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Part 3: Understanding Your Partner

Alan Parker

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Alan Parker

Professor of missions and evangelism and director of Pierson Institute of Evangelism at Southern Adventist University

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  • April 4, 2015
    12:45 PM
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By the God we are so grateful to be here to talk about something that's important and yet it's also something that is fun and enjoyable and that's the process of love. So be with us as I share my story as we walk through the process of how to deal with dating and courtship and maybe to your glory for we pray this in Jesus' name and then my name is Alan Parker I'm a professor at Southern administering averse T. director of the salt program and my wife and I give a lot of presentations on relationships and how people go through relationships. So what we're talking about this afternoon is their process of crawling into love. How do you do dating and I'm going to suggest a variety of things and the first thing we got to begin with Stage one is observation before you start dating. You need to know some things and I've got three areas of observation one is readiness. Number two is knowledge and number three is Providence. And we're going to briefly talk about each one of those areas. So how do you know if you're ready to date that's what people ask me. I know I'm ready today in one seminar to twelve year olds sitting in the front row holding hands like what are you doing. Oh we've decided to courts. Unlike what I did twelve you know how can you be courted. But you know how do you know if you're ready for the process. So number one what's your financial readiness if you're twelve and you're only in you know ten ten or fifteen bucks a week and pocket money you're probably not ready financially for this commitment. You know one of the things you have to think about if you're going to date then you are interested in marriage at some point now. I do think that there is a place for casual dating particularly group. But it depends what I mean by dating you see what a lot of people think of when they think of dating is an exclusive commitment. Well I put my hand on your hand and we stare into each other's eyes that we were supposed to eat nothing. Now that's what you mean by dating and you need to be ready for marriage because that's what it's headed for. But if by casual dating I mean you guys go out and do a fun activity together and it's a group of you then that's fine. Are you following here. It's OK to do. It's OK to get to know members of the opposite sex in this more casual way but when it becomes exclusive when it becomes a serious commitment then you need to start thinking about these questions. So what's your financial readiness and then a ready lemonades a huge number of this audience. Number two are you surrender to God or are you more interested in your own opinions and then number three what is your maturity because you don't really understand yourself and this is something that as you grow in understanding you do better in relationships. That's why we find when people date before the age of eighteen their relationships don't last very long. That's why I'm always scared when I'm dealing with high school kids to ask about how their boyfriend or girlfriend is because you know I say how's Jack Jack Jack Salusa and that was three weeks ago I said but you love Jack Jack. I mean that was two relationships ago. I'm now it's just you know like so I've learned to be cautious because that's the nature of relationships at that age they tend to to they tend to be more break ups because the maturity just isn't there. You see each one of us from our past have land mines. What I call them land mines you sell land mines are hidden. You don't know where they are and they're in your life and you end up triggering them and it's relationships that teach you with those landmines are but the better we like. He ships to do this and dating relationship is relations with your parents or with your friends so you don't know what kind of land mines are there and these landmines are waiting just to be triggered. So I always thought I was a great guy you know I did things well I connected well with people. I was just kind of easy going but when I got into a relationship with a girlfriend strange things happen so I'm in college. I mean in a serious relationship you know for the first time in my life and suddenly I start discovering I can get angry. Before I was in a relationship I didn't get angry at least in my mind. And so one day my girlfriend and I are out washing the car and she's not doing that right. You know because there's certain ways to wash a car. That's how I was brought up and so I'm getting more and more irritated at how she's washed cardno you didn't wash it right that you got to do it this way. She's getting frustrated I'm getting frustrated and the whole time and thinking why am I getting so frustrated by something so small does it really matter if you wash the car this way or that way you know because it has nothing to do with karate kid you know but this I don't know what's going on that was an ancient illustration for most of you. So I'm trying to figure out what you know why am I getting so frustrated over how you wash the car and and pretty soon I'm so boiling mad I get in the car I say get in. It's her car a brand new car that her father is given her. We're in this narrow place with two concrete walls and I decide I'm so mad I just excel right out and I hear the scraping sound and there's a car her brand new car from her father's scraped up and I pulled out and now I would first I'd be mad at her now I'm mad at myself and trying to figure out why is it that such a nice guy can suddenly get so irritated. See I had land mines in my life that I didn't know with my immaturity meant that I. Taking out of my girlfriend and in the car instead of really figuring out what was going on and as a result that relationship was a mess because I was constantly being immature and so what I needed was a place a community where I could learn maturity without being in a relationship does that connect with any of you out there. So are you ready. It just depends and what you've got to do is don't trust yourself. Ask those around you what do you think Am I ready for a relationship and then be willing to listen to their answers because they often will know you better than yourself and they can say hey you need to be careful here because I don't think you've reached that level of maturity yet so let's just say you're ready then you can start looking at you know this member of the opposite sex Needham you know I think there's potential Yeah. I just like the way you know she she was so sweet it hot like when she brought me my haystacks and put it down there and smiled at me of course she brought it to everyone else in the room but it felt special. You know the way she put it out and I I kind of I've been watching her so how do I know so before you date we suggest observation some of the things you can. Questions you can ask is you know what can you learn from observation and you found out everything you need to know before you declare any commitments. Are you watching are you paying attention to her character the way she does things. Are you sitting like the servant of Abraham and watching how this woman waters the camels and going that character. What can you learn from others. You know there's nothing wrong with asking some good questions going to people who know that person and then what can you learn from opportunities that come your way a mission trip