(Editor’s Note: This reflection article is based upon the video RE:NEW Dating and Relationships Series: What Qualities Do You Look For In a Partner)
Having a list of qualities for your potential spouse is something that we all can benefit from in our dating years. It’s a way we can understand what to look for when considering a potential life partner. It’s also a way to stay within God’s boundary lines, which He lays out for us in His Word so that we don’t become “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 4:16). Joyce, Agnes and Jonathan all share their own “lists” with us of what they believe is most necessary to look for in a relationship.
Starting with Joyce, she brings up some tried and true characteristics like honesty, patience, consistency and a love for and personal relationship with God. Jonathan gives a guy’s perspective and shares that he personally looks for someone who shows kindness, whom he can get along with and who shares his faith. Though already married, Agnes also shares what she believes is most important for young people to look for in their single years: someone with both a love for God and for others expressed in the ways they’ve uniquely been gifted. She says that such a person is most likely to make positive changes for God and for others.
As I considered my own “list” from my younger years, I realized that though many of the items on my list did get checked off such as my husband being taller than me, someone who could make me laugh, and someone who is easy to talk with; those surface-level items on my list didn’t actually end up being as important as sharing the same values in life, as Agnes mentions.
Looking back now, what I found to be the most important aspect in my relationship with my boyfriend, now husband, was and still is our mutual love and respect for God’s Word. It is the place we come back to over and over again together to shape and refine our values and way of seeing the world. Of course this respect and love for God’s Word comes out of our faith in Christ and desire to love God and properly love our neighbor, but we would not even know those things were so important if we did not receive those teachings from God’s Word, who is Christ Himself (John 1:1-3, 14).
I vividly remember at our wedding singing, “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.” Truly, Christ – the Word of God – the solid foundation of our relationship, has proved to be, “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). It was a constant reminder to remain pure in our dating years even when no one was around. It has refined our ways of seeing one another when we have been tempted to blame or withhold forgiveness. God’s Word has instructed us in how to communicate lovingly and gently when we wanted to be quick to anger and not listen, or justify rude remarks. A high view of the unchanging, immovable Word of God has also allowed us to challenge each other in various areas of our lives, since at the end of the day we can’t really argue with God’s Word. At the very least, we end up wrestling with God’s Word instead of one another.
So looking back at my single years, I think I would have definitely put that at the top of my list for what to look for in a potential spouse – someone with a high view of, love and respect for God’s Word.
I also really liked how Jonathan includes some lessons he learned from past relationships. I think we can learn so much about who we are and what we’re really looking for (and not looking for) in a potential life partner from past relationships. For Jonathan, he mentions that communication is key. It’s important to share and value what you’re feeling and thinking instead of just going along with what the other person is saying and lose yourself in the process. He also mentions how he came to realize he was not a good gift giver and that others may have different ways of loving.
Similarly, Agnes mentions at one point that a man who loves God and others may not necessarily express that love through outward forms of leadership as is usually expected in a Christian relationship. They may show that love in a different way. I remember in the past I used to be very bothered that my husband, then boyfriend at the time, didn’t have an up-front leadership role in the church. But I came to realize that his main way of showing love was through acts of service. He loved doing things for others in ways that often got overlooked and thus actually led as Christ modeled and instructed His disciples to do (Luke 22:26-27).
Joyce and Agnes end the video with a few questions for those who haven’t yet made their “list”. These questions serve as a good springboard for thinking about what to look for in a possible life partner.
And as Jonathan mentions, it’s also important to pray to God and ask Him if where you are – whether single, dating, or engaged – is the place you should be right now. Ask Him for wisdom to know what qualities you should look for in a potential partner and who would align with His will for your life.
Check out the video here:
Written by: Elizabeth Hughes
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