A Guarded Heart?

“As a married couple you will be sharing your lives together which means sharing your heart.” – When calls the heart

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Have you ever been dating someone and wondered when was the right time to let your guard down and open up? Recently a friend of ours asked the very same question. When is the right time to discuss medical issues, bad habits, mistakes from your past, or even family issues?

Rocket and I didn’t have a “right time” for opening up to one another. Some topics like waiting until marriage to have sex we discussed within our first two conversations. This was a big part of who we were and if the other person couldn’t accept it then there was nothing more than friendship in our future. There were some important issues we talked about within the first month of dating and others we opened up as they naturally became relevant in conversation or during our Bible studies (Proverbs), sermon series (Song of Solomon) and reading relationship books.

“If you are dating with the intent to get married you should be looking for someone who is accepting of and embraces your flaws, values and most intimate secrets.”

As a child, I was taught to guard my heart (Proverbs 4:23). I knew that if I opened up too fast, my heart would be in jeopardy and I could get hurt if what I shared wasn’t respected or held in confidence. As Rocket and I dated, I opened up slowly. The more I opened up, the more trustworthy I saw he was with my emotions and eventually my heart. The way he reacted to private information and the way I reacted when he opened up enabled us to build a relationship based on trust and respect. In fact, he pursued me (patiently!) to encourage openness and discussion on difficult topics.

If I had to give an answer to our friend, I would say guard your heart, and open up at your own pace.  Test the waters as soon as you feel comfortable, and their reaction will either enable you to trust them more with your heart or cause you to stay guarded. If it’s the former, continue to open up and see if they do as well. If it’s the latter, you need to have an open discussion on your respective expectations in the relationship. There’s no sign or formula to determine the right time, and many of these topics will be difficult to discuss at anytime.

If you are dating with the intent to get married you should be looking for someone who is accepting of and embraces your flaws, values and most intimate secrets. How do they respond when they hear about your mistakes, weaknesses and challenges? Do they use these topics against you, avoid them, or encourage you through them? In a healthy relationship, these difficult conversations should be constructive and used to build each other up. However, embracing each other fully (the good, the bad and the ugly) and working towards unconditional love in a relationship is difficult. In the end, if there are any topics you don’t feel comfortable enough to discuss while dating, how would they impact the relationship if they came up after marriage?

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