Tests of Love, Part 1
About the Guest
How do you know if you're in love? Today, author Chip Ingram shares 12 tests that let you know whether or not you truly have been hit by Cupid's arrow.
12 tests that let you know whether or not you truly have been hit by Cupid’s arrow.
Tests of Love, Part 1
Bob: How can you know if you're really in love and if the person you think you're in love with, is really the right person? Here is some solid advice from Chip Ingram.
Chip: You need enough time with a person to see the person in multiple venues and it's not an emotionally-infatuated motivated decision. Like anything, you can’t run one test on a car and say, “The car is drivable.” “Test of Time” is going to be one crucial one. You take that and begin to evaluate, “Is this relationship on solid ground or is this infatuation?”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 8th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. So, how can you tell the difference between the real ooey-gooey feelings and the counterfeit? We’ll talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.
I remember a number of years ago, we were talking with Dawson McAllister who had come and was a guest on our program. He said one of the questions he gets most often from teenagers is the question of, “How can I know if this—if my boyfriend, my girlfriend—is the one? How can I know if I'm really in love?” He said, “Maybe it was the number-one question.”
I thought later, “I'm not sure that's just teenagers asking that question.” I think a lot of us ask that question, up until the point we get married. We wonder, “How can I know if this is”—I remember the day I got married, going, “Can I know this for sure?” Here I am, about to walk down the aisle—
Dennis: Yes. Right.
Bob: —and I'm thinking, “How does anybody make this decision for a lifetime? She may change”—and she did, by the way—“and I may change”—and I have, too. How do you know if this is the person and you're going to be able to make it work for a lifetime?
Dennis: You know we have the “Doctor of Love” with us.
Bob: No, no, no. I'm the “Doctor of Love”.
Dennis: Oh, excuse me, Bob. You—
Bob: Chip is the “Duke of Love”.
Dennis: The Duke—the “Duke of Love”.
Bob: You like that one? (Laughter)
Bob: (sings) “Duke, duke, duke, duke of love, love, love, duke of love”—
Dennis: Oh, my, this is—
Chip: It's so fun to be with you guys, too.
Dennis: Chip Ingram joins us again. He came back for a third day. This is quite astounding. He has written a new book called Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships. In his book, he has the “Tests of Love”—the “Tests of Love”. You actually describe 12 qualities to test people of whether or not they're in love or not.
Now, we've included all 12 of these on our website, FamilyLife.com. If you want to go to FamilyLife.com and take the test, it's there 24/7; but I want to see how many of these 12 we can hit, Chip, on our broadcast today. What's the first one?
Chip: The first one is the “Test of Time”. Love grows, and all growth requires time. Infatuation may come on suddenly. It's just—“Boom!”—these feelings. Remember the old song—since we're so musical— (sings) “Hello, I love you. Won't you tell me your name?” I mean, that is the most ridiculous thought in the world; and here 20 years later, Bob—
Bob: We’re still singing it.
Chip: —and I still know the words.
Bob: That's right.
Chip: It's the idea that I can actually be in love with someone, and I don't even know them. The first test of genuine love—now, you can have feelings, chemistry, infatuation; but it's time that lets you know whether you're really in love—“Is this the real thing or just a feeling?”
Bob: I know exactly what you're talking about, Chip, because people ask me, “How do you know when it's been enough time?” I said, “With Mary Ann, I knew that when I had seen her in times where she was not very attractive,”—her attitude wasn't particularly attractive; she wasn't somebody that you really wanted to spend a lot of time with—“and I still wanted to spend time with her.”
Bob: I thought, “Something's wrong. I must have fallen here,” because even when life wasn't good, I still wanted to be with her.
Dennis: So, how long did you date Mary Ann before you actually proposed to her?
Bob: Well, we dated for four-and-a-half years, but I'd probably seen that side of her in the first six—no, maybe nine months. It may have taken nine months before I saw her on a really bad day. I thought, “No one would want to spend time with a woman like this today,” but I still did. I thought, “Something's up here.”
