It’s kind of a running joke at my church that at any given time, you are 8 months out from being married. I thought that was dumb. How could anyone decide that someone was the one, get engaged, plan a wedding in 2-3 months, and be 100% confident that they’re making the right choice? I’d seen it done successfully within my Christan bubble in college several times. In fact, it’d taken some couples less than 8 months. So I knew it was possible, I just thought it was insane. However, when Pat finally asked me on a date and this train started rolling, a skeptic became a believer.
Originally, I had our story all typed out; how we met, the 3.5 years of friendship, the God-woven timing of everything, the long distance dating, the sacrifices made, the days of fasting, etc. But now, we’re ~8 months into marriage, and I doubt anyone cares about old news from 2020. I’ve found that as we’ve met new friends, rather than all the details, they seem more interested in how Pat and I went from single to hitched in only 9 months. They think it’s absolutely crazy. As I explain how it happened, I’ve realized that there are nine checkpoints I hit throughout the process that solidified my decision that he was meant to be my husband. If this is what you want with your current boyfriend/girlfriend, maybe this blog can help you get on the fast track to marriage 😉 …or at least give you a baseline of what helps when deciding if they’re “the one” (and give you encouragement that it’s not crazy to decide on your spouse in a matter of months).
*Disclaimer: Pat and I had years of friendship under our belts, so we knew each other pretty well. I also understand that everyone is different with some possibly complicated situations, so this may not logistically work for everyone. However, I’ve also noticed that the following points are solid commonalities within these “quick marriages” in our Christian community. This blog is primarily for people who are looking to get married, deciding if someone is “the one”, and/or just curious what this is all about. If you’re Christan and looking for marriage, hopefully these points can be helpful for you. Lastly, you have to remember that everyone gets their own unique story and it’s done in God’s timing.*
1. Date to marry. I feel like this is very obvious. If you’re not ready to get married, don’t date. (Shameless plug: if you disagree or want to know the reason why I believe this, stop here and read my blog post exposing how singleness sucks, but also rocks at the same time in the nun & the disguise — written during my prime single years). Needless to say, Pat and I’s purpose in dating aligned: the end goal was marriage. We made this clear from the beginning, both agreeing that if at any point one of us didn’t see marriage as the end goal, we’d call it quits, no questions asked. Why invest so much into a relationship if it’s literally going to end in someone getting their heart broken because of miscommunicated end goals?
Secondly, contrary to popular belief and a terrible Christian stereotype, quick engagements are not for the sole purpose of allowing abstinent couples to have sex sooner. (Though it definitely helps speed up the dating process, which isn’t a bad thing when you’re dating someone to see if they’re marriage material.) Once we got engaged six months into dating, I was scared people would accuse me of this stereotype. Then when I planned a wedding three months later, I was scared my small hometown would think it was a shotgun wedding. The reality of everything was firstly: we were very intentional about dating to get married. Once we knew, we knew and there was no need to wait longer. Secondly, he had possible upcoming military orders that sped things along as well. Lastly, it’s just way better to get it all over with so you can get to do life with your best friend, no matter what other people think.
2. Drop the “my type” blinders: The reason Pat and I were just friends for 3.5 years prior to dating was I thought he wasn’t my type. He thought, that I thought, that he wasn’t my type… which was right. “My type” was a tall, boot wearin’, two steppin’, Ag majorin’, good smellin’, God fearin’ country guy. And Pat knew he wasn’t all those things. So we stayed friends even though I really liked who Pat was as a person. Finally, my junior year at A&M, I read a book that talked about getting rid of unrealistic expectations for your future spouse, and being open to what God knows is best for you (again, reference the above blog link for a breakdown of all this). That’s when I noticed that my guy friends that I’d written off as “not my type” (specifically Pat), could actually be husband material. He met all my standards for a Godly man and had all the qualities I wanted in my spouse. I’d just been blinded by “my type” all this time.