where you can go on the same mission trip together and see how she or he handle spiders you know late at night and you know how do they handle conflict and what do they do when they're tired. Because people are different when they tired right. Have you noticed people who are. A perfectly normal before they get tired and they get cranky. There was a book written once sometimes I wake up grumpy and sometimes I let him sleep in. There are times when when you change under pressure so you want to say how can I learn from observation how can I learn from speaking to others and how can I learn from opportunities to be in the same group with them and watching them as they relate to these situations. So when I first met the call we were at this conference and Andrews University and I it was very strange. I was coming out of Piney Memorial Church and I saw there was no fluttering heart there was no romantic attraction right away it was just a strong impression. You need to go and speak to that girl and I was like This is weird. I mean and not normally a person who gets a lot of impressions. So I was like I'm I'm very suspicious of this but you know later that afternoon I'm sitting in a seminar on who should walk in but the same girl. Like OK I've got to get the courage to go up and speak to her. The seminars really boring. It's like it's about youth ministry by somebody who's like ninety seven and I'm just like oh no this is terrible and so I'm trying to figure out I'm bout to get up and leave but then I see she's still there and I'm like I should stay for the so I go through the whole boring seminar. We get to the end and then at the end just before the end she gets up and she walks out with a cell phone to her and I'm like oh no I just wasted my whole time the seven on the scale of left what it's the message I'm supposed to give her. I'm just frustrated but then after a couple minutes she comes back in the seven hours of us I get the courage up and I go and I walk across to her and I just say hi and she goes hi and she walks off. Later on she tells me she thought I was hick from Texas looking for a wife and kids. Said I'm a fine South African gentleman you know anyway. So she didn't know I just said hi and it's always creeps girls out you know when guys come up high so she was like Who is this guy. So she got away. Well that evening I'm going to get my picnic supper and a girl calls out to me and I recognize she's one of my friends from South Africa who's now in the States and she says Hey what are you doing. Why don't you come eat supper with us. So I grabbed my picnic and I got to go eat supper with my friend and suddenly she introduces me to her friend and it's the same girl and I'm like whoa whoa whoa. She didn't remember me from before she had no clue if a guy was a different context you know so she didn't connect the two so you know I come in I mean in seven. My God what am I supposed to say why my meeting this girl. But as we begin to having this conversation I'm observing I'm paying attention I'm looking at it and I'm recognizing she is committed to God she has a love for ministry and it puts to nothing in anything of that which is communicating. But then I have my list of C.D.'s that's been going through my list you know I'd mentioned the previous seven you know commitment to cries and compatibility and ministry and communicates well and to work through conflict and I'm going through my list and I'm like has a number of these things Lord I don't know you know this is weird that what's going on here. So do I go in and immediately declare my intentions. So yeah that would be great right. No I'm just I'm just watch in fact I do such a good job that she says to one of her friends and friends later you know I one thing I really like that guy because I can tell he's not interested in me. You've got to be smooth guy. So so we hang out together and are we spending some time getting to know each other. Next day we meet for supper again and this is a function going on at lunch that we can't and so I I kind of say hey you should come to the lunch one of the girls. She's having her baby dedicated when she just come and join us and she thinks hey free food why not. So she agrees to come to the lunch and the more I'm I'm watching her the more I'm like This is a quality girl. I really like what I'm seeing. So do I declare my intentions. No not yet because I'm still in the observational stage but what I what we both do I didn't realize she was doing the same thing. We both started calling anyone we know and I take my friend aside say hey tell me about this girl and they start telling us stuff about each other and this is healthy. Now back then we didn't have Facebook to stalk each other. We had this healthy way of asking friends what do you really think. And her and my friend told me about her and said look she's come out of a relationship you need to give her some time and so it was helpful to know what was going on there. And so that's that seven afternoon we go to the lunch and the three of us are together my aunt my South African friend and then the call and we just wander around green people and then they start introducing people around the circle and says she realizes I'm not all African What am I doing in this group this is a better thing. So she steps behind me because I'm tall enough to kind of cover her and I think she'll a skate but that way. So I'm like What are you doing and I lean back and she leans forward to hear what I'm saying and somehow her chin touches my shoulder and I feel the see letter of shocked I was like whoa. And it wasn't static it was something else it was chemically induced and have like whoa whoa what is that. Now I didn't know it but she felt the same thing at the same time. She she goes through this. Same experience. Do we tell each other this no no it's not a problem with so figuring out what's going on because can you be attracted to someone who's totally wrong for you. Yes And so we can push this with this sense that it's like Lord what's going on yet and then I'm going around and she's just kind of hanging by me because she doesn't know all these people and. And I'm introducing myself to different people and they turned they could two to me and they go oh who's this with you is this your wife you know I have an effect what I mean what one guy said I haven't met your wife yet. And I'm like well I have an either or have I. So you know we go through and we meet the crowd and then I end up with other people and she goes off with our friend Heather ne they're hanging out and I'm hanging out with other people and then they come to find me and they can't find me. And so finally when we connect together she says with a little mystery of your screen and she tells me that she only said this because she thought it was so funny and she knew I wouldn't take it the wrong way but she says I should have just stood up on a chair and said Has anyone seen my husband. And they would have all pointed you out. Well if they had seen a husband and she had you know it was only a year later. Now I'm not saying you should do this but I was twenty eight she was twenty six. And things can go a little faster but it was a year later to that day that we were married. So don't rush guys if you're eighteen you did not hear that. But when you're all the things to move quickly and you have to be more intentional. So during this time you know you're looking at this how can I really learn about this person at this point we're still not declaring any intention. Instead we're asking other people and finding opportunities she said to me you know I said you know after a period I like to have to find out more. What you do she says why didn't you come. Well