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I’ve been in a relationship with my best friend for over three years. Having others speak into our relationship is really important to me—but there’s just one problem: My sources of wise counsel disagree with each other! Half say I could do better, and the other half say that the uneasiness and uncertainty I’m feeling are because I have unrealistic expectations for relationships and men (which, I admit, I do have). How do I know which source of wise counsel is really the wise one?
This is such a great question! I feel like 90% of my responses tell people to seek wise counsel, so what DO we do when our counsel disagrees?
Make each member of your wise counsel hold an egg on a spoon. Whoever can run down to the mailbox and make it back to you first is the person whose advice you should listen to.
Ask yourself what you consider to be “wise counsel.”
1. Do they ask you sincere questions about your relationship? Even the hard ones?
2. Do they give advice based on knowing you (as opposed to “This is what I did, so…”)?
3. Are they invested in you and your relationship?
4. Are they wise by biblical standards (not perfect, but actively learning and growing in their faith; see Proverbs 1)?
5. Do they pray for you?
I had created a list of introspective questions I thought could be helpful, but my father added these questions, and I thought they were much better.
So, some thoughts from my Pops…
1. Have you written out your “unrealistic expectations” and looked at them closely?
2. Can any man fulfill your “unrealistic expectations”?
3. If you found a man who did meet these expectations, ask yourself why he would be interested in someone like you.
In other words, if you are expecting so much of a man, is it to the degree that he would have to lower his expectations to end up with someone like you?
Harsh I know, but it’s good to think through the statements and expectations we make.
Having asked yourself these things, if your expectations are realistic and your guy is not investing in the relationship and his own personal growth like you are, then do not mislead yourself in concluding you have unrealistic expectations.
Also, remember that if you read Scripture collectively instead of picking and choosing verses, it screams of balance and grace. I always encourage people to seek counsel, but I hope they balance that with their own ability to interpret Scripture independently.
Psalm 119:99: “I have more insight than all my teachers/For Your testimonies are my meditation.”
Have you cracked open the Biblia lately? It’s actually quite resourceful.
Lastly, ask yourself the hard question.
“Do I really want to be with this person?”
I think we often get stuck in the mindset of “I should be with this person” or “what if there is something better?” or there’s always the kind of person who just enjoys living in the uncommitted drama of uncertainty. These approaches can all cause you to fall into the trap of stagnation.
So I’d consider making a decision before another three years of your life pass you by.
BUT WHAT IF IT’S THE WRONG ONE?
Ultimately, you can’t control the outcome of your life, but you can strive to make the best possible decision with the information given. An important thing to remember if you believe in God is that Satan is real, too. I doubt he wants the commitment of a husband and a wife to succeed or even begin.
I personally believe that both dating and marriage come down to obedience and a choice. If you don’t want to be with your boyfriend for the rest of your life, say the painful goodbye. If you want to be with him in spite of the things that irk you, give some grace, start meeting with another couple, and be open and honest about your relationship. But try to enjoy your best friend, for crying out loud!
Obedience can give you lots of freedom, and, sadly, that can freak some of us out if we like being told what to do.
Remember, God is for you. He is pleased that you have a heart that wants to do the right thing. Try to rest in that right now (Psalm 68).
From my heart,
TOUGH Question: Let’s say you DO marry this guy (or any guy) and the marriage gets difficult. Should we conclude you made the wrong decision?
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As one who has played the role of “wise counsel”, I will say that my default position is to find fault with the relationship and shortcomings in the participants. Point being, I’m a skeptic / cynical and sometimes you need to question the bias of the “wise counsel”. While seeing potential pitfalls is helpful, you can be certain that healthy relationships will struggle at times as people grow at different rates and perhaps in different directions (particularly as roles change, ie parenting).
I think Joy is right to ask, are you willing to submit to God and your spouse, to the relationship’s needs above your own?
Not an easy or a lighthearted commitment, praise God.
I have recently just taken one of the biggest steps of my life and ended a relationship, i am not suggesting that this is what you should do, as only you and the Lord our Father knows the answer to that. But the advice i acted on was those things that God dropped into my life, as he un-coincidently does, and it is those things that land on your hart in peace that you should listen to. (Isaiah 40.31 was the verse that i received three times in one week through three totally different people who had no idea what i was going through while praying hard) Jesus is inside you alive and as my Pastor says if you have lost your Peace it is not from the Lord. I realized that i had lost my peace and now i have so much of it can’t describe how alive in him i feel again. God bless
Several years ago, I realized I was expecting my husband to be “perfect” aka “Jesus”. My expectations were way out of whack and completely unfair. I couldn’t even live up to my own expectations…. my understanding was skewed and immature.
