Preparation for the Marriage Relationship

25 Things to Think Twice About Before You Marry

CITATION CORRECTION: 25 Things to Think Twice About Before You Marry from My God and Me: Listening, Learning and Growing on My Journey

Author’s Note: I’ve recently discovered that I incorrectly attributed credit for a list in my book, My God and Me: Listening, Learning and Growing on My Journey, to a pastor who used it in a sermon. The list should be attributed to Mike Murdock from his book, Law of Recognition (2001). I have updated my manuscript and future copies of My God and Me will reflect the correction.

You can read the corrected passage below.

Blessings to you all,

LaShawnda

My pastor used to say, “Your mate is a choice of your intelligence – whatever you think of your spouse reflects back on you!” He expounded on that concept with a marriage series titled, 25 Things to Think Twice About Before You Marry. During the teaching of the series, he alternated between specific lessons for married couples and singles. He encouraged married couples to work on the relationship they have and avoid falling into the trap of thinking they married the wrong person, thereby breaking their covenant with God and their spouse in order to search for someone else. He cautioned singles to consider their potential mate carefully before committing to a marriage relationship. My pastor’s list is derived from Mike Murdock’s book, The Law of Recognition (2001).

It is important to realize that more important than finding the right mate is being the right mate. Work on yourself to improve your relationship. Our diligence will keep us clear of #2 on the 8 Wrong Places to Find Yourself (p. 129) list.

  1. Think twice if you do not see continual progress or improvement.
  2. Think twice if you can’t trust him/her to pursue God without your constant encouragement.
  3. Think twice if they refuse to sit consistently under the Word of God.
  4. Think twice if they ignore worded counsel in their life.
  5. Think twice if s/he does not have a passionate desire to be with you. The proof of love is the desire to spend time.
  6. Think twice when it’s obvious you will never become their focus or assignment. Your spouse is your assignment.
  7. Think twice if they feel inferior or superior to you. Marriage is an equal partnership.
  8. Think twice if you can’t trust him/her with your most painful memories.
  9. Think twice if you can’t trust him/her with your greatest fears and secrets.
  10. Think twice if small problems unleash a mountain of anger.
  11. Think twice if they embrace an accusation against you before knowing your side of the story.
  12. Think twice if an atmosphere of unbelievers excites them.
  13. Think twice if they have an obsession to attract the opposite sex.
  14. Think twice if they refuse to get a job. Productive women excite productive men and vice versa.
  15. Think twice if s/he doesn’t respect your time or schedule. If a person doesn’t respect your time, they won’t respect your wisdom.
  16. Think twice if they continuously give you counsel contrary to the Word of God.
  17. Think twice if they are unwilling to follow your personal advice and value your counsel.
  18. Think twice if you’re not excited about introducing them to loved ones.
  19. Think twice if their parents have contempt for you.
  20. Think twice if there’s continuous strife between them and their parents.
  21. Think twice if their pastor is not impressed with them.
  22. Think twice if you can’t trust them around your closest friends.
  23. Think twice if you can’t trust them in your absence. Trust is the foundation of every relationship.
  24. Think twice if they can’t be trusted in the area of their own personal finances.
  25. Think twice if they aren’t thankful. Ungrateful people give hard lessons but learn very little.

Absence of desire to be with you means you are not their assignment (# 5 & 6)

These two knocked me for a loop. Historically, I have been attracted to men who either have no interest in me or men fond of categorizing me as their “last woman on Earth” option just in case their first million choices were to dry up. At that point they may possibly consider a relationship with me. In the past, any small amount of attention from those men had the power to keep me hanging on to hope for ridiculous amounts of time. I handicapped myself with this tendency. I really, really want to be wanted! I deserve to be wanted for who I am. Eventually, I grew tired of my availability, blatant attraction, hope and presence being taken for granted.

