Sometimes when something ‘unexpected’ happens in our lives, we ask ourselves, ‘how did this happen? When did it come to this?’ But the truth is, somehow we always had a hint of it. We had an idea or a ‘feeling’ that it was going to happen. We just ignored the signs. And so it happens with romantic relationships, leading to divorces, separations and break-ups. They don’t just happen.
Before couples decide to separate or divorce, they had seen the sign for a long time; sometimes even from the beginning of the marriage. Even so, it is mostly human nature to bury our heads in the sand and pretend we do not see the obvious, and then when it happens, we say to ourselves not ‘had I known’ but ‘I should have known’.
Courtship is the time couples have the opportunity to know each other, at least the habits, moods and behaviour of each other. During this period, you get to learn how your partner lives, how he or she handles situations and his or her temperament.
At this time, you will already know if you can handle whatever weakness or flaws you see in your partner. There are certain disturbing things you may discover about your partner, which will give you cause to worry or at least a nagging feeling about your future with him or her. And these things or the nagging feeling is what I term the ‘Red Flags’. We see these in different forms- for example;
HABITS: We are all brought up differently, even though some things might be common to all of us. We all have different ways of doing things, different preferences etc. Some people are naturally neat and orderly, they don’t like a thing out of place, others neat but disorderly and others too are just shabby (scatter heads).
If a neat and orderly person stays with a shabby person, there will always be confusion. The neat and orderly will always nag about the mess the shabby leaves behind, and the shabby being used to the mess, will resent the neat and orderly for nagging about what is natural to him or her. Sometimes it is during courtship that one notices these things, and yet, some silently endure thinking, ‘when we marry, I will point it out to him or her’ and secretly abhor the behaviour.
Some also point out to their partners during courtship and they see no change or improvement in their partner and still they deceive themselves into thinking, ‘he or she will change when we get married’. Mind you, if a person has been some way for many years and does not make an effort to change that behaviour during courtship, there is no way they will change during marriage.
TEMPERAMENT: Does he or she get angry easily? Is he or she proud and arrogant? Does he or she talk to you disrespectfully, both in private and in public? When you complain about this behaviour, how does he or she respond? Does his or her temperament bother you? Is he or she too dull, too loud, too quiet, too reserved, too open and blunt? Do you find his or her demeanor appalling? Do you find his or her eating habits disgusting? Are you shy to be seen in public with him or her? Is he or she a bully or a nag? Would you rather enjoy the company of your friends than his or hers? If yes to any of these, then think carefully before you jump into marriage with him or her, because what you see now is just a ‘tip of the iceberg’.
BEHAVIOR: Every time you go out together, you see him staring at other women or you see her flirting with other men. She is materialistic and he is a social maniac. He or she doesn’t call often or pick up your calls. When he or she does, it’s late in the night and he or she always has excuses. Every time you call, he or she is always in a meeting. He or she doesn’t have time for you. When you point it out, he or she gets angry and accuses you of complaining too much. It’s only when she needs money or he wants sex, that he or she pays attention to you. After providing that need, he or she becomes too busy for you again.
Is he stingy, a miser or a spendthrift? Is she selfish, greedy and insensitive? Is he or her a destroyer or a builder? You are not sure of your financial stability with him or her in the near future. You have communicated about this and he or she says things will change when you get married. Don’t deceive yourself; they won’t. Granted, no one is perfect; but when you know you can’t stand something, you can never force yourself to tolerate it, especially if there’s never going to be a change.
We see the red bulb flashing in our relationships. We know that it would not work, but due to one or two reasons, we close our eyes, bury our heads in the sand and wish it away. It won’t! If you see all these signs during the time of courtship, be sure you can endure it for the rest of your life before you make the final commitment.
Marriage is for the longest haul; for better or for worst. Don’t wait till you get married, before you scrutinize or address the issue.
Analyses are to be made during courtship to determine whether you are ready to be with that person for the rest of your life and endure all of their flaws and celebrate all of their strength.
Remember, it is the little things that make you love him or her more or hate him or her more! Open your eyes and do not be hasty! Shalom and may the peace of God reign in your hearts and lives! Jesus loves you and so do I.