The Devil Wants You to Settle In Your Relationship

Besides choosing to give Christ my entire heart and life at 18 (after falling in love with Him in the Eucharist), the best decision I ever made was to wait 28 years for the man of my dreams. There were so many times I could’ve settled for a nice Catholic guy who treated me well and bored me to tears. I knew I never wanted to tell my children, “Well, your dad loved me and seemed nice enough, so I married him.” Ugh. Gag me with a spork. Heck no. I knew I wanted to tell my children, “I waited patiently for a man I was passionately in love with, who led me to holiness, who was my best friend, and who I couldn’t wait to be married to!” Sure enough, when Bobby Angel came along, I knew I found that man.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of confused and conflicted young adults out there who seem tempted to settle for a spouse. There are a lot of people who date because it’s nice to have a warm body gazing back at you. Listen carefully to me: there are tons of holy, attractive, fun people out there. (I know, because I’m trying to play matchmaker and set them all up with each other). Seriously, though, you are only called to marry one of them. You are not called to be a polygamist (thank God!). Just because you date an attractive, holy Catholic doesn’t mean he/she is the “one.” In the past, every time I met a single Catholic guy, my head would always say, “Is this the one? Is this the one?” I was like a hamster on crack (like most single Catholic young adults who see every other single Catholic young adult as a target for romance). I kept rationalizing my good Catholic guy dates, saying, “Well, he doesn’t make me laugh, but I could deal with that,” or “I’m not really attracted to him, but I don’t want to be vain so I could deal with that” or “We really don’t have great conversations, but I could be a like a cloistered wife vowed to silence for the rest of my life, right?”

When I met Bobby, though, everything clicked. I didn’t have to rationalize anything. In fact, both of us are still in shock that two human beings could fit so perfectly (even in our faults) with each other. I’m sure God watches us stumble through relationships, laughing and thinking, “Oh you of little faith. Why do you not trust me?” Sure enough, when we settle, it’s because we don’t trust God enough. We don’t trust that God is a bigger romantic than we are, that God is the most passionate being there is (in fact, who endured the passion out of love for us), and who wants the absolute best for our lives. When we don’t trust God, we commit the original sin of Adam and Eve all over again: we grasp at the gift of “knowledge” rather than wait for God to give us the gift He’s had for us all along (see CCC 396-397). In Fill These Hearts, Christopher West writes, “That’s pride at its root: we don’t trust in God’s designs, so we choose to follow our own” (p. 112). Remember: God is the one who has amazing plans for us, “plans for our welfare not for woe, plans for a future full of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).  It’s the stupid devil who wants us to grasp at relationships and who tempts us to settle for what’s just “okay.”

To me, some of the most courageous men and women are those who break off their relationships out of love for the other. They realize that the other person deserves someone better than them, that they are wasting the other’s time from finding their true vocation (whether be it to another person in marriage or maybe even a vocation to celibacy as a priest, nun, sister, brother, consecrated, or single person), or that they would be settling for a life of eye-rolling and frustration. This is extremely difficult. Bobby and I can speak from experience—he broke off an engagement and I broke up with a man who was a month from proposing. In the end, we were both extremely glad that the Holy Spirit convicted us and helped us have courage (a word that literally means, “to act from the heart”) to do what was best for all.

When I was single, I told myself, “I would rather be joyful and single than miserable with someone.” Why? Because I know that God wants us to be radiant witnesses of his love to the world. When I was single, I was totally free to do this because I had peace and joy founded in Christ who completely satisfied me. When I was in previous relationships, however, I was filled with anxiety, wondering if the guy didn’t get my sense of humor, didn’t like my craziness, didn’t like my love for Daily Mass, the Rosary or Adoration. I changed myself for the guys and didn’t like who I was with them. I knew that the man I was called to marry would not make me feel imprisoned or trapped, but would give me freedom to be my authentic self, freedom to be a radiant witness for the Lord together, and freedom to love God, my neighbor, and myself more authentically.

Freedom is huge in a relationship. No, not the philosophy of freedom given by Wiz Kalifa and Snoop Dogg; their “freedom” allows them to get drunk, smoke weed, and be a player for them hoes. No. Authentic freedom enables us to do what is right. Freedom in a relationship has the signs of peace and joy. A lack of freedom in a relationship gives you that anxiety in your belly, that “icky” feeling, that unrest.

So, my question to you (if you are in a relationship with someone to whom you are not married) is this: Does your relationship help you to be freer or less free? Is your relationship life-giving or life-sucking?

