I don’t want what I think I want. At least that’s what marriage expert Gary Thomas told me and over 50 others tonight in a room full of expectant 20-somethings during a lecture at Wheaton College, one of the most conservative Christian colleges in the nation. “Ring-by-spring” season is in full swing on Christian campuses everywhere, and proposals are happening daily. This made it a fitting time for best-selling author Gary Thomas to pay a visit and share his thoughts and insights on common mistakes Christians make while dating. Even though Gary “supports getting married young,” he warned individuals and couples in the room to be wary of committing to someone before getting past the “infatuation phase” (which lasts 18 months) and thoroughly examining their significant others for six key qualities during courtship (listed below in live tweets from the event via Today’s Christian Woman) before saying yes to the dress:
1. Beauty is fleeting: fall in love with godliness. According to Gary, “Your future spouse will not be 25 forever. Always emphasize character over beauty – you’ll often find the two go hand-in-hand.”
2. Marry someone who can handle conflict well. “If violence is a problem while dating, think twice before committing to marriage.” -Gary
3. Choose a spouse who will be a “spectacular parent.” According to Gary, a good question to ask yourself while dating is, “What is the most important thing for my future children?” If your significant other doesn’t prioritize those same things, chances are that will create tension later.
4. Marry a prayer warrior. “You only have sex two or three times per week. You need prayer every day.” -Gary
5. Humility > perfection. “The worst thing is not marrying someone who’s perfect – it’s marrying someone who’s not and thinks they are.” -Gary
6. Marry a giver, not a taker. “Marriage is not about being loved – it’s about learning to love another well.” -Gary
Sure, I’m single and loving it right now, but these Biblical hints and tips really challenged me to think about, if Mr. Right waltzed into my life tomorrow, would I be looking for sexual chemistry or a man full of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? And will I even know what that looks like when and if I see it?