The news is overrun with yet another celebrity divorce, this time concerning reality TV star Kim Kardashian and basketball player Kris Humphries. Sadly, it is never really a shock when a celebrity gets divorced but the extent of Kim and Kris's marriage was shorter than a college semester—72 days. While many have resorted to potshots and gossip, I think it is easy to forget that Kim and Kris are people too with real emotions. Divorce is never pretty and clean, no matter how long the marriage was.
Instead of resorting to dancing on the ashes of someone else's broken marriage, I have two things to keep in mind for those thinking about, considering, dreaming, wishing upon a star for, or desiring marriage.
TAKE TIME The Song of Solomon (the book of loooooove) says multiple times to "not stir up or awaken love until it pleases" (2:7). The lesson here is to not rush things.
Get to know the person. Ask questions. For goodness sake, go on a date.
So much of our culture is about instant gratification (fast food, fast internet, fast pass at Disneyland) but we cannot treat marriage like a cheeseburger. When dating, emotions are high and hormones are raging but you have to remind yourself that good things take time.
Being hot is not the only foundation for a relationship. What are their beliefs? What are their political views? What are their interests and dreams? What are their future goals and plans? What are their struggles? Finding out the answers to these questions are extremely important.
According to some gossip sites (take it for what its worth), some of the reasons for the Kardashian divorce were that they could not agree on when to start a family and where to live. These are issues usually talked about and decided before marriage.
There is no formula or set amount of time to wait—it could be months for some and years for others—but it needs to be long enough for you to know what you are getting into. No major decision should be made without a little bit of research. You do not want to wake up on your honeymoon and realize that you do not know the person lying next to you!
Consider this: when dating everyone is usually on their best behavior. Do you really know them or do you only know the dating version of Mr. Tall Dark And Handsome?
See how they act around other people. If you are a girl, watch how your boyfriend treats his mother; is he gentle with her, encouraging, and a humble servant? If you are a guy, watch how your girlfriend treats her dad; is she respectful?
Understand that you can never fully know someone—there are couples who have been married for fifty years who are still learning about each other—but take the time to know someone enough that you are not blindsided by an awkward hygiene habit or something potentially more damaging to the relationship.
LOVE NOT LUST It is really easy to confuse the two.
You look across the table at your date and they seem to be glowing. Everything they say sounds like angels playing harps. When your hands touch little jolts of electricity pulse through your fingers. He's got nice abs. She's got dreamy eyes. Whenever you think about your future, they are there, holding you in their arms.
This must be love…right?
Our culture has confused love with lust. Lust says, "I need you, I desire you, I've gotta gotta have you!" Movies, books, songs, and magazines paint this overwhelming desire as love. While possibly romantic sounding, the root of it is selfishness. That person wants you to make them feel better and in most cases to satisfy their sexual desires.
If your marriage is based off of this view of love, what's going to happen if the spouse begins to feel some sort of spark with someone else? The inevitable conclusion will be that they have fallen out of love with you and now love someone else. Too many marriages have ended because the "spark was gone."
The Bible pictures the love between an man and wife differently. Sure the emotions are there and the fireworks but underneath that is a foundation—an action. John 3:16 does not say, "For God so loved the world that He felt fuzzy feelings and saw fireworks whenever you prayed to Him." Instead it says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son."
God loved so much that He acted selflessly. It's a choice to say, "I have your best interest in mind and not my own." It starts with realizing that the relationship is not about you at all.
This kind of love is based on a choice, not emotions. Emotions run on a roller coaster, up and down and sideways with every new circumstance. If your love is predicated upon the emotions you feel then you are in for a rude awakening when they change—and they will change.
Marital love that the Bible portrays should be unconditional. You can't earn it and you can't lose it. It is given freely.
It is eternal. It is not going to end because it is time for something new and interesting.
It is sacrificial. Their needs go before yours. You're tired from a day's work and want to watch football but she needs help with the dishes and kids—guess which one love chooses?
This kind of love takes time and it takes a lot of work. I am just a beginner at it…ask my wife. But what is great is that this kind of eternal love fosters a satisfaction and joy that outshines any rush that any new relationship could offer.
Which would you rather?
Further reading: Mark Driscoll's article on Dating, Relating, and Fornicating. The Resurgence explains Why the World is Wrong About Marriage. Kevin DeYoung tries to explain where all the dudes' brides are and gives some advice about What Not to Say to a Single Woman.