Great Dates, Bad Mates, & Soulmates

Photo by Josh Willink from Pexel

By Segun and Dupe Aiyegbusi

You are on the right path to finding “the one” when there is a mutual attraction between you on all three levels, (physically, emotionally spiritually). Your relationship is looking even better if you both already display a humble obedience to the authority figure in your lives. 

The book of Song of Solomon is one of the more fascinating books on dating, marriage, and relationships I’ve ever read. For years, I had skipped past it as I read through the poetic sections of scripture because I thought I could never understand all the Hebrew poetry and illusive imagery. But then sometime early in 2009, I accidentally bumped into a verse in the book that forced me to do an immediate 180-degree turn. The verse is in the fourth chapter of the book where Solomon says to his bride, “Your two breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies...” (v.5).

I recall my first thought being, “Holy Cow! Who put that in there? I need to read more!” Reading on, I found out a few verses earlier that Solomon had told his wife-to-be that her teeth were like a flock of sheep and her hair like a flock of goats. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe the Bible had this much fun material in it. By the way, until you understand the full context of those words spoken by Solomon, I highly recommend that you never say that to the girl in your life. It might have worked for Solomon and his sweetheart in ancient Hebrew culture, but it will get you scratched to death today!

With that said, let’s jump right into what I’ve learned about finding “THE ONE.” Specifically, I’d like to walk us through qualities you should look for in someone you’re considering pursuing an intentional dating relationship with. These insights will obviously have more relevance if you’re single, however, each observation will also reflect qualities you can improve in your life if you’re already married.

The story starts off in verse 1 with the girl speaking about the man in her life, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth-- for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you! Take me away with you--let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.” The first guideline in finding THE ONE whom God has called you to spend the rest of your life with is to:


IDENTIFY WHAT YOU’RE ATTRACTED TO.

This point sounds so obvious right? I mean why in the world would you date someone you weren’t attracted to? Well, you’d be surprised. Far too many people have settled for less than what they’re really attracted to, either because of fear that they’re aging and might never meet the right person or insecurities about their true worth. Eventually, they wake up three years into their marriage and wonder whom it is they married. I know there’s been a lot of talk in moral circles about being attracted to only what’s on the inside, and I’ll elaborate more on that in a little bit. But here’s the way I see it, if you are going to spend every day of the rest of your life waking up next to someone, it will make things a lot easier if you’re actually attracted to them. I’m just being honest because I don’t want to over-spiritualize our relationships. The fact is, physical attraction is both permissible and desirable in a relationship, so don’t dismiss people when they express a desire to be with someone they perceive as good looking.

Having said that, it’s also important to note that the attraction between Solomon and this girl wasn’t purely physical, there’s plenty of reason to believe her attraction to him was much deeper. Looking at verse 2, you’ll see that she was also attracted to him on an EMOTIONAL LEVEL. Verse 2,“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth-- for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes.”

She had so much joy and so much fun just being in his presence that she compares the experience to getting drunk from drinking the finest wine or smelling the fanciest and most expensive perfumes. In other words, she was attracted to him because he had a pleasant personality. This isn’t saying you have to enter into a relationship with only people with charming personalities, it’s simply saying you should be in a relationship with someone whose personality agrees with yours and with whom you have a mutual enjoyable time with. Make sense?


There is however one more level of attraction highlighted here, and that has to do with one’s relationship with God. So, look for someone whom you’re not only attracted to physically and emotionally, but also SPIRITUALLY. Look at what else attracted this girl to Solomon. Midway through verse 3 she says, “…your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you!” When she makes reference to his name being like “sweet perfume”, that is a reference to Solomon’s virtuous character which all flowed from his relationship with God. Her attraction to him was rooted in that fact that he was a godly man with a godly reputation, so much so that she concludes that all the single ladies in town think he’s a phenomenal catch. So here’s a quick practical application, if you are dating someone right now, can you brag openly about his or her integrity or godliness? Or do you continually have to make excuses for their shortcomings?

