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Monday, June 24, 2013

The Art Of Dating A Teenage Boy

Sometimes when I look at teenage boys, I quickly forget how I used to be in in love with them- those smelly, scrawny, annoyingly energetic teenage boys.  No more teenage boys for me. Thank you, God.

I look at my husband- 32 and no longer smelly- and I am so thankful to have him to genuinely love.

Then I remember how I have two daughters and my heart sinks when I think of them being in love with teenage boys.  I have a not-so-silent prayer that those girls will find someone exactly like their daddy, but the truth is, their daddy hasn't always been 32.  One time, he was even 16.  (Gross.) And he thought like a 16 year old boy.  (Grosser.)  Even as a teenage boy, however, there were things about Bird that were pretty good indications that he’d be a great husband.  Though perhaps these qualities weren't quite as developed as they are now (and he has certainly grown in wisdom and grace through the years), he held some basic makings that I want for the husbands of my daughters to have.  I asked around, and these qualities seem to be pretty general in the teenage versions of the best husbands and fathers I know.  Because of that, I thought I’d make a list, and hopefully give my girls a good idea of what they need to look for in a young beau:

1.       He loves Christ.  All other greatness as a man hinges on this fact.
2.       He is a great leader.  If he can’t lead outside of your marriage, odds are, he won’t lead in it either.  Keep in mind that great leaders tend to not be harsh and lead with love. 
3.       He is a humble beast.  As long as I've known Bird, he has recognized his imperfections and sees them as areas of his life that God could perfect.  He has never stopped trying to be better.  That makes him constantly better.
4.       Modest is hottest.  If he’s checking you out because of what you are wearing, he will probably check out other girls for the same reason, ring or not.
5.       He wants to put a ring on it.  Knowing marriage is important is important.
6.       He is kind.  Nearly every woman I talked to mentioned something about how the kindness of their husbands drew them in.  If he isn't kind to waiters or waitresses when you’re out to dinner, don’t count on his continued kindness to you.
7.       He’s respectful to elders. No joke, this is so important. This, by the way, means respecting his own parents as well as me and the hubs.  More than that, though, does he find beauty in the aged or does he treat them as though they aren't wonderful sources of wisdom? Another dear friend noted that how he treats his mom and your’s is a good indication of how he will treat you when all the “gushy butterflies are gone.”  True dat.
8.       He cares about his own spiritual life. A dear friend of mine mentioned that her husband sought knowledge beyond what he got Sunday morning.  This is so important.  He must recognize that intently listening to Sunday’s sermon is great, but an hour a week does not a spiritual leader make. 
9.       He cares about your spiritual life.  Does he pray for you? Talk to you about his own studies?  Caring for your own spiritual state is a definite sign he is going to be a good Godly leader.  This one really is a must.
10.   Does he spur you on toward love and good deeds? Does he gossip?  Does he laugh and join in if you make fun of someone?  Does he pressure you sexually or stop your advances?  Recognizing that he can cause you to stumble is an amazing quality- and one that can truly protect your purity.
11.   He cherishes your Godly relationships outside of your relationship with him. One of the most wonderful things about my husband is and was the fact that he has always recognized what my family and friends mean to me, and he pushes me toward them.  He understands that love and encouragement I get from those people is helpful for me, and he really wants that for me…even if that means dinner with my sister instead of a night out at the movies.
12.   He is kind to your family.  Bird has never been disrespectful to my parents.  Never. Even when they've disagreed about something, he has always very respectfully walked through the situation.  If he’s not kind to your family when you’re dating, he won’t be kind after you’re married. Do you want a husband who doesn't get along with your mom?  No, daughters of mine.  No you don’t.
13.   He wants a relationship with your family. I can only think of three reasons a guy my girls are courting wouldn't want a relationship with their family.  1, they don’t want to face their parents because they’re doing things they shouldn't.  2, they don’t intend to stick around long in the relationship, or 3, they don’t intend to be around (or let them be around) much after the wedding.  Pick any one of those three and run far, far away. 
14.   What’s his deal with kids?  If you want kids, it’s a good idea to look at guys who don’t detest them but rather, see them as a blessing. 
15.   He is encouraging.  If he puts you down, ditch him.  Now.
16.   He is who he is with or without you.  This was actually something a friend brought up (something I never would have considered on my own) but the more I think about it, the more I realize this was a huge thing about Bird that I did (and do) love.  He will be at church even if I am not.  He will work hard even if I’m not there to push him toward a goal.  Does he do things just to impress you or is who he is impressive enough? 
17.       He’s not afraid to work.  Of all the things about bird that I really really love, this is possibly one of my favorites.  It’s also a grand theme throughout the men I truly respect.  Working hard serving others means he will work hard to serve his family.  

There are things about Bird (as I’m sure there are about all the great thirty something year old guys that I know) that I adore that he didn't do when we first started dating.  He’s much wiser with money, he’s more compassionate toward me, and he is much more patient with my craziness.  He’s also grown a lot spiritually.  Of course he’s better now, but he had many of the ingredients already growing inside of him to make him great.  That is why I really fell in love with him.  Everything else that comes along now is just bonus.

I also think it’s important to note that if a guy with these qualities can’t be found, I want my girls to know that it’s okay to be single.  In fact, if a guy with these qualities can’t be found, a single life is preferred by scripture.

One day, if my girls come to me saddened because they can’t find anyone to court like their daddy, I will happily let them know that they didn't know him at 22 like I did, and I will hand them this list and hopefully give them a little bit of confidence that good guys can become great men.  After all, what girl doesn't want their husband to be the greatest?

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