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself.

Some questions are bigger “no-brainers” than others. We’ll start with the “no-brainer” red flags at the top and go to more subtle signs you aren’t free in a relationship to be the man or woman of God you were created to be.

If you say “yes” to any of these questions, you should get out of that relationship:

Does your significant other abuse you physically, emotionally, verbally, or sexually?

Do they pressure you to sin or make fun of you for not sinning? (Calling you a “prude” because you won’t do sexual things with them, making you feel guilty for not getting drinking/getting drunk, pressuring you to see a smutty movie or watch pornography, or pressuring you to live with them, etc.)

Do you feel like you are being used as an object for their pleasure?

Are you afraid of bringing up tough issues, annoyances, or frustrations, for fear they might get defensive, lash out at you, or shut down?

Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells with what you say or do for fear they might break up with you (again)?

Are you afraid to show your weaknesses, because they expect you to be perfect?

Do you have that constant pit of anxiety in your belly either when you are with them or apart from them? Do you feel that anxiety when you think of marrying them?

Are you staying with them out of lust, out of fear of being alone, out of security, or out of fear of never finding anyone else who will be with you?

Are you confused about the relationship constantly? Do you go back and forth about whether or not this is “the one?”

Do you feel relieved when they are gone?

If you say “no” to any of these questions, you should re-think your relationship:

Are you free to be your true self (who you are with your best girl friends or guy friends)?

Do you feel loved in who you are, even in your weaknesses?

Do you feel challenged to be a better, holier person?

Are you free to be child-like, to laugh, to have joy with your significant other?

Do you feel challenged spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and physically?

Is your relationship healing? Is their love helping you to deal with issues of the past without them being a “savior” to you (rather, they point you to “the Savior” for healing)?

Are you willing to spend 24 hours 7 days a week with them for the rest of your life?

Are they your best friend with whom you have romance?

Bobby and I will be praying for all those who read this blog, that you may truly do God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2)

-Jackie

  One thought on “The Devil Wants You to Settle In Your Relationship

  1. March 20, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    You’re such a Godsend Jackie. Truly inspiring.
    You are honestly one of my greatest role-models.
    I love how you tell it like it is :)
    Keep being awesome! ♥

  2. Erin Sawyer
    March 21, 2013 at 2:04 am

    I want to send you a huge THANKS! I am happily single but have been struggling to discern where I will be next year when I graduate from my Master’s program in May. The first part really helped to remind me that no matter how worried I am at this moment, God has a plan for me and it’s going to be wonderful – so long as I trust in Him. I also loved all the questions you asked everyone for relationships. This will be something I save and remind myself of for the future. Again, thank you so much!

  3. Amy
    March 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! For reaffirming that I’m not completely crazy! While almost every single answer to the top set of questions is no and the bottom set of questions is yes, I know that the couple answers that are not are worth listening to. While this man seems “perfect” for me, you help me trust that the fact that something is not “clicking” is just as important to listen to. This message you are called to share has been exactly what I’ve need to hear in the past few months. God bless!

  4. mintu thomas
    March 25, 2013 at 9:16 am

    i am already in a relationship for the past 3 years..v have ups and down but v go wel 2gether and v love each other..he have so many problems in his family..i support him when ever he is in trouble..he is trying to get 1 job..please pray for us..

  5. Jennifer
    March 28, 2013 at 4:50 am

    ..yup, just ended another one. After 20 years in the “business” of being patiently, resiliently, courageously open to a man of God, mainly through the catholic dating sites, I have bee growing extremely disheartened but again got back on the horse. The porn addictions, sexual schizophrenia out there, seem to be worse in the Catholic population! To find some one who actually wants to unpack their baggage, help you unpack yours, be that tender warrior….terribly difficult to continue attract coat-tail riders. I am a passionate extrovert who is on fire for the Lord and lives to serve Him in various apostolates in the Pro-Life/Pro-Love/NFP/Critical Care areas. Yes, I am a nurse. We tend to attract the neediest, most dysfunctional. I related SO well to your blog, particularly the parts talking about the preference to be alone and joyfully single to the being alone in the marriage, or have a life of silence or boredom. I find the “passionate ones” not in love with Jesus, and those who are “in love” with Jesus, but radiating it at all. I am exhausted from continuous outpouring, then meet a boy (not man) who rides the coat tails, wants a mommy, has severe daddy problems, uses pornography and expect him to ‘get over it’ quickly but can’t rush the healing process. Wounds.

