Should I call off our wedding again?

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Should I call off our wedding again?

Jun 01, 2009 |John Thomas
Question

I am 21 years old and currently engaged to a woman I met online. We chatted for the first two months and then met and hung out for a week and half. We hit it off, and I asked her to date me after meeting her parents and spending a lot of time with them, and seeking their approval, which I did get. I left and we have seen each other sporadically every now and then. We got engaged on Valentine's Day.

At first, I was attracted to her intelligence, which she used to defend her various theological points (she's a Christian, like me). She was kind to total strangers and it was genuine, and of course I thought she was gorgeous. I had seen her in family situations and dealt with her in church situations as well, and felt that I had a decent grasp, at least well enough to ask her to marry me.

I had prayed about it and had previously spent the three years before meeting Carrie (not her real name, of course) reading books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl, as well as others and many other forms of that sort of thing (sermons, lectures, articles, talking to people about it, etc.).

I feel as if Carrie has done a complete 180. She has gone from a woman of God to a child in a sense. She is always beating herself up, and she has been acting like I am the only source of her happiness. I have repeatedly told her the truth about her and about God and she shoots it back in my face. We have been fighting a lot, more than I think we have been blessings to one another.

I am simply exhausted and don't know what to do. She is moving out here to stay with a female coworker of mine so we can do premarital counseling and be able to have a more normal relationship. I can't wait for that, but in the meantime she is still so insecure. ...

I just don't know what to do. I feel that she spends significantly more time being depressed and down on herself and her world than she does looking to God honestly and seeking Him. Is this healthy? Should we get married? I understand I am supposed to be there for her and be encouraging, but I feel like she doesn't really want help, and just wants to wallow in it. I am lost. I don't even know the right questions to ask you.

We were to be married on May 22, but I called that off much to her disapproval. I called it off in favor of spending more time getting to know each other and seeking the Lord and doing our premarital counseling together and preparing. She is grieving over that big time, and I see no problem with it because I am doing it for the Lord and not me. I don't understand how she can't see it. ...

Carrie and I are not sexually active. Before I met her I decided I did not want to kiss until marriage because of my own history. I had a girlfriend in high school who I was sexually active with. We did not have sexual intercourse, but we did everything else. Carrie is aware of that.

Carrie and I have kissed however, and I have called physical contact off. She does not approve. She says she is a physical person and shows love that way. I don't doubt that, but I still don't think it's appropriate because we are not yet married and our bodies are not our own. We have kissed only a few times and I guess you could call the first one or two times somewhat making out but they weren't for more than a minute, and I ceased that immediately after the second time. We have not kissed since then that I can recall, not even when we got engaged.

Carrie and I cuddled and that led to some grabbing of sexual areas. She has put my hand under her shirt, and while in that moment, I knew it was wrong. Afterwards I asked what we were doing, and she was trying to lie to herself and say that it wasn't sexual. I have ceased to do that too.

She and I have a habit of sitting close together and ending up in some sort of pretzel which I am also against. I have tried to put my foot down in a loving way and explain why, and simply say we need to stop these physical actions. She generally has agreed with me with her words but then not followed through on her actions. I am not willing to put my will and desire ahead of God's on this one, and although I don't like the idea, I would call this whole thing off if it became a serious issue when she gets here.

I guess you could say we have some minor (by worldly standards) sexual sin. I do suspect this is part of her desire to get married so soon. I understand how this might be affecting her and I have confessed it to God and now you. I guess I just don't know what to do to repair it or heal it or how to move on from it. I think she's on the highway on ramp so to speak, and it's hard to get her turned around.

I have sought mentorship within my old church which was unsuccessful. I have stopped attending Sundays there for more than a year now because I felt it wasn't a faith- and community-nurturing church. I have continued to attend a Wednesday night group with that church but am still feeling like there should be more. I attended a new church last week that I liked and was unable to attend last week because of illness. I plan to attend there until Carrie gets here and then we were going to attend different churches in town together to find one we both liked or could at least agree on.