Chip: I think it's very important to know, “Are there exceptions? Are people going to give you anecdotal things who have been married 42 years—‘It was six weeks’?” Of course, there are exceptions. Does God work in different ways? Of course, He does. By and large, what we're saying is you need enough time with the person to see the person in multiple venues and it's not an emotionally-infatuated motivated decision.
The other is there are 12 tests. Like anything, you can't run one test on a car and say, “The car is drivable.” The “Test of Time” is going to be one crucial one, but you take that along with the other 11 tests and begin to evaluate, “Is this relationship on solid ground or is this infatuation? Is this just ooey-gooey feelings that, ‘I've got chemistry; and, Hey! It sure feels good,’ but this is going to be gone in six to nine months and this is not going to be the basis for a lasting relationship?”
Bob: You may have dated somebody for three years. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the right person, just because you’ve gone that long. The second test you talk about is a “Test of Knowledge”; right?
Chip: It's a “Test of Knowledge”, and I think they're interrelated because love grows out of the appraisal of all the known characteristics of the other person. Infatuation may arise from an acquaintance with only a few or only one of these characteristics. So, you get attracted to one thing, and your heart explodes—and it's true. Let's identify, let's not get so spiritual here. It happens. Everything feels wonderful.
Dennis: You're making me need to lie down here. (Laughter)
Dennis: I want to ask both you guys, “How much of your wives did you know at the point you asked her to marry you?” Now, looking back—let's just apply this “Test of Knowledge”. How well did you know her?
Chip: I will say I knew my wife very well. There was a lot on the line. We knew each other extremely well for two years, but what I will say—this is interesting—the first time I saw her, I had a light go off. There was some chemistry, and I literally slammed on the brakes and said, “You know something? I need”—because I had been through a few relationships, and I wasn't going to deny that there was an immediate attraction. She had this—in my mind's eye—long blond hair, blue dress, and I can tell you where she was standing; okay? So, I mean, I'm not discounting—but what I learned the hard way was—I'd had that same experience with a lot of girls; and they weren't the right ones.
Chip: So, I stopped. I said, “I will not”—and here's the principle—“I will not allow my emotions to engage or my mind to pursue until I get to know this person, her relationship with God, how she relates to family, how she treats other people, her commitments, her loyalty.” Because I had finally learned, “You know what? I'm going to do this God's way.”
Bob: Those are the knowledge kinds of things—
Bob: —you were talking about.
Chip: When I saw her in a Bible study, when I saw her respond under tough times, when I saw her go through, in her case, a horrendous situation and her heart for God, it was then that I knew that little light of attraction—there was some real basis for it, underneath the ground.
Dennis: Here’s where I want to—I just wish I could reach through the radio and gently grab a young man or a young lady’s hands and say, “Now, listen carefully. Look me in the eyes and listen very carefully. Just because what you see you like, doesn’t mean you are seeing everything the other person or about that other person, that they need to share with you. If they are hiding things from you, if there are things about their lives that are taking place”—and here’s the real wild card in this, “How do you know?”
Dennis: How do you know?
I know a couple whose daughter married a young man, who had a horrific problem with credit cards. He had tens of thousands of dollars of indebtedness with credit cards. I know another situation where a young man was addicted to pornography, another one to alcohol, to drugs. I mean there are issues in people’s lives that are hidden because we all want to be loved; and we so want to be loved that sometimes we can be guilty of hiding the truth.
I would say to a single person listening, “You need to ask the other person”—if you’re into these “Tests of Love”—“ask them, ‘Do you have anything—any kind of knowledge about yourself that you are hiding from me? Is there something about you from your past, from your present, that you haven't shared with me that you think I need to know?’”
Chip: One of the problems here is not just that they're hiding—when you are infatuated, if you think you're in love—when you're infatuated, you look through a lens that, “You don't want to see it.” So, that's why it's so important that you look at all 12 because it's not just that, “I don’t”—if there is anything that's not very appealing, when I'm infatuated, I just say, “Oh, that will be better,” or, “When we get married,” or—you know, “People say, ‘That's a problem.’” When other people are telling you, “This is an issue,”—people who really know you—you need to listen.
