Sometimes even Christian engagements or serious dating relationships you thought were headed toward marriage need to end. There is no easy way to navigate a break up, but it will help if you have a “prayed through plan.” Breaking up is a highly emotional experience, so it may be hard to “think on your feet” as you talk. Emotions respond to our decisions, however, so if you put together a plan to follow, your emotions will be more under your control.
In The Before You Marry Book of Questions, we help couples become confident. You will either become confident that you ARE God’s best for each other and marriage is next step or you will gain the information to become confident that you ARE NOT meant for one another and it is time to free each other from the relationship so you can go on to meet and fall in love with the person that God thinks is a better match. To help you in formulating your plan, consider including four steps that will help you STOP the relationship.
State clearly the value this person has added to your life. Then explain as simply as possible that you want to cease pursuing the relationship. Don’t beat around the bush. The person should clearly know that you want to end the relationship as it currently stands. They should also clearly know they are valued by God and are a valuable person, but they are just not the best fit for you. Often good people are just not good together.
Tactfully handle the other person’s feelings. Explain that you know this is difficult and that it is not your intention to cause hurt or pain. This is probably the trickiest part of the breakup because they may use strong emotional appeals to get you to change your mind. You want to acknowledge their emotions without accepting their feelings as reasons to return.
Openly explain the issues. It’s only fair that you explain why you think this relationship isn’t working. Sometimes a little training or counseling can prepare someone for a future relationship with another person, and God might be using you as iron sharpening iron to better equip this person for more healthy relationships. It is also important that you grasp the issues for your personal growth and your personal resolve to move forward to a healthy life.
A little caution is in order here because you want to be open but not intimate. You have spent significant time with this person, so it is easy to get into a deep conversation about the deficiencies and struggles of your life, which would not be appropriate. Openness means admitting there are unresolved issues without going into details that might cause greater or deeper emotional wounds. Intimacy would mean exploring the details in an attempt to reconnect. You are seeking to disconnect, so keep succinct.
Prepare the new plan. You are going to experience intense emotional reactions because you had so much invested in this relationship. You may feel relief, disappointment, and loneliness. You may grieve over the loss of the life you thought you were going to have. You may be consumed with thoughts of the person you almost married. These intense emotional responses are normal when you change course this significantly. Left unchecked, these feelings can fool your heart and cloud the issues of incompatibility. You need a few months to regroup with a plan that ought to include:
- Dedication to work or school. Personal independence needs to be reestablished, which is helped by deliberate focus on productivity at work or dedication to your educational pursuits.
- Increased time with friends. You will experience a void in your social life, and you will need to reestablish your identity as a single person. Attending a peer Bible study, having lunch with friends after church, and participating in social outings with your peer group and extended family are all safeguards to your heart during the transition period.
- Doing something you’ve always wanted to do. You probably have a hobby, ministry opportunity, travel experience, or family activity that you’ve set aside for the sake of the relationship. This is a good time to pursue one of these. It will help confirm your decision as it adds value to your life.
- Honesty with God. During times of worship and personal prayer, you will experience a variety of reactions. Share all of these with your Savior. Tell him if you are happy, relieved, sad, disappointed, angry, scared, or excited about your future. He can handle whatever you are feeling, so be courageously transparent with the one who loves you without limits.
God sees you and has plans for your life. It may not be clear at the moment, but “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). As time unfolds, you will see God’s good plan for you come together and you will be glad you were courageous enough to wait for his best and give the one you released the opportunity to gain God’s best for their life too.
Pam and Bill Farrel are authors of 45 book including The Before You Marry Book of Questions, Single Men Are Like Waffles, Single Women Are Like Spaghetti, and 10 Best Decisions a Single Can Make. www.Love-Wise.com
Publication date: June 22, 2016
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