You Changed Your Relationship Status; Let’s Throw A Party

We’ve all seen someone change their Facebook relationship status to “in a relationship” before. Typically, this change is accompanied by a cozy picture of the happy couple. (Aww!)We also have all seen the common reactions that go with it:
“Congratulations!”
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“I’m so happy for you!”
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“Aw, you guys look so cute!”
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This is so great, right? Two people committing to love each other no matter what and agreeing to spend the rest of their lives together. It’s so beautiful when two people get in a relationship!
Wait, what? In a relationship? Not married. Not engaged. In a relationship? What does that even mean?
What are we congratulating people on when they get “in a relationship”?
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I have lots of relationships. I’m in relationships with a lot of people and no one has ever congratulated me. Why not?
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Well, obviously, being “in a relationship” doesn’t mean any old relationship, it means a special (generally exclusive), romantic relationship. And apparently, being in such a relationship is enjoyable and better than being single; therefore, we congratulate people and tell them we’re happy for them when they enter such a relationship.
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But should we really be congratulating people when they enter an extramarital romance?
Why do we celebrate extramarital romances before marriage, but not after marriage?
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The only difference between these two kinds of extramarital romances is that in the one case you are married to someone else, whereas in the other case you are not…or are you?
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Most people get married at least once in their life. If you are a young adult or a teenager, then the odds are very high that your future spouse is already alive and living somewhere on this planet. They are out there, you don’t know where, but you will meet them one day. They’re a real person with real feelings and real desires and it’s very likely they’ve thought about you.
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I’m just thinking out-loud here, but does not knowing your future spouse really give you license to engage in practices with other people that would be considered morally reprehensible once you do meet them and marry them? Are we really not called to be faithful to our future spouses before we meet them? The Proverbs 31 woman apparently, “does [her husband] good and not evil all the days of her life.” Do “all the days of her life” not start until after she’s married?
 And hypothetically speaking, what if your future spouse could see what you are doing and how you are living? Would they approve of you “being in a relationship” with someone else? Will they think, “Oh, well, you haven’t met me yet, so go ahead. Go have fun being close and romantic with other people until you meet me.”  Somehow, I doubt that would be the case.
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Of course, there is always the chance that these people we congratulate on Facebook upon changing their relationship status already have met their future spouse and are “in a relationship” with them, but it seems to me the relationship status gets changed back to “single” more often than “married.” And if you are “in a relationship” to find out if that other person is the one you are supposed to marry, that means you don’t know yet that they are. And if you don’t know yet, then it’s possible they are not. At any rate, why would you do things with them that you would only do with your future spouse when they are not currently your spouse and you don’t know if they ever will be? And yet, this is what happens when people “get in a relationship.”
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So why are we so happy when people are agreeing to enter a temporary extramarital romance that will likely end in heartbreak?
Temporary romance is nothing to celebrate.
Now if they were to change their status to “engaged” or “married” then that would be different story because these people are committing to love each other for life. That should be celebrated, not this ridiculous “in a relationship” nonsense.
Some might object and say that you have to be “in a relationship” first before you can get engaged, and I would generally agree (though exceptions can and do exist). There probably should be some kind of special exclusive “relationship” prior to engagement (though I don’t believe romance is needed), but why would such a thing be worth congratulating?
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On the other hand, perhaps we should congratulate those who take a sober approach (forsaking romance) to finding a spouse since they are being wise and rejecting the ways of the world. But for those who simply enter a dating relationship with all the appearances of a life-long romance but without the life-long commitment…there is nothing worth congratulating here.
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Perhaps instead of celebration, we should pray that all goes well for them, and that they don’t end up brokenhearted a few months later like so many others. Once they do make that life-long commitment, then we celebrate and congratulate them.
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Personally, I don’t think it’s wise to engage in a special, exclusive, romantic relationship prior to marriage. That way (should it turn out that you are not a good match for that other person), when you finally do marry your future spouse, you can still say that you saved yourself only for them.
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Once there is life-long commitment, then everything changes. Until that commitment is made, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to be congratulating relationships that simply want to play at marriage to see if they like it or not.
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Personally, I won’t be changing my Facebook status (like Facebook relationship statuses really mean anything) until I’m married. I have no desire to be “in a relationship.”

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13 Comments

  1. Hi, Reagan! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, but haven’t commented (until now). I thoroughly enjoy your posts and agree with most of what you say.

    What you said here, “If you are a young adult or a teenager, then the odds are very high that your future spouse is already alive and living somewhere on this planet.” reminded me of something I heard Dr. Paul Jehle say a couple of weeks ago at a conference my family attended. He said (rough paraphrase here), “That girl/boy is married [as in, in the future]…and you don’t know yet if you’re the husband/wife. Don’t defraud that other person’s future spouse [as well as them] by getting involved with them.” I found it very thought provoking as well as helpful.

