Dear single girl,

Let’s talk about #couplegoals. This idea of the cutest love stories. The love of your life and you finally meet him and he’s everything – you get along, you make each other laugh, you have the same favorite restaurant and the same favorite hobbies and he likes dogs just as much as you do! You can’t wait for a lifetime of ice cream dates and movie nights and exploring new places and starting a family and serving God with the man of your dreams.

This is my story, with my husband, Zack. I met the guy who just made me SO happy, who I felt like I could be fully myself around, who I have so much fun with. We met in high school, we take cute-sy  photos and put them on instagram, and sometimes people comment #couplegoals.

You’ll find that person someday, too. But in the meantime, let’s break down #couplegoals. I always laugh when I see someone comment something like this on one of our photos. One time one of our photos even got used in a viral #couplegoals tiktok. But here’s the facts: we are not perfect, at all.

Recently I received a message from a college girl asking for advice in relationships, saying she looks up to Zack and I’s relationship and wants what we have, but has trouble trusting the timing of when she will find that person and was just feeling a little lost.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Zack and I have a great marriage now, but it wasn’t always this easy. We grew up together. Like, since we were 16. That leaves a lot of room for growing and maturing and making mistakes and hurting each other along the way. Maybe people see us now and think “goals” but here’s the reality: every relationship on this side of heaven has flaws, pain, and messiness. We need Jesus in our lives, his grace, his forgiveness to be a model for us as we pursue great relationships on earth.

10 years with Zack has taught me this: Your relationship with your spouse/BF can never replace your relationship with God. Why? Because God loves you perfectly, and no matter how hard your spouse might try, they can’t.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. He loves you with a perfect, reckless love that we as followers of Christ are called to emulate (“we also ought to love one another”) but we aren’t God, we aren’t perfect. We mess up.

It’s been the times that I put Zack in the number 1 position in my life that things have been off. Every time he did something that hurt my feelings the pain was deeper, every disagreement felt worse. Too much of my need for perfect love and acceptance was falling on an imperfect person. Friend, it isn’t good for you, and it’s unfair to put that pressure on someone else as well.

At one point, about 7 years in, I had to face my biggest fear: which was losing Zack. We hit a really rough patch in our relationship. There were lots of tears and lots of nights where I felt so alone, rejected, confused and heartbroken. I thought this was the man of my dreams. I thought he was who God had for me. We were best friends but now everything seemed to be falling apart. I had given 7 years of my life to this man and I wanted desperately with everything in me to be his wife one day, but the path he was on and our future was looking increasingly bleak.

This went on for a few months, and it was one of the most emotionally crushing few months I’ve ever experienced. I clung to God and prayed. I asked for him please please please to let me and Zack work things out. I asked him to bring Zack back to him. Nothing seemed to work. Was God ignoring my prayers? I thought he wanted me to be with Zack, but now he seemed so silent.

Here’s where the breakthrough came: A few months in, I surrendered. I said to God, “Lord I want this. Near as much as I want to breathe I want to be with Zack. But, God you are more important to me that he is. You love me more perfectly. My life is yours. If Zack isn’t who you have for me, I will walk away right now. I pray you give me the bravery to do so. I surrender this desire to you. I am done trying, I am just going to listen to you. Whatever you tell me to do, I will do it. I trust you to bring me into the life you have for me.”

Sometimes I think God wants to give us what we want, but he knows that first we need a lesson in who is our #1 and who is our #2.

God is your #1 and your spouse is your #2. When I surrendered this desire to God, I finally could live my day to day in freedom. I felt a peace wash over me because I didn’t have to strive and try to get what I wanted through my own power. I had a peace knowing that God was directing my steps, and as long as I followed him, I would be ok.

After I surrendered, Zack and I’s relationship started improving. The life he was leading started to change. He grew just as much as I did in this season, but in other ways. This season of hardship was preparing him to be a husband as much as it was preparing me to be a wife. I HAD to learn that lesson. God knew I couldn’t enter into marriage looking at Zack as my #1. It wasn’t fair to him to expect him to love me perfectly. Only God can do that.

In a season of singleness you might feel the same kind of desperation. The “why, God, why?!” the “all my friends are finding boyfriends, what is wrong with me?!” Friend, nothing is wrong with you! But what if God is trying to save you from the heartache that I experienced that comes with putting your boyfriend in the number one spot in your life. What if God is waiting for you to surrender that desire to him and let him be your number one. So that way he knows you’re ready.

Surrender is hard. But God loves you perfectly. He knows your desire for a spouse. He sees that. If you’re in a season of waiting, you have to know that his goodness is all over that. He knows that He needs to be your number 1 first before you meet that person for that relationship to be as good and sweet as possible.

So, single girls, the best thing you can do right now is seek your 1. Pursue God. Spend time in the word, try to grasp and wrap your mind around his perfect love (Ephesians 3:18). Pray for your future spouse. How sweet is it to think you are storing up prayers for them to benefit from in the future. This is the best way to love them before you know them. When God’s timing is right, you will meet them. And when you do, you will be right where you need to be with God to avoid the heartache that comes with placing them in the number 1 spot in your life.

You will be in the perfect place to seek your 1 with your 2. And that is #couplegoals.

Sarah Bross is a fashion + faith blogger from St. Louis, Missouri currently living in Long Island, New York with her husband, Zack. She loves seeking out the joyful parts of life, making things fun, watching sunsets, going on ice cream dates and finding adventure – even at Target. Say hi on instagram @sarahkbross

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