Doug, an old wannabe flame, got married a couple of years ago. In my opinion, there was a bit of drama about the way I was informed. Doug and I know a few people in common and I was very direct about my interest in him back in the day (i.e. everyone around us knew). Apparently, these people thought (or hoped) I would be crushed by news of his pending nuptials. Dianna, a mutual friend at the time, gleefully told me he had gotten engaged right before she told me he had been interested in me but she told him it would never work out. She shared this with me at dinner with other acquaintances shortly after she moved out of my apartment. All I could think about were the times she told me I was “too much woman” for him and other things that made me doubt the quality of a match with Doug. I responded to her news with a calm request for her to let me know when he finally spoke his vows. I felt a bit catty, but I was dealing with a cat. A month after Dianna informed me of the planned nuptials, Doug emailed me, “You’ve probably heard it through the grapevine but I’m getting married in November”…. blah, blah, blah…. he closed with, “I got the calendar at Christmas…even after all these years we still look good together.” It also seemed obvious that he expected Dianna or someone else to tell me with the further expectation that I would call him to confirm. For some reason he was hesitant about giving me the news. That irritated me, but I was more hurt learning Dianna actively and purposefully fed each of us misinformation during a time we were both considering the other for a relationship.

Dianna isn’t to blame, though. As I said, I was very vocal and demonstrative about my interest in him for nearly a year of living and working in close proximity and he never asked me out, to quote Six-five. He never pulled me aside to discuss the possibility of us. We were buddies, we had great conversations. He told me he respected me and enjoyed hanging out with me. I fed off his morsels of attention, and then got to watch him chase or succumb to seemingly every other woman within his radius.

He had no passionate desire to be with me. That was a hard fact to swallow. When I finally accepted that I would never be a focus for him, I was able to let go. As much as I want to give of myself, I want to receive from my partner as well. Reciprocation is not only appreciated, it’s necessary!

Shortly after Doug sent his email update, Dianna and I ended up dining together with a group of acquaintances. Doug called her to shoot the breeze while we were waiting for a table. She went all giggly and started gushing and repeating everything he said. I was talking to someone else in our group when I heard her say, “Yeah, Shawnda’s here…. I’ll tell her.” I turned to her with my hand out, “Give me the phone, he can tell me himself.”

“Dang, Shawnda, did you just snatch the phone from Dianna?” he exclaimed after I greeted him.

“Yes, I did. You’re doing your man-thang and I’m hearing about it from everyone else. I know you’re walking around with your chest all puffed out n’all, but I wanted to congratulate you since I’m still waiting on you to return my last call.”

“Ahh, man, Shawnda….”

“Oh, my fault. Maybe you’re not home yet. Remember, you were traveling a couple of months ago and said you’d call me when you got back home. When are you getting home?”

“Girl… okay, I’m sorry! I’ve just been so busy.”

“So, I’ve heard….” I also heard in his voice that he was happy and hopeful. And he was planning. I can’t knock anyone for finding joy in their lifetime. I wanted to take the opportunity to personally and publicly tell him I was happy for the joy he was receiving and embracing in his life. I didn’t like thinking he was uneasy expressing his joy to me. I am grateful for the things I’ve learned about myself because of him. There is no way I could resent our association.

You can’t trust others, if you can’t trust yourself (#22)

My friend Nadine came to mind with Number 22. She has a strict rule to never introduce her girlfriends to her man. She was engaged when I met her, and my inquiries about her fiancé were met with, “I keep my man and girlfriends separate. Women can’t be trusted.” This was an odd concept to me. When I make friends, I get friendly with the whole family. Separating your friends from your life partner keeps both in isolation, which in turn keeps you in isolation. It’s like you’re hiding a huge part of yourself from your friends and your partner. Nadine explained this was a lesson her mother taught her and exhibited while she was growing up. For most of the time I have known Nadine, following her break-up with her fiancé, she only sought and interacted with married or otherwise committed men. She has repeatedly set herself up for a world of hurt and self-destruction. I’ve witnessed exactly why she does not trust women around her men – she is not a trustworthy woman.