    Thank you for your blog and work. Will pray for you and Bob, and I thank you for keeping us in your prayers! I am encouraged by your post because I loooove life, and I find that when I am with out a guy, I am joyful and high on life! Many hobbies, helping family/friends/relatives, etc. However relationships (usually with men who are very immature, or emotionally abusive) ‘bring me down.’ I’d rather share the cross weight, not invite another one:) I totally love to laugh and need some one who will make me do that. It’s really easy…:) “When we fall in love with Christ, we will dance with anything*

    In Him

    Jennifer;)

    +AMDG

  6. Jeannine
    April 10, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Wow…I just started following your blog tonight after a priest friend shared the pornography post. God sure works in strange ways. I thought I was done for the night, but I saw this post in the confirmation email and knew I was supposed to read it.

    I’ve been in a relationship for 5.5 years and have started questioning whether or not he is “the one”. It’s a question that I’ve been struggling with for awhile. Reading this post, I had tears streaming down my face as, once again, I asked myself if he’s right for me. The questions that you posted at the end helped me gain a little perspective and hopefully have helped me gain some courage to sit down and talk with my boyfriend and openly discuss our relationship and discern God’s plan for us, whether it be together or apart. Please keep me in your prayers as I try to figure things out.

    God bless.

    Jeannine

  7. Maryssa
    August 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks for the post Jackie!! I keep trying to Tell my girlfriends this… So it’s great to point them to what you wrote as confirmation that I’m not making this up ;). I, too, waited and refused to settle even though I kept hearing from a host of well meaning people that maybe I was wrong for holding out. And then, I met my husband whom I married last June 9th. I’m about to turn 41, and I am SUPER glad I didn’t get married back when I was younger, as looking back they would’ve ALL been a bad decision. What I was struck the most by was how EASY it was/is to be with him in every way. I couldn’t have created a more perfect person for myself!! No way … No how!! For those who might be wondering if Jackie’s story is just a fluke for her, and who might get discouraged.., I’m going to throw more weight on the board and say… It’s true. God is the ultimate matchmaker. He doesn’t want us to be with just anyone. He has a particular person in mind. None of us is called to “marriage” in general. All vocations are directed towards a particular significant love relationship. For religious, it is to God as a spouse directly. For non-religious, it is to God through a PERSON indirectly. We are all called to SomeONE, someTHING. Trust the ultimate lover to see the deepest needs of your heart and soul, then to answer them ;). Love to you all!

  8. ketikatamarden
    February 3, 2014 at 2:08 am

    Halo, I’m from Indonesia, really glad to know your blog and your inspiration. I’ve 3 years relationship and based on you questions above, I can conclude that he is the one :)). And I still miss and love God, and this relationship strengthen our connection with God.
    Congratulation for your marriage,, :)

  9. lara.fleurette
    May 1, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Love, Fleurette.

  10. Haley
    June 30, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Hello Jackie and Bobby,
    I was at your session in Reno, Nevada. First, let me say that you guys have become a true inspiration to me. Thank you for helping me find God’s love in all aspects of my life. I am writing because I have a friend (a.k.a. my ex-boyfriend) who is really struggling with his faith right now and I’m not quite sure who else I can ask. His religion used to be very important to him. Recently, he has completely withdrawn from his love for God. Last summer, he went through depression. He told me the only thing that saved him was his faith. I am scared that he is slipping back into that scary and hopeless place again; but, this time without his love for the Lord. He is turning to lust instead of love. Through these times, I ask for your prayers and any advice you might have to offer.
    Thank you and God bless,
    Haley

  11. May 21, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    This was definately what i was looking for. Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom. It happens in HIS time. We have to just keep trusting. :)

  12. Dan
    November 30, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Thank you Jackie & Bobby, you words are a beautiful light in this culture of death. You have given me great hope and inspiration to be a saint.

  13. April 30, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Hi Jackie/Bobby,
    Hope you’re both well :)
    I am loving all your articles!
    One question: I agree that it’s so important to listen to your gut especially if you feel anxiety which can be God telling you something important.
    I often hear though that fear and anxiety don’t come from God as God brings peace.
    So now i’m kinda confused with how to discern regarding that – any tips?
    Thanks! =)
    Antonia

    • May 3, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Basically we have emotions that can be signs. The devil wants us to either ignore them completely or runaway with them. With God comes peace and joy, even if we have to deal with moments of temporary fear or anxiety. Anxiety can be a good sign, such as an indicator to leave a relationship, for instance. Hope that helps!

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