Most people begin dating when their friends do, without much thought to the process at all. Some get married quickly, and others do not, and the world continues to spin. Is there any rhyme or reason in this, is there any method in the madness?
After many years of working with singles and thinking, reading and lecturing about this topic, I have honed it down to two important stages that a person must go through in order to be successful at dating and more importantly, to have a happy and healthy marriage.
I call these stages PRE-DATING. These are essential requirements before dating. If you find yourself already in the dating game, then it's imperative to work on these stages now. If you are already married, it's never to late to set things right .
Stage One- Self Identity
The quest for self-identity is a life-long search. As Oscar Wilde wrote, " Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?" But the better you are able to answer the question, "Who am I?", the easier your dating process will be. This question is not about how tall or short you are, what you do for a living, what hobbies you have, etc… although these are part of the answer, but a much deeper question of your essential self. How can you find your "other half", your "soulmate" if you don't know your "half"-- your own soul?
The most important part of this work is figuring out what your values and character traits are.
To find your most essential values you must ask yourself, "What are the things that are most important to me in my life? What are the things that I would be willing to die for (and therefore I should live for them)? What is unimportant to me? Unessential to my essence? What are those aspects of my life that I feel are most ME?" After you have asked these questions, make a list of 20 values, and then circle the 3 most important ones.
In order to figure out your character, a good way of thinking about it is, "How would my best friend describe me? What are the character traits that I value most in others? Is it because they mirror my own traits or is it because it is something that I crave, and am sorely lacking? Which things in life come easiest to me? Hardest? What do I love most about myself? Least?"
If you have a good handle on stage one, move on to the next stage. If not, then think about it, go to a quiet place and meditate on it, ask a close friend or relative for help or find a good dating coach.
Stage Two- Self Love
Once you know your essential self, now you are ready to ask yourself the following simple question, "Do you like yourself?"
The Bible contains the following injunction: "Love thy neighbor as thyself!" Most people concentrate on the beginning of the verse, and miss the implicit message at the end --"thyself". A prerequisite to loving your neighbor is loving yourself!! In order to love another, (and this applies to any other, but of course this applies to a love relationship) you must first love yourself. If you do not love yourself, you will never be able to love anyone else truly.
Additionally, like attracts like. If you love yourself, you will attract others who will love you. Unconsciously, by loving yourself, you are judging yourself to be worthy of love.
For many, the idea of self-love is very challenging. It is especially challenging to those who have been raised by a very critical parent or who have been abandoned by a parent. But it is essential to having a happy and healthy marriage.
Start by asking yourself, "What IS good about me? What are the values I have which I think are worthwhile? What are the character traits I exemplify which make me worthy as a human?"
By doing this work, you are putting yourself in an excellent position to identify your perfect partner, attract them and build together with them a wonderful, exciting, marriage.