Recently, I made a resolution to break up with someone. Well, we weren’t technically together. He said we were dating, but our relationship didn’t exactly fit the definition. He was friendly, funny and fine, but beyond that, I didn’t think we had much in common. And for the first time, I lowered my expectations to avoid loneliness during the holidays. My friends encouraged me to “keep it casual” and “have fun”. After all, this was one of the first people I went out with after breaking up with my daughter’s dad. I followed their advice for the first few weeks, but as time ticked on, I started to set expectations and seek substance. It’s hard to “keep it casual” when humans and feelings are involved. I didn’t see this man as “marriage material,” but I still expected him to act like a future husband or perhaps just a boyfriend.
I know relationships develop overtime. Nonetheless, I wanted him to be something, someone he wasn’t. I wanted more than what he could give. And that wasn’t fair for either of us. So I told him I didn’t think we should pursue anything further. He said he was sorry I felt that way and wished me good luck–but not in a do well way, rather a good luck searching for someone in the club way. There are a lot more details to the story, but I won’t reveal too much information, because like I said, he is a cool person. He’s just not the person for me. In a reflective New Year’s Eve mood, I came up with dating resolutions to lead to marriage. I didn’t write a long list of what I was doing wrong as that could lead to depression,,, not empowerment. Instead, I focused on what I was doing right. We often look for a potential mate to possess a long list of qualities when we should first look within to make sure we’re marriage material.
1. Become Spiritually Strong
Most of my friends and family members who have strong marriages also have strong spiritual foundations. God is at the center of their union, which anchors their marriage when a storm hits. Having a close relationship with God allows me to have close relationships with others. When I pray or study scriptures, I am more patient, more loving and more kind. Until I meet my mate, I can strive to be the Proverbs 31 woman. I can turn to the Bible instead of society to determine what marriage means and trust God to deliver a mate.
2. Heal From Past Heartbreaks
After my daughter’s dad dumped me, I didn’t date anyone for a year and a half. I needed that time to heal from heartache, learn from mistakes and move on mentally. I refuse to take baggage packed with anger or envy into a new relationship. Also, I analyzed my other relationships. What went wrong? What went right? What did I learn from my experiences? What qualities do I want in a significant other? What won’t I tolerate? Although people don’t usually change, they can improve. Yes, some things are personality traits, habits you’ve developed over the years. But if you examine yourself, there may be negative behaviors you can work on.
3. Love Me First
In order to love someone else, I love myself first. Sounds selfish but in reality, it’s the best wedding gift I can give my husband. He won’t be required to fill a void, because I don’t need to be half of a couple to be a complete person. Although I feel insecure at times, those times don’t last long. I am comfortable in my skin. Loving myself means I am less likely to be jealous, desperate or needy in a relationship. Often, I hear single women say, I can do bad by myself. I would like to change that and say, I can do good by myself.
4. Be a Blushing Bridesmaid
More than 80% of my close friends are married. I’ve been a guest, a hostess or a bridesmaid at more than a dozen weddings over the past decade. I never envied the brides. I was always happy to be a part of their marital bliss. I spent hours helping to plan some of these events and the pre-party festivities, but they put in even more work after they jumped the broom. They’ve taught me what it takes to be a good wife and to build a happy home. And their husbands give great dating advice from a male’s perspective. I’ve also observed the marriages within my family as well. My parents recently celebrated their 45th anniversary, and before my grandparents passed away, they lived longer as husband and wife than they did as individuals. They married at 16 and lived well into their 80s. They are marriage mentors.
5. Realize Not Everyone I Meet is My Husband
I try not to look at every man I meet as my future spouse. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone and myself. I can like someone or even love someone, but that someone may not be my husband. I can’t force something to happen or rush into a relationship. In my thirties, I date differently. I don’t compromise my non-negotiables, my authentic self or my values. I developed views on children, religion, money, sex, commitment and divorce and seek someone with a similar marriage mindset.
6. Determine Why I Want to Get Married
When the movie Why Did I Get Married? hit the silver screen, I was one of the first people in line to buy a ticket. At the time, marriage wasn’t on my mind. My ex was. I went to the prom with actor Lamman Rucker who played Troy, and when he appeared in the movie shirtless, I giggled at the women swooning in the audience. Lamman and I took public transportation to our first date and were more friends than lovers. Still, everyone asked why we weren’t together as if I would marry him just because he made it to Hollywood–leaving his bus pass behind I’m sure. The movie made me examine issues such as commitment, betrayal and forgiveness. And for the first time in my life, I began to determine why I wanted to get married. I want stability and security, for better or for worse. I want to be selfless and supportive. I want my strengths and weaknesses to balance someone else’s and vice versa. I want to love someone like 1 Corinthians 13 and get that love in return from my mate.
7. Be Marriage Material
This is the toughest point of all. I had to honestly evaluate my life to find out if I was really marriage material. I must be kind, giving, compassionate, trustworthy, nurturing, respectful, discerning, discreet and God-fearing. Although I am independent, I don’t have a problem adopting traditional gender roles. I don’t mind cooking, cleaning and caring for the kids. I must admit that I don’t do this for every man I meet. But I can’t expect a man to do everything for me when I do nothing in return. Before I’m married or even engaged, I work to be financially and emotionally stable.
Hey BMWK family, what would you add to the list? What should someone do to become marriage material?