Contributed by Thomas B. Holman
To Be Successful At Dating and Marrying, You Need To Figure Out What Will Give You an Ongoing, Burning Desire to Succeed
I recently scanned The Mayo Clinic Diet book. The Mayo Clinic is one of the premier medical centers in the world and they have been helping people with lots of things including weight control for decades. In the first chapter of the book the authors say:
“Knowing the how-to, eat-this/don’t-eat-that of weight loss is certainly important—and we’ll help you with that. But the most critical element of weight loss is what you bring to the table—your own personal drive to succeed.
To be successful at losing weight, you need to figure out what will give you an ongoing, burning desire to succeed.”[i]
Let me rephrase this for marriage:
“Knowing the how-to, do-this/don’t-do-that of dating and marrying is certainly important—and we’ll help you with that. But the most critical element of dating and marrying is what you bring to the table—your own personal drive to succeed.
To be successful at dating and marrying, you need to figure out what will give you an ongoing, burning desire to succeed.”
Motivation for Marriage is Vital
My friend and colleague, Andy, told me about how seeing a happy couple motivated him to keep marriage a top priority:
Last night I was at an event in a park and I noticed a young family in front of me watching the show being performed. I noticed the parents showing a lot of love toward each other and their kids. The parents were gentle both physically and verbally with each other. They were patient. The parents were nurturing to their kids (let them sit on their laps, fed them, hugged them). I thought to myself, “I want that kind of love in my life with my future family.”
I knew marriage was important when I was young. But for a time I kind of put marriage on the back burner; it wasn’t a top priority. I was having too much fun with my friends. I was also concentrating on my education. Finally something happened that changed all that: I transferred to a different university and my parents moved out of the country. As I watched my parents drive away after dropping me off at my new apartment, I suddenly realized I was really on my own. Sure, I had friends and I’d make new friends in this new place, and I still had siblings and other family in the States but they all lived a long ways from me and were living their own lives. It hit me that having fun was good, friends were wonderful, and getting my education was very good, but they weren’t the most important things in life. Getting married and having a family had always been a priority, but I had just let it slip into the background while I was having fun and preparing for a career. I realized I needed to make marriage a top priority. I had to readjust my thinking and be more serious about “dating for marriage” instead of just “dating for fun.” I didn’t go all crazy or weird or anything but it was a “paradigm shift”. I finally took it into my heart. I wanted to get married and start a family more than anything. Over the next months, this became a deep desire that felt good and inspired me to change my thinking and change my behavior. It was deeply spiritual in a way that is hard to explain. So I pointed myself in the right direction and worked on becoming more marriage-ready. I still had fun with friends and worked hard on my education, but I became more conscious of and conscientious in dating with a purpose of marriage in mind. It didn’t happen right away, but two years later, almost to the day, I married Linda. Smartest thing I ever did!
Another friend and colleague, Todd, told me about his happy marriage:
When I approached dating various challenges faced me—the greatest of which was “finding the right person”. As time went on, and numerous relationships ended or became stagnant, I finally found someone with whom I was very compatible. This young woman provided the atmosphere I needed to be comfortable in pursuing a long-term, committed relationship. We have now been married for over two years! My wife graces me daily with her love, patience, kindness, and companionship, despite my many weaknesses and flaws. My marriage blesses me with frequent opportunities to serve and become more like Christ. Despite the work and dedication that successful marriage requires, all of the benefits far outweigh any costs. My marriage is the most valuable and important thing to me, and there is nothing else the world that comes close to matching the happiness and joy I get from being with my wife. The challenges and disappointments associated with the dating process were all worth it!
Todd is right, marriage is more important for happiness than anything else, and research confirms it. Research on happiness shows of the eight most important predictors, “Marriage” is far and away the most important, with “Family” coming in second. Friendships, hobbies, community, finances, and work are at best less than one-half as important as marriage!
Talk to some happily married people you know. Ask why they got married. Ask them what they love most about their marriage. Then take some time and write down your experiences (thoughts, feelings, and impressions) and how this motivates you to want to get married.
Over the next few weeks and months let these motivations for a good marriage grow in your heart. Then start “dating for marriage.” You don’t have to be obsessive about it and scare people away. But what you’ll find is that you will start dating different people or thinking about them and treating them differently when remembering you might be dating your future spouse. When you get sidetracked by the messages of the media or friends, come back to what you wrote above and recommit to making a good marriage a top priority.
In the article titled How Do I Get Motivated for Marriage, I give you more ideas for increasing your chances of a good marriage by thinking about why marriage is important and how you can keep your motivation up.
This article is one of a series. For others in the series, see: