As I am finishing up this year and thinking about re-entering the dating world, I have been thinking about what is important in a relationship, what is healthy, what is necessary? Of course, I have my own ideas and thoughts about what is important, but who more than my dad would have the highest expectations and standards for the person I date. So I asked him to sit down and think through some things he would have wanted to know sooner about dating and relationships. I thought what he came up with are great for everyone. Not just for all the men lined up to date me in December (jk), but all men…married, single, dating, engaged, etc.
**Small disclaimer**some of these include things specific to me, but it was so sweet to read how well my dad knows me that I couldn’t delete them from the final post.
I have to confess that I have broken most all of these rules more often than I care to admit with my wife. I most definitely owe Kathy’s dad an apology for not honoring and respecting his daughter like I want me own daughter to be treated. I hope that all the rest of you guys reading this who are dating or married will take to heart what I have written and hopefully do a better job than I have. And for all you women out there that are not married and reading this, keep the bar high. Trust me when I say there is no man out there worth lowering your standards for. And, please don’t fall prey to the myth or false assumption that you will change him or he will change. What you see right now is most likely the best you are going to get. That being said, I hope and pray that Amanda will find a man who will aspire to hit the bulls-eye and not have to learn these the hard way.
1.Love Jesus more than anything or anyone else. When the religious leaders questioned Jesus as to what the most important law was without hesitation he declared, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matt. 22:37,38). Since Jesus created and designed us He knew that the greatest potential for intimacy and connectedness on a human level would come only when we love Him over and above everything else. The greatest gift you can give to Amanda or your partner is to be a passionate lover and follower of Jesus.
2. Love my daughter more than you love yourself. Now you see why I said you have to love Jesus above everything else. Because the truth of the matter is this: if you do not love Jesus with all your heart, soul and mind you will not be capable of loving my daughter, or anyone else for that matter, more than you love yourself. However, if you love her more than you love yourself and she loves you more than she loves herself the potential for intimacy is unlimited. Amanda hears, feels, and receives love through the giving of gifts and by being served. So, give her even the smallest of gifts and look for simple ways of serving her each and every day.
3. Encourage and support her to become the person God created her to be. She is “fearfully and wonderfully” made. She is God’s masterpiece. Empower her to grow spiritually, use her unique gifts, strengths, talents and abilities. Challenge her to dream great dreams for God and be willing to take risks. Remind her of what God says in Eph. 3:20 “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” In other words, God says dream your biggest and greatest dream for me and I can top it every time. Let me also encourage you to respect and honor her sexual boundaries. Help her to stay pure and holy.
4. Treat her like a lady.God created us distinctively male and distinctively female. We process and view just about everything that happens in life through different thoughts, feelings and emotions. Entire books have been written on this subject, so I will not go into detail here. And when it comes to understanding our differences God places the mantle of responsibility squarely in the man’s lap. I Pet. 3:7 says, “live with your wife in an understanding way.” And that is so hard because we are men; we see everything through a man’s eyes; we filter everything through a man’s filter. But it is our calling as men. In fact, in that same verse God go on to say that our prayers will not be hindered if we will live with our wives in an understanding way.
With that in mind, what I want to say to you is hold her in the palm of your hands softly, be tender and gentle, focus on her when she talks and talks and talks (–good joke, Dad), be sympathetic when she is hurt, let her process her day and give you all the details, and try your best to smile, say yes dear, and be patient as she tries on outfit after outfit. Treat her like the incredibly beautiful, unique, special, and valuable treasure she is. Open the door for her; push her chair in; wait for her to order first. It is the simple daily things you do that show her how important she is to you.
5. Share your life with her. This is a hard one for us guys because we tend to process everything in our minds and keep it under lock and key. But I can tell you from personal experience that this is a recipe for disaster. When God created Adam he said it was not good for man to be alone. The reason God said that is because He knows it is not good for man to be alone! And I do not believe he was only referring to physical aloneness here. He knew we would be at our best when we shared our deepest feelings, thoughts, desires, fears, insecurities, struggles, dreams, and opinions with the woman He has brought into our lives. Learn to share all of your life with Amanda. She is one of the wisest, most forgiving, accepting, and grace-filled persons I know. (We all know she got those qualities from her mom!) As you share slices of your life with her you will experience the incredible feeling of acceptance and freedom of sharing your entire life with the love of your life. If you both live as open books before each other the intimacy you long for will be unlimited.
One last thought, maybe another rule, confess your sins as soon as possible and don’t let sin, shame and guilt build up. I am not naïve enough to think that you will always keep all of these rules perfectly. No one ever has, save Jesus. Like I said earlier, Amanda is very forgiving and so is her mom and I! If you will strive to keep these rules you will find yourself involved with the second greatest woman on planet earth!!!
P.S. And did I say make sure you keep up with Florida Gator football. And when I say keep up I mean like knowing who is on the recruiting list, how many stars they have behind their names, who is on the injury report, where they are in the SEC standings, and sometimes I think she even has their schedule memorized. But I will forewarn you that watching a game with her is brutal. She lives and dies on every play. After you sit through an entire game with her you will feel like you played the game!