we go Cole Porter E. I was like That sounds like fun you know and selling books whatever. And we go out in the air conditioned car it's it's in Buffalo New York and I happen to be a really hot muggy day. And so as we drive out there she says you know I've really got to deal with one of the leaders here and we've got an under age person. You need someone who's you know old enough to work with. So I'm going to have to ask you to get out and work with her so she kicks me out of the car where I'm supposed to be observing her and and I'm now sitting standing on the sidewalk with some go from Barbados that I've never met before and she's she's so let's go sell some books and she goes and she was not very good at selling books at that point in time and so we walk up to the first store and some guy says slow down Lady soul down young lady I can't hear a word you're saying. And so you know I'm like OK can I can I help you out with a sigh and that happiness go and I'm just I'm a little upset because I'm out in the hot sun when the cold is driving around in the air conditioned car. But I don't know that she's a city the God I want to how he's going to do. I want to how he's going to do I've thrown him out there and you know as I'm walking around I said you know it actually shows me a lot the fact that she's not needy independent fact that she can kick me out of the car that's a good thing. So we're evaluating each other right under the circumstances. And and then you know we sort of we get you know when I finally get back in the car she notices time interacting with the group how to get along well with people connecting with people. And she's saying this is the guys can do ministry and I'm evaluating how she's connecting with the group. Yeah I know it sounds freaky to have someone looking at you like that but we do it right and we do it because your life is at stake when you're thinking about someone you attach your life to for the rest of your life you want to know something about that person. And so this was good this observation here what we had to be careful. It's a relationship is like a rose it's like a flower can you make a flower opened by taking its petals and pulling on it. What will happen if you do that you'll end up breaking the flower ripping it apart and what we had to learn in this stage was patience and being able to just let this friendship develop so well you're evaluating you can't run ahead you're going to have patience to see how is it going to develop and given the time and I wasn't a very patient person so I was already wanting to rush a hit and say OK let's mail this down you know what are we going to do yet can I stay in contact with you. You know what's going to happen and so she ended up dropping me off at the airport and I said hey you know just I was going to give you know how we give little hugs you know you got different hugs you you got full on how can you know that you're not supposed to do it so then you have the you know and then sometimes if you're not really sure you have a frame so you have all these different hugs and you know I thought well I'll just give her a hug she says I don't want you to hug me because we could really tell something was going on between us and we recognized a need she recognized a need for some distance and she was saying you know I sense something's happening here and we just need a bit of space because we're still in the observation stage. So what are the key critical question that you're doing in this observation stage you're looking to see can I trust this person. Does this person act like jesus is this somebody who I can trust in the way they handle things. And does this person have the character qualities that I'm looking for. Because you want to be able to eliminate if this doesn't work out you want to be able to eliminate this person from your list before your feelings get ahead of you. So you want to try to hold back your feelings and do some evaluation. How do they relate to God are they spiritual I actually dated a girl who was not a Christian and I. I said to myself this will be a great witnessing opportunity and you know she did she became a Christian but you know what. It wasn't a good thing because I never knew if she was becoming a Christian because of me or because she was willing I was gone and it didn't. I wasn't freed up to really be honest with you about areas she needed to grow because I was now in a relationship with her was a bad idea. So you want to look at can you trust this person. Do they have the quality characteristics are they spiritual. How do they relate to others and how do they relate to me how do they handle conflict how do they handle communication so you're looking you're observing before you let your heart get ahead of you. Some common mistakes in this phase is as you do not observe the new you can tune into what superficial similarities you like that book too. Did you look at movie wow. We were screaming to be together like yeah right. You know that doesn't mean much to be careful of that. Another problem is analysis without pre you know people who have too much of a checklist. Let's see what do you like here and you go through and it's it's it's kind of a formula that you got to work out a typical scenario. And I've I've had this happen in more conservative circles a number of times that Dad takes the potential boyfriend out for a test drive in the car. He doesn't say that he has a hey you want to drive me to the destination and then you know the movers potential boyfriend to be sitting in the car and then as they start driving away he starts asking some questions. So yeah you've been so I've noticed you've been hanging around my daughter for a while. Yeah you know and then the next question so these are little stories. So have you ever changed the oil in a car before. No I never have. So are you. If you have a break the speed limit. Yeah you know well I mean not. And well you know how sometimes I go a few miles an hour over one how much is a few miles an hour well you know sometimes up to fifty. So if you know what's going on here and there and it's so much pressure at such an early stage. Too much focus on the checklist you know what I'm talking about instead of allowing things to develop a little more naturally. Another problem Another common mistake is asking the wrong people. Friends are not a good one are not good ones to ask you want to know why. Because friends will only tell you what what they think you want to know. You know you said he's so cute. I didn't mean to us like. Rather you than me. And so we need to be careful because friends can tell you the honest truth instead you want you want mentors who can come alongside of you can be honest you can tell you know what you're you're getting ahead of yourself that you need to slow down. I don't think this is the best person for you I remember when I was in high school. I'd kind of been flirting with a girl and she had written me a note. She really had a boyfriend but she kind of like me you know how complicated is in high school and so she wrote a note and she said you know I really appreciate you you know the way we talked the other night it was so much fun and everything and so I took this to my mentor like Oh he likes me you know and I was all excited that he kind of slowed me down he said. Is that how she makes you feel or is it because of who she is. I was like well it's kind of like how she makes you feel and he says look you guys don't have much in common and he kind of walked me through it and then I realized yeah you know what you're right I should be in the situation but I needed that mentor because I took it to my friends and they were like cool bratty she's she's hot you