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Danger Zones to Avoid in a Relationship

In over two decades of itinerant ministry, I have connected with diverse groups of people from a smorgasbord of backgrounds facing some of the most difficult aspects of life. I have been extremely fortunate to meet, counsel or publicly address both students and adults alike. Of all the questions I have been asked, none has been more prevalent than the topic of relationships. 


A majority of these inquisitions mostly arise from younger people who are wanting to be aware of potential minefields to avoid. Failing past relationships of their own or a poor example they have been shown at home by their parents has driven them to seek more permanent and fulfilling unions. 


While every relationship has seasons of challenge and none are without fault, the foundation on which a couple builds almost always determines its health and longevity. Even under the best of circumstances, where both are true followers of Christ, marriage is not easy, and couples should expect to encounter both the lowest of valleys and the highest of mountaintops.


Seldom am I asked what a person should look for in a potential mate, but I am commonly asked what one should be looking to avoid. Years of ministry and study of scripture have revealed five danger zones that should put a person on high alert when seeking a potential spouse.


1.     Dating a non-believer.

This first one is the most is the most basic and obvious. 2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us explicitly to not be “unequally yoked’ with unbelievers and questions what fellowship light can have with darkness. The analogy seems obvious - the two cannot coexist with one another because they are at complete odds. That said, there are unusual examples such as my parents. My mother married my dad as a non-believer and fortunately he eventually received Christ and they have been happily married for decades. However, for every one example like my parents, I can show hundreds of others who ended up in divorce or lifelong division. Dating leads to marriage and allowing oneself to unite themselves with someone who doesn’t have a personal relationship with Christ is a grave mistake.


2.     Dating a person who professes Christ but whose life doesn’t confess Christ.

Everyone has known someone who claims to be a Christian but whose life doesn’t back up their words. Jesus stated in Matt 7:16 “by their fruits you shall know/recognize them.” This was a blanket statement of Christ instructing how to detect others who have authentic faith. Dating and eventually marrying a person who is truly following Christ will be a relationship that not only strives to make Him the foundation but will also be a source of inspiration that helps to strengthen each other's spiritual walk. If a person is in a relationship with someone who doesn’t build up their walk with God, never spends time reading God’s word or doesn’t instigate spiritual conversation, then this should be a sign something is off.


3.     Dating a person who is overtly jealous or controlling.

Jealousy is not an unusual emotion; matter of fact, everyone has felt jealousy at some point in their life. Being protective and wanting exclusivity is normal but allowing feelings to consistently turn into suspicion, control, anger, coercion and lack of trust is a blatant sign of future problems. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 tells us true love is not envious and not easily angered. Some of the most toxic and damaging relationships I have ever witnessed have been those where one person was constantly trying to manipulate or gaslight their mate because of their own jealousies and insecurities. These unions are also not foreign to emotional abuse and sometimes even physical.


4.     Dating a person who does not share common vision and goals for marriage and kids.

It’s surprising how many people don’t decide to work out long-range plans for a family unit until after they get married. Substantial decisions such as desire or expectations in regard to raising children, finances, church attendance, dreams, goals and even sexuality can all be pinch points of contention. Jesus said in Matt 12:25 that every house divided against itself will not stand. While every scenario cannot and shouldn’t be worked out beforehand, there are however certain priority issues each person holds that are crucial to them and potential areas they are unwilling to compromise. Satan hates unified marriages and will always be looking for spots of division to drive wedges.


5.     Dating a person who isn’t transparent about their past and future.

We all have skeletons in our closet… things we are embarrassed about or not proud of. Since communication is central to every healthy relationship it becomes paramount to have open and candid discussions regarding not only our successes and victories but also our failures and defeats. This level of openness not only facilitates trust but can also be a catalyst to avoid making similar mistakes, cultivate healing as well as serve as a tool to help one another to recognize dangerous tendencies. Jesus said in Matthew 10:26, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be known.” Better to know of destructive patterns now than after making a lifelong commitment.


Trying to deal with issues later, attempting to change or rescue someone after saying I do or believing marriage will fix preexisting issues is a guaranteed recipe for calamity. Marriage not only heals problems – it reveals problems.


Everyone dreams of a white-picket fence and the “happily ever after,” but a healthy and prosperous relationship is neither a fence nor a slogan but rather a lifelong choice backed up by an unwavering commitment that must be remade every single day.

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