Sometimes a love story is beautiful, but AWFULLY risky!
I asked on my Facebook Page recently: what elements of your love story shouldn’t have worked but did? And I got some great stories! (Seriously, I’ve been asking a lot of questions on Facebook lately for posts I want to write, and getting the best stuff. If you haven’t liked that Page yet, you should!).
What I love is that God works differently in all of our lives, and very individually, too. And sometimes things work that really shouldn’t have worked, largely through grace, or a bigger plan. I picked ten of those stories to feature today, but you can read the rest here. And then I want us to look more closely at some of these love stories:
1. When you don’t have your family’s blessing
1. Our families were involved what could be called a two-generation feud. We found out about it while dating, but didn’t realise the extent of the bitterness or hurt. Our marriage is actually the tool God used to heal that wound and allow older generations to “bury the hatchet.”
2. Kept apart by my family and given an ultimatum about staying together. 🤷🏻♀️ We’ll celebrate 10 years this fall. 🙌🏻
2. A huge age difference (added to getting married young!)
1. 17 year age difference reporting in! 🙋It was especially unorthodox because I was 19 at the time, and he was deploying (Army) that summer. We were then long distance for two years and the longest time we had spent together consecutively was only 8 days… but I moved halfway across the country to live with him anyway. We got married a year later 💞
2. We met on a blind date and have a 13 year age difference. He was a straight as an arrow, stick up his butt military officer, I was a single mom, just having fun with no goals 22 year old when we met, and we’ve been very happily married for 38 years. I think we balanced each other out.
3. A big blended family
We are a blended family with a total of 6 kids. All odds were against us, but it actually made us stronger!
4. A super short engagement
1. We met in a bar when I was 18, got married 6 weeks later and are still happily married 23 years later!
2. I moved to Ethiopia to be a missionary, had a connection with my translator and two months after we decided to get married. We were married six months after my arrival. Four months after that we adopted two children and four years later had a biological daughter!! Sounds crazy to some but best decision(s) of my life! ❤️
3. Engaged on our first date, married 4 months later and will be married 20 years in February and still very happy and in love. Everyone said it wouldn’t last.
5. An initially “unequally yoked” marriage
I wasn’t a Christian when I met him and we survived me going away to college then moving out of state for a job. 7 years of dating before we got married. We are total opposites I’m book smart and he’s street smart. He helped lead me to Christ. Married 17 years with 4 kids
When it comes to relationship “rules” we need to realize that the exception should not make the rule, but we also need to leave room for some exceptions.
6. Surviving an “affair”
Well when I was pregnant after 13 years of marriage my husband had an “affair??”with his ex girlfriend in Oregon. But we are still married after 33 years and our daughter is 20.
7. Pregnant when You Married/Baby Before Marriage
1. We got pregnant 7 months into the relationship (while in college!) and got married before we had been dating even a year. It’s been 6 years since we got married and we have 3 kids and are super in love.
2. We started dating when I was 14. Had our first baby when I was 16. I graduated high school and we got married at 18. I graduated college pregnant with our 3rd child. I have a degree yet I stay home with our now 6 babies (11yo-6mo] while the Lord provides an incredible income through my husband’s hard working hands. We make 10 years married August 8th and I’m so blessed daily by this life we’ve built against the odds!!
8. Married Someone with a Past
He’s been married before, had a child. We’re 9 years apart. He was a Christian, I was not. And during my second pregnancy his mother moved in with us. Happily married 19 years and still have Mom with us!
9. Very, Very Young Marriage!
We got engaged while he was still in high school, and got married right after he graduated. I was a Christian, he wasn’t. That didn’t happen til about seven years into our marriage. We’ve been married 15 years now. I think it’s safe to say most people didn’t think we’d make it, but God knows our story.
10. A Long-Distance Engagement
1. We dated in person for 5 months, and then we were stationed apart for military service for 18 months. We only saw each other every 6 months (including for our wedding!) The military is hard on relationships and conventional wisdom would predict us breaking up, but with lots of Skype, love, and God caring for us, we made it through and we’ve been married 4 years!
2. I met my husband at 16, we lived in separate states (MI and IN) dated long distance for four years. I still can’t believe that we as teenagers pulled it off! 😄
Wow! There were also people who wrote about circumstances that shouldn’t have worked, but did. Lots of crises in first few years of marriage, or illnesses and cancer. One even had a deaf/hearing marriage combination!
Reading all of these stories, what can we conclude?
I think there are two different mistakes we can make when it comes to understanding God’s grace when it comes to choosing a marriage partner: the first is believing the exception makes the rule; the second is not leaving room for any exceptions at all.
Just because something worked for one person does not mean that it will work all the time–we still need to be wise!
These stories of people getting married after super-short engagements, or when they were really young, or when they had never really spent much time in the same city–they make me smile likely just as much as they make you smile.
However, we still need to be wise. Marriage is a huge step. While things that would normally never be recommended can end up working for people, that doesn’t mean that the recommendations themselves are irrelevant.
There’s a reason that marriages tend to be more successful if you really know each other first; if you have similar backgrounds; if your friends and family like your significant other; if you both follow Jesus. It’s hard to blend two lives. It’s much easier if you truly understand what you’re getting yourself into, and if there are fewer surprises afterwards.
Just because your parents got married after only 3 months of courtship, or just because your best friend got married after only knowing him long distance does not mean that you should disregard all the good advice you’ve been given!
If your love story doesn’t fit the mold, that doesn’t mean it’s doomed, either
The second mistake we can make, though, is to write off a potential love story because it doesn’t check all the right boxes. Like I said in my post about preferring “debt free virgins without tattoos“, the really important thing is not that someone meets your checklist of criteria. It’s that they know and follow Jesus, and that the fruit is evident in their life.
I know a wonderful Christian man with a great sense of humour, a great job, and an awesome extended family who is still single at 44 because he absolutely refuses to date anyone with any kind of baggage or any kind of past. Maybe he’s right and he’d actually prefer to be single, but I get saddened by people like that, because I know so many amazing women in their 30s and 40s who have been left by horrible husbands. These wonderful Christian women would make amazing wives, but here this guy is saying that he won’t take anyone with baggage. I think about what a wonderful step-father he would have made.
Some people, if you were to look only at their life story, would seem to be horrible marriage partners. But when you see what God is really doing in their life, you see how amazing they might be. I think of Rahab, the prostitute who helped the Israelite spies, as told in Joshua 2. She had quite the baggage! She wasn’t an Israelite. She belonged to a completely different people group that worshipped different gods. She had been a prostitute. But she chose to ally herself with God, and her name is found in Jesus’ genealogy.
She broke all the rules–but she was good enough for Jesus.
The big conclusion I’d make, then, is that it always comes back to being able to discern God’s voice.
Stay in close contact with God. Desire the things of God. Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. When you do this, you’ll be able to see when a love story really isn’t a good one. And you’ll also be able to see whether someone is genuinely following God or not, and whether they’d be a good match for you.
Your best love story comes when you listen to God. It doesn’t have to tick all the boxes. But it does have to please Him.
Here are some other series for you to read:
Did your love story break the mold? Tell me about it! What’s the best advice you’d give about how to know if they’re marriage material? Let’s talk in the comments!