know I was there to help her. No All right so be be careful. Now let's just assume that all goes well that You Tube You're tracking through your observations a good I'm ready I have knowledge. I'm beginning to see God's leading and God's providence in this my mentors are confirming this. I'm praying about it and I'm surrendering it to God and saying God I want you to lead with this. Then when you move to intentional friendship Now I've already left the United States gone back to Africa and Nicole and I were corresponding and we were fortunately something called him insane messenger had been invented and that enabled us to communicate. And so now you know eventually I realized we need to have the talk you know what I'm talking about. You reach a point where you say we need to D.T.R. define the relationship right. So so we thought it you know how do I do so I'm going to share with you something personal that I've never shared before. I'm going to share with you by email where I D P Are you ready. This is it. After struggling with God I mean I was so poetic back there after struggling with my own thoughts and my emotions. I had left some direction for the progression of our relationship doesn't that to sound so professional. All right. In this process I've had to be honest in my relationship with God the desires of my heart and my limited knowledge of you. Can you see some sense in there now you'll see later on. There was still passion that was beginning to develop and I was trying to moderate it but let's get ahead of myself. I have also spoken to those whom I regard as my spiritual mentors and those friends who know me best. Most importantly in my review my devotions I've focused on God's will for relationships and His purpose of marriage because I knew I'd missed out before. So can you see the process of my mind during this time. So now I'm I'm beginning to reveal what's going to happen. Next All right. I had to I said look these are four questions that I've processed in my mind this is straight from my e-mail that I sent to her. Do I believe that God led me to you and that God brought us together. And my response was Yes but I recognize that it's not always easy to figure out the sign. I mean you had that process. I mean it's not like God writes in the sky you will marry the call they would just wasn't there. So it was a lot more ambiguous but I said I can broadly sense this from that first time we met and I felt this impression and in this growing development of how I feel character I believe God brought us together. Number two are the qualities in you that I see in a future marriage partner and because I was serious I didn't want to just date. I wanted to be serious and to hand this over to God and and then I said yes that we've also recognized we had some differences we had even some theological differences as he worked them through realize that more differences of perspective than differences a value. Number three what do I honestly think and feel about you. Maybe I've gone too far with that question but it's a good question for you to know. Maybe I should never reveal that to her quite yet another for can we make it work and do we know enough about each other to make a commitment. And so gathering up all my courage I finally said. So he has my question. The big one will you join me. I worked for like half an hour on phrasing us. Will you join me in pursuing a relationship that through sharing prayer and a commitment to God will determine whether or not we can spend the rest of our lives together and then I thought now I'm not sure she's going to do this because she's going to she's she had read I kissed dating goodbye and I was like trying to kiss dating hello and folks trying to figure out how to do this so I came up with a formula that I knew would win you know and this was my perspective. I said yes my process I'm going to straight from my e-mail I'm going to make contact with you folks as I'm already doing and ask them to bless the new direction we're taking. Number two that I'm going to I'm going to focus our relationship initially on friendship so that we share activities ideas prison dreams more than our intimate sentiments for each other we had already talked about some of this. Number three we're going to form boundaries before we meet again so that we can help each other to form a foundation of integrity and trust and they never forgot that central to that god be central to our discussions and occupy our e-mail and telephone time as the main priority of the foundation that we're building. Now I will say with number four this is critical because a lot of what happens in this stage is you begin to open up and become more emotionally intimate with each other. Discuss your feelings and ideas and I wanted the focus to be on God so I was trying to create that focus here. So I thought man this is foolproof. I sent it off and I waited and I waited and finally you know that little thing an email has come in. Unlike Could it be. And I go No it's for my president. Dang another one no it's from someone else but finally it came in and here was her answer. She didn't know and I was like a home. What did I do. And then she explained to me she says we're not ready. You have rushed into this you're going too fast you're not taking we're not spiritually ready. We haven't examined our compatibility Ed And so I thought about it and I was asking her to make a commitment when she wasn't ready for a commitment. So I prayed and then I sent back an e-mail and I began very sensibly you showed so much sense in your last email by the way guys it's good if you don't disagree. And when the woman says I think you're wrong you go you know what you are so sensible. All right that was number one. Do I realize if we go out with each other this kind of pre-engagement vowed that we are making a commitment and you are absolutely right she had said how we going to break up if we recognize that we're not suitable for each other. It's going to be difficult to break out of that. And yes we don't really know each other well enough to do that. And yes we both need to grow spiritually so that God is that the center of this process. But then I had a little card in my back pocket and I brought it out so he has my not so big question and I said Will you enter into friendship with me. That's focused on getting to know each other our likes dislikes goals dreams and beliefs and yes that's also intentionally directed toward the decision for or against the committed relationship. So I didn't have a good term for this and I still don't have a good term for it but I'm calling it intentional friendship what is intentional friendship intentional friendship is when you are intentional about the direction for your friendship number one and number two when you declare your intentions your interest in each other. I will tell you this once you do this there is no going back. What do I mean by that. Your relationship will either end up way you choose to be less with each other because you got to have space in your friendship or you'll end up getting married does that make sense once you declare this there is no going back it forever changes your friendship. But I've reached that stage where I said we need an intentional friendship to get to know this. Now having said that I was still struggling I have to laugh as I look back at this. We need an intentional friendship but then I wrote this in the same email. I try not to think too much about doubled their scandalous giving back massages cheery devotional time sharing going to three long talks of encouragement to delight eccentric. It's hard not to dream when you see the potential CAN YOU FEEL MY HEART. But same email I said but I