I feel that genuine relationships in my life are limited. I have a couple of good friends but one is agnostic, and the other is a Christian but is absorbed in a multilevel marketing scheme. He and I have chatted a lot about these troubles, but I feel like his energy and concerns are invested elsewhere and the advice almost always is, "Let me talk to someone on my team" (for his "business") or, "Let me get some books from the team for you two to read" or "you should buy these vitamins from me."

Carrie and I both have our quirks and problems but I can't help but wonder if we might be good together for God's will in that way. I feel like I have never had true companionship or community in any form, church or otherwise. She is alone in Chicago. Is it unhealthy to desire that from one specific person? Or should God always be the focus in that way? I don't understand the relationship between seeking God and relying on others.

I am drained. I've asked myself if I can serve her better together or apart, and I just don't think I can a lot of the time. Should I call the whole thing off? I have wondered that, but since before I met Carrie, I've had a common thought that perhaps God willing I can marry anyone and ultimately it will be a lesson for His glory. As long as I'm seeking Him, theoretically I could marry any Christian on the planet ... right? I dunno, it seems to me that if we didn't excel directly in the mission field together, but if I could learn how to give myself up for her as Christ did for the church, then that's what marriage is about right? I wonder sometimes if the things we judge whether or not we should marry someone are based on worldly, self-pleasing, faithless things. ...

I guess the thought is this: Should I just marry her and devote myself to Christ in serving her and being there for her? Or would my talents be better used single or with someone else? I feel like it shouldn't matter what I do as long as I don't directly contradict Scripture. The Lord will work things out for His good, right?

I'm a mess, and long-winded still. I don't know what to do, I just don't know. I am drained.

Answer

First of all, postponing the wedding was exactly what you needed to do, so I want to affirm that decision. These yellow flags might turn out to be minor in the end, but they might become red flags. It's much better to address them now, as disruptive as it is, and ask the question "Should we get married" before the fact, rather than "Should we have gotten married" after the fact. Good call.

Any relationship, engaged or married, is going to have bumps and stresses, some minor and some major. But a healthy relationship is one that will generally make forward progress when it's all averaged out over time, meaning that through the trials the two of you have learned more about God and each other and have deepened your relationships in both areas. So don't worry that you're having issues, that's normal.

Fortunately you have addressed your most difficult problem, and that is long-distance dating someone you've never spent much extended time around. The reality of life together is significantly different from life apart. Long-distance dating can be like being on vacation every time you're together, which will make married life a shocker.

Based on some of your comments, I think the heart of your problem is spiritual, so here's what I advise immediately. Do what you can to move your primary focus as a couple from marriage to Christ. What I mean is make it your priority to begin pursuing Christ together rather than preparing for marriage.

I wouldn't go a step further toward marriage until you get plugged in to a church that is serious about connecting people with Jesus, and has strategies for getting people there.

Put marriage on the back burner for a moment, and seek first the kingdom of God together. Start praying together regularly, not just about your relationship but about all things that are on God's heart. Sign up for a discipleship class or small group and dive in all the way. In other words, walk together for a while on the path with and to Christ.

Each of you find a mentor who knows and loves Jesus and will meet with you and help you get pointed in the right direction. Set clear physical boundaries in your relationship and figure a way to be held accountable to that.

She needs to understand that this "delay" is entirely biblical and just as important for her as it is for you. This gives her a chance to also get to know you in "real-time." Whatever the added cost or inconvenience is every bit worth it. Although He is speaking about cost of following Him, Jesus says in Luke 14:28, "For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?" And again in verse 31, "What king ... will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?"

Sit down and deliberate. This is critical for a decision as life-altering as marriage. Sure, some couples sit for too long, but some don't sit long enough. We sit. We deliberate. We count the cost. And then we make a decision, get up and do it.

If she balks at this plan to bring the pursuit of Christ into focus in your relationship, your yellow flag has just turned red and you need to seriously consider ending the relationship. If she agrees to the plan, even reluctantly, I think calmer waters are ahead of you if you both will take the plan seriously.

Put Christ in His proper place in the relationship, not just in word but in heart and deed, and I promise you'll have your answers very soon.

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

Copyright 2009 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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