Last updated: 27th November 2022
I believe that this blog has a few ideas which are deeply, deeply radical. I believe that these are the kinds of ideas that you are unlikely to come across anywhere else. A few of these ideas are as follows:
The Two Year Thing: I have explained it below on this page, but I have also written a few official posts about it, like this one
Insisting on Excellence
I believe that especially as women, we need to insist on utter excellence of character from our husbands. I know that it is frowned on somewhat to have lists of essential criteria for our spouses, but believe me I unapologetically have multiple lists about the character that he needs to have, or at least I have written multiple list posts. I believe that marriage should make my life better not make it worse. If this man is not going to be demonstrably and earth-shatteringly excellent, then the prospect of tying myself to him for a lifetime is just not worth my while. I would sincerely rather remain single. Furthermore, I want someone who is going to start off excellent, and remain excellent. In fact, I want someone who is going to get better and better every day. This is the definitive list of essential character criteria for my husband.
The Two Year Thing
This is possibly the most radical idea on this blog. I have personally experienced very, very poor character from many, many Christians including many pastors. I’m talking about general interaction, not romantic considerations. So much so that now my default expectation of supposed “Christians” is that they will eventually demonstrate themselves to be spiritually insincere, have poor character, or to be grossly immature. And yet at first, I tended to be excited by these people! I thought that they were truly sincere, in love with God, pursuing Jesus with all their strength. But time predictably revealed differently.
If I had married one of these people while I still thought he was outstanding then I would have been deeply disappointed when time finally revealed his true character. So this is one reason I have come up with the two year rule. Understanding that many people seem to be excellent when you first meet them, the idea is to let myself take two full years to get to know someone before considering him romantically. So that I can be sure, or more sure, that he truly does cultivate outstanding character, that he truly does pursue God in utmost sincerity, that he truly is living for God. And actually, character is something that is cultivated! If you are not consistently investing your utmost to cultivate outstanding character…then you simply will not have outstanding character.
Why two years: Because two years is the amount of time that people typically state as the length of time when you can be sure that you know someone reliably. The length of two years might not be long enough to accurately evaluate some people, while with others you don’t even need up to two years to clearly see who they are. For me, I find this time period to be generally reliable, as long as I am in sufficiently close proximity to someone, and I am actively evaluating them. I have been using this idea myself now for a few years, and invariably, within the period of two years of close interaction, and quiet evaluation by me, people have been unable to avoid revealing their true character. Now when I say character, what I mean is who someone is at that moment, the character that they have been cultivating, or failing to cultivate up to that moment. This does not necessarily reflect who they want to be, or who they are capable of being if they would invest the necessary effort. All the same I still find it useful to evaluate people for this reason: by the character they reveal, I can assess their supposed sincerity in striving after God thus far.
So many people shout endlessly about their faith and their supposed love for God and yet when you just sit and watch their character, you see so clearly that they have apparently not invested the slightest effort to actually become like Jesus. So you’ve been shouting about God for a decade yet in all that time you have never invested any actual effort to be like Jesus?! I have so many case studies, I wish I could share them with you. With other people, you see that there are or there were kernels of sincerity, but they let it slide, they did not maintain the necessary effort. And then there are the people who are genuinely excellent, and yet even these people will often falter and mis-step. Evaluating someone for two years or a sufficient length of time will tell the difference between the mis-steps of genuine sincerity, and someone whose heart was never sincere to start with.
I initially conceived of the two year idea in terms of romantic relationships. However, I have come to see that it works for many other things: like assessing potential friends, potential business partners. Character, integrity, trust-worthiness, truth telling, commitment to justice is all so important in life, and yet it is so lacking, and crazily, it seems to be especially lacking in the church, which is the one place where it should be flowing most in abundance.
Also, if someone demonstrates sufficient evidence of poor character before 2 years have elapsed then you don’t need to keep evaluating them! You don’t need to keep yourself in close proximity to such a person. However I would take at least full two years before accepting someone’s behaviour as excellent. So what I am saying is that you can walk away from someone as soon as you see their bad behaviour. Whether that reveals itself in a day or a week or whatever. Where someone has not revealed bad behaviour, keep watching, evaluating from a careful distance. Remember that you are looking out not just for the absence of negative behaviour, but also for the positive existence of beautiful, kind, generous, behaviour. Sometimes people put on these elaborate displays with exaggerated gestures. This in itself is usually a huge red flag to me. You’re not looking for these exaggerated gestures, but rather the small day to day things.
No Pre-marital dating
Yup, it’s true! I do not believe in dating as a means of getting to know someone, that is, I do not believe it is a reliable or effective way of assessing who someone truly is. So for this reason I believe it is a poor foundation on which to base a future relationship. Furthermore, exciting dates seem designed to sweep you into a romantic or lovey-dovey mindset with whomever you are dating, which in hindsight might turn out to be completely inappropriate if this person turns out to be someone whose character you would not choose for a lifetime. So I believe that the much better approach is to coolly evaluate someone’s character first in a non-romantic context without all the romantic pressure and expectation of dating, make sure that they truly have fantastic character that you would love to live with for a lifetime, build a foundation of communication, get married, then you can treat yourselves and one another to all the exciting dates that you want to your heart’s content.
Posts about dating here
No online dating
I personally dislike the concept of online dating, because you are immediately thrusting yourself into a romantic context with someone that you literally don’t know. There is such a great chance of being exploited or taken advantage of.
Posts about internet dating here
Building a foundation for your marriage
I think it is wise to take some time before marriage or just after to deliberately build a foundation for your marriage, and your union, where you consciously move from being friends, to deliberately working on being “one”. I recommend perhaps a period of three months.
Areas to deliberately focus on include:
Building a foundation of friendship: Obviously when you get married, you are working to be more than friends! However I still believe it is worthwhile and helpful to focus on deliberately working to be friends, even if you were good friends before. This is for the sake of plugging any existing gaps in your friendship.
Building a foundation of communication: Really learning how to talk to one another. Learning how to create schedules for discussion, how to deal with disagreements, how to argue respectfully. It is about learning to be deliberate in your marital communication rather than falling into a default.
Posts about building an excellent foundation for your marriage are here
I am uber careful with guys, especially married guys. I do absolutely everything to avoid even the slightest hint of pre-marital sex, but that is not so radical! So I have some guy rules that govern the way I interact with men. After sitting here and thinking up all these posts for over a decade I cannot afford to slip up in a careless mistake and thereby throw away all my hard work!
The definitive post about guy rules here