I kept trying to put my honey in the Jesus shape hole in my heart. Only Jesus fits there. That was a beginning point when I learned my “faith and trust ” is in the Lord and I “get to” love and respect this man God gave me. In the rough patches and tough spots, I pondered occasionally…had we outgrown each other, even though we lived together? Or did we make a mistake with this matchmaking decision? I clung to the knowledge of our God-appointed, providential meeting. I did ask the Lord to show me again, why we were such a good match. I also learned in that time marriage is more about growing in holiness than happiness-and there was a lot of growing I needed to do there. That was hard for a girl who liked “fun” too much. I don’t conclude that rough patches in a marriage means we have made a mistake. Perhaps it’s more about growth that needs to take place.
Can I just say that Papa Eggerichs is a wise man (which you clearly already know). Perhaps 90% of your responses could be to seek wise counsel from him. Okay, that probably isn’t realistic. But seriously, I love his questions. They do sound a bit harsh. And yet, one of the key elements of wise counsel is that it cuts to the core of the issue at hand. His questions do just that, especially #3 as it brings the focus back to the person with the unrealistic expectations. If I am not perfect, how can I expect that of the person I’m dating?
Now to take a crack at the “Tough Question”… My simple, and perhaps harsh, answer is no. When a person says “I do,” they lose the right to question whether they made the right decision. There is plenty of time to ask these questions before making such an important vow. But marriage is a lifetime commitment, and unless that relationship is abusive or one partner is unfaithful, the commitment should be honored…even when it gets tough. Scripture makes it clear that marriage isn’t all about us. Instead, marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32). If we claim to believe what the Bible says, shouldn’t we seek to demonstrate that truth by the way we live out our marriages?
@Robby, My pops is pretty wise and his love for people pushes him to ask those hard questions. I have been the recipient far too many times!
Great insight on the “tough question” for people who believe. It’s not easy but I have hope that great things can come from people who stick out the tough times and let the experience grow them.
@Kate, Thanks for your thoughts Kate. I think that’s why it’s so important to have people who know us speak to us out of that place. Some of us are just anxiety ridden about everything, while others of us truly have red flags and that nagging feeling and know what we need to do.
Very well put, Joy! I think it is great that this reader is wanting to seek wise council and I love how you carefully outline what “wise” council actually means. Just because someone is our best friend, doesn’t always mean their advice will be sound.
As you closed out on this post, we really have to realize that moving forward with things is a choice. I am in a situation right now where I am chosing to move forward with a man that I didn’t think I would. The things holding me back were things my friends valued or things I valued that weren’t important next to the integrity and heart this man has. After saying yes, I was able to realize that those things keeping me from moving forward were just things, not deal breakers by any means. I am happy I chose to move forward with this not because those small things will never bother me, but because the big important things (faith, trust, love, respect, etc) will help us work through the other stuff.
Lastly, if you know Christ, His spirit lives in you. Trust the Spirit and listen to where it is leading. Yes, through scripture and wise council, but also hear what you are really feeling and why you are asking these questions.
Joy, very well put. Counseling is a very good thing, but more importantly is the choosing the correct, more appropriate counselor, as I unfortunately didn’t find until it was too late.
One of the easiest ways is to start with a Christian based counselor, this was my (our) first mistake. My Wife and I went to basically the first available that said they dealt with family, marriage, life changing issues, etc.. Anyways we made a number of repeated sessions, but it honestly seemed that it really wasn’t helping that I could feel. Financial and insurance issues caused us to stop for a short time, then we went to this other group, which was not any different I felt like.
Later, after us actually separating and that, I searched for help thru Focus on the Family Radio program, and they hooked me up with a local Christian Counselor that was so much, in many ways, different than my experiences before. We had a multiple route choice in which direction to focus the counseling on and with us talking and how I felt about my relationship with my wife, we focused on that. (We later had to change directions because of circumstances that came up, but we had known that this was a possibility from the start). As we started and all, I was given homework assignments and things I had to do for both myself and look at how things had changed and what was missing and how the changes could have affected the whole picture, I was to write this down, not just think about it…and she had guides for me to follow on doing all this. I was astounded by what all I was findings and the self discoveries this brought out; and I was just 2 sessions into this at that time!! (This was something I never experienced after over 2 months of weekly sessions with the other guys..sad..)
So in recap; there is a counsel, then wise counsel… Joy, your Parents and Yourself are doing wonders and I love to hear the reminders and follow the postings. Keep up the good works that the Lord has guided your family into.