He was nothing like this when we were dating. I mean he would send me little notes, hold the car door open and was thoughtful about almost everything. Now, I’m not sure I exist in his world, except when he wants sex. I seem not to matter anymore. He is not the man I married.
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It would be a challenge to count how many times I’ve heard some version of this story, either from a husband or wife. Though the particulars can be different, the storyline is always the same.
He Ain’t the Guy I Married!
And then I let the disheartened spouse know that their season of dating “did not count” as far as it being a period of discovering the real person. I tell them something along these lines, in a tongue-in-cheek fashion:
Dating is a brief season, before marriage when both people fake out each other. This period is the artificial season where each person puts his/her best foot forward, so to speak. Dating is the time when they are nice to the other to win each other over. The partners are careful to keep their real selves under wraps until after the wedding.
Dating to Divorce
If they date for more than a year, the true self will pop out from time to time, be seen for what it is and quickly put back under wraps until after the marriage.
Another advantage of the dating season is that you can always let the girl go home at the end of the evening. You don’t have to live with her 24/7, praise God. My wife and I got along great–for the most part–during our season of dating.
However, after the honeymoon, I woke up the next morning and there she was sleeping in MY bed. I couldn’t send her home. She was at home! I had to live with her, through the good and the bad, for the REST OF MY LIFE!!
From her perspective, she could not get rid of me either. We were stuck with each other. It was far easier to enjoy the benefits of dating, drop her off at the end of a fantastic evening, and go back to my apartment. She goes to her place; I go to my place, and we start all over again the next day.
Dating is convenient, but not real enough for most of us because it is possible to navigate through the dating period without ever dealing with the real baggage we all carry.
- On the one hand, we selfishly and nervously hide our baggage.
- On the other hand, immature love tempts us to be blind to the other person’s baggage.
The Tale of Ricky and Lucy
After our honeymoon, our dialogue could have gone like this:
Lucy: What is that?
Ricky: What is what?
Lucy: What is that train with all those baggage cars in tow?
Ricky: That’s my baggage. I never told you about that. I thought that if you knew what a knucklehead I was, you wouldn’t want to marry me.
The Next Day
Ricky: What is that?
Lucy: What is what?
Ricky: There is a long train in our front yard. What is that?
Lucy: Oh yeah, that’s my baggage. You’re not the only one in this relationship with problems. I conveniently forgot to mention this when we were dating.
“For better or worse” means “for better or worse.” Unfortunately, there is a little hypocrisy in all of us, and the dating season is one of the most tempting times to disguise the gap between who we are and the person we present ourselves to be. It can be that artificial season that doesn’t count.
If the person you’re married to is nothing more than a silhouette of the person you were dating, let’s talk. One of the things you’ll need to come to terms with is the fact that your spouse has not changed a lot. You’ve only gotten to know him/her better.
Call to Action
- How different are you from the person you were when you were dating your spouse? Have you grown more mature in Christ and how you relate to your spouse? Or have you regressed in the spiritual battle to mature?
- Are you more apt to focus on how different your spouse is now? Are you aware how that kind of focus can lead you to disappointment, regret, and hopelessness?
- In what ways are you bringing your marriage to God and experiencing God’s help?
Also published on Medium.