One of the ways to test that, to find out this deal, is to look at the third test. The third test is “Focus”. Because love has an other-centered focus—it's outgoing. It results in sharing. Infatuation is self-centered. When you have these feelings and you're thinking about the “Test of Time”—and I’m thinking about the knowledge of this person—When a person is infatuated, the issue is, “How do I look? What do you think about my hair? Should I wear these shoes or those shoes? Do you think we ought to go here or go there? I don't know? Will he like this? I wonder if she’ll like that. Should I wear my muscle t-shirt, or do you think I ought to wear just the other one?”—and on, and on, and on, and on. Guess where the focus is? When you're infatuated, the focus is on you. If you are all uptight and totally consumed with how you come off, I have news for you. “You are infatuated, but you're not in love.”
If your focus is, “I wonder what she's feeling. I wonder what's going on. What would help her on this date? You know, I know she's struggling in school. I think I'll swing by and get her a chicken sandwich on the way. You know, I'd like to go out tonight; but I think the best thing to do is just drop it off and I'll pray for her. I'm going to head back to the dorm.” That's the kind of attitude that tells you, you know, “I care about this person.”
Dennis: Chip, if your daughter—let's say she was 25 years old, and you maybe had a suspicion that perhaps the guy she is dating has his focus in the wrong place—he's pretty self-absorbed. How would you coach her? How would you help her get outside of that infatuation, those feelings, to be able to see what's really going on in the guy's life?
Chip: I want to share very, very honestly here because I think we better do most all of that training on the frontend. My experience is, even as her father—my best friends—people I have been involved with in ministry—when infatuation hits, if you haven't thought this through and talked about it in advance, I'm telling you, people literally shut down and will not hear.
What I would say is I would go through this test with her, and I would give her a few tests to throw at this guy to find out, “Is he in love with the feelings, or does he really care about her?” Give him some opportunities where he has to exercise a focus, and a focus that's sacrificial, and you find out pretty quickly where people's hearts are.
Bob: I have given young ladies this advice in similar situations. I have said, “I am less interested in how the guy you're spending time with treats you. I'm more interested in finding out how does he treats his mother, how does he treat the waitress at the restaurant, how does he treat other people who are less significant to him, and who he is not pursuing.”
If he's rude to the lady at the restaurant when she says, “How's the food?”, if he shouts at his mom, you just need to be aware that one day, he's going to be rude to you. He's going to shout at you because he's not going to be pursuing you any longer. Don't be fooled into thinking that the way he—“I know he's got a problem with his mom, but he loves me.” Well, one day, he is not going to love you. He's going to shout at you, and he's going to be rude to you.
Dennis: Yes. Here is where Chip's advice, I think, is really important. If you, as a single person, are “in love” or you're being swept away into this deep, swift stream called infatuation, it's almost like you need to have another person outside the relationship, like your father, like your mother, like someone who is a godly mentor in your local church, who you could go to and say, “Now, I really need you to help me make sure my head is screwed on straight.”
Bob: Can I tell you a great story related to that? There was a young woman I know who, a number of years ago, decided that God was calling her into a mission-field environment.
She got her affairs together and went off to the mission field. She came home on furlough. She had been on the mission field for two years, and she came to the elders at her church and was reporting on her experience of being on the mission field. She was talking about a new assignment, being in a new medical facility, and one of the doctors there that was going to be a co-worker.
One of the elders just kind of—his antennae went up, and he said, “Is there something starting to happen between you and the doctor?” Her eyes got wide, kind of like, “How did you know?” She said, “Well, as a matter of fact, yes, we have become friends. We have started talking about the possibility of getting married.” Well, she actually came back to the elders and said, “Listen, I want you men to be a part of the process.”