Pat does dance a little better now, he wears cologne, and I don’t wear tall heels. It all worked out 😉
3. Chemistry > Romance: I will admit (and Pat knows this — he proofread this whole thing) that I was not physically attracted to him at the beginning. I thought he was cute, but he wasn’t my “usual type.” It wasn’t until I had a wisdom-filled conversation with my best friend & roommate at the time, Priscilla, that my perspective on the importance of romance and physical attraction changed.
It was actually on Valentine’s day that Priscilla and I were having our own pampering day since Pat and I were doing long distance (we weren’t actually officially dating at the time… we were in the “talking” phase I guess). I was venting about how I’ve always felt like we’ve gotten along so well and had this awesome chemistry that let us talk for hours that left me wishing we could hang out even longer. The only problem was that I wasn’t physically attracted to him all the time (I was most times, just not all the time). I knew all of this could’ve stemmed from my own insecurities, but I wasn’t sure if this was a reason to question our ability to have a real dating relationship. Then she said, “Okay, well… would you want to change diapers with him? Or if your house burned down, would you want to deal with all of that with him? Or would you want to deal with the death of your parents or one of your children with him?”
The first person that popped in my mind that I wanted to tell these things to, if they were to happen, was Pat. He just makes everything better. Not-coincidentally, after this conversation and subsequent realization that I would want Pat there to do the hard stuff with, my physical attraction for him sky-rocketed. It’s like, if the chemistry/friendship is there, the romance can come and go, but at least you’ve still got your best friend. If the chemistry isn’t there and it’s only romance, what’s left when the romance fades? It’s not my place to judge anyone’s dating relationship, but if you don’t feel like they’re your best friend that you’d confide in with everything, you’re missing out.
4. If they’re showing you what Jesus’s love looks and feels like, that’s a realllll good sign. There are days when I’m cold and irritated, maybe not at Pat, but he gets to feel the full force of my mood. He will still come up to me eventually and give me a big, warm hug (even though I didn’t ask for it, or deserve it) without saying a word. I grew up in a family where if your fists were up, everyone’s fists went up, at least until it cooled back down. Personally, Pat was an example of Jesus’s love shown in real life. I’d never felt love like that before, which is an even bigger testament of the love of God. If we are capable of this much love, I can’t even imagine Jesus’s love for us since he was willing to die for us all.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10
5. They are worth the sacrifice. For me, that sacrifice was giving up moving to Scotland for a year and getting my masters at a college I’d been accepted to. Anyone who knows me knows this was one of the hardest decisions I’d ever had to make. Pat or Scotland. He knew, going into dating me, that this was a thing I was considering. I’d visited Edinburgh, saw the campus and felt confident that my acceptance into the school was a sign I needed to go. However, Covid lockdowns hit (literally while I was overseas, visiting the campus), and once I’d decided I saw marriage as an end game with this guy (at about the end of April), I was torn. I had to secure housing abroad in May, but I was uneasy about the year-long long distance. Pat was willing to do the distance. He was even willing to sacrifice his own career pursuits, move to Edinburgh after graduation, get his own apartment, his own job, AND fly back every month for his monthly National Guard drill. Love will make you do crazy things… I thought he was insane.
God speaks to people in many different ways but this decision really taught me the power of the Spirit and how it gives so much peace when you know you’re making the right decision. The day I finally clenched my teeth and stopped asking God, “Am I making the right decision if I go?”, and instead asked Him, “Should I stay and marry Pat?”, The knots in my stomach went away, and for the first time in a couple months, I was completely at peace. It was clear: I had to sacrifice my dream of traveling the world to pursue what God knew was best for me. And man… I am so glad. I get to have adventures with my best friend instead of by myself. Also, he makes more money than I do to fund these adventures. 😉
I also believe sacrificing can take form in different ways. It can include being willing to take on the other person’s financial debts because they’re worth it. It can be willingly marrying into a difficult family. It can be willing to have more kids than you personally want because you see the amount of joy they give the other person. It can be sacrificing your own career to be there and support the other person. In the short time I’ve been married, the sacrifices I’ve seen Pat make for me (and hopefully vice versa), have made me feel soooooo loved. I’ve noticed that when you’re both willing to sacrifice personal desires for the other person, your love grows exponentially.
