I've been with my boyfriend for two years. We're both in our mid-20s, and he wants to get engaged. I keep saying, "Wait," and I can't explain why.
He's passionate about the Lord, sacrificial, wise, kind, gentle, humble, driven. He is a family guy. He makes our relationship a priority. He's a leader, has a graduate degree, a good job and a wonderful personality — and he makes me smile. Everyone who knows him gets along with him. My family, his family and our friends keep asking when we're going to get engaged. I just postpone it, and I think it may have to do with attraction.
He's a handsome guy, but not the "type" I ever imagined myself with. Even though he's not my dream "type," he's not unattractive to me. He's pretty cute, and, yes, I can see myself enjoying kissing him in the future.
But almost every month I go through a huge mood swing. I suddenly doubt the relationship and think I'm not attracted to him. It lasts about two days, and then I go back to being content with the relationship and his appearance. I almost feel like Satan is using my hormones — combined with my obsession with looks — to keep me from going to the next stage of my relationship.
We have huge potential of doing great things for God — our hearts are similar, and we work well together in both life and in ministry. I'm trying to figure out if attraction is the issue or if there is something much bigger. Could Satan be trying to keep us apart and using my hormones to confuse me? Or could my hormonally charged uncertainty about the relationship really be a warning from God that the relationship isn't right?
Your question is one I hear a lot from women (and even more from men). This issue of attraction is huge in our culture and an ongoing challenge for believing singles who are trying to honor God in their matches, all the while not realizing how much sinful thinking is influencing their decision. Based on what you've shared, I think you're placing too much stock in how you feel. Re-read your opening paragraph — he sounds amazing!
To help you appreciate how blessed you are in this relationship, consider if the opposite were true: You had a man who looked every bit your "type" — all the external traits you hoped for in a husband — but who lacked in all the areas your boyfriend is so strong. Would it be enough? From what you've said, he looks the part when you view it from God's perspective. Keep in mind that he is made in God's image. That he is God's son (and if you marry him, God will be your heavenly Father-in-law). Keep this in mind when you're tempted to be critical of his appearance. God made him exactly the way God wanted him to look.
Feelings are fickle, and while they're real, they're not reliable. Certainly they matter, but they must not lead. If you have a baby one day whose personality is opposite of yours, who looks not like you but like a distant relative, you could imagine feeling that he is not your "type" of child. But in that case, as I'm sure you can see from this stark example, it would matter not at all how you feel. Your duty to your child, and to God, in whose image that child is made, will be to love him unconditionally, even to the point of laying down your life for him.
Similarly in marriage, the man you choose to be your husband will be the man to whom you are joined till death. He, too, is made in the image of God, and it will be your duty to him and to God to love and respect him unconditionally. The difference of course is that you get to choose a husband. Children come to us as a gift. What you may not be thinking clearly about, though, is that even though you get to choose your husband, you have no control over who he will become.
We don't know what tomorrow may bring. A man who looks just the way you like today may be in a disfiguring accident tomorrow. But so, conversely, might you. Thankfully most of us live less dramatic lives than that, but as Solomon wrote centuries ago, "time, chance [and age] happens to us all" (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Whomever you wed will look differently after 20 years of marriage, but so will you. And childbirth and aging tends to be a bit harder on the woman's body than the man's. I worry that the air of the culture we live in has affected your thinking about what factors should matter most, and even matter at all, on the way to getting married.
We've gone from believing marriage is a relationship forged in and for the benefit of a community, to believing it's just "you and me against the world," to believing it's good as long as it's good for me. I suspect most of us wouldn't say we believe that's what marriage is for — our own self-gratification and self-fulfillment — but when you consider all the things people rank as important when choosing a spouse, it becomes clear that we're not a culture known for thinking biblically about marriage.
Of course I don't know you personally, so I'm at a marked disadvantage and having to intuit your situation based on very limited information. That's why I'm not the best person to answer your question. The best person(s) are your pastor and your parents; people who know you and know him well, and can say objectively if you have the potential to be a fruitful match.
I do know from my own experience with hormones that they make feelings even more volatile and must be brought under the authority of, and made to submit to, the truth of God's Word. Some Scriptures that may help you:
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5).
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned (Romans 12:3).
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (Philippians 2:3).
I'm not saying you have to marry him; that's your choice to be made with the help of wise counsel. But to choose not to based solely on external appearance would be tragic, something you could end up regretting deeply.
Finally, remember that your enemy, the devil, hates godly marriage. He hates anything that points people to Christ — and that's precisely what God designed Christian marriage to do. Christ laid His life down for His bride while she was dead in her sin. Now that's unattractive! Be encouraged. If you submit to God and His Word, filling your heart with the truth of Scripture, He will set you free from the lies of the evil one. Ask Him for wisdom, and He will give it. He is able to change your heart and mind, and free you from cultural ways of seeing life. If you are in Christ, you have the power that rose Jesus from the dead at work in you (Romans 8:11) — the Holy Spirit is your helper (John 14:26).
Ask for help to see your boyfriend with God's eyes. And start thanking Him for him. Every time you're tempted to doubt and to criticize, give thanks, not only for this man God has sovereignly brought into your life, but also for the way Christ saved you to life when you were dead in sin. When we meditate on what we deserve (God's wrath) and what we've been given (forgiveness and grace), it's much easier to give grace to others. It's amazing how much we can direct our thoughts. Gratitude is a potent guard against dissatisfaction.
I'm praying for you that the Lord will guide you into all truth, and help you think humbly and rightly about this relationship. I'd love to hear how your relationship progresses!
Copyright 2012 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.