The Bible says there is a “season for everything under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3). And a few of those seasons described, tell us there is:
“a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.“
But when is it the right time or “season” to decide when you are to stay and when you are to leave a relationship? It’s a difficult decision to make, especially, when your beginning days together were so enjoyable and showed promise that your union could fulfill so many of your hopes and dreams. You wonder if your relationship could ever grow into something good again if you just kept persevering.
If you had the answer to that question at your fingertips, wouldn’t life be easier? (And you could become rich as well, in doling out that advice to others who would gladly pay for the answer.) That’s especially true if you have the courage and resolve to carry out what you know you should do, after you’ve received this wisdom.
Years ago when my husband and I were dating and eventually became serious about each other, we struggled with this very decision. We were both young and immature in so many ways (although if you had asked us, we would never have thought so — we were sure we were very mature). But looking back we both marvel that we were able to stay together to eventually marry (because we fought so much, and neither of us were good at resolving conflict in healthy ways).
And then after we married, it’s amazing that we have been able to stay together and build our marriage into a good one because there is a long history in our relationship of not approaching areas of conflict in ways that were healthy (and we can still “go there” if we aren’t careful).
We both call it GOD’S AMAZING GRACE, that He helped us to grow past the nonsense that we each brought into our relationship, and remain faithful to each other, and eventually recognize that we needed to be steadfast to the vow we made in the marriage covenant we entered into so many years ago. God has been faithful in helping us to grow and mature, to firmly hold onto Him and to each other. And He continues to help us, and teach us to be the married couple He ordained that we should be in this mission called marriage.
So for us, it has been a good thing that we didn’t leave our relationship when we could have (and wondered if we should have) so many times in the past. We now have such a good marriage and we would have missed getting to this place in our lives if we would have given up earlier until we were abel to make it so.
But that isn’t true for many, many other couples that are dating. Some relationships are toxic, where one or the other (or both) isn’t ready for marriage, or one isn’t suited to marry the other for some important reason, or one or the other (or both) shouldn’t marry anyone for different reasons.
Obviously, the best time thing is not to even enter into any type of relationship with someone who isn’t ready to commit (when you are in that stage of your life). Author A.J. Kiesling writes about “separating the wheat from the chaff.” He says,
“It turns out there are things you can do to find a perspective mate—or to move a budding relationship forward—and it all starts with looking for the right kind of man: the marrying kind.”
To learn more that could help you if you are “single, but preparing”, please read the following Crosswalk.com article:
But when you are already dating someone and your emotions are involved —particularly if you feel you love this person that you are conflicted with, you don’t want to consider that you could be “blind” in some ways to the potential problems ahead. You want to believe that somehow your relationship can be salvaged in some way. And you certainly don’t want to be hasty and make a wrong decision. No one welcomes or wants to go through the trauma of breaking up with someone you care about because of the pain involved.
“It’s no wonder the choice to stay or separate causes so much inner indecision … especially for Christian men and women. Not only is it utterly life changing, particularly when the relationship is long term, but there are so many thoughts, emotions, and rationalizations that play into both staying put and walking away: We may feel guilt about leaving, fear of being alone, and conflicting feelings of love, anger, resentment, discontent, and every other sentiment under the sun.
“…For all these reasons, many people push the thought of leaving from their minds, instead resigning themselves to a life of less love, joy, and spiritual/personal fulfillment than they deserve” (Nichole Williams).
To help you in this dilemma, Hope gives you some guidance that we encourage you to prayerfully read and consider:
Sometimes we risk and give more when we stay in a love relationship than we really should. And often times, God tries to get our attention to warn us and sometimes stop us from continuing on in a relationship that is toxic.
Hudson Russell Davis writes about this in a series of articles titled “On Being Hindered” posted on Crosswalk.com. He writes about the distain he’s always had for “God’s barriers, His hindrances to relationships and the hedges He placed there.” And then he wrote:
“I hated letting go of someone that seemed so wonderful, never mind those things that were there to hinder me. But I came to revel in them. In the not so distant past, I did my best to go around these hindrances; anything but simply take them as they are and dare I say —wait.”