Bob: She said, “We've been talking, and he'd like to come over and would like to meet you. We'd like you to ask him questions and find out about his life and his character.” She said, “We've decided that unless we have your go-ahead, we're not going to get married.”
Now, some people may hear that and go, “Oh, this sounds like a pretty legalistic situation.” No, nobody was making her do this. She was just saying, “I want to be so sure about where I'm headed that I’d like to get a bunch of godly men, the elders of my church, to help me out in this situation. If you see a problem, let me know; and I’ll call it off.”
Chip: I've got a very present application for this because it's not just—I know we're focusing on single people, and we've got a broad listening audience. I want to say something to parents because the time to really do this—we just went through this, okay? My daughter has heard this twice. My daughter has her own copy of this book—
Chip: —highlighted. We moved to Atlanta; and my daughter, by admission, she looks like her mom. She's very beautiful.
Dennis: How old is she?
Chip: She's 16. It was a group-type thing—new school, public high school, and this guy, with a group, wants to be involved in taking her to this event. It wasn't quite pairing off, but you know my antennas are going up. I'm asking this, this, this, and that.
We're at the supper table. Now, listen carefully, parents. We're at the supper table. That means you have to eat together. Second, we're talking. You've got to talk. Third is, this information is out. We've gone through it together. So, I've got opportunity and access. That's one of the reasons why you need to do this.
She says this; and as she is talking, I said to her, “What about this guy?” Well, you know, I found out a little bit about his background; and he was not a committed believer at this point, and it was just a group. Still, she was going—you know, we've got real clear guidelines.
Chip: I asked her something. I said, “Annie, do you have any feelings at all toward this guy?” It got real quiet around the table. I mean, that's a pretty uncomfortable question to ask a 16-year-old; but she's a neat, mature girl. She looked at me and goes, “Yes, I kind of like him.” I said, “Okay, let's think this through,” because we were talking about should this happen or shouldn't, or why, or when. I said, “Okay. So, you don't think he's really walking with the Lord; right?”
“Yes, but it's a group thing,” and she gave me all the reasons and just the event. I said, “So, aren't you putting yourself in a difficult position, and aren't you then setting him up for failure because what if he's attracted to you?” You've already made a pre-decision about any kind of relationship with any guy that's not totally committed to the Lord.”
We walked through this together, and at the end of the whole dinner, my daughter leaned back and said, “Yes, you know, they're just feelings.” We then walked through what was the right thing to do; but it was because we had the test. It was open season, and we're talking about it.
What I want to tell most parents is, “We have to walk through these tests with our kids, and this has to be open season information, where it's as natural to talk about this as, ‘And, by the way, do you want some more iced tea? Pass the butter.’” If we don't, once they get locked into the infatuation, then you become the enemy, parents. Then, you're, “Prying into my life. You don't understand.” Then, guess what? When they align that, when your feelings get pitted against that, then, it's you and God. We set ourselves up, and the Enemy comes in—and he literally is robbing our kids—
Chip: —out of our Christian homes because the normal kid who doesn't watch much TV, that doesn't go to bad movies, is shot through with this. They walk out of the checkout stand, and there's People, there's Cosmo, there's even nighttime TV. Well, guess what? We have got to—you know, I'm preaching your stuff. (Laughter)
Dennis: Preach it. Preach it.
Chip: We have got to get inside the heart of the families. Moms and dads, this starts at 12, 13, 14—
Dennis: It does.
Chip: —not when they’re 15, 16, 17—going to do anything remotely close to dating.
Bob: The questions you're talking about going through with our kids are the “Tests of Love” that are in your book, and we've got them on our website at FamilyLife.com. Parents can use them as part of the dinnertime conversation. Don't wait until your daughter is 16 to start talking about it. Start talking about it when they're eight.
Chip: Right. See, I already had her heart.
Bob: That’s right.
Chip: We pre-agreed on this commitment. She had heard it. We had talked about it. Yet, with all of that, at the moment of truth, when a young man came in to sweep her off her feet—
Chip: —her emotions were tilting to the left—
Chip: —and it wasn't until—I literally felt like I was, in the moment at the table, pulling her back to center—
Dennis: You were in a wrestling match.
