Last week, I asked my Instagram followers what topic relating to relationships they’d like to read about so in this blog, I’ll be giving my stories, advice, and insights on specific topics regarding relationships that you guys asked about.
I’ve been in more failed relationships than I can count on my fingers and Ryan and I have only been dating for 8 months, so make sure you’re taking each and every one of these with a grain of salt and praying about them for yourselves!
Being content on waiting to marry even if you know your significant other is the one but it’s not time yet:
Wow, yes. This one is so hard especially if you know they’re the one, but one of the most detrimental things that can happen to a relationship is marrying too soon. The reality is, if the Lord hasn’t given you the go ahead to marry yet, there are things He’s wanting to do in your heart and life before stepping into marriage, usually in the form of healing or growth. Ryan and I are both huge on wanting to heal through as much baggage as possible before stepping into marriage because seasons of dating are such a beautiful time for healing!
Honestly, I’d say limit your time talking about marriage until you know engagement is around the corner, because the more Ryan and I talked about marriage in the past, the harder it was for me to be content with where we are now. Dating is seriously such a short amount of time compared to the rest of your lives that you’ll share together. Embrace this season because there will be times in your marriage that you’ll want it back. Spend this time growing in friendships, seeking mentorship, going on double dates, and spending time with the Lord! Remember: marriage isn’t the end goal. Being obedient to the Lord is. He is good no matter the timeline.
Physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries:
Every one of these is very circumstantial and unique to every relationship. Before I give my two cents, make sure you’re asking the God-fearing friends and mentors in your life what boundaries would be wise for you and your significant other to have because I can only speak for my relationship and no one elses.
First, physical: The fun one everyone loves to talk about (haha, not). Physical boundaries are hard. Words can’t even begin to describe how hard they are, because you’re attracted to each other and want to share intimacy so naturally, physical boundaries will be easy to cross (very, very easy). We don’t have these down 100%, but we’ve been learning that we can’t be alone together in isolated places. The smartest thing for us is to always be in public or be somewhere where there’s always an opportunity for someone to walk into the room. But again, this is unique to every relationship. Some couples don’t kiss until marriage, whereas some couples can kiss without it affecting them at all. Just make sure you’re seeking wisdom from experienced adults in your life!
Emotional: My biggest advice for emotional boundaries is in a dating or engaged relationship, it’s so important to to make sure your significant other isn’t your accountability partner. For example, if you’re struggling with sexual sin, you need an accountability partner of the same gender, not your significant other. Make sure you’re maintaining healthy and vulnerable relationships with those of the same gender because if you’re not, it’s much easier to share things with your significant other that should only be shared with the same gender before marriage.
Spiritual: Something that I’ve learned is that Ryan, especially not being my husband, doesn’t need to know everything that happens between me and the Lord. It’s hard to know what to share and what not to, but the Lord has always been faithful to give me an answer when I ask. Soul ties can be easily created with oversharing. You and your significant other aren’t of one flesh until marriage, so it’s important to that you two still have separate walks with the Lord (which you always will, it’ll just be less separate in marriage). If you’re sharing everything that happens between you and the Lord with your significant other, you’re not leaving room for intimacy between you and the Lord.
Working past previous sexual sin with your significant other:
To be completely blunt: ouch. This one is rough. If you’ve been following me or my blog for awhile, you know that sexual sin has played a huge part in my life before surrendering my life to the Lord. The biggest thing for me was the fact that I thought I was completely healed from my past with sexual sin before stepping into a relationship with Ryan, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. There were so many areas revolving around sexual sin that remained untouched and unhealed by the Lord that I thought were mended but truly were only covered with a band-aid. But I genuinely don’t believe I ever would’ve been fully healed from past sexual sin if the Lord didn’t allow me to enter into a relationship, because although relationships can be hard, they also help heal in ways that you’d never expect.
My advice would be to be open and honest about the past, but make sure you’re praying and seeking wise counsel as to when to share because you don’t want to share too soon but you also don’t want to share too late. Some people may need time to process after you tell them, but don’t take this as rejection. Sometimes people just need to process it and pray about it. When I told Ryan about my past sexual sin, I was prepared for him to break up with me, but he did the opposite: he told me he felt even more connected with me than before because he was able to understand me and my past more and know how to pray for me better. He also didn’t hold it against me, because it was before I encountered the Lord (what a freaking man I’m dating, am I right?!)
