Don’t marry a loser. Trust me. I’ve dated my fair share. Maybe this sounds familiar: He said he believed in God, but not organized religion. “That counts, right?” I convinced myself. He was kind of cute. What mattered most was that he really liked me.
That felt good.
Every Sunday I sat through church alone, then raced over to his place. He never asked me about the sermon. Never showed interest in my faith, at all.
When issues arose, I had but one choice: Say sorry and beg for forgiveness. Pride didn’t allow him to be wrong.
He yelled sometimes. It was his stressful job, I was sure. One day his road rage flared into a highway confrontation that he tried to turn into a roadside altercation. Scared for my life, I ended it. (After I was safely back in my apartment, alone.)
I wish that was my only experience dating an unbeliever. I’m embarrassed at how frequently I bought the “Sure, I’m a Christian” line. Desperate for a relationship, a man with a tepid sense of spirituality would do.
Now I see how truly grateful I must be that God didn’t allow me to marry a loser.
Lest you think “loser” is too harsh, allow me to clarify. First, I do believe we serve a God who can transform any life. But, I also believe that until He does that miraculous work, there are certain men (and women) whom we need to identify as not-marriage-material.
A few weeks ago I sat in the back at a beautiful outdoor wedding. I listened to my pastor husband talk about love, honor and submission. I smiled. He clarified how submission doesn’t mean abuse and happens in a context where the man is submitted to Jesus. Then he made his wedding joke directed at the bride, “You only have to submit to one man, and you picked him!”
At that moment God reminded me of all the losers I tried to marry, how submitting to them would have been impossible, and what a train wreck my life could have become had He not intervened.
I likely knew how to spot a loser back then, but refused to see it. I wanted to be gracious, inappropriately. I wrongly assumed God would bless my choice, no matter what. But, that’s not the way it works.
Here are 4 Ways How Not to Marry a Loser:
#1: Beware of the “Sorta” Saved. He says he believes in God. She says she knows Jesus is real and died. But, is there fruit? If you didn’t know them, by observing their life would you say, “Wow, that person loves and follows Jesus!”
If you had to ask them if their views on God or if you had to spend hours on the phone trying to figure out if they “are” or “aren’t” a believer, be realistic. Or, as my friend Richard used to say, “If he doesn’t ask to pray before dinner, end the date right then.” Don’t waste your time trying to date and marry a loser that doesn’t take his faith seriously.
The kind of Jesus follower you want to marry will not be this hard to discern. Sure, they may really believe, but if they do, they are extremely immature and not ready to be part of a stable Christian marriage yet. Save yourself a ton of grief and look for someone whose faith is visible and fruit is easy to assess.
#2: Avoid Anyone Who’s Unteachable. The number one trait you should look for in a spouse is someone who is willing to learn, change and grow. If you’ve known your boy/girlfriend for a year or longer and they are the exact same as the day you met them, run. Run fast! A healthy Christ-follower should be teachable, visibly changing, and submitted to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in his or her life. Ask, “Hey, what has God been dealing with you about lately?” If they look dumbfounded, move on. Don’t marry a loser that remains unteachable.
#3: Beware of Control Freaks. If you say “no” and he or she gets mad, recognize that it’s not your best interest they care about. Someone primarily interested in their own agenda (and fitting you into it) will trounce on your spirit, suffocate your soul and leave you lonely when you long for intimacy. At the end of the day, if you marry a loser like this, you will not find happiness in your marriage or faith journey.
#4: Avoid the Man/Woman With a Past that Hasn’t Been Reconciled. If your beau has an “ex” anything and children from that relationship then he or she better be telling you all the ways God has worked to change his/her heart since then. If you only know that “she was psycho” or that “he had issues” then they aren’t ready to move on. We all have a past, but don’t marry a loser that hasn’t truly grown and moved on.
There is a huge difference between dating someone who has found health after the demise of a substantial relationship and one who is moving on quickly because their ex was the one with “all the problems.” A healthy perspective on a failed relationship is one where actual loss has been grieved (aka no rebounding involved). Don’t marry a loser like this.
If you are in a dating relationship with someone with the traits above, my prayer for you is to recognize it and separate. The longer it lasts the harder it becomes to see them rightly. Yes, maybe someday they will change and become marriage material, but don’t count on that. This isn’t your last chance. Waiting isn’t the worst thing. Neither is being single. The worst thing is to marry a loser and not even recognize it until it’s too late.
What about a good Christian guy who is a mama’s boy and constantly puts his nuclear family above his fiance (me)?
Hmmm… If you are asking if that’s a deal breaker for marriage. I’d say not necessarily. Most married couples have to work through the “leave and cleave” stuff over the first few years of marriage. It can be a point of contention in marriage (or before) for sure. But, if you talk about it and set boundaries . . .or seek outside counsel . . . I think he can likely see that it’s time to grow up and leave home. 🙂 Prayers for you!
Thank you for sharing those #4 “signs” – I agree with each one!
Love this! So many times I was frustrated because I wanted a spiritual leader and wasn’t getting that…well…don’t date someone who doesn’t exude Christ…duh! haha Love these words of your! I’ll be pinning to share with others 🙂 Blessings to you!
Thanks so much Keri. . .obviously, I had the same struggles!! 🙂 Hindsight is always 20/20. Just hoping to save some others from my pain! 🙂 Thanks for chiming in!
That is really good advice! What would you tell someone who didn’t read an article like this before they got married to an unbeliever?
Hi Mandy! I’d tell them to follow the advice in the Bible. 🙂 Stay married (except for in cases of abuse or apparent danger) and exemplify love and grace so that your spouse will see and be drawn to Christ through the words and actions of the believing spouse. I understand how incredibly difficult this can be, but I’ve seen it happen and I’ve seen God soften very hard hearts through prayer and generous and gracious love.
I know how right you are, but I also know how much I fail to be the person I need to be, so if it’s up to me to help him find his way, he is probably screwed! lol
Oh Mandy, yes. Don’t wear it. Give yourself grace and give him grace too. That’ll go a whole lot further than striving for perfection! Pray twice as much as you try to be better…for sure. Your love for him and heart to see him know Jesus will grow through prayer more than anything! I’m praying for you now!