7 years of dating prior to getting married felt like an eternity while we waited. Now that we are married we see the fruit of those 7 years, and shockingly the waiting feels short after it’s over (haha easy to say after the fact, but during I was like OKAY this is forever)! I wish I could go back to past Tay and say, “enjoy and embrace the season you are in, if you look at the big picture this season only lasts for a short time.” And yes, 7 years is short when you think about seasons (after all Jacob in scripture waited double that, but that’s another story HA). Luke and I have had our fair share of difficult seasons, great seasons, and to be real, sometimes even mediocre ones. A lot of times when we go through something that is harder or hit a “speed bump” we can panic and ask “Is this not normal? What are we doing wrong?” I understand those questions, in fact Luke and I both do.
Luke and I both agreed that we wanted to glorify Jesus together. Have you set a goal for your relationship? It doesn’t have to be so detailed/ specific, but I would highly suggest doing this. Our relationship goal is: be better together for Christ. So we had to ask ourselves questions and recalibrate our hearts often. And I wanted to talk about that with you. I want this to be a comfortable space where you feel like you’re sitting down with me at a coffee shop and just picking my mind about what I would encourage you with when it comes to long term dating, or what I wish we did differently. Luke and I are human. We made mistakes, we battled temptation, we have gotten into arguments, and we’ve strived toward our goals together and tripped a couple times getting there. So please know that when you read this, it comes from a place of working hard together, and in no way am I saying that this will be easy to be better together for Christ, but it will be worth it. So grab your coffee, or your cozies and get ready to dive into these Questions and Answers:
Q1: My boyfriend and I have been struggling with purity and knowing that we have such a long time to wait. What should we do? Do you think we need to break up?
A1: Long term dating means that one of the battles and lessons we will learn is the dedication and determination to respect and love one another in a way that glorifies God. The reason setting boundaries is important is because it greatly prepares you for the season of marriage where our hearts are positioned towards God and protecting one another is vital. Protecting boundaries can be so difficult, especially if you put yourselves in environments where that can get tricky. He’s cute, you’re cute, and it can get hot and heavy fast. Intimacy outside of marriage doesn’t lead you towards Christ until you’re trying to stop the intimacy, but intimacy within marriage brings you closer to Him and to one another. Ask each other what goals you have for where this special and unique relationship can go. It doesn’t have to be so deep so fast. What foundations do you want to create? Make a little bucket list and get outside with each other and groups of friends. Break the cycles of being alone during times where you may be tempted. Communicate with one another and respect one another. You both are stronger than you think. It’s hard to say whether you should break up or not because I don’t know your relationship. But if you feel pressured by one person and don’t have similar convictions that can be difficult. So be sure to communicate and seek godly counsel from those who are surrounding you and love you! Also, when you understand that purity is something God gifts us with (and it’s never too late to receive this gift from God), it gives you a new perspective on the excitement and joy that comes with this gift. I also speak about “purity” in these blogs that I listed out, and how this is a gift and NOT something we have to juggle and feel frustrated with, and it’s also never too late to receive this gift from God. For more info on that, read these blogs: Can’t Touch This, How Far is Too Far, Was Sex Worth the Wait?)
Q2: Did you guys pray together? How did you pray for the relationship?
A2: I know many people suggest not praying together before marriage because they say that it can create an intimacy that is too soon. There is an appropriate depth that is actually necessary for dating. Praying together is good. Luke and I would pray when he would drive me home from dates. We would pray that God would continue to be the center of our relationship. We would pray for whatever was currently happening in our lives and for protection and purity. It wasn’t all the time, but we did. And then when I was alone in the privacy of my home, I would pray for Luke. I felt God’s nudge to pray for him, and to pray specific prayers. Now looking back, I’m amazed that God had me praying specific prayers over Luke that later was answered giving freedom, joy, and healing within our relationship. I will share more on prayer in a later blog.
Q3: This may sound bad but did you ever lose feelings or get bored ever?
A3: Ha! Sad story but true- at one point in our relationship I straight up said to Luke “you don’t give me butterflies anymore.” (I don’t suggest ever saying that to someone, I can’t believe I ever said it). And at another point in our relationship he said “texting you is boring now.” LOL we were savage young kids. But we were learning and looking back I realized how untrue but true those statements were. The butterflies came back, but then at times they left again. Basically, there are different seasons and sometimes we don’t “feel” the butterflies and yet we know that our relationship is founded on much more than just those “feelings.” I’m thankful that we pushed passed the boring text conversations and lack of butterflies. We created depth within our relationship and I love him with all of me and can’t imagine life without him. I realized how much I was learning in our relationship that carried over to my relationship with Jesus. At times I don’t feel “on fire for God” and yet I still show up with faithfulness, knowing that He is good regardless of my current feelings. Even if you don’t “feel” the spark, there is goodness there. Luke and I laugh now because we don’t feel the urgency to entertain one another, it comes more naturally and we can just sit in silence and be together and not be bored. We also speak much kinder, and that lesson of being savage to each other when we were younger actually began through those conversations where the other said, “ouch that hurt.”
Q4: How do you keep things interesting? How do you keep the “spark?”
