. According to the CDC, of those people that get married, nearly half end in divorce. Unfortunately, these stats are also harmful for those looking to get married. The age of first marriage is increasing, in part because singles are intimidated by the prospect of having a marriage end early.
So if you’re a single looking to marry, what can you do to make sure you know your significant other before you give them a rose…erm, decide to propose?
Ask anyone who is married, and they’ll tell you they didn’t know anything coming into it. You don’t know what to expect. You can’t! Marriage is completely different than anything they portray in the media or in society.
For example, I knew my wife loved to watch basketball (that was a major selling point for me). But I didn’t know that women shed hair more than most dogs. I’ve found hair everywhere: in my clothes, in the shower, in our food. You name it, it was there.
My wife didn’t understand how much food men ate. She would buy snacks, expecting them to last a week. I could eat them all in 20 minutes.
I asked my dad, who has been married 30 years, if there was something he wished he knew before getting married. He said you need to really ask the tough questions with them.
“Find out who they are, not just how they act,” he said. “How are they at saving money? Where are they in their spirituality? What will they be like to live with? Are they the type of person who will get up of their own accord to go do yard work on your house? Do you care if they don’t?”
That’s the problem with dating. It’s too easy to say what someone wants to hear and do what they want you to do. It’s easy to open a car door for a girl or to tell someone they’re looking beautiful. It’s easy to dress well, eat smart and be amiable when meeting family. It’s harder to determine what a person will be like when they don’t need to sell you anymore. Once the rings are on fingers, you really see a person.
One of my wife’s friends married her longtime boyfriend. However, once they had moved in and gotten settled, there was a problem. Her husband didn’t want to go to work. It wasn’t a one-time thing because he was sick or needed a day off. He didn’t want to go to work ever. Perhaps she just assumed working was a given, but addressing that early would have saved a lot of pain.
Ask the hard questions early. Test your love interests. Try to foresee a life with them and make sure they meet your expectations on both the big things and the little things.
Nobody is perfect. There will be flaws in every person you meet. That doesn’t mean you have to dump them. But know what you’re getting into. Talk with them about hard things. Talk about money, spirituality, sex and family. Talk about children and hobbies and work and expectations. That way, you won’t end up with a Luke.
Written by Trent Skousen