Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Red Flag Tensions in Mate Finding To Share With Your Kids

I've seen a few helpful lists online recently that suggest things to teach our children to look for or avoid in the person they marry. And most of them seem pretty accurate, worth talking to your kids about.

However, let me take a slightly different approach and discuss what I would call the tensions that must be addressed when embracing or rejecting a particular characteristic one sees in a potential mate. What I want to suggest is that even too much of a good thing may be as unhealthy and destructive as an abundance of a negative quality.

For example, let's say that someone is very careful about how they spend money. That sounds like a good quality and probably is. But what if their frugality becomes obsessive to the point where they never spend money for fun, for enjoyment, for special moments or for the spouse to use as they feel led?

It seems to me that we need to also help our children in selecting their future mate to prayerfully and wisely look at the whole spectrum of a person's qualities and be willing to admit that this person may have too much of a seemingly good thing. There may be some underlying need that causes that person to be overly positive which can ultimately become destructive and demoralizing.

Of course in every marriage there will be differences that we must learn to love and appreciate. No two people will ever be a perfect match. But let me suggest several spectra that I often see in marriages where that tension I'm talking about should have been considered and monitored. And let's face it some things can be hidden well but perhaps these suggestions will give you and your kids a place to start looking.

Do they have a sense of humor?  Or can they not stand humor and more specifically yours?

Do they care about the things of God, being like Jesus and their personal faith?  Or can they talk about nothing else so that they are really "of no earthly good?"

Do they talk to you?  Or do they ever stop talking period?

Do they love themself in appropriate ways?  Or are they the only person they care about?

Are they motivated, hard working and industrious?  Or is getting to the top their ultimate goal ahead of you and everything else?

Do they love children?  Or are they basically still a child and likely not going to change?

Do they share their emotions freely?  Or are they a loose cannon who hurts you and others with their feelings and words?

Are they careful and wise?  Or do they actually live in irrational fear most of the time?

Are they nice? Or are they actually just covering up deeper anger, resentment and bitterness?

Are they honest about their mistakes and faults?  Or are only concerned with yours?

There are lots more.  Let me encourage you to think of some that you might add to the list. Remind your kids that this is why they need to take time to get to know someone for a while. The real person doesn't show up on one or two dates or even in a couple of months of knowing someone. Make sure they see this person in a variety of settings.

And no, living together rarely helps this process. Playing house typically covers up or masks any real discernment about the other person under the guise of phony commitment.

When our kids do the hard work of pondering, experiencing and getting to know each other they have far more hope for success and a relationship that is all they hoped it would be from the first time they even considered marriage. Help them mom and dad. Give them some tools they need. I hope this might be one of them.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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