A4: We both take it as the greatest challenge (positive challenge) to continue to get to know one another. Loving each other can be a good kind of challenge. Pursue growing together in communication, that will keep it interesting forever. 😂 Write each other letters. Get each other sweet gifts even if it’s just randomly getting one another their favorite Starbucks drink and surprising them or favorite candy. It doesn’t have to be crazy. Just be intentional in knowing the other person. Take the love language test and try to understand how the other receives rather than focusing on how you receive. I always write down questions and come back to ask Luke because I want to always be growing towards one another when we do grow. Because 7 years is a long time, we both have grown to be different people through the years, and that isn’t boring at all! It’s actually quite exciting, you just have to view it that way and be very intentional.
Q5: Did Luke ever seem like he felt pressured to talk about marriage or get kind of negative? My boyfriend sort of talks like it’s going to be awhile and it makes me sad.
A5: At one point around our freshman year of college, Luke was just not really loving whenever I would bring up future talk. He sorta would frantically say we would probably be dating for 10 years before we got married, and he was being serious at the time because he really didn’t know what was going to happen in the future. I was always so shocked and sad whenever he would talk like it wasn’t happening anytime soon. But then I realized I was bringing it up too prematurely. I waited until he brought it up later, which ended up being around the end of our junior year of college. When he brought it up he was much more excited and knew more logistics so he wasn’t feeling so worried. We both understand the pressure though. Especially if you’re high school sweet hearts. Everyone would ask Luke “when are you gonna put the ring on her finger.” And once we hit senior year of college, I was like…I’m ready! Because I knew we both were going to be moving back home and emotionally/ mentally we had grown so much. Thankfully he was there too/ even ahead of me because he was already planning the proposal. Again, I don’t know you both personally, but if he’s being negative, just communicate and ask what makes him feel more negatively about it. If he says, timing and feeling rushed, just breathe and let him get there. In the mean time, pray that God would bring clarity when it comes to the timing and that you both would be ok the same page regardless of what happens.
Q6: Did you ever have a time where you weren’t physically attracted to one another?
A6: honestly, no. Haha I’ve always been attracted to him. But I also know that attraction can grow!
Q7: Did you ever think about breaking up?
A7: Sure! I did when we hit 1 year. He did when we were in our first year of college. And then around our 5th year (one year before we got engaged) we went through a really rough season, and we both thought about where our relationship was headed, and we both knew in that moment we never wanted to break up.
Q8: Have you ever doubted your relationship? Like how do know there isn’t someone else out there better for you since you only dated one person?
A8: Sure we both have experienced doubts, but we openly communicated about them. Every time we had doubts we both asked each other why and what the root of it was. The doubts always came from insecurity or something that was obviously not from the Lord. We both could have easily been with other people and probably would’ve had fine relationships with others. I don’t believe in “soul mates.” But I do believe in hard work, love, patience, determination, and a whole lot of prayer. Luke and I created the foundation and grew strong roots in Jesus and there’s no doubt in my mind that God gifted us with one another.
Q9: Did people ever spread rumors about your relationship or one of you? And was it painful? How did you deal with that?
A9: In highschool there were rumors that were painful. Sometimes they were rooted in a mustard seed of truth. But then spread like wild fire that grew into something that wasn’t true. Thankfully we were able to communicate with one another and ask each other what people were talking about and why they would be saying such things. This is much more likely to happen in high school since people are immature. Looking back we laugh on it now. At the time, I confronted the girls/guys that were spreading it, and so did Luke.
P.S. in high school a rumor spread that after luke and I had our first kiss, & that I told luke he had to go back home and apologize to my dad? LOL that never happened. People knew my dad was a pastor and for some reason there were always rumors going around that I was going to tell my dad stuff? I don’t know 😂 I would always tell my dad about the rumors though and he found them pretty funny.
Q10: When is the right time to get married? I’m in college and have been dating for 3 years?
A10: Ah, this question was sent in a lot. And to be honest, I can’t answer this! Everyone is in different seasons, and everyone has different relationships. I would say, when God gives you both a peace, your lives and growing towards one another, and you’re both confident in that next season.
Q11: How did you deal with the unknown? Like not really knowing where your relationship would go?
A11: It was hard for me. I was insecure a lot. I was nervous that he wasn’t on the same page as me and was worried that maybe I was more serious about the relationship. I remember sitting down and just sort of expressing my nerves and basically looking for assurance and he said “Tay, my goal for this relationship is to one day marry you. I know that there is more growth that has to be done in me before that comes, but know that those are my intentions.” That helped a lot. So communicating and setting a goal (whether that be a pretty big goal or even just a more clear goal, it can be helpful). Being out he same page is so important, but don’t ever pressure the other person to get to the page you’re on, let that naturally happen because a lot of times the extra pressure can be too intense and cause stress.
Q12: How did you avoid sleeping together (sex)?