Godly character is important. In fact it is everything. Here is something to consider, if your entire relationship is based purely on physical attraction, then your relationship with only last as long as you think the other person looks good. And trust me, that doesn’t last very long. In fact, that kind of relationship will only last till the morning after your honeymoon when you both wake up and see each other for the first time without makeup and without a shower!

Attraction is however only the first layer of a healthy relationship, there’ also the issue of how the other person responds to authority figures in their lives. So, when considering or trying to find the person you’ll spend the rest of your life with, it’s important to know that:

THEY ARE OBEDIENT TO THE AUTHORITY FIGURES IN THEIR LIVES.

I love the raw honesty this girl expresses in verse 5, she says, “I am dark but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon. Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother's sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected.” In comparing herself to the tents of Kedar and the curtains of Solomon, this young girl is revealing to us some insecurities she had about her physical looks. The Kedar were an Arabian nomadic tribe and their tents were made from black goat hair, and Solomon’s palace curtains had a deep purple shade. So she’s in essence saying she has had terrible sunburn and her skin was beginning to turn to a darkish perhaps reddish complexion.

As a Nigerian American, sunburns are the least of my concerns when it’s hot and sunny outside, however my current ministry duties puts me among Caucasians and I’ve observed that for many, getting a really bad sun tan is as terrifying as catching the Ebola virus. So on that note, I can sympathize with Mrs. Solomon. The women in her day prized the fairness of their skin because it meant they were indoor girls who had been sheltered and pampered. It meant they were rich. Unfortunately, the female lead character in our story has not had those luxuries and she’s a little insecure about it. She actually explains why her skin had become so dark in verse 6, she says “...my mother's sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard (my own skin) I have neglected.”

What I want to focus in on here is how she responded to the authority figures in her life, (a.k.a: “her brothers…mother’s sons”). Consider what her options were when she was asked by her brothers to work on the vineyards outdoors. She could have argued that Solomon was coming to take her out on a date and she needed to get her ready. She did none of that, but instead went obediently to do the work required of her. So here’s an immediate application from that account. When looking to chose someone to date intentionally, look for someone who not only is hard working, but someone who is obedient to the authority figures in their lives. As yourself, “how do they respond to the law? Their teachers? Their pastors? The elderly? Their parents? Consider this, a person who refuses to submit or even respect the authority figures in their lives is inevitably going to refuse to submit to the God-given roles required within marriage.
When looking for someone whom you’ll commit to spend the rest of your life with, look for someone who is obedient first and foremost to God’s leading, God’s word, and the authorities God has placed in their life. If you are married or already in a relationship that is heading to the altar, how are those roles going in your relationship? Husbands (or husbands to be) are you loving your wives like Christ said to love her? Providing for her, protecting her, sacrificing for her when the need arises? Wives (or wives to be), are you being respectful to the man God has placed in your life? Supporting him, encouraging him, and trusting that God has called him to be the leader in your relationship? These roles don’t end when you get married, they simply come to the forefront.
The story goes on in verse 7, she says “…tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday. Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?” Here we have another helpful insight to guide you as you seek out the man or woman you’ll spend the rest of your life with. You know you are ready, and they are “the one” when;

YOU ARE UNWILLING TO COMPROMISE ON BIBLICAL VALUES YOU’VE SET FOR YOUR LIFE.

In verse 7, she makes a reference to her unwillingness to be like a veiled woman among Solomon’s friends. During this period, a veiled woman who appeared in the fields at midday was undoubtedly a prostitute. So go back and read verse 7 again and you’ll have a better idea of what this girl is saying. She’s basically telling Solomon, “Let’s be upfront in the public about our relationship. We have nothing to hide, and besides I am not going to sneak around as if I’m a prostitute because I don’t want to give people the wrong impression.” Make sure that whomever you choose to date is respectful of your boundaries in the relationship, and hopefully have wise boundaries of their own. Solomon not only honored this special girl in his life by not sneaking around with her, but he went out of his way to protect her integrity. He says in verse 8, “If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep and graze your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.” In other words, he’s saying “I don’t want your friends or mine to view you with disdain (as they would a prostitute), so meet up with me in broad day light and let’s be completely open about our relationship” Ladies, that’s the kind of guy you want to spend the rest of your life with, and guys, that’s the kind of girl you want to pursue. 


