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My cousin, an outdoorsy girl from South Dakota, had been dating a boy for some time and was contemplating marriage.
She was taking her time because she wanted to see how he acted in all four seasons, just to make sure he was fun in all types of weather. Did he like to ski in the winter, hike in the July heat, camp out when the fall colors were changing? He passed the fun test, and they are still married after seven years.
We all can agree that it is important to see our potential spouse in all “seasons” to make sure we are not blinded by the notion that we are in love, the “when you know, you know,” nonsense and get to the heart of who we are actually dealing with here. I would like to take this idea a step further.
Have you seen your boyfriend or girlfriend in all roles of their life apart from you? Sure, you are in love with that person who plays the role of your boyfriend or girlfriend; they are sweet, attentive, they say all the right things, they are good listeners, and are overall just what you are looking for.
As far as them playing the proper role, they are nailing it. But you are only seeing them through the lens of who they are to you.
What do you see when you switch the lens to who they are as a son or daughter? A brother or sister? A friend? An employee?
We do not have a long history with our girlfriend like her family of origin does. Your girlfriend has had a lifetime with her family; the ups and downs, good times and bad, the fights and the aftermath of the fights, and everything in between.
Is she not talking to a relative because of something that happened 10 years ago? Does she get jealous of a sibling who is more successful or is she able to be their biggest cheerleader?
Does she become a brat when she does not get her way? Is she respectful to her parents when given advice or does she receive it with an ungrateful spirit?
Is she protective and proud of her family unit or does she disrespect and dishonor it?
Your goal is to have a lifetime with your significant other as well and the two of you will experience that same roller coaster on a whole other level. If they cannot let go of a sister’s mistake that happened years ago, will they be able to forgive the mistakes you make?
If they do not get their way in the middle of a conflict, will they revert back to their 10-year-old self?
If they do not honor and respect the family of origin, will they do the same with you and your kids eventually?
If you have seen them do this to others, then odds are you will see this behavior in your relationship at some point.
Your boyfriend has had lifelong friendships worth paying attention to. What kind of friend is he? Who has he chosen as friends? Are they the kind of people you would pick for him? Are they the kind of people he can be real and vulnerable with or does he put up a macho front with them?
I love the quote by Craig Groeshel that says, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”
Proverbs 13:20 states, “The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Are his friends encouraging him to have a healthy relationship with you or are they encouraging him to be the bachelor he was not so long ago? Are they bringing out the best or the worst in him? Even more important, how is your boyfriend responding to this?
If you could be a fly on the wall at your mate’s job, what would you see? Do they take pride in their work? Do they do the small things with excellence or are corners cut? Do they complain with coworkers about leadership? Do they excuse any bad behavior with the fact that they do not get paid enough to go the extra mile?
If mistakes are made, do they own up to it or do they blame others and play the victim?
When contemplating marriage, one of the biggest mistakes young—and sometimes not-so-young—couples make is to ignore potential red flags on the front end. We can easily tell ourselves that issues will work themselves out naturally. Why do we want to bother with anything negative when this obviously is meant to be?
The blinders are on but time will reveal any problems in a harsh way if we do not deal with them on the front end. During this time, take a step outside of yourself as the girlfriend or boyfriend and see your significant other for who they truly are. The more roles you see them play, the more equipped you are to make a decision if they are the one for you.
No one is perfect, but the more we know about our loves, the more we can make an informed decision about our future with him or her. Hearts wide-open. Eyes wide-open.