Today we are joining Marriage Monday to discuss engagement.
When my husband, then-boyfriend, Gary was a teen, a very smart, protective youth pastor told Gary never to tell a girl he loved her until he was ready to marry her.
I completely understand this man’s reasoning. I know that there are way too many teen girls and guys who prematurely say “I love you” in order to get something more from the relationship—whatever that might be. (I’ll leave that up to you to fill in the blank!) So waiting to say “I love you” ensures that your relationship is ready for that kind of commitment.
During my courtship with Gary, it created something of an unintended diversion or scapegoat in our relationship.
As our relationship progressed and time went by, I began to feel “loving feelings” toward Gary and wanted to declare those to him. But I knew that he would not tell me those same words in return unless he was ready to propose.
It was as if Gary was dangling a carrot in front of a starving “Buggs Bunny.”
So it wasn’t long before I began to blame my melancholy mood swings, my over-exaggerated fears, and my need to control on the fact that he would not say “I love you” to me. In my mind, this became “the problem” in our relationship. I could not see around, under or over it, so after about a year and a half of dating, I broke up with him.
I know, this doesn’t sound like a story of “engagement,” but just hang in there with me!
We remained apart—relationally and distance-wise—for over a year. We corresponded somewhat, but we both tried to move on. Eventually, I went to the same school that Gary was attending to pursue my Master’s degree—only after he encouraged me to do so! It was only a couple of months later that he said those long-awaited words to me …
“I love you … will you marry me?” (cue – floating cherubs strumming their harps)
His declaration was wonderful. It was what I had waited for far too long! But here’s the kicker … it didn’t get rid of “the problem.”
I was still sometimes moody, sometimes fearful, and often controlling. And although I soon realized that my insecurities were not going to vanish with the proclamation of his love and commitment, I didn’t realize that I was expecting him to “fix me” until much later.
What a burden I placed upon him at the altar!
This is not a problem that only starry-eyed single girls have—and believe me they very often REALLY have this one—but it’s also a problem weary-eyed women and wives have. Somehow “the problem” in their relationships seems to be their boyfriends or spouses. And I’m not saying that our male counterparts don’t have “problems,” …
But I am saying that they can’t fix “our problems” and we can’t fix theirs.
So, now whenever Gary and I have a marriage problem, I don’t look to him to fix it. First of all, I look to God to give me insight into what my part of the problem is. Then I ask God to give me the strength, wisdom, courage and humility to deal with myself. Then, and only then, can I truly do something about “the problem” giving me the ability to be engaged and stay engaged with my husband.