I am a Christian and an auditor by profession. I am 22. I have never really been in a relationship, but I think I am in love now. I have been serving in the leadership of the Christian circle in university, a post that has grown my worldview. I have also been in a position to connect with people and introduce them to Christ. I have since finished school and have a job. This guy, also a Christian, came to me early this year and told me he was interested in more than friendship. My problem is that he hasn't given our friendship a title, and though he calls me endearing names, he has never asked me to date him or be his girlfriend. I am considering leaving my job for full-time ministry, and he says that he will support me, though he doesn’t have a job. I also feel I am way much ahead of him in terms of career, spiritually, availability and even moneywise. Would this be an issue in the matter of submitting to him? I don’t want to be the man here, but I am the man since he can’t even make a decision for us. Apart from talking to him about it, how else can I help him to become a better man?
First, I must congratulate you for the focus you have, which brought you to where you are in your spiritual growth and career.
That out of the way, relationships cannot put food on the table.
Many have made the mistake of abandoning their work, career, or schooling and opted for a marriage that has left them miserable, having failed to count the cost of their decision.
Great relational partners must first find fulfilment in who they are before they can get into a relationship.
The truth is that relationships do not complete us. We must seek wholeness by working on our self-esteem and other elements.
Also, an insecure spouse must seek to deal with what causes the insecurity, otherwise it will be transferred to the way they express themselves in a relationship.
Second, it takes two to make a relationship work. Meeting and being attracted to someone is but the beginning of the journey.
It is said that as soon as a woman’s heart falls for a man, she immediately starts to see herself in his life, including getting married to him and having children together, even before the man gives a nod towards engagement.
I would suggest that you take time to evaluate this man’s values, beliefs and circle of friends to ascertain who exactly he is before you start contemplating a future with him.
Remember that when you marry someone, you also marry their background, associations, practices, beliefs and values.
We marry the whole person. That courtship period is to ensure that you study his actions and the hesitations and let this inform your decision.
Don’t be in a hurry just because you feel like you have fallen in love. In marriage, you will need more than this.
Getting into God’s work as a minister is a great thing. I would suggest that since this man is a believer, the two of you have separate discussions on the future of your relationship and that of your careers.
Of course this will be discussed from the perspective of seeking prayer for God’s guidance.
As for you, you should divorce your desire for full-time ministry from the relationship.
You have to ask yourself, “Suppose he decides that you are no longer the woman for him, would you still pursue the full-time ministry idea?”
I believe the most important thing here is to know for certain whether this is the way God wants you to go.
As a result, you will pray that God gives you a man who feels your burden and is willing to partner with you in marriage and ministry.
Ministry is a personal call that is both enjoyable and tough. The support we get from a spouse and friends is key, but our future success is based on our faithfulness to the call.
Of course your worry is notable, but you cannot peg your decision for ministry on whether he will support you because he is not even engaged to you yet.
Before we even talk about submission, the issues you have raised concerning where he is with maturity in decision-making, career and financial matters should be considered carefully.
This is where some spouses get disconnected from each other. Many in marriage and relationships have been frustrated or even gone separate ways due to the indecision, slowness and lack of motivation from their spouse.
These are issues that need to be resolved through honest and free disclosure. For example, why do you feel the way you do about him in these areas of career and finance?
Getting to the core of your feelings and bringing them up for discussion will help seek ways of resolving these feelings.
Now, whether this affects how you submit to him will depend on your attitude and choices.
It appears that you are frustrated with your boyfriend. His failure to stand up for you in most of these things is bothering you.
His attitude could be due to several reasons: the first reason being feelings of low self-esteem.
Unfortunately, this could be as a result of how he views you and what you have achieved. He could be wondering whether he will be good enough for you.
When this happens in marriage, a man may feel inferior and discouraged.
Consequently, his self-esteem may end up being damaged because of the thought that he has failed to measure up to your expectations.
To deal with this, you need to evaluate your actions in this area towards him. For example, how does he view your successes when you express this to him?
I would encourage you to do several things:
1. Be open-minded: Don’t just see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear.
Be willing to help your boyfriend see what he may not be seeing about himself. Talk to him about his blind side that rubs wrongly on the relationship.
At the same time, be willing to remain open to his perspective and choose not to use manipulative or condemning phrases when the two of you communicate.
2. Be empathetic: Listen to him and give him room to fail in the small decisions of life.
Be empathetic to the way he looks at issues. He may be afraid of making mistakes or failing.
3. Be good friends: Never get tired of talking about issues that are important to your relationship. Focus on being great friends first.
If you cannot forge a strong friendship, you cannot make good marriage partners. From my perspective, there is a lot you need to talk about.
If you feel you are not being heard, move on, after all, you are not even engaged, or even sure whether you are boyfriend and girlfriend.
How to nurture a healthy relationship
Although relationships are fun and offer support, they are at the same time hard and challenging if poorly nurtured.
In fact, some well-nurtured relationships could face headwinds of opposition that could threaten their survival.
With more hours spent on career development than we do in understanding what produces healthy relationships, it is important to note that the health of one’s inner life (values, attitudes and motives) should be a reflection of the health of their relationships.
When there is a disconnection on the values we hold and practise, we fail to live at our fullest potential.
What we desire out of life will determine our focus and how we live.
If we want a life that brings pleasure and honour in our homes, then there is no shortcut but to lay down the kind of foundation that will give you that which you desire. It is said that what we sow is what we reap.
Just like a mango tree will always produce mangoes, great values will produce good fruit.
Living in a world with broken systems and broken people should remind you and me of our weak and fallen human nature.
We live in bodies plagued with weaknesses and selfish desires and which, when tempted, easily fall.
So we get angry, hurt those we love, and build an environment of self-preservation.
To cover our pain, we get caught up in the cares of this life, at times at the expense of the brokenness around us. We must intentionally evaluate our pursuits.
Seek to stay honest with our inner self. And questioning who we are becoming.
Suicides, mental illness and depression are just some of the products of our failure to question how we live.
Whatever you are going through, remember that a character anchored on integrity supersedes any gifting, talents and abilities and leads to a healthy soul.
Our inner soul is healthy when it is at peace and works hard at resolving any dissonance or tension that lurks within.
Such tension could flow out of unresolved issues, lack of fulfilment in life, disappointments and unmet expectations.
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