know I know I was kind of chiding myself as I did this but I'll focus for now must be a building a solid foundation and discovery what we really like. Outside of emotional tolerance of intimacy you can you hear it in me so yeah you know this is this is the challenge your your heart wants to race ahead your imagination wants to race ahead and you are trying to pull it back and saying Lord I know I'm going to create some emotional distance so we can really evaluate each other because what you've got is a package and you don't know what's in that package yet I mean you think you do. She thinks just like me but you don't. And so figuring out what's in this package figuring out if it's something beautiful or something catastrophic you know figuring out if it's really going to work because over and over again I've seen people do this there's that initial rush of emotions and then they discover maybe a day later maybe three weeks later that it's not going to work one of my friends he went all the way to Australia been corresponding with a girl he was planning to spend four weeks there within two days. He discovered that this was not going to work and then he still had three and a half weeks with her and her family. Or quit. You know but you don't know what your package is you going to have time to figure out that package figure out who is this person and how do you relate to them and so there are some things you need to be aware of. You need to take a look at the personality differences some people the glass is half full and other people the glass is half empty. The positive person and some is called in the optimist and the pessimist although the pessimist will claim that they are realists and so you've got to figure out you know how I'm going to live with this person and I have several couples like this because I do about. Twelve couples a year in premarital counseling and several couples they'll come to me and the guys just like everything's great. Any problems your relations now it's wonderful and then I turn to her she says no we've got serious problems like what's going on here but it's the way they view things when they take when they take us surveys. He's like five five five and she's like I don't know maybe you want to be doing three What what about a two or a for you know let's just say that's just how that relationship works and so you got to think about how is this person are they are their optimist or a pessimist. Are they a neatnik or a slob. You know when you walk into the room do you have to fight your way to get to the bed. You know because you get attacked by clothes along the way like you are you know the air it is working or is everything meticulous when you walk in it's like everybody's been given their marching orders and things just lined up you know there I had a secretary work for me once she says I'm a little I'm a little O.C.D. actually should be C.T.O. because that would be alphabetical you know you have to think about how would that work together because when you're in love you don't think about those things that you need to evaluate. There are people who what we might call of the Dead Sea and others who are babbling brooks and when they get to get this wonderful let's just say she's the babbling brook you know always has lots to say and he's just like you know nothing you know just just and she's like he's just such a great listener. Any time you know I'm talking away you just listen so well and he's like Man I don't I'm not forced to make conversation anymore because you know it's just so great I can just listen to and it's wonderful to listen to. But then a year into their marriage is like which cheaply. Just keep quiet and she's going Why do you have a talk you know I just love to share my heart but he never shows his heart back to me. He's just like this Mr. Serious thing on it and I ask So what are you feeling and he goes I don't know you know I haven't really thought about it and you like please I just want to I just wanted to express himself and so you know figuring that out is good to know and are you willing to live with that passes with the grace of some people just very passive in life. They just kind of go with the flow and other people like to get up there and do things they've got lists they've got they've got you know adventures to do and places to conquer and then these two come together and it's great you know she goes you know I never have to think about what to do because he's always got a list of things to do and I can just go along with it and he's like you know she's so great. She's always happy to do what I want to do and then they get into the relationship a year or two and then she's like he just with me out. He's always got a list of things to do and when I try to bring up things he just overrides me. So be aware of that then is the organizer versus the free spirit the person who likes to plan like three weeks in advance and the other person who is deciding well they getting in the car where they're going to go on vacation like where yeah why don't we just stop along the way and do something and the other person's like you don't understand. I've got I've got this all laid out. You know I planned we're going to stop here and we're going to spend about a day here and then we're going to move and then about another two days over here and then they're going along how are we going to have a family vacation you got it all laid out there's no freedom no expression. So being aware of some of these differences now let me ask you a question. Do personality differences mean that you can not get married. No it's all a matter of how much are you willing to sacrifice and being aware of that ahead of time. There are some differences. How am I going to relate to it. All right I need to keep moving here for the sake of time remember during this phase you have two ears and only one mouth. And the Bible says improvisation goes to all the lights in his own opinions so we can. If all that you are listening more than you're speaking and that way you get to find out about each other. Be watching out also for the potential serious pitfalls and lifestyle issues. You know if they you don't drink you have religious convictions against that but they are saying hey you know what's wrong with a few glasses of beer. You know Be Be careful of those differences doctrinal issues that come up like what I call a previous boyfriend did not believe the same way she did about salvation he believed that you could never say I'm saved and she was like You mean you have no assurance of salvation that was a major difference between them. They might be integrity issues you see them lying. And if they lie to the people they're going to lie to you if you see them stealing. If you see them gossiping remember if somebody talks to you about other people they're going to talk to other people about you. So being aware that personality issues that we've already discussed if they have anger if they have a lack of self discipline those things are not going to go away in a relationship in fact they'll get worse because now they have another person to enable them. So I love the statement from madness and Page forty five watch every sentiment and watch every development of terror in the one with whom you think to link your life. This Sunday for well you may love do not love what blindly. So be very careful of that. So let's just say you go through that process. You do this whole intentional friendship and you realize this is the person for me I remember it happened after several months of Nicole and I being in this intentional friendship and we were chatting on M.S.N. messenger and finally I got the courage up and I said you know I think we're ready