An American businessman was on holiday in Mexico. As he relaxed on the beach, he noticed a fisherman coming in on his boat. The American complimented the fisherman on his catch and asked him how long it took him to catch that many fish. “Not long.” was the reply. “Then why didn’t you stay out longer?” asked the tourist. “Because this is enough for me and my family.” explained the fisherman. “So what do you do with the rest of your time?” “I sleep late, fish for a while, play with my children, take a siesta and spend time with my wife. Then in the evening, I go into the village to visit my friends, I have a few drinks, play the guitar and sing a few songs. I have a full life.”
The American was surprised. “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you. You should spend more time on the water fishing, then you can sell the extra fish, make more money and buy a bigger boat.” “And after that?” “With the extra money from the bigger boat, you can buy two or three boats and eventually hire more people to operate a fleet of fishing trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can start to negotiate directly with the processing plants. After a while you would be able to open your own plant. Then you could leave this little village for Mexico City and eventually, New York! From there you could operate the whole enterprise.” “After that you’ll be able to retire on the coast, sleep in every day, do some fishing, play with your grandkids, take a siesta and spend time with your wife. In the evenings you will be able to go out drinking and singing with your friends.”
The fisherman shrugged and walked away.
The story of our lives is trying to balance those very delicate things so as not to make a huge mess of it all. We want a great education, but we don’t want to be isolated from our social life. We want to be successful in our careers, but not to become workaholics. In all things we find that two-sided tension, especially from dating to marriage.
The desire to pursue and love biblically gives you great patience in dating, that same desire to please God allows you to release your passion for your partner in your marriage. But there is a middle stage there: Engagement. We are passed dating but not yet Married, what do we do now?
If you are a man like myself you may have the question of, “If you’re supposed to bathe your wife in the word of God, so what do you do with your fiancé… sprinkle her?” A woman may ask, “As a wife I am a helper, how do I operate in engagement?” There is a great tension there because there is a condition that I like to call the “Almost, but not yet” complex. You are more than just interested in each other and have made the commitment of getting married, but you just aren’t married yet. You want to say just operate like you did when you were dating, but the bible places high emphasis on engagement. Joseph was ready to quietly divorce Mary when he found out she was pregnant before they were married. Which means the betrothal is commitment enough to have to divorce from. So how do we operate in the engaged phase and where do we go from here? Good question.
Just as when you were dating, there has to be boundaries. Boundaries are great because they keep things in perspective, you may feel more connected but you are not as 1 Peter references “his and hers”. The other thing about boundaries is that they cannot be simply what not to do, but why not to do them. My fiancé and I chose not to kiss before the wedding day. This was decided early in our dating, and has continued throughout. Not because we have to, but because our ‘what not to’ has a ‘why not to’ for us. We don’t want to unleash love before its time (precaution), and we desire to work through the healing of our past before going into the physical of our relationship. On the flip side of setting boundaries, you still have to gain intimacy and learn more about one another. You desire to marry this person, so you don’t want to say I do and have no earthly clue to whom you have married. Sure when you get married you find out even more, but because you are both selfish, you have a lot of baggage that needs to be checked. It is a gradual learning and unveiling of oneself to the betrothed, learning about each other just a bit more than you did while dating.
As much as this stage of life is about balance, its not just about balance between each other but of your brothers and sisters around you. You need to build strong relationships outside your relationships so that you can talk through those sins that men & women face, while discerning what not to divulge.
Ultimately the union of marriage is to show the glory of God, representing the relationship that Christ has with the church. Your engagement should be glorifying to God, exemplifying how to love your brother or sister according to God’s will. The only way top do this is if each member is constantly pointing their partner to the cross of Christ, where we are all saved by grace through faith. The fisherman was able to walk off because of all the things the business man talked about at the end of the road; the fisherman had it all along. Therefore, whether you are in dating, engagement or marriage never lose sight of your first true love.