Dating the way I've done has been too much like hoarding. It's all about who you've dated, what you've done, where you're going and how fast you're going to get there. It's more about the Pinterest board and unrealistic dream than the blessed reality. It's more about what you made him do than what He asked of both of you.
If you've ever seen Ten Things I Hate About You with Heath Ledger, you might be familiar with the play it was based on - The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. In Katherina's famous monologue she states, "Dart not scornful glances from those eyes/To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor./It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads/Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,/Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,/I am asham'd that women are so simple/To offer war where they should kneel for peace."
I'm sure this passage makes feminists foam at the mouth but - as someone who considers herself as a sort of feminist - I think it's as easily mis-interpreted as Ephesians 5.
In short, if a guy loves you in what he says and does, don't bully him. If he is committed to you, he loves you for who you are but that's not reason to nag him.
In fact, some of the best dating advice I ever received was from Shakespeare and St. Paul. Namely, how to not hate boys for everything they do.
Give him a chance.
To be pure of heart doesn't mean we have to give everyone a chance. It also doesn't mean we have to make things impossible for the person we like. The world is difficult enough for guys to learn how to initiate, to take a chance and buy flowers, to pick out a restaurant. But what if your boyfriend really does do all the right things, but you still seem to take things out on him?
In relationships, I've often found myself building the thorns like Maleficent. That's when I realized that I wasn't just making it difficult. I was acting like the dragon and opposer to love - not the princess worth fighting for.
I used to think there was nothing I could do to push away someone who truly loves me or is meant to be with me. Shouldn't he love me for my abrasive personality? Shouldn't he be able to see behind my anger and bristling eyebrows that I'm really the victim here?
No. Verbal abuse is abuse. If a guy is a gentleman to you and is trying to make you happy, he's probably not the enemy. Guys deserve better than for us to play the victim, or for us to victimize them just to see if they'll fight for us.
Next time you feel tempted to sabotage a relationship with unkindness or an over critical attitude: slay the dragon. Don't put the beautiful girl you are - who is most definitely worth fighting for - into a sleep-filled trance, into hiding.
Be yourself (not the tired/irritated/hungry version.) Sometimes we react to something that's bothering us in our relationship. Maybe he insinuated that he doesn't want to get married as quickly as you do. Maybe you went too far the other night when you were alone. Maybe your boss gave you a hard time today, or maybe your family hurt your feelings.
Be brave enough to gently bring up an issue that is bothering you. That's what courage is sometimes: releasing the desire to be rude and diverting it into a calm, rational conversation. When I would get into arguments I would think, Why doesn't he just smile and calmly ask how my day is, and what's really the matter? That's all I want him to do anyway. Because most men aren't mind readers and until you've been together for several years, he's still going to need lots of cues!
In the final TotS scene, Katherina details all the ways that husbands (in her time) fought for their ladies at war or on sea, toiling at work so they could remain safe. Think of all the ways that your significant other tries to make you happy (even if he fails miserably.) Our lack of gratitude isn't pretty. No one really wants to date Regina George from Mean Girls. If you want to have the reputation of Queen Elsa the Ice Queen, just remember she actually killed her sister (sorry - spoiler alert) because she couldn't control her anger.
If you do have problems lashing out at people, it's completely normal to speak to a counselor about your moods. What sets you off? How can you find healthy ways to cope when the disappointments of life are just too much to bear? Let's resolve to not take hostages because it isn't actually that fun to hurt people; it's bitter and lonely.
So when you read this and Ephesians 5, what do you see? That relationships are supposed to be in service to one another? In unity with the Spirit of God? Selfless? Sacrificial? It seems that love is much more about killing the bitterness and savoring the subtle graces. There are monumental milestones of joy and the distance between them is worth living for.
Your life is beautiful and it is not a dream. No one is going to take it from you. When you and your significant other hold hands against the world, you are fighting for each other. In courtship, and maybe in marriage, remember who the enemy is. Pure love is the hope we have in our last stand against impurity, so keep it strong instead of breaking it down.
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love and obey.
Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms!
My mind hath been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reason haply more,
To bandy word for word and frown for frown;
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.
Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,
And place your hands below your husband's foot:
In token of which duty, if he please,
My hand is ready; may it do him ease."
Act Five, Scene 2