for the big question now and there was this long pause and then one would came back. Yes. All right so so what do you do in the next stage dating courting whatever you want to call it you know you have to remember this is more of a process than an event it's something you've built up to it something you use you almost slide into when the time is ready. But what makes a courtship or dating women we distinguishing it from worldly dating is that you're declaring a commitment to each other and exclusiveness that's appropriate to that growing commitment. So it's going to be a process where you get more and more committed to each other not like like worldly dating where now that we've made a commitment we can hold hands and kiss and do whatever we like. No this is I'm not going to let intimacy get ahead of commitment and I'm not going to let commitment get ahead of knowledge the rim of that process. So the whole way through it's knowledge commitment intimacy and what you're doing here is kind of a balancing act. It's like you're walking on a tightrope between friendship and marriage and as you walk on this tightrope you're balancing two things on the one hand you're balancing how to God your heart and how to not try for with someone else's heart and on the other side you're balancing growing together. So God in each other and growing together and you've got to balance these two and it's all good sometimes to I think flowers that are not in flowers. How do I relate do I express do I say I love you do I not say I love you and it's this whole process that you try to balance and if you lean towards like one of my friends he he's like I'm going to God to hide and so he'd never express any romance to water so now they were boyfriend and girlfriend they were courting and yet he would never express any romance towards who when they were in and when that when they went into any event should be careful not to spend too much time with her. Well guess how well that relationship lasted. It didn't because they actually needed to grow together. They needed this growing commitment and so it broke up in the next relationship. He didn't do that and they are married today. So you got a balance. Two You can't you can't reveal your heart too quickly or too slowly so indicates commitment slowly and appropriately. That's what I'm suggesting here. Determine your boundaries and so in order to do that McMullen I said OK we need to determine boundaries so we wrote up a covenant and you may laugh at this may seem old fashioned to you but this what we did we said we mentioned several things when it came to physical boundaries she said number one no problem long or intense but we say that means you can give a hug. But what we didn't want is those kinds of hugs where you can't let go for twenty minutes. You know it's like you know. So we realize that's going to be a problem but now we also look back at our previous relationships and we said a gateway to two heavy emotions for us and now may be different for other people with kissing. So we made a commitment we're not going to kiss and till our wedding day. Now I was pretty heavy. Now it was made easier by the fact that we were six thousand miles apart when we made that commitment. But you know still when we did get to get I remember was New Year's Eve and we were out on the beach and it was midnight and the fireworks were going off and I looked across at her and everything inside of me was screaming kiss kiss. And and I'm getting closer and at the last minute I managed to avoid her lips and plant a kiss on the cheek you know because we had made this commitment I didn't want to break it to you following so you may have to decide when to draw those boundaries and get some mentors to help you. We decided for us. Holding hands was OK You know this this more casual hacking was the case but you going to have to figure that out with some mentors and with that with your partner what's appropriate and so we do find downed trees and our first kiss was on our wedding day. Now it's not like we had never kissed before we knew how to kiss. But this is the first time we kissed each other and what was fun. Any As on that day. Groomsmen all had scoring pads in the jackets and they pulled out like nine point five a speech. So it's kind of fun and you're going to have to figure that out what's appropriate to relay should just be careful not to have the world's view to replace public updating and continue to grow in your understanding of each other. So one of the things we did we read books and if you want to get these down afterwards I'm happy to share them with you. We read ad minister by Ellen why does a great book out called The Sacred search of updated this list with some good books holding hearts holding hands is an excellent book on a Christian view of dating. Boy meets girl by Josh Harris which kind of describes this process I can stating good bye wasn't helpful at this stage but boy meets girl was things I wish I'd known by Gary Chapman is in your book and I'll share a couple of things he wished he had learnt in before he got married and then he has a good book one hundred one questions to ask before you get engaged. It's more reflective. There's another book that's not a Christian book called A Thousand and One questions to ask before you get married that's that's kind of more practical questions but this this is a good reflective study question and then there's marriage books marriage matters by Winston Smith describes what a marriage is about the marriage both by Larry crab is an excellent book on on the purpose of marriage marriage on the rock by Jimmy Evans is just a very practical book that describes a Biblical view of marriage. Love and respect by Emerson is a funny book that also describes some gender differences will also deal with that tomorrow. And then emotional intimacy want to one is by good pastor friend of mine P.S.T.N. Burke who has a doctorate in the Family Studies as well as in theology and it's a great book. This is what Gary Chapman says that he wished he had known before marriage that the saying Like mother like daughter and like father like. Isn't a myth. There are certain things that that you get from your parents even though you're different. He wished he had learned that toilets are not so clean in his house. Somehow the toilets are always clean because his mother did it. But then when he got married he realized his wife was expecting him to clean the toilet and he didn't know how to do that. He wished he had had a plan for handling money and if you go through a good program I'll mention a moment you can do that that he wished he had learnt that he was marrying into a family not just an individual and that spirituality was not to be equated with going to church it's deeper than that and that personality profoundly influences behavior we really dealt with that and one of the things that you're doing during this stage are not just finding out about each other but you're also learning how to show romance and do a few cute things together so as McAllen I was growing together and I'm wondering Could I go ten minutes longer. And what do you know what else are you going to say all right. So I'm not hoping that I can wrap this up very quickly. But as the call was going through and I was going through this process and we realized man with dating each other with finding out with studying these books we were asking each other questions. We would e-mail backwards and forwards What do you think about this what do you think about that we discuss the ology we discuss our lives and we were just enjoying getting to know each other. She was on her way out to visit me I had border a ticket from Africa it was cheaper to do it