Dating That Sets You Up to Be Successful In Marriage

By lan Warner

Let's get real for a second about what it takes to be successful in marriage. Dating in 2020 is insane. The stories I hear about people dating and trying to navigate their own sin with social media, Tinder, and so many other things thrown around amaze me. 

I have been married for 6 years now, and my wife and I have 3 kids. I am no marriage expert, and I don't claim to have it figured out. But what I do know is marriage reveals that God's plans are much better than yours. 

Marriage showed me a peace that I never had before. Sometimes we read the Bible and hear what God desires for his people, and frankly, we think we have something better figured out. We are arrogant like that! 

I think God makes something very clear about how we should live before we are married, but we venture off with our own ideas and plans. But it's creating problems that most people don't want to deal with the consequences of.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Ephesians 5:25

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How Men Are Getting This Wrong

I'm putting this all on you fellas. Yeah, you can be mad about that, but whatever, I am not saying that the ladies have this down pat they don't, but men are called to lead their household.

We are called to love our wives like Christ loved the church, which was sacrificial until the point of death. Christ gave himself up entirely for the church. He sacrificed himself to the end of death on the cross so our sins could be forgiven. You are called to that level of love. Here are some of the traps that prevent being successful in marriage in the futue:

Dating With No Intentions

We are not talking about a middle school crush. If you're a grown man and you're dating a girl with no intentions of getting married, you need to rethink your strategy. 

Plus, what woman wants a man that has no idea what he wants? When you are definitive in precisely what you want, that is more attractive anyway. 

The goal is to get married. God knows that the temptation for sexual sin is real. In 1 Corinthians 1-5, he talks about this. If you are not going to marry like Paul, that is preferred because you can focus on Christ even more. 

Use and Abuse 

Too many guys see women as objects to help them fulfill their own sexual desires. When I was younger, I also thought like this at a point, and it's a destructive way to think. 

Too many guys think they can just turn this off on demand. You can't use and abuse women for your whole life, and then all a sudden get married and  stop. It does not work that way. 

Men are called to protect women and love them sacrificially. That means putting their needs before your own. 

Terrified of Commitment 

There was once a time where you would see a girl trot through your town on a horse, and you had one shot. You have no idea if you would see her again. There was no Tinder, Instagram, or Snapchat to try and find people. No google to creep with. 

Today the power of choice is killing people. It makes you think that there is always something better coming. Why commit to this girl when there could be someone better.

Instead, men delay and wait and give promise rings, and engagement rings, and other made up rings to delay providing the real ring that counts. 

Commitment, like love, is a choice. You decide you're going to commit and make someone you're everything. There are too many women out there who deserve more, but guys will simply not step up to the plate. 

No Leadership 

As a man, you have been called to be the head of your household. That means creating an environment in your that a woman is happy to follow. When men lose this role, it leads to a host of other issues. 

You see this in Genesis 3 during the fall of man. He was not protecting and watching over his wife. That allowed the devil to sneak in and play her. 

Right now, it's not fashionable to talk about male leadership. With the rise of feminism, the sound of a man leading in the home is not fun to talk about, but God's truth never changes. The Bible does not come with fads. The Word is the Word, and it can't be bent. 

If you want harmony in your home, you need to work on your leadership skills, and most of great leadership is being  an excellent listener. 

It's All About Your Freedom 

You will notice that a lot of people look down on marriage and kids now because they demand you give up yourself. It's more comfortable and more refreshing to have your freedom. You can do what you want when you want and spend your money your way.

Just remember your life was bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). That is why we boast in Christ because this all belongs to him. You need to use your time and life to Glorify him, and his Word tells us that most need a wife to avoid sin and temptation. 

We Need Fathers More Than Ever Before

When I was growing up, it was always clear to me that fathers played a considerable role. I was fortunate to grow up in a two-parent home, but that was not the case for many of my friends.

Many grew up without knowing their dads or having poor relationships, and I saw how much this hurt their families. 

The stats are scary on this stuff. 1 out of 3 children grows up without their fathers. Growing up without a father has been on the rise for the last few decades.

Kids growing up without fathers are at a disadvantage

  • 4x higher risk of poverty 
  • More likely to drop out of school
  • 7x more likely to become pregnant as a teen
  • More likely to have behavioral issues 
  • 2x more significant risk of infant mortality 
  • More likely to abuse drugs
  • More likely to go to prison
  • More likely to commit a crime 
  • source

When you look at the stats, you see the importance of fathers in the household. Their reality is that more men are willing to have kids, then there are men willing and ready to take care of them and impact our society. 

Broken homes speak to the sin curse. Right from the beginning, it was always the devil's plan to break up the family. He wanted to get Adam and Eve on different pages. 

When you can break up families and get people to believe the lie that family does not matter, you set people up for more brokenness. 

Men need to take a stand on this! It's time to love and cherish family again. Men have to decide to lead the way on this matter, or it's not going to change. Being successful in marriage has the power to transform communities. 

Gods Purpose for Marriage 

Lead and Help 

In Genesis, God made man first and gave him instructions on the one tree he should not eat from. After that, God created Eve. In Genes 2:18, it says, "Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."

A few verses down, it talks about how the woman was made from the rib of man. The rib cage is essential. Its sole function is to help hold up the body and to protect internal organs. I believe this is symbolic in a lot of different ways. 