    Also, when it comes to congratulations when people are courting (I’ve seen this multiple times), I do not think that is a good idea, either. Courtship does not equal marriage. Rather, instead of congratulating them, I tell them, “I will be praying for you”.

  2. I don’t think temporary relationships are worth congratulating either–but generally it is helpful to tell your friends and family about the person you’re planning to marry before you actually send out the engagement announcement or wedding invitation. Otherwise it can be a bit of a shock! My husband and I were in the same Bible study group of friends before we got married–one of our very good mutual friends left to study overseas for 6 months–when he left we were plain old friends, when he came back from his trip he was quite surprised to find out that “Rachel and Angel’s wedding” was the talk our little group. My grandparents have also turned our love story into legend, claiming that we announced our wedding date only 2 weeks in advance (which is the faultiness of their memories at play–it was 9 weeks). A lifelong friend of mine attended our engagement party not actually realizing it was an engagement party till he arrived (he thought it was just a fun get-together) and was rather flabbergasted to find out that I was getting married and he hadn’t even met my husband-to-be till that day. And some of my husband’s cousins didn’t find out he was married till we’d been married for months.
    All of that to say–when you are marrying someone, I think it’s a good idea to share the news with your friends and family once you know and give them a little time to let the news sink in. We courted and had a short engagement, and the only thing I might have done differently was share the news a little earlier and more thoroughly because it’s weird to have been married a couple years and run into old family friends at the grocery store and have them suddenly find out that you got married (3.5 years ago…) and congratulate you!

  3. I completely agree with that! If you know you are going to get married, then you should definitely spread the word and let family know. Ideally, a lot of your family and close friends would be involved in the courtship process as well, so it wouldn’t be a shock to them.

    I’m not talking about those kinds of relationships in this post, however. I’m talking about those who “get in a relationship” to play at marriage but have made no commitment. Sure, it may lead to marriage and that is good (though usually that doesn’t happen). But either way, I don’t think “congratulations” are in store. We should pray instead that all goes well for them, rather than jumping the gun and acting like romance without commitment is a good thing.

    Thanks for the comment!

  4. Thanks for the comment! You should do so more often!

    Interesting, I very much like that paraphrase. That definitely something people don’t think about at all these days, and it’s true. Not knowing who the future spouse is of the person doesn’t mean you can temporarily act like you are their future spouse for the time being.

    I completely agree with you. We definitely can be supportive and happy two people are choosing to court rather than date, but we shouldn’t jump the gun and just assume they’re going to get married because they’re courting and start celebrating that. However, typically the people I see on Facebook changing their relationship statuses aren’t courting, but are dating–meaning–engaging in a special, exclusive, romantic relationship prior to marriage, which isn’t something we can really even be happy about.

  5. Oh to have more young people, and older people, with this mindset. Then again, I guess we wouldn’t have a challenging life if we did.

    This is something the Lord is really working with me on.
    I agree, we need to have that in the forefronts of our mind. Would my future spouse, if he/she were witnessing this, be happy or approve with what I was doing? The next best thing is to take that another step further and asking would the Lord be happy or approve with what I was doing?
    Anyway, I enjoyed this post greatly.

  6. This is good I so agree I am trying to write a blog on the Proverbs 31 woman a but I have not seen that “all the days of her life” part like that…. it seems so obvious now!

  7. Yes, life would be very boring without conflict, now wouldn’t it? I think we novelists know this better than most. Love conflict in books, but it’s not so fun when it’s happening to you or the others around you.

    Exactly, ideally, we should be considering God, but sometimes thinking of your future spouse can be a bit more concrete.

    Glad you liked the post!

  8. Awesome! I’d like to read that post when you publish it. Definitely a very interesting passage and there is a lot packed into those few verses, so it can be easy to miss something. I didn’t consider this point either until someone else pointed it out to me, namely, the Eric and Leslie Ludy.

    Happy writing, and thanks for reading!

  9. Yes, it would. As I enjoy challenges I think my life would be dull. 🙂
    Exactly.

    Haha. Yes, I concede, it can be more concrete.

  10. Reagan, I have never thought of this until you brought it to light now. Perhaps it’s because I’m married and hence the majority of my friends also fit that demographic. However, I know what you’re talking about and after reading this, I would have to say I whole-heartedly agree with your point.

    I feel it’s becoming harder for young people to stay faithful to their future spouses. We living in a very sexualized culture. All I can do is pray and as a mother, I can foster the value of saving intimacy for marriage in my own children.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the SHINE Blog Hop).

    Wishing you a blessed week.

  11. Hey Reagan 🙂

    Thumbs up on the great post! I am glad we share the same sentiments on the subject. Your posts are really encouraging and your blog spirit filled. May our good and most gracious Father continue to bless and guide you.

    Stay blessed!

    Nontie (from: A Victorious Woman of Faith @ nontokozomaposa.blogspot.com)

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