A12: Avoiding sex went deeper than just avoiding the act. It meant creating an environment of respect and striving towards getting to know one another in other ways. It meant physically getting up and getting out of our environment we were in and reminding each other of God’s sacrifice and grace. It meant praying and crying at times. This meant asking God to create in us a pure heart and mind. Our foundation was on Jesus, communication, trust, love and respect. With that foundation it actually grew us closer emotionally and even physically, and yet we had more determination to protect the goodness that we had. We knew that there was more to future intimacy than just avoiding sex now, there was preparation for a foundation of integrity and trust in our marriage. This is hard, but the fruit that came from protecting our relationship was worth it. I love him so much because he protected me, he cared for me, and he prayed for me and I did the same to him.
Q13: Because of dating for so long I have noticed that I find my identity in my significant other and everyone just natural groups is together in their minds as one. I sorta feel like I’ve lost myself. Did you ever feel like that?
A13: All throughout our relationship, I made it clear to Luke that if God told us to break up tomorrow, we would do it. Prioritizing God above our feelings was important. God actually grew us closer because of our willingness to obey whatever He may ask of us. When it comes to people grouping you together, that is natural when dating for so long. But it’s important even when dating, marriage, or whatever that may look like that you still have dreams, joy
Q14: Did you ever consider having sex since you knew you were going to be husband and wife?
A14: No we didn’t, there was too much to lose if we did. Did we have that desire? Sure…I’m not sure of anyone who is dating for 7 years (or even shorter obviously) who doesn’t experience a desire for more intimacy, we are human. But, we knew that the moment we crossed our boundaries in our relationship outside of marriage it would create a division between us rather than bring us together. One of my greatest and most treasured parts of our relationship was our dedication to protect the goodness that was there and what God had gifted us with. Because of the faithfulness, dedication, and protection not only did we create deep roots within our relationship, we are now able to encourage so many who are in similar seasons as we were. There is more purpose in protecting your relationship than what you may think. Another great thing about practicing waiting is that it creates a desire for purity that will be helpful during marriage to protect your relationship from lust or other damaging things within relationships.
Q15: I want my boyfriend and myself to do a devotional and study the word together. We both struggle with reading the Bible so we thought this would keep us accountable. I have heard differing views on this. What do you think?
A15: It’s wildly important to grow as individuals and to read scripture personally to grow your relationship with the Lord. When you are married it is still so important to keep that individual relationship with Christ so that through different seasons you can encourage one another. It can be dangerous when you rely on your partner for your time with God rather than creating a relationship with Christ that is personal to you. There have been stories of couples breaking up and not returning to scripture because it reminded them of their boyfriend or girlfriend. The intention behind your desire is not bad, but the result of this could be harmful. That is why it’s so important for there to be an individual seeking and coming together with all that God is doing in you both. I’m so thankful that Luke and I took that seriously, and I know that you will be too. I know that Luke will lead me well because I am confident he has a personal relationship with Christ that goes beyond just our conversations and Bible reading together. If that makes sense? Luke and I did not do a study together prior to marriage, however we created an environment where we would talk about what we were learning and what God was doing within our lives. The cool thing about this is that it created a foundation of communication, seeking Christ, and excitement for how God was moving. Over and over we found that God would be encouraging us through each other’s testimonies of what He was doing in the other’s life and also how a lot of what God was doing was similar to each other (for example softening our hearts towards someone in particular that we both felt we could encourage, giving us both clarity with a situation, etc). Naturally we progress in a healthy relationship. We grow closer emotionally, spiritually, and physically. However there are ways to balance and appropriately move forward. This is something we both learned. When we were tempted to go further physically we decided that God was going to help us grow through patience and protecting one another. So we would pour our energy into protecting one another. I hope that helps. I know that’s a long answer. If you have further questions, I’d be happy to answer them.
Q16: I worry that my significant other will fall out of love with me. This insecurity grows and causes my boyfriend to feel frustrated. How can we both navigate this?
A16: I know I say this a lot, but communication is key. Ask each other what is the root of this insecurity? How can we both assure one another but also encourage each other towards growing rather than falling backward and getting frustrated at each other? What are some tools that you can use to better navigate these scenarios than the same old cycle that you’ve found yourselves in? It usually goes the same, you were expecting him to see you and wrap his arms around you and confidently say “I love you!” And yet when he saw you he said “alright ready to go?” And so you’re left asking questions, “is he mad at me? Is he ok?” And in reality in his mind he’s thinking “we better go so that we get to the movies on time.” Neither are necessarily wrong. But there needs to be clear expectations. For Luke and I, we both sometimes would have to teach the other how to appropriately respond. Luke would say “Tay, I love ‘hello’s’ so when we see each other it would be great if we always were excited and hugged each other. Rather than just being normal and acting like we’ve seen each other already.” When he said that, I realized how I was sorta just going through the motions. But he’s legit so excited to see me and that initial hello can set the mood for our time together. Note taken. And now our hello’s are as if we haven’t seen each other in awhile even if we saw each other that morning. So be clear in communication so that you can both love another well. Luke and I both would do little “check-Ups” once a week or every other week, “How can I better love you? How can I better serve you? Is there anything that would be better than what I’ve been doing?” This creates a safe place to communicate those needs or desires.
There are so many other incredible questions that I will definitely be writing part 2 soon. If you have any follow up questions, please comment below, email me, or DM me on Instagram. Thank you so much for reading!