Before you pick a mate, make sure there is a mutual attraction between both of you on all three levels (physically, emotionally spiritually). 

I believe this is the area where a lot of couples who end up in painful marriages foul up. While dating, one partner continually pushes the sexual boundaries of the relationship or is consistently disrespectful to the other, but instead of treating their behavior as a warning sign, they rationalize that things will change once they get married. If you are single, please hear me on this, whatever you are as singles will only be magnified when you enter into marriage. Your problems don’t gloriously get raptured on your wedding day; I don’t care how angelic or beautiful you both look! Apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ that transforms and conforms us into his image, immoral pre-marriage behaviors are an indication of post marriage disasters. In case you’re thinking to yourself, “we’re just dating now for fun, I don’t really plan on getting married to them, so no worries” then consider these words from author and bible teacher Tommy Nelson[1]; he says, “are you aware that if you date the type of person you wouldn’t marry, you are creating your own reputation so that the type of person you would marry may not even give you a second look?” Instead of elaborating, I suggest you take a few moments to reread that quote and ponder over it tonight.

You are on the right path to finding “the one” when there is a mutual attraction between you on all three levels, (physically, emotionally spiritually). Your relationship is looking even better if you both already display a humble obedience to the authority figure in your lives. And three, you are being prepped for marriage that will last a life time if you are unwilling to compromise on biblical values you’ve already set for your life.

Here’s the fourth insight from this story, you are well on your way to building a solid marriage foundation if you are experiencing:

 

A GROWING FEELING OF ENDEARMENT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP

What I mean by “endearment” is that you like each other more today than you did yesterday. Look at the interaction between this couple from verse 9 to the first two verses of chapter 2. Solomon says “darling, I liken you to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh. Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels. 11 We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver.” When Solomon makes reference to his girl looking like a mare (a female horse), he’s referencing Egyptian horses and their use in the fields. The presence of a female horse would often whip the male horses into a frenzy of excitement and get them more active. Solomon took that same imagery to speak to his wife, but with a positive spin on it. He was telling her that he was growing madly in love with her, couldn’t stop  thinking about her, and was elated every time she was around.

This is where the “TIME & SEASONS” factor comes in. When you have been in a dating relationship with someone for a significant amount of time, you have to start asking yourself, “what kinds of feelings and thoughts run through my mind when we’re apart from each other?” Do you feel a growing sense of anticipation, comfort, longing? Often times, those feelings will overflow into playful pet names you call each other. One of my favorite pet names for my wife is “sweetie” or “babe”. Though it naturally rolls off my tongue, I continually call her that to remind her that I’m still deeply in love with and attracted to her. I also sometimes do a little dance for her and call her “iyawo mi a ta ta”, for you non-Nigerians, that means “my dearest wife.” I’ll even accompany it with a little dance and she responds by doing a dance back. You should see us, we look like two drunken toddlers in our living room when we do it, God help our kids!


There should be a growing sense of endearment over time in your relationship, if there isn’t, then consider this statement from the author/teacher I quoted earlier, “if you do not feel protective, comforting, or loving towards the person you are dating, or do not find yourself feeling affection to the point that it overflows into your vocabulary, reconsider your relationship!” Another way to put it is to say “if time apart doesn’t draw you closer together, then marriage won’t”

I know it seems like I’m sounding a lot of alarms about getting out of fickle relationships. Well I am, and that’s because I want to help you catch the problems early before they even start. Remember, some of the loneliest people in the world aren’t singles, they are married people who are in unhealthy life-sucking marriages…and it didn’t happen overnight.