After telling them, make sure you’re always communicating with them whether it be about certain triggers you may have, boundaries you may need to create, etc. But make sure you’re working through it with a mentor of the same gender at the same time you’re working through it with your significant other.
How to maintain a healthy relationship:
I once heard the quote “marriages don’t end in the bedroom, they end when communication ends.” and holy moly, that’s so true! Make sure you’re always communicating your wants and needs, and being patient when they communicate theirs. Also, an isolated relationship can never be a healthy relationship. Make sure you’re constantly inviting other people into your relationship, whether it’s hanging out with other couples or having an accountability partner/mentor. Isolated relationships aren’t built to last.
I could honestly write a book about how to maintain healthy relationships, but I’m limited, so here’s a list of other things to take into consideration when maintaining a healthy relationship:
-Be in public often (or always, if it’s easier for you or your s/o to fall into sexual sin).
-Keep the Lord at the center.
-Remain patient with each other and yourself.
-Be sensitive to both of your needs.
-Remember that your relationship is more important than your pride.
-Apologize for mistakes you make and do better next time.
-Tell them when they hurt you, but be quick to forgive them and hold no record of wrong.
-Remain kind to one another.
-Remember that arguments are healthy, but learn to fight well (which will come with time and experience).
-Laugh a lot and enjoy each other!
How to know when to leave:
This is hard because it’s not a black and white answer, it’s fully circumstantial. Make sure to seek wise counsel and get the opinion of people who you trust. Also make sure to know what red flags to look for. And pray, pray, pray! The Lord will guide you.
Establishing and maintaining a Godly relationship:
As I’ve said a few times before, make sure you both have same gender mentors who are older than you and have experience with relationships! You need people to come around you and pray for you, encourage you, and give you wisdom.
You both also need solid foundational relationships with the Lord before you have one with each other. The only type of love that will last is the love that comes from the Father, so make sure you’re both in active pursuit and obedience of Him, and He’ll bless the rest.
Tips on waiting until marriage:
Make sure you’re setting yourselves for success every time you see each other. Have a game plan for the day and ask yourself beforehand if your guys’ plan is setting you up for success, and if not, change it! Talk about boundaries and KEEP THEM. And make sure you both have an accountability partner you’re comfortable being vulnerable and honest with! Also, remember that you’re not remaining pure for each other, you’re remaining pure for the Lord and He is worthy and deserving of your purity. He’ll bless it so abundantly!
How to know the difference between a difficult time and break up time:
Ohhh this is a good one. I could also write a book on this but I’m just going to make a list!
-When wise counsel says it might be the best idea to take a break or break up.
-If they’re drawing you away from the Lord and pulling you closer to sin without a repentant heart.
-If they’re okay with pulling you away from the Lord to satisfy their own desires.
-If they’re unwilling to change an unGodly or unhealthy behavior.
-If they don’t see a problem with a certain sin in your relationship or their own life.
-If they’re quicker to be disobedient to the Lord than to be obedient to Him.
-When they don’t want to seek the Lord or mentorship with you or on their own.
-When they’re not willing to fight for you and your relationship.
-When they don’t learn from their mistakes and continuously do/say something detrimental to you or your relationship.
There’s literally so many more that I could write, but it’s so circumstantial.
Also, just remember that every relationship goes through hardships because relationships are the first thing the enemy tries to destroy. You’ll lose feelings at times, you’ll feel disconnected at times, you’ll fight at times, you’ll get jealous at times, you’ll feel insecure at times, but invite the Lord into the process and He will make a way.
Working through issues:
You’ll never work through anything if you don’t communicate with one another. There will also be times where you need to invite others into the issue and get their advice on it, which is okay and so healthy! Ryan and I have met with wise counsel on multiple occasions due to an ongoing issue in our relationship, and it’s definitely been good for us! The biggest thing is to listen to one another and remain patient with one another. You’re both flawed and sinful human beings; remain gracious to each other because of this. Be quick to listen, slow to anger, and hold no record of wrong.
Keeping God in the middle:
You can’t keep God at the center of your relationship if He’s not the center of your life, so first and foremost make sure He takes first place in your own life.