Unfortunately for Nadine, at some point during her life she decided a measurement of her worth was the willingness of a man to leave his wife for her. They all promised some form of that, in some way, during some heated moment. A couple eventually divorced their wives – long after they had stopped seeing Nadine. But none of them ever called her to rekindle any flame or to proclaim their undying love or to ask for her hand in marriage.

Nadine is a life-long church-goer and has been active in church most of her adult life. Though she tries to walk right, she inevitably acts wrong. I was in denial about her nature for a number of years. During one conversation a couple of years ago when she spoke about an interest in yet another married man, I cautioned her and quoted the Bible as a warning. That was around the time I began getting deep into my study and found I was able to apply scripture with nearly all the advice I dispensed. Nadine claimed she was not committing the sin of adultery because she was not married. She insisted that the men she cavorted with were guilty of adultery. They were breaking their vows; they had to deal with God – not her. I was appalled at such a thought pattern. I told her God had threatened death to a man who didn’t even know he was lusting after a married woman (Genesis 20:1-7). Yet, she was acting in full knowledge, how did she expect God to deal with her? She asked for the scripture, I pulled out the book.

Meditation Verse: Genesis 20:1-7

And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar. Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”

But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, ’She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.”

And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

Did you notice God said He prevented Abimelech from sinning against Him by not letting Abimelech touch Sarah? That’s powerful! The marriage covenant is man, woman and God. You are not exonerated from violating the marriage covenant even if you are not aware of it. Nadine has not brought up married men to me since that conversation.

As open as I am about my life with my friends and family, I have decided very few will have access to my marriage. Definitely, anyone who does not respect the sanctity of the covenant marriage relationship will not be privy to anything involving my union.

Some have asked why I still call Nadine friend – simply, because she needs a friend.

Ungratefulness bears its own fruit (#25)

I love my girl, Andrea, despite our regular disagreements. We are always amazed after a heavy debate that two opinionated loud-mouths have remained close friends for so long.

My greatest pet peeve with people is ungratefulness – lack of appreciation. Can’t stand it! Some time ago, I shared with Andrea details from a good date I had had. She knows all about the bad ones, and it’s very rare that I have a good experience on a date. Everything was easy and comfortable. The man took care of everything: plans, transportation, and finances – it was so smooth, I didn’t feel right taking my wallet out! He told me to put it away anyway. Our conversation was also enjoyable. It was a good time and I told him so.

We discovered we were both early risers when we shared a grumble about the late hour the date ended. It was raining hard when he dropped me off and started his drive home to New Jersey; I asked him to call me once he arrived home safely. He did, but it took him double the time he had estimated, and I had long since fallen asleep by the time he called. He teased me in his voicemail. I felt no shame. Anyone who’s around me for any length of time quickly learns I will fall asleep between two blinks of an eye, especially after a certain time, like say, 10:00 PM! I called him back the next morning, attempting to save face and I told him I stayed up for the twenty minutes it should’ve taken him to get home…. He forgave me. We chatted and I thanked him again for a nice evening. His easy company was a pleasant and welcome surprise.

Andrea was horrified. She chastised me for expressing my gratitude. “It’s your due,” she told me indignantly. “You can thank him once, but you certainly don’t have to thank him two or three times! It’s like telling him you’re not used to good treatment!”

I’m not! Where has she been during all the bad date discussions?

I sat there in stunned silence, because I never imagined it would be inappropriate to thank someone more than once. As I’ve mentioned before, dating is not my hobby of choice, so sometimes I turn to my girls to decipher men. Wrong! Don’t do that to yourselves, ladies! I’ve had better interactions with men since I stopped taking women’s advice on how to deal with them.

I stood my common sense ground with Andrea. “If a lot of women think the way you think, that’s probably why we’re confronted with so many jerks.” If the men who are making an effort to be gentlemanly are confronted with unappreciative women, then guess what? They are probably going to reduce that effort or eliminate it altogether. If women are liberal and expressive with criticism and expectations, we should be just as liberal and expressive with our praise and appreciation.

So, THANK YOU to all you gentlemen out there who know how to treat a lady. I am grateful and very appreciative!

Meditation Verse: Psalm 37:1-6

Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

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