6. Trust in God’s timing. I know this is cliche, or whatever, and you hear it all the time, but I cannot begin to explain the beauty of it all. The longer we dated, and the closer to marriage we got, the more amazed I became at how intricate our story was. We’d been friends forever, completely oblivious that there was even a possibility we’d get married, which let us have a real friendship before we were ever on each other’s radars. We’ve realized that during those years, there had been little seeds of interest planted in both of us through different situations or people. The timing of dating (during Covid lockdowns) ended up being perfect because it allowed us to spend more time together. It also made the decision of canceling my post-graduation plans, that would’ve put a 6 hour time difference between us, much easier. It happened in our last semester of college, making it much easier to get engaged & married. I just can’t explain how amazing it is when you look back and see the ways God intertwined our lives to get us both on the same path, going the same direction. However, it requires patience and prayer/wise friends for guidance on decisions… so buckle up.
7. Values, dreams & morals align. I feel like this is more important than many people realize. I believe it’s very important that these things match up or else you’re asking for conflict to happen down the road. These are some (not all) examples of things you have to discuss and should agree on:
- Religion – This one is most important in my opinion, especially if you’re a Christian because if ya’ll disagree on spiritual matters, you would be starting with a disadvantage from the beginning.
- Roles – being on the same page when it comes to the roles of husband and wife is a good thing to agree on.
- Are you both going to equally work to provide?
- Is being a stay at home Mom an option?
- Is the husband the head of the household?
- Do you want a family? Kids?
- Apparently you also need to agree on what kind of pizza you both like. It never fails; if we decide to order one, it turns into a 30 minute ordeal because we can’t agree on toppings.
8. You gotta forgive the past. We spilled the beans pretty early on in our relationship. Anything we needed to get off our chests, or felt like the other person should know, we confessed. It wasn’t easy stuff, but they were all things that needed to be known. Depending on the person, it might take time to process and forgive once it is all out there, but overall, if the other person is willing to forgive and accept your mistakes and flaws, you will feel so much more loved. Not to mention the freedom from any guilt and shame you’d feel by keeping it all a secret.
9. You’re both ready to commit to the next season of life together. If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably on the right track. Doing life with your favorite person is the best, so why wait?
BUT DON’T RUSH IF YOU’RE THE TINIEST BIT UNSURE. Marriage is a big deal. It is a lifelong covenant you’re making to God and your spouse. You should have complete peace from the Spirit that this is the right decision. Prior to Pat, the thought of picking someone for marriage scared me because how could anyone be 100% confident that they were choosing the correct “the one”? Several months into dating Pat, I knew I got God’s stamp of approval when He gave me overwhelming peace whenever I’d ask if I should marry Pat. I’d never felt this calm and confident about anyone else before. Luckily, when I finally told Pat I was ready to discuss the future and potential of getting married, he admitted that he’d been locked in two weeks into dating.
I’m not really sure how to wrap this up, but I do know that marriage is something to be excited about (it’s not just about filing taxes jointly, even though that’s something to be excited about too). So, if you’re single, or dating someone, don’t rush anything and let God work in your love life because you really can be married within 8 months (give or take) from any given time. I’m living proof that apparently, it’s no joke.
4 thoughts on “[how to be] single, engaged & married [in 9 months]”
First to comment. I really loved it!!!!
I’m happy you’re writing again!!
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What a great article. You are a very talented writer. If there is one thing I have learned after 30+ years with my husband is, don’t worry about what others think or say. It is about the love the two of you have. May God bless your “shotgun wedding” for many years to come.
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You are wise beyond your years, I’m sure it is the Holy Spirit in you that you are wonderfully both listening too! I can say at 40 years of marriage come February that these are absolute truths! Thank you for sharing your experience, it was delightful to read!
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That is so good!!!
Melinda Scott â91
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