Pray with each other and for each other. Read and talk about scripture together. Love on and bless others with each other. Have accountability and mentorship from others. If He’s the center of your life, He’ll naturally be the center of your relationship.
Healing from past relationships:
I’d say heal as much as you can from past relationships before stepping into a new one, but also know that a lot of undealt with issues will occur in your current relationship, which is okay. Communicate with them that you had unhealthy relationships in the past and let them know your wants and needs. It’s easy to feel as if what happened in the past will happen in your current relationship, but my biggest thing is remembering that Ryan isn’t the men in my past, and he’s not going to do and say the same things they did. It’s unfair to him to hold him to the same standard as the men in my past, and it’s unfair to me because I’m not allowing myself to heal.
The anxiety that happens right after you get into a relationship:
Oof. In the first half of our relationship, I had anxiety so bad due to constantly thinking that Ryan was going to leave me that I literally had to go to the ER because I thought I was having a seizure. It was rough, and by far the most tormenting thing I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t allow myself to feel peace and I didn’t cast the lies that were in my head away. I didn’t invite the Lord into my thoughts and I didn’t seek prayer or encouragement from others. I still sometimes have anxiety about it to this day, but it’s because I fail nearly every day to see myself as good enough for Ryan and make up scenarios in my head that he’s going to leave me for someone better. Truthfully, I don’t have a clue right now as to how to combat the anxiety. It’s an identity issue that I’m still healing in. Usually if I feel it coming I’ll blast “Peace” by Hillsong and literally scream the lyrics and declare them over myself, which has helped me more than anything.
About the three stages. Friendship, relationship, marriage (limits, how long, everything):
People always say pursue a friendship before a relationship which is definitely true in some cases, but Ryan and I knew immediately that we’re right for each other so we only spent a month “talking” then he asked me to be his girlfriend haha. We knew we were both ready for a relationship and didn’t see a need to waste time after praying about it and seeking wise counsel about it. Some people build a friendship for years and some people for weeks. As long as you’re being obedient to the Lord and being guided by Him and not your own feelings, that’s all that matters! Only listen to the Spirit and Spirit-led people.
As for relationship and marriage, there’s really no set timeline. Someone once told me that you don’t really know each other until you’ve known each other for two years, which is a bunch of bologna. Ryan and I have gone through insanely low lows but also high highs, and we’ve seen every side of each other that we can see before marriage in the past 9 months of knowing each other. Like I said, as long as you’re being guided by the Spirit and not your own emotions while also including Godly mentorship in your decisions, your relationship will be blessed. Seek the Lord’s opinion and He will make it clear! And if He doesn’t, wait until He does. Making sure you’re not being disobedient to Him is of utmost importance. His timing is the best timing.
The story of you and Ryan:
Ryan and I initially met through social media because I’m my universities social media manager and he’s coming here as a freshman this fall. He would message the university account sometimes and I looked at his profile and was immediately attracted to him, so I added him on my personal Facebook (lol). He sent me a message asking if I go to BGU and I said yes, and we kept talking from there after leaving him on read for awhile. Gotta play hard to get, you know? 😉
He eventually asked me for my number and we immediately hit it off. I thought he was so funny and I loved talking to him so much! This was right before Thanksgiving so I was about to fly home, so we decided to meet face to face when I got back (he only lives a half hour from campus) but we talked all day every day while I was home and the first phone call we had was for 11 hours, haha. The same day I got back home from break was the day he took me on our first date and asked me to be his girlfriend afterwards. It’s been almost 8 months and we’ve gone through hell and back, almost breaking up 3 times. But the Lord promised me that He’s in this with us, and He makes all things possible! We were holding on by a thread for so long, but He’s been so faithful and good to us throughout all of our hardships. He’s moving to campus in a little more than 3 weeks, and I’m so excited to be able to see him every day, grow with him, worship with him, go to church with him, spend time with friends with him, and learn more and more how to keep the Lord at the center.
Like I said, I could’ve written a book on so many of these topics but only wanted to scratch the surface. If you’d ever like to hear more of my advice or story, please don’t ever hesitate to get in contact with me! I’d love to pray for you and encourage you.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. / Ephesians 4:2