Alex Chediak (co-author of 5 Paths to the Love of Your Life: Defining Your Dating Style) and his wife Marni are authors of the book, With One Voice. These two married authors have an interesting perspective to share on dating. They embrace the concept of becoming a good catch, rather than finding a good catch. In our exclusive interview, Alex and Marni explain the reasoning behind their thinking… and how following this approach can lead to the kind of long-lasting, intimate relationship that most people crave.
Q. Alex, you’ve led young adult, college and high school ministries for single men, where romance and sexuality are popular topics. You’re also training to be a pastor. How is it that you married Marni at age 30?
Alex Chediak: Although Marni and I were both spiritual people before college, neither of us approached dating and marriage from a spiritually mature perspective. I didn’t see marriage as a key part of adulthood until I was in my late twenties. Marni wanted to get married at a young age, but until she was in her mid-twenties, she only sought relationships to give her a sense of significance, which was ultimately futile. Through her studies, she gained the faith and confidence she needed to be more selective and to date only men who truly had potential to become a good spouse.
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Q. OK, so neither of you had a great sense of maturity in your early dating lives, but it doesn’t sound like you were being reckless with other people’s hearts, either. So how are single people to know when they’ve come across someone who is immature when they’re dating?
Alex: In a word: self-centeredness. The immature person only truly cares about his or her own interests in the relationship. The immature love interest pursues the temporary benefits of a relationship at the expense of long-term responsibilities. For example: A man will stay with a woman without making any kind of commitment, but only if she’ll let him.
Q. And an immature woman?
Marni Chediak: An immature woman bases her worth on what men think of her. Mature women base their sense of worth on knowing they are loved already. They are so secure with themselves that men do not quickly win their hearts. These women are “harder to get” but have twice the allure to men — particularly the right men. They don’t lack a desire to marry, but they can’t imagine getting involved with the wrong kind of guy.
Q. How can single people identify the right kind of person to date?
Alex: Men and women committed to virtues such as love, respect, community, and accountability are far more likely to both become and to recognize a potential spouse. Unfortunately, many singles seem to think only about what is best for themselves. They don’t spend enough time looking in the mirror and becoming the sort of person who would make a good partner for someone else.
Marni: When both the man and the woman are actively growing as mature adults, they will better know what to expect from each other and will not waste each other’s time if the relationship isn’t right.
Q. So becoming the right kind of partner is more important than searching for the right partner. How do you become the right kind of partner for a potential match?
Alex: The right person is someone who is faithful, mature, and committed. When you meet someone, think about what you bring to the table, rather than how the other person will meet your needs. Ask yourself: “How am I becoming a person who can be loved and respected for a lifetime?” Don’t come to a relationship thinking, “I’ll give when you give.” When you begin to act as though marriage is a 100/100 proposition, instead of a 50/50 one, you bring to your relationship an attitude that is powerfully attractive.
Jennifer Derryberry Mann is a columnist for Spirituality & Health magazine and the former editor of Science & Spirit.