that way. The fly on the tell you to come over to see me for the summer break and so she went to New York. It was flying out of New York and she was all nervous you know what's this going to be like. And she had the ticket she looks at the ticket the night before and puts it all away gets gets ready the next day goes you know A train taxi How do you travel in New York is like different ways to get to the airport. She goes on three different things to get to the airport arrives at the airport gets to the airline counter says all right I've got it here you know and she goes to look in the ticket book and the ticket is missing and so she says you know do you have my name. This was back this is a paper ticket. So it was not an electronic ticket. So he says sorry madam I you know you may be in the system but I can't do anything without that paper ticket because it's a paper ticket. He says you can buy another ticket but it will cost you six thousand dollars or she doesn't have six thousand dollars. So she goes back franticly starts looking through everything goes through all her luggage can find it anyway and is just devastated. What can she do. And finally she breaks down in tears. Ticket guys just the one guy he spoke to was kind of nasty but he disappeared. And but the other guy at the counter can see and she just breaks down in tears and she's like God if you don't want me to go if you're not leading in this I surrender this relationship to you know if I can find that take it I accept it and then she hears a voice say look in the map. She's like that's where I really looked in the map but she goes back over gets the map takes the map flips it open and the ticket flies out of the hands of the floor. She grabs the ticket she shoved everything back because she her clothes line all over the airport floor they shove them back in looks up a suitcase runs to the Countess's I found the ticket on the ticket the nice guy says Hey look I'll see what I can do to sort of punch things in I don't know what they do at the ticket counters there you know but they do something you don't they punch you know way and even she says Look run run. You know the plane is. The doors are closing in five minutes this is New York. She's got to get she she somehow she runs she gets through security. PLEASE CAN I GO AHEAD OF YOU CAN I GO. We had a few day later in she she run chief. She as she's running to her gate she can see the plane it is no one there that's a bad sign right except the one guy at the counter he says. Or Unocal Crozier and she says yes yes the guy from the ticket counter had called him saying she's come he says you know we're about to close the doors but run get inside she runs inside and she sits down and they close the door behind her and then she said she starts crying again because now God has given her back what she surrendered to him you know this is it's a spiritual process it's not something that that you just go through mechanical process and it works differently for everyone. Every person you ask has a different story if you notice there but this is the spiritual process of surrendering to God and praying and saying God me through this process that when she came out to Africa during this time was when I asked her to marry me. We put petals down on the floor. I totally got his so that she wasn't thing about I really called her dad asked for permission he'd given permission and she knew about that so she knew it was coming. I'd even given her dad I'd sent over to him nine cows and a mule now they were plastic cows and you know but I said I'm from Africa so I'm paid pay my dowry price here and he says So what's the mule for I said because it is a little bit of stubbornness in there you know but I you know we laid pedals out she had no idea this is coming I bought a nice big Bible I had it open to first Corinthians thirteen and when she thought I was going to ask because I had taken all these different places like the beach and these romantic places I could have asked and said hey we're going to go meet up with a group of friends but what's not going to happen tonight. And then as we got there they all left and they've set up this apartment and I go in and the candles are there and suddenly she gets all weak kneed like. This is happening then you know we walk in there and I and I'd written out a proposal and I knelt down and I gave her the proposal and then add my one joke and part of this because I got a sense of humor as I had a coin with yes and no on it. I said you can flip the coin but I'd waited the coins that would land on you and so you know it's a beautiful thing to reach that point and when we did I recognize that that wasn't the end of the journey I had to. We needed some counseling so I did a program called prepare and rich and I'm now a counselor for preparing rich over three million couples have taken this particular survey it is an incredible survey you don't even have to be engaged to take the survey. You can do it as a seriously dating couple has an administration book and it's great because it gets couples to talk about real issues and to identify strengths and growth point. You can take it as a married couple too that's why school prepare and enrich it has both you and you can go to prepare Deshon Rich dot com to find out more information and it gives you some key relationship exercises but the great thing is this online tool and this online you take this assessment both of you independently and then it'll tell you things like how idealistic you are you know are you looking through rose colored glasses. I take you through what's your communication like. Do you communicate well do you have serious problems. And that's great to know is this a strength or a growth here in your relationship. It'll tell you about conflict resolution and how you handle conflicts that keep coming up over and over again. Or do you resolve them will also tell you about the habits that you have. There we go. And how well you get along with each other's you know styles do you like how your partner reacts to motional for you. Do they do you like some of the things that they do how do they relate to your friends and I'll tell you about that a real question you about your financial management and what you've talked about them. Your date of student loans in the states that's definitely a big problem. It also tells you your leisure activities and how well you get along with with things you like to do. You know so here in this cartoon Marion found out on the honeymoon that the honeymoon was over because she has a set of golf clubs in between the two that she should recognize that his you know golfing was more important than she was. So it'll ask you questions out there when I'm doing this with a couple. This is great we have conversations we take their assessment tool his menu it looks like you guys don't know what to do with your leisure activities. You don't know how to go on a good day. So one couple like this and the guy was so stressed he's like you know what she expects me to do to go to plan these dates and I'm not a really creative guy. So you know I'll just say hey why don't we just do what we did last week and then she'll get all frustrated. So I said hey you know what can we do and so we went through a little activity to figure out what to do. They came with a great suggestion. They brainstorm together and of course she had more creative ideas than he had but they brainstorm together and they took all of the dates and they had cheap date and ink and not so cheap dates. And then they put them into glass John's ideas and then when when a date was coming up he just had to go in and say what are we doing today. Oh this is what we're going to do. I don't