I am finding out that men in their twenties are some of the most interesting people to interview on the topic of marriage. Their openness and honesty about relationships can be quite entertaining, and, at the same time, thought provoking. Most millennials, young people in their 20's to early 30's, are eager to talk about relationships. For whatever reason, many had never had a conversation with their parents about dating. This is always shocking to me. Whether it was due to a failure on the part of parents or some other reason, it always amazes me how little we prepare our children in the arena of relationships, dating, and ultimately marriage. Sadly, many of the young men that I interviewed had their fair share of poor relationships. This caused me to ponder and pray about how I would counsel them. One verse that came to mind was Psalm 119:9, which asks, “How can a young person stay pure?” When it comes to dating and relationships keeping yourself on the right track involves a couple of principles.
- Honor and respect your parents
Parents are full of wisdom and can often tell you how to steer clear of relationship pitfalls. When you have open communication with your parents, it becomes easier to create an honorable relationship. The adage that the way a young man treats his mother is the way he will treat other women is key when it comes to respecting your parents.
Respect has to do with not only the way you treat your mother and father but how you think about them. Ask yourself, how do I talk about my parents to my friends?
- Date with purpose
Ask yourself the reason why you want to date. Many times young people start dating because it feels good. You feel wanted and cared for, which is healthy. But what is the purpose of dating? Dating is the process of picking a mate for life. In my opinion, this means young men should only date when they are ready to find a wife and not to get their sexual needs met.
Another important aspect of dating involves building a friendship. The married couples I most admire all share a unique quality-- friendship. Of course, the marriage relationship is more than a friendship, but this is an important quality to kindle.
- Ignore the pressure
Most men I have talked to felt pressured by many factors to date, especially in their teenage years. To me, dating involves forming an emotional bond with another. Don’t get me wrong, taking girls out to a dance or in a group setting can be a positive activity which fosters great habits. But when dating is taken further, it can lead to pain and emotional trauma. I believe it is best to wait for the right person to give your heart to.
- Set physical boundaries
It is important to set physical boundaries so that you allow a strong relationship to form based on respect. Once you start dating, agree on both emotional and physical boundaries. Don’t expect your girlfriend to fix you or solve your emotional problems. It is one thing to be compassionate and sensitive, but another to be the savior in the relationship. People of faith have to make sure that you pursue dating with someone that you know will help you grow closer to God and not separate you from Christ.
- Be committed
I grew up hearing the word divorce constantly as my parents had many disagreements. When I had my first big argument with my husband the word “divorce” slipped from my mouth. Thank God my husband told me he was committed to me forever, and he would never allow that word in our disagreements. We have never used it after that time. In relationships, this type of commitment should be evident as well. Men should date one person at a time and decide, after careful thought and prayer,whether they want to pursue a deeper relationship. This would hard for most teenagers, which is why I suggest that young people don’t start dating until they are mature enough to understand the emotional toll that a breakup can cause. Enjoy going out in groups and growing healthy friendships, but save dating until after the teen year.
- Know your identity
Become secure in who you are and in what you want to be. Become responsible and know that you will be the provider for your family. Become someone that can nurture and tenderly love and even sacrifice for your spouse.
- Pray and trust in God
Pray for your furture spouse. Get to know God and love Him. Ask him what his thoughts are for you and your future. Grow in this kind of love and live according to the scriptures.