Aside from Black History, the month of February is also known as the Love Month. Just walk into a store, just about any store during this time of the year, and you’ll find the shelves lined with teddy bears, balloons, and heart shaped candy boxes dressed in that telling symbolic color of red. Love is in the air, there are engagements waiting to happen, but what are some things you should do before you actually say those famous words, "I do"?
If you are contemplating an engagement, consider the following:
- Be transparent
- Listen to what they are saying, not what you want to hear
- Trust your instincts
- Talk about money
- Introduce them to your family
I don’t claim to be the guru of dating or the “go-to” person for singles. But I do remember what it was like to be single … and waiting. I know what it is like to date someone, think he is the one, only to discover some characteristic flaw that I was not willing to compromise on. Then again, why should I? Why should anyone “settle” for less than they really want from a mate? When you get married, there are enough compromises that are to be made, but the decision to be with someone for the rest of your life … the rest of your life, requires some deep thought and intense consideration. At least it did for me because when I decided to get married. The option for divorce was well … not an option. So, with that being the case I had to be wise in my decision to whom I was to marry.
So, you may already have your own ideas of what to do before you actually utter those words “I do”, committing yourself to someone legally as well as spiritually. Let me offer my two cents on the matter. I met my husband (then an unknown person to me) and we dated for four months, and then was married. It did not take five years, it did not include empty promises; it simply involved two people who were transparent enough to allow the other to see them for who they truly are. We talked for hours at a time, we went out on dates as well as stayed in and watched rented movies. We went to church together and we visited each other's families during the holidays. This is where you really get to know someone. Meet up on a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas and observe the extended family members in action. There is bound to be someone around that will share a story or two that may interest you. Hopefully, this will make a positive impact on your relationship.
Be sure to talk about what you have and don’t have. Do you have bad credit? Do you have a stable, consistent income? Do you have a savings account? Is there money in that savings account? Sometimes you have to be specific about the questions you ask. You don’t want to later find that the savings account they said they had only has $5.00 in it. Or even worse, a negative balance! This was not the case with my husband, praise the Lord. I’m just offering some due diligence advice for those pondering marriage. Don’t assume anything, especially since you will be trusting this person with everything that you have.
Other important questions: Do you have children? Please don’t assume that because you don’t see children or pictures of children in their house that they don’t have any. Do you want to have children? Don’t be misled by the fact that they turn to mush around other people’s children that they want some of their own, ask specifically.
My husband and I both agreed on having children before we got married and we stuck pretty close to the timeline in which we wanted to have them. Today we have been married eight years, now with two toddlers running around the house.
So, you see, when you are open enough to let that person know you for who you are, your strengths and weakness, during your fashionable days as well as not so chic moments, and they still see the natural beauty beneath a made-up appearance, you've got yourself a winner! Be your own champion. It does not take compromising your principles to keep him or her. It does not take your pretending to be something you’re not to please them either. It takes an honest look at who you are and what you expect from that other person. Don’t marry with the hopes of they will change. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you are dating a person at their best. So, what comes after the vows is a work in progress.
* * *
Some of these topics are touched on in Single, Saved, & Searching (True Love Novellas, Book 2). Do you have your copy?