work for them. So just having this discussion helped avoid a major pitfall later on when she could've gotten majorly upset and said he doesn't love me doesn't romance me the way I want. Been sexuality and affection. What's going on between the two of you is the obvious some past issues that need to be talked through. Are you do you appreciate the level of affection one of the questions asked is for instance. I think my partner has a different view of sexuality than I do and so it's a good discussion point. Well let's talk about that and see what's going on and the counselor sees some of the results but the couple never know what the other person is saying. So it protects them that way. If you don't and that way you can be free and honest when you take this assessment it'll tell you about family and friends and how involved a mother in law or someone else might be in the relationship and what do they think about the relationship. It deals with role relationships you know what do you think about coming into a marriage do you think that the woman's going to wash all the dishes or are you going to help out with that. And that's fascinating as I've done more than a hundred couples through this assessment and what I found is that the guys believe that they are going to wash the dishes and help around the house equally even if both of them you know working he says I'm going to I'm going to do these things and it's the woman who says No I actually don't think you got to do as much as what you think you going to do because she really realizes he he's not going to he says he's going to help around the house but I know I'm going to like so. But have you talked that through Had you discussed your differences in opinion and ideals of spiritual beliefs. What are the differences between the two of you and how you handle spiritual things. So do you think this kind of assessment would be helpful for you. You know and whether you're married or whether you're engaged or whether you're you're dating now if you are just brand new dating don't do the test because you'll think everything's perfect. We don't have any conflict communications great you know. But it's good if you've been dating for a little while. Some of the other things that it deals with is it looks at assertiveness and self-confidence. How much can you say what you really feel. And then it compares it with how much do you avoid conflict and how much does one person feel dominated by another. Now this can be really helpful because what you want to do is increase assertiveness and self-confidence and decrease of void and in a sense apartment dominance. So going through this test will help you see all the issues coming up there. Something we'll deal with tomorrow is a law. A bit more on personality but I am going to have you help me out with this couple here. Yes Daniel in the area and there are five different personality scales that they use here it's called scope and in this five different personalities. The first one a social one high school indicates that that person really loves being social and a low score indicates that they are more introverted. So Daniel is the blue is Daniel introverted or extroverted introverted How do you think that discussion is going to go out or he's going to he's going to shut down he's not going to say how he really feels he's going to hit when they go out into you know when they got into a crowd she's going to be the butt of what how do you think this is what it's for and he's going to be like when do we get out of here. I'm so claustrophobic this is this overwhelming you know like six people here tonight you know. So knowing knowing those differences then when you dialog you can how can you help Daniel to open up a how can you discuss this issue what's a good compromise for them then change. Notice this one. One high change means that this person loves change adventure doing something new and lo change means they like routine rituals. Now how did this work out. What would that be like for Daniel and Maria. What is then you want by the way in this case this is a sample scenario Daniel's a computer program. So then you're like you know order houses need. I like to know when things are going to happen and she's free spirited she's like This is something artistic this do something differently it's paid up to have this change and I don't like the way the furniture is because we've had it that way for three days already let's move it around. So you got some differences in organization. Notice I and again these two tend to match each other if you lower one chain. You tend to be high on organization not always but it has to be that way. So he's high on organization she's low on organization. He's constantly fixing her master's name pleasing. He likes to please people she's more honest more likely to say what she feels an emotional steadiness that means they're in the middle. If they were both high means they even keel if they both low it means that they ride the waves as the next day. This was the worst day of my life so you know going through those things that if you've got somebody who's like that they're exciting to be around because they love stuff and then when things don't go well they hate stuff you know so just being aware of what that other person is like and working through so in the assessment it helps them to deal with some of these things. So if all goes well I don't have time to do the next one. If all goes well you'll reach a point where you can say look we've looked at our strengths and weaknesses our growth areas. We understand each other's personalities. We know some of the background of each other's families. We recognize some areas for further conversation and growth and you reach a point of saying are we going to go ahead and get married or not and I love this quote from admin to solve because it suggests that you don't have to get married if you are engaged. Do you not think that the engagement of a sort of positive necessity for you to take upon yourself the marriage vow and link yourself for life to one whom you cannot love and respect. Can you see the that day so you don't have to get married but if things go well you look at it all then you're going to end up with that final stage of marriage and you're not done yet. You'll continue to grow. You'll find out crazy things about each other. You can go and listen to their presentations on all of us and other places you can hear about our banana story and some of the things that took place there. But you're going to continue to grow because you don't know. The person that you marry. It'll take you it'll take you a lifetime to get to know that person. Q Thank you for listening. I'm going to have a preview. And if you'd like to talk to me afterwards please do come see me. And tomorrow we're going to deal with gender differences personality differences communication conflict and some of those things. Father God I want to thank you for this group here I want to thank you for the extra time they've given me here. I pray that you will lead in their relationships. It is so incredible when we surrender ourselves to you. How can we know another human being with all of the differences in the variances with with how they think and act. It's so amazing Lord to discover this package but helpless to do it your way to not let intimacy get ahead of commitment or commitment get ahead of knowledge. Thank you Lord for guiding to the center. In Jesus' name this media was brought to you by Adil purse a Web site dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about how do you first if you would like to listen to more sermon leave the W W W R U. verse dot org.

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