As couples are dating, they are faced with a variety of topics and situations that can test their initial compatibility in a relationship:

  • Is one a social butterfly who wants to talk to everyone while the other prefers standing quietly in the corner and going unnoticed at a party?
  • Does one prefer to “step away” and cool down after a disagreement while the other is adamant that the issue must be addressed right this moment?
  • Was one raised in an emotionally stable and healthy home while the other was from a verbally abusive or manipulative home?
  • Does one value family obligations over everything while the other values work/active income over everything?
  • Does one want to have three children while the other cannot imagine having any children?
  • Does one want to stay in one place their entire life while the other wants to live and travel all over the world?
  • Does one want to attend church every Sunday while the other just occasionally wants to attend for special holidays?

Tips for strengthening your relationship.

Here are some questions that couples should discuss while dating or preparing for marriage (and if you have a teenager, here are some important topics to begin discussing with them as they prepare for dating):

It’s okay to have simple differences.

When dating or preparing for marriage, you cannot go overboard in trying to find someone exactly like you. Sometimes simple differences can help you step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Maybe one likes to camp, and one has never been camping (or perhaps they haven’t done many outdoorsy things).

Maybe one likes riding roller coasters and has been skydiving while the other prefers keeping two feet on the ground at all times. Maybe one likes to make every meal from scratch and the other prefers throwing a frozen meal in the oven or skillet or does not cook at all. These differences do not have to make or break a couple. They can be used to help grow both of you.

For example, maybe you can try camping if you’ve never been and use it as an opportunity to depend on the strengths of the other person. If heights are not your thing, it doesn’t mean you have to suddenly conquer that fear. You can try, or you can be okay with occasionally doing different things. Varied interests do not have to make or break your relationship.

Don’t comprise your morals.

While simple differences do not have to make or break a relationship, it is important to discuss your morals, values, and how you plan to raise your family. Who and what is the main influence in your life? Do you attend church or Bible study regularly? What qualities are you looking for in a mate? What kind of co-parent qualities are you looking for?

How many children would you like to have? What are your hopes and dreams and what kind of support are you looking for? Are you ready and willing to be a teammate with someone else and cheer them on and support them? It’s less about if they replace a toilet paper roll and more about their morals and what they stand for.

How do you feel about this person?

As you date or look for the person God has for you, it is important to take a step back and look at who you are around this person. Are you being authentic? Do you always feel the need to put on a facade, or can you unveil your quirks? Are you able to dress comfortably, speak your mind, be silly, and still keep your morals intact?

While it may seem silly to ask, so many people feel the need to pretend to be something they are not to earn the attention and affection of someone they find attractive, but it is vital to someone who helps you uphold your morals and values, supports you, and loves the little quirks about you (and vice-versa).

Date with marriage in mind.

One should always date with marriage in mind. What draws you to this person? What do you love about them? Can you imagine this being the person you grow old and grey with? Can you imagine raising a family with this person? Can you imagine dating this person for the rest of your life? We must help the teenagers in our life think about dating with marriage in mind and upholding the values and morals that God has for us.

How is this person around their family?

If you want to get to know someone, get to know their family. How do they treat their parents? How do they treat their siblings? How are their mannerisms? Is this the same person you have seen on dates? This can give you insight into who they are and how they grew up. This can also help you know how to minister to them and love them if they grew up in a difficult home situation.

Make dating interesting.

Take time to get to know someone. Attend Bible studies together. Volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen together. Serve at church together. Go on a trail run or sign up for a 5k together. These situations can help you grow individually and as a couple while allowing you the opportunity to see how someone handles obstacles and opportunities to help and serve others.

Know it’s okay to have difficult conversations.

While it can be overwhelming to start a difficult conversation, this is where relational growth takes place. Talk about your walks with Christ and where you started. Talk about your trauma. Talk about the people you’ve met who have changed you and shaped you. Talk about your struggles. Talk about your dreams.

Talk about where you are headed. Talk about your prayer requests. Talk about the mountains and valley seasons you have been through. This is where your relationship can blossom and set a healthy foundation for the future. Relationships get uncomfortable – that means growth is happening in some way, shape, or form.

Pray about it.

The beautiful thing about the amazing God we serve is that we can pray about everything. We can pray for direction and guidance in every decision that needs to be made. We can pray for strength when a difficult conversation needs to be had. We can pray for clarity when we read His Word. We can pray for healing when we have past trauma to overcome. Give it to Jesus!

Know Whose you are.

To have lasting relationships, it is important to know and believe that Jesus is your first love. He should be the center of your relationship and the Light that is guiding you to the person you choose to spend forever with. You must believe that He created you with passion, and purpose and your worth is not in the fleeting things of this world – but in Him.

If you are struggling to feel beautiful, know that He says you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 134:19). If you are struggling to believe that there is a bright future for you, know that He says your future is filled with hope and purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). If you want to date constantly only because you feel lonely, know that He says you are never alone (Matthew 28:20).

If you are dealing with the emotional baggage of a past relationship, have past trauma that is impacting your current relationships, or if you feel too vulnerable to unmask the real you in relationships – it is not too late. The counselors in our office want to aid you in your relationships and provide you with the emotional toolbelt to build relationships that will be life-changing.

Just remember – a relationship is not doomed to fail if you have different hobbies or personality quirks, sometimes it just means more grace, authenticity, hard work, and trust in Jesus.

If there are other red flags like verbal abuse, manipulation, or faith differences, then it might be time to recognize the red flags and move on. Let Jesus be your guide and let the counselors at our office help you work toward the beautiful relationships God has for you.

“Conflict”, Courtesy of Getty Images,, Unsplash+ License; “Barrier”, Courtesy of Eric Ward,, CC0 License; “At Odds”, Courtesy of Getty Images,, Unsplash+ License; “Watching the Bay”, Courtesy of Charlie Foster,, CC0 License


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