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The Forever Girlfriend

"I don't believe in the institution of marriage" or "No ring, no paper is necessary to prove my love and commitment." I've heard tons of variations of those statements in regards to why a man is not willing to marry the woman he's dating, and the reality is that, it translates to one word...."settling".

I am of the belief that any and all things that I do in life must have a purpose. From the smallest to the greatest activities in my life, I simply cannot invest the greatest of myself; my talents, my gifts, my time, my loyalty, my energy, my heart, without there being a purpose behind it. Prior to marrying my husband, this included dating. I simply could not be bothered wasting my time with a man for whom there was no purpose, and to be even more real, I did not need more than 24 hours of knowing and meeting a person to be able to see whether or not there would ever be a future with this person (this is also why waiting until marriage to have sex is important because many women will alter their rationale around whether or not there is potential for a relationship with someone once you have already established that physical connection).

A woman should be able to clarify for herself what the goal is for their relationship. Ultimately, as a woman you do not want to be in a relationship if your only value or worth is maxed out at "girlfriend."

Often, women give themselves completely to a man without the full commitment of marriage. They are playing the role of a wife, but are never made the wife. If marriage comes up, but is never followed through then you have to ask questions on the purpose and direction of your relationship. Here's a few ways I feel a person can evaluate the purpose of their relationship and whether or not you are setting yourself up to be that "Forever Girlfriend" without future, potential or hope of ever coming under covenant:

1. Excuses:

If a man is filled with excuses as to why he can't marry you then its likely that its time for you to inquire about your value to him in the relationship. The first problem with excuses is that he likely isn't being direct , transparent or honest; all of which are needed in any relationship, of any type. If a man is incapable of seeing you as a woman he can be straightforward with, without excuses, it's likely he isn't preparing himself to see you as a wife, either. We can't talk about excuses without addressing some of the most common ones:

Excuse #1 - "I don't believe in the institution of marriage" / "I don't need a ring or paper to solidify my relationship" - the reality is, it's in the sacrifices of life that we see where one's commitment lies. Men who are willing to have children with women certainly shouldn't make this excuse. A woman bearing a child is essentially giving life; bringing a gift into this world. Why be willing to give life, to someone who cannot commit life? A good man desires a cohesive, intact family unit for himself and the woman he loves, and certainly for the children he will bring into the world. Mature adults value structure in their lives, and a family unit, with a legal marriage provides that. Structure is certainly something he should want for his children. A man who is willing to procreate and establish a family without doing so officially should be a huge red flag.

Excuse #2: "Let's wait for the right time" - sure this sounds like it is a very mature and responsible answer, its not! Things with purpose have strategy and plans behind them. Waiting for "the right time" is not a time at all. An individual who has not even begun to think about the time frame or the plan behind when he expects he will want to solidify his commitment to you eternally hasn't placed enough value on your time, your life and your love; all of which are very important.

Excuse #3: "We need to live together first" - there are two major red flags with this: the first, it speaks to how he plans to present you to his family. As a man, he should desire that he present you in a much higher realm, positive light to his parents, family and friends than to simply show you to them as someone who is "only worth shacking up with". Second, by this point he is asking and expecting every possible benefit of marriage without....marriage! Ultimately, we all know that we must do what works best for ourselves and our relationship, but essentially, too many women enter into the "marriage trial period" without an expiration date, with non-committal men. And honestly, if a man needs a time period of living together to determine if you're even "the one," hes likely non-committal. Marriages and commitments aren't based on "who is easy to live with". Living with others is difficult, period. The one God has for you is not going to always be easy to live with and leaning on God is how you will overcome that, not by testing out living arrangements with every person you date. Once you are living together, it's almost impossible not to slip into the "marriage role". Two people sharing a bed and all the other aspects of life without sharing an official commitment cannot be the most that a woman sees in her worth. There are plenty of ways to learn your partners habits; stick around long enough, take a road trip, meet their friends and family, but creating a false sense of security by living together will not guarantee any greater value on a relationship.

Essentially, communicate with your man to find out where his heart really is. Don't just settle, but actually communicate. Be direct in what you expect and what you know you are worth.

2. Boundaries - Relationships have to be built on more than just what you can do for one another. When you become that "forever girlfriend" there are no grounds that a man cannot cross. He is already reaping the benefits of a wife so where's the joy in getting married? God's purpose is for you to value the beauty in marriage. Don't give the precious part of yourself before there is the protection of real commitment. Don't stay in a relationship waiting to become the one only to find out that you are doomed to being his girlfriend forever.

Above all of this, while I encourage you not to get stuck into potentially becoming a "Forever Girlfriend", what's most important is that you first ask God if the man you are dating is actually who he has for you. A woman can demand marriage from her mate, but if that is not God's best for her life, she could end up in a world of trouble. In the meantime, it is not fruitful or purposeful to play a wife's role before actually becoming his wife. Make sure the two of you are in agreement on making that major step toward real commitment. Men should make good on their promises, if you have not seen the follow-through on the guarantees of marriage, then it may be time to step back and determine the purpose of your relationship. Ask questions and seek God's direction while being celibate in order to maintain a clarity of thought.

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