Chip: —the light came back on, and it was like—
Bob: “Oh, yes.”
Chip: —thank you, Lord.
Dennis: I had to go into the ring, and actually go to my daughter's corner, where she was in the ring, and say, “Sweetheart, I'm not fighting you. I'm in your corner, and I'm pulling you in the direction you need to go.”
There are really two exhortations we've talked about today. The first one, as you've well said here, Chip, is to moms and dads to not be negligent—don't be passive. You must enter into these discussions when they're young. Tell them when they're six, seven, and eight that you're going to interview these young men, you're going to talk with them about who they're dating and the caliber of the opposite sex they're going out with, and you're going to have an opinion there.
Then, secondly, if you're single, if you’re 8 years old, 16, 26, 45—doesn’t matter—if you’re single, you need to make sure you have some godly, mature people in your life—preferably, your parents—but some godly, mature, spiritual people in your life who are looking out for your best interests, who you will listen to—you will go to, you will seek out their advice, and you will listen to what they say.
Bob: Get the elders involved; right? Get the pastors involved.
Dennis: That's pretty serious stuff there. (Laughter) We're chuckling about this, but I really view single people today as in desperate need of the body of Christ, not more so than married people, but certainly as much. They need the church as never before, and they need that outside godly counsel around critical life choices, like your spouse.
Bob: This is not supposed to be a solo event. I mean, these kinds of decisions are things that we make in the context of community and doing life with other people. It also helps to have godly counsel, not only up-close but from a distance. You get a book like the one Chip has written called Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships; that’ll help provide godly input into your life, as well.
Make plans to attend a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway when that comes to your community, even as an engaged couple. There are lots of engaged couples who come to the Weekend to Remember as a part of their marriage preparation. We’re going to be hosting dozens of these events in cities all across the country this spring. So, you can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, to find out more about when the Weekend to Remember is going to be in a city near where you live.
Or if there is not a Weekend to Remember that’s in your area or at a date that’s convenient to you, why don’t you either consider attending or hosting an Art of Marriage® video event in your community? This is a Friday night/Saturday event that you can host at your church or in some other location. Invite your friends out to it, or you can look on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com and find out when an Art of Marriage event is going to be happening nearby where you live.
The point is, “Get the input that you need. Get other people involved in speaking into these issues in your life.” Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about Chip’s book, about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway, about the Art of Marriage.
Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us toll-free at 1-800-358-6329 and ask for any information you need about these resources. Again, the phone number is 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”; or find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Speaking about doing life together and about partnership, this radio program is a community-effort. It’s our team here at FamilyLife that puts the program together, and does the production work on it, and gets it syndicated to stations all across the country; and it’s some of you, who as listeners, help support the ministry—you make it possible for us to keep up with the costs associated with that kind of work. We appreciate your financial support of this ministry. It’s very much needed, very much appreciated. Whether you are a Legacy Partner and make a monthly donation or you make donations on occasion, we are grateful for your financial support.
This week, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought we ought to offer you a special thank-you gift, if you’re able to make a donation to help support us, a couple of books that our team has put together that provide some practical suggestions on how you can express your love to your spouse. There is a book of romantic tips for husbands and another book of romantic tips for wives.
Along with those books, we’ll send you a couple of prayer cards that’ll give you guidance on how to pray for one another more effectively. All of that comes your way when you request it after you make a donation at FamilyLifeToday.com—just go online and click the button that says, “I Care”. When you make your online donation, we’ll send these resources out to you. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation over the phone and just ask for the romance resources. We’ll know what you’re talking about, and we’ll be happy to send them out to you. Again, we appreciate your partnership with us and your support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
We want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow. Chip Ingram’s going to be here again. We’re going to get him to tell the story about when he was 21 years old and just about every woman he met, he thought she might be the one. It’s a great story, and we’ll get Chip to fill you in on it tomorrow. Hope you can be here.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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