But eventually God showed him that there were good reasons for the hinderances he was encountering and it made him reconsider his stand on this issue. He came to the place of realizing:
“There is no doubt that sin is involved in human affairs and false ideas may help shape loneliness. Your desires may come from a desire to belong and to gain in this world a symbol of success —marriage. You may even crave a person simply because they present to you an opportunity to fit in, to belong, or to overcome the awkward feelings of singleness. You may desire someone because they fit the image you have constructed without really knowing that person.
“A person may be perfect on paper, but no one marries paper —at least no one should. That person may be perfect in dreams but life is not lived in dreams. They may have desirable qualities but nothing is sure until you walk down the aisle and say, “I do.” Until then, do not ignore the various ways in which God offers advice—the many ways in which he hinders.”
To read more of what God taught Mr Davis (and could teach you as well), please click onto the Crosswalk.com link:
“God just may introduce obstacles or obstructions in the path you choose. He may look to hinder a relationship, to prevent or stymie the relationship, and He does all this in love.
“Ask the divorced, the abandoned, the discontent, or the hopelessly married, and they will tell you that there were signs, obstacles and hindrances they ignored. Though loneliness is not inviting, there is worse. If He hinders you, be hindered. If he places obstacles in the path of this or that relationship, HEED them.”
That’s part of the advice Hudson Russell Davis gives in the next article he wrote on this subject. To learn more, please read this Crosswalk.com article:
In Part 3, Mr Davis writes about the “what if’s and the way they can haunt us to the point that we start to wonder if the hinderances we’re encountering should be heeded:
“What if this IS the person for me, and I am just too wounded to let myself be loved?”
“What if I am just too picky?”
“What if she is serious about changing?”
“What if I never find someone else?”
“What if this is all in my head?”
Have you been haunted by these and other “what if’s?” If so, please read:
In Part 4, Mr Davis writes:
“Usually, the real issue is that though the spirit is willing the flesh is weak. Loneliness makes fighters of us all and when it comes to giving up what we want—we are like a dog whose food is threatened. We growl though our master seeks to save us from harm.
“To the lonely heart it hardly matters if the relationship is worth fighting for. It hardly matters the pain and strife it brings. To the lonely heart it matters only that there IS a relationship to fight for and that on the other side is the gaping abyss of loneliness. Loneliness makes fighters of us all.”
Sometimes a person will battle with God along the way on their “path toward decision.” But in doing so, there can be loss on many different levels if you ignore God’s ultimate will for your life. To learn more, please read this Crosswalk.com article:
“There are no easy answers, but the reasons for staying in a relationship are the same for leaving a relationship. Staying is dependent on that person being an aide to your higher goals. Do they love God, love you, and love others?”
To learn more, please read this Crosswalk.com article:
If you have come to the end of this article and you are still doubting your relationship as to whether you should stay in it or leave it, then something is wrong. Either you are in denial about doing what deep down you know you should do, and you are stretching the pain further along, or you need to go further and get some good, godly counsel —to talk to someone who is impartial, who doesn’t have an agenda in whether you stay in the relationship or leave it. Sometimes we can get stuck in the middle and we heed someone who is wise to help release our feet and give us that extra push to do what is best.
Most likely, if you should stay in the relationship, you would have stopped reading this article long ago, because you would have told yourself that what was being presented really didn’t pertain to your situation.
The fact that you are still laboring over leaving a dating relationship to this degree speaks volumes about your insecurities. It wouldn’t be a stretch for me to say that you are definitely not ready to marry this person at this time because if you did, the foundation of commitment would not be there. Your commitment should be steadfast and immovable.
You will encounter many storms if you marry. That is part of marriage and a part of life. The marriages that have staying power are those where both partners have the tenacity to hold on despite the storms that assault them.
Get the godly counsel you need and get off the fence on this matter. “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver” (Proverbs 16:16).
This article was written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.