Along with a growing sense of endearment in your relationship, there should also be a growing ease in communication. From verse 12 to 17, Solomon and his fiancé are at a banquet hall, lots of people are present eating and talking, but yet they only have eyes for each other. Without using words, they are communicating with each other across the room with just their looks. She says in verse 12, “…While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance. My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts.” If you’re single, I’m going to give you a very practical dating skill. This one will help you build a good foundation for your marriage. If you want to win over the girl or guy you want to spend the rest of your life with, develop and improve on your communication skills - it’s a gold mine in marriage. In 2008, a national survey[2] of marital strengths was done on over 50,000 couples to identify trends in happy marriages that have survived. On that top ten list were things like couple closeness, flexibility, personality compatibility, and financial management, but guess what life skill was most predictive of couples that remained happily married? COMMUNICATION. They summarize one of the points this way, “an important outcome of having a relationship characterized by healthy communication is EMOTIONAL SAFETY. When an individual feels good about her communication, feels understood, can express her true feelings and knows she will be heard and not criticized… intimacy and connection become natural by-products of their freedom to be authentic with one another.”

Guys, this is an area we need work on because most women are excellent communicators and are pretty good at determining if you’re pretending to listen or truly listening. They have supers powers that allow them to discern if you’re wholeheartedly in the conversation, responding, and asking the right kinds of questions. My wife will often ask me a question twice because she’s discovered that my first response is usually impulsive and I didn’t really hear the question. I guess my responses have too many times sounded like this to her, “…yeah sure babe, you can buy a gold platted jet if it’s on sale....wait a minute, what?”


Here is something else to know, great communication is a great way to build intimacy in a marriage. You would think it’s all about the passion and sex right? In reality, some of the most intimate moments I’ve shared with my wife have been those afternoons when I’ve gone home to have lunch with her or those evenings when we’ve sat on the couch and talked meaningfully for hours.


Solomon had learnt to communicate with this special lady in his life. He had learnt to ask the right questions and to respond to the needs in her life, and she in turn felt safe and loved because he was paying attention to her. In fact, by the time we get to the first verse of chapter 2, her self esteem has risen and she has more self confidence. Remember earlier when she was a little insecure because of her severe sunburn? Well in chapter 2:1, she says, “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” Isn’t that something? That’s what his love for her has done to her. She’s beginning to see herself as one who is loved, and valued by the man in her life, and that makes all the difference in the world.


Before you pick a mate, make sure there is a mutual attraction between both of you on all three levels (physically, emotionally spiritually). Make sure there is a humble obedience to the authorities God has placed around you (and their lives). Whatever you do, be certain that you don’t compromise on biblical values. Before the discussion of a ring ever comes up, ensure that there is a growing feeling of endearment between both of you and a growing ease in your communication. Most importantly, make sure both you and the person you are attracted to are continually walking with and loving the Lord Jesus Christ. When you do that, you might be surprised to find that THE ONE whom God has called you to spend the rest of your life with might be closer than you think.

When I was single, one of the best advice I received about finding a wife was from one of my mentors, Brad Wagner. He was (is) also a follower of Jesus Christ, and has been happily married for almost 30 years. Incidentally enough, it turns out he was quoting Tommy Nelson in one of his messages. He said to me, “Run as fast as you can towards Jesus Christ, commit yourself to him, stay devoted to him in bad times and good times, be totally sold out to him all the days of your life. Then as you run, look to your left and to your right, see who’s running at the same speed, smile at them and say hello. If they stay up with you, after a while invite them over to join you in the run, or go over and join them in their pursuit of Jesus Christ. Keep running together, until you are one beat and one rhythm, at that point – you can then both agree to run together all the days of your life”

And that’s how you build a happy marriage that survives.

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BIO

Segun Aiyegbusi is an ordained reverend and founder of BETWEEN2WORLDS, an online bible-teaching ministry for Nigerians and Nigerians Americans. (www.between2worlds.org). He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary in New York and has a passion for preaching and teaching in-depth Biblical truths. Segun and his wife Modupe and three lovely children reside in New Jersey and enjoy mentoring young couples and single adults in their twenties.

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