The rib is prominent, and women come from that meaning that as a man that is a wife should be protected and cherished because what is inside her is vital to your own spiritual growth. 

1 Corinthians 11:3 and 1 Peter 3:7 speak more about male leadership in the household and how a man should tenderly care for his wife. Leadership does not mean being a dictator in any way, and the bible is clear about this. 

Become One and Reflect God

Genesis 2:24 says, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

This same thing is repeated in Ephesians and the Gospels. The call is that once one is grown, he will leave his own parents and become one with a woman. 

Proverbs 18:22 says, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord."

Marriage is a good thing. In the bible, the church is often referred to as the bride of Christ. What this is doing is painting a picture for men of what marriage should look like.

If the people are considered the bride of Christ, what did Christ do for the bride? He sacrificed his life for her and took ownership of faults that were not his. 

How amazing is that? That is not an easy calling for you. It means that you should take on the burden of your household. When you become one with your wife, you give up yourself for her. 

Avoid Sin 

The Apostle Paul was not married. He wrote 13 books in the New Testament, and God used him significantly without having a wife. People rarely talk about how God prefers for us to not be married because there is so much emphasis in the church on family and marriage. 

People who are not married can devote much more time to the Gospel because they don't have to head out to soccer practice and wipe boogers. 

God knows how real the temptation to sexual sin is though. It's such a strong human desire that he was gracious enough to give us a way out by making sex between man and wife a gift. Read 1 Corinthians chapter 7. for more on this. 

It talks about why men and women should not withhold sex from each other because it opens you up to sexual sin. Marriage also serves the purpose of helping us to avoid sin. It provides you with someone to hold you accountable for your actions. 

Know That Your Sin Can Prevent You From Being Successful In Marriage 

When I was finished college, I spent a bit of time doing some track and field coaching at the D1 level. I was not sure if that's what I wanted to do, so I was testing it out. I will never forget how many abortions ladies were having on the team.

Then I thought back to my time in school, which made sense of so many situations, and my heart broke for all parties involved. I remember thinking, man, that sin is going to catch up with you one day.

It's common now for people to drag a bunch of sexual sin into their marriage. Take it from me personally, you will have to address this. You can't have a relationship that is different than God's original design and not have to address these issues. 

Please remind yourself of this when you sin. It has to be addressed. You're going to need to confess that sin, talk about and work through it, or else is just going to hurt you. Then imagine being in a relationship with someone else with a bunch of hidden sin that has never been addressed. It's tough stuff.

How to Date to Be Successful in Marriage 

Here are some practical things you can do to date for a successful marriage. 

Be Definitive With Your Purpose 

You get what you focus on. If being married is essential to you, make those intentions clear from the get-go. Don't keep dating and acting like you have no idea what you want. 

It's ok to not know, but you should not date during this time. Take time for yourself to figure out what you want, and during that time, focus on what Jesus is calling you to do. 

When you know what you want, its easier to tell when it's in your face waiting for you. If you have no idea what you want or where you're going, you could pass right by the destination and not even know it. 

Understand That God's Plan is Better 

You need to humble yourself and know that you're not God. His plan and ways are better than yours. This especially goes for all the people who think waiting to have sex is stupid. 

If you're not married, how would you know what is better? The problem is that you won't know if it's better until you're married. That was my own mistake. I had sex before marriage, and when I got married, I immediately went, "ahhhh, God's way is so much better than mine."

Humble yourself and know that God is not changing, and his word is meant for your own good. Discipline is choosing what you want most over what you want now.

Sex is an easy thing to want now and regret later. Absence is a hard thing to do now but a God-honoring choice later. 

Share Core Values and Forget The Rest 

The things that cause divorces are core value issues. You can have a lot of sexual chemistry when dating, you can love the same movies and activities, but none of that really matters. It's the core values that cause issues. 

Matthew 7:24-27 talks about how the word of God is like building on rock vs. building on sand. When you build on sand, it's not stable and structures fall easily. When you build on the rock, though, you have a solid foundation. 

When you have the same core values, and you both believe that the rock is your foundation, you can lean on The Bible to work out any problems because you both see it as truth to guide you closer to Jesus. 

The top reason people get divorces and what the bible has to say: 

  • Money (Luke 16:13)
  • Adultery (Proverbs 5, Hebrews 13:4)
  • Abuse (1 Peter 3:7)
  • Lack of Intimacy (1 Corinthians 7:1-5)
  • Lack of compatibility (Colossians 3:19, Mark 10:9)

Love Jesus Together 

It's one thing to have God's commandments down and be on the same page. But it's another thing to actively love Jesus Christ together. We are given the Holy Spirit so that we walk through this earth as Jesus Christ did. We don't need to rely on our own strength. 

The one thing that many people miss with The Bible is that it's not about you or me. It's about God and his redemption of his people through Jesus Christ. God went out of his way to find a means for us to be in a relationship with him, and we simply have to have faith to do it. 

That shows how much God desires to be in relationship with his people. The least you can do is want that same relationship. It's why time in scripture and prayer are so important. 

lan Warner

Ian Warner is a believer, husband, and father of three. He grew up running track in Toronto before earning a scholarship to Iowa State University. At Iowa State, he became an All-American and made the 2012 Olympic team. He currently helps people to build better habits and follow Jesus Christ.

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