Are you single, married, or in a relationship right now?
This question was not what I expected, and you’ll probably be really surprised by the answer. You may even wonder why I’m bothering to answer it, but it’s because of what I have seen over the last twenty years. Too many broken hearts and lives, too many children caught in the middle or left behind. So, I’m going to answer from my somewhat unique perspective.
I am single. I’ve never been married. In fact, I’ve never been in a relationship. There, it’s out! (In an extremely public forum nonetheless.) So why am I even bothering to answer this question? Because of the women I have walked alongside of whose lives have been broken by harmful relationships. Many years ago, 29 to be exact, the Lord put a burden on my heart for orphans and (as the Bible calls them) fatherless children. I did not realize then how often that path would find me walking beside women whose lives had taken a course they never would have expected because of harmful relationships. So as I answer your questions, these are the lessons I have learned from walking with them.
1. What are the most important things you look for in a partner?
The most important thing is their relationship to Christ, not just in word but also in deed. Do they love Him and live for Him with their whole heart, soul, strength, and mind. Do they love “me” as Christ loved the church? Then, what is their character? How do they treat others? Do they seek to do the right thing?
2. What are some red flags that warn you about a potential partner?
· Flattery or sweet talk.
· Portraying “me” as the hero in their life. I should probably expound on this one a little. Many a trap has been set for a woman who’s been made to feel the hero in the man’s life. Call it a manipulation of Florence Nightingale Syndrome if you will. When a man presents his need, “allows” a woman to meet it, and eats up (sometimes literally) all of her personal resources of time, money, transportation, emotion, etc., in return for a few kind or even philosophical words and/or kisses—he is not loving her. He is using her.
· A show of “respect,” followed by an inappropriate request or requirement.
· A lack of self-control.
· Manipulation and emotional or verbal power games.
· Impatience and a need for instant gratification
· Inability to stand on his own two feet
3. What one thing do you need within a romantic relationship?
Christ and His purposes for the relationship should always be at the center. Personal expectations, lusts, goals (especially unspoken ones), when put first by either party will eventually cause division if not approached properly. Communication is vital in keeping things focused on God. Other things are certainly important: getting to know one another in the proper way (not jumping into a relationship with someone you met two days ago), learning to bless one another by understanding likes, dislikes, favorites and wishes and dreams, and of course romance! But first and foremost, is Christ.
4. What are some lessons that you have learned from past relationship failures? What do you hope to improve on this time/next time?
When a relationship fails, there is heartache and grief. Sometimes there are regrets and resentments. I’ve seen over and over the harm of not properly dealing with these things and, in fact, moving into a cycle of repeating the very things that led to them in the first place. Before going into another relationship, it’s important to step back for a while, evaluate things. Deal with the things that cause those regrets and that resentment.
Be brave and seek godly counsel. If you hear your friends saying things like, “he was bad for you,” ask them what makes them say that. They may see things in the men you date that you are missing. Have someone who will help you see if you are repeating mistakes.
NEVER dive headlong into a relationship just so you have a guy.
Watch couples that have had successful relationships (mature, older couples who’ve been married for a long time). Learn from them. Seek their counsel.
But maybe most important of all, remember that God’s purpose was never for us to have a long line of relationships. His desire was for marriage, in particular, marriage that pictures the relationship between Christ and the church. It’s okay to go without a boyfriend until a good man comes along! In fact, it’s even okay to be single until you’re, oh, say 41. If I can make it by God’s grace, so can you! I’m not saying that you have to. I’m just saying you can, and it’s okay. It really is okay to be “alone” because then you have time to focus on Christ.
5. What one tip do you have for communicating better in your relationships?
I think this applies to any relationship. Communication must be intentional. We throw that word around a lot these days, but with good reason. Communication doesn’t just happen. Someone (or two someones) have to make the choice and take the action. If your partner leaves dirty coffee cups all over the house and it drives you crazy, they’re not going to know it drives you crazy unless you tell them—or until you finally lose it and throw one at them. Then they might get it, but it won’t be the best way to let them know how crazy it makes you. That’s just a little thing, I know, but from what I have seen of couples who do well together, communication about the little things helps a great deal when it comes to communication about the big things.
6. Is there a quote or a book that has helped you define your idea of what marriage should be? Why?
Not a book or quote, but lives. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that they were his epistle, “known and read of all men.” I’m a writer, so obviously I think books are a good thing, but when it comes to marriages, I think one of the best ways to learn is to observe. You won’t see everything, you’re not with a couple every moment of every day (that’s a really good thing), but when you step into a circle of people who have put Christ first in their marriages and you watch how He leads them in communication, in parenting, in romance, in sharing the load, etc., you also see more than just a trite or pithy line on a page—you see living examples. To me, that is of far greater value. Choosing the circles you run in plays a very big part in the type of relationships you will see and have.
7. As a writer, how does what happens in your personal life affect what you write about?
If I’m writing non-fiction, it probably just oozes out on every single page. But even if I’m writing fiction, the personal lessons God has taught me come out somewhere. I don’t write romance, per se, but romance is a part of life, so it needs to be written about. As a single woman, I try to be very careful and conscientious about how what I write affects the hearts of other single women. My goal isn’t to write books that make women pine over their currently non-existent prince or to make married women regret or belittle the man they married. My goal is to write books that help each of us walk a walk that will be neither “barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord” (2 Peter 1:8). Contentment actually shows up as a common theme in much of my writing.
8. Any last words of advice for those who are maybe struggling with their romantic relationship right now?
Give it to the Lord along with yourself and your future. Be patient. Relationships aren’t microwave dinners. They’re more like slow cooker meals. Be consistent. Be intentional. Use your time of struggle to study out what God says about relationships. What is love, not according to our culture, but according to God? DON’T lord the Bible over your partner—pray it over them. Study 1 Corinthians 13 and ask the Lord to show you where your love needs to grow.
Get to know Rachel more at https://www.rachelmillerwriter.com/about-this-blog. Please post any questions or comments you have for her below!