Throughout college, I watched as many couples were enthralled with themselves. Many began dating and quickly forgot all their other friends, spending every waking moment with each other. I never dated in college, but I hoped that once I met the man God had for me, we would do things differently.
I met my current boyfriend through unconventional means, a blog site called Tumblr because of a mutual blogger friend in Australia. Over a year after we first began communicating via the Internet and phone, we finally met in person after being nine hours apart from each other, one of us in Mississippi and the other in Texas. Less than a month after our first meeting, I moved to Texas to begin Seminary, which was only 20 minutes away from where Cody lived. We give no credit to ourselves because God obviously had His hand in us meeting, developing a lasting friendship, and now being 20 minutes away from each other, going to the same church and school.
Five years after first beginning my college experience, I have learned from watching other couples. I never wanted to be that couple that made it awkward for our single friends to be around us. Since Cody and I started courting, I have had many friends remark to us both that it is a joy to hang out with us because we are not consumed with each other.
We are learning how to court with intentionality. Every time we get the chance to spend some money and go out to eat or see a movie, we strive to have intentional conversations that help grow us as a couple. Recently we went out with my roommate for her birthday. She only had one other friend come to dinner, so the four of us sat at a pizza parlor for two hours and talked. Later my roommate’s friend left and we all went bowling. After that, we splurged and saw a late movie she wanted to see. We were not upset that plans with her took away a Friday night that we could have spent by ourselves; instead, we were so happy we spent the time with her. We developed lasting memories and deeper friendships.
There are ways that you can go beyond yourselves as a couple and reach out to others around you.
1. Have other friends. While you are not engaged and still have much time to devote to deep, meaningful friendships with others, have some separate friends. Cody has friends that he works with and loves to go out to eat with after work. My roommate and I love to jump in the car and go for a spontaneous dinner date and stay up late talking. This is healthy and beneficial to the relationship!
2. Have mutual friends. Cody’s friends know me, he knows my friends and vice versa. I will hang out with the guys when invited and Cody hangs out with the girls when he is invited. This allows others to hold your relationship up to accountability. Our single friends watch us more than our couple friends. This challenges us as a couple!
3. Invest in the orphaned and widowed. In August Cody and I had dinner with two single women, one of whom is orphaned. Scripture clearly tells us “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27). Not only did we receive counsel and encouragement from these two women, but we all enjoyed each other’s company!
4. Invest in the single individuals in your lives, but don’t make it awkward! God calls some of us to be single and others to prepare for marriage. Cody and I love hanging out with our friends, most of whom are single. We were once in that place as individuals so we recall what it was like. Remember not to spend all of your time together as a couple or with other couple friends, invest in all people, not just people like yourself!
5. Do ministry together. God has called us all to ministry and what better way to discover spiritual gifts and talents than to serve in the church together? Cody and I are very involved in our Sunday school class at our church. Cody sometimes leads our small group and I’m there for support and encouragement. We also teach a preschool class every other Sunday. Doing these types of ministries together has allowed me to see Cody as a leader. He is gifted in areas where I am not and in many ways, we balance each other out in ministry.
Court with intentionality. Time spent together as a couple should be all about discovering if the two of you fulfill ministry well together, not if you are necessarily compatible physically or emotionally. This is simply NOT what a relationship is about. Invest in others and you will reap rewards beyond yourselves and bring God glory!