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Lessons in Dating From John Adams
How one of America’s founding fathers came to have such a sterling marriage.

One of America’s founders and its second president, John Adams, had a remarkable marriage. His experience as a single provides an example worth considering.

After graduating Harvard at 19, John became a teacher for two years, then a lawyer’s apprentice for another two years. He then sought counsel from a leading lawyer of the day, and this lawyer encouraged him to pursue law as a career and specifically not to marry early.

So he focused on his law career and was admitted to the bar at age 24. Then he studied Benjamin Franklin’s Reflections on Courtship and Marriage.

He eventually decided on an energetic, attractive local girl from a wealthy and popular family. No, it wasn’t Abigail; it was Hannah.

“Then came the spring night he would remember ever after. Alone with Hannah, … he was about to propose when [his] cousin Esther and Jonathan Sewall suddenly burst into the room and the moment passed, never to be recovered”(David McCullough, John Adams).

Hannah would go on to marry a different fellow a year later.

McCullough continues: “Seeing what a narrow escape he had had, Adams solemnly determined to rededicate himself. Only by a turn of fate had he been delivered from ‘dangerous shackles.’ Adams then wrote, ‘Let love and vanity be extinguished and the great passions of ambition, patriotism, break out and burn.’”

Sometimes marriage counseling doesn’t yield what we might expect. Don’t be discouraged by that: Use it as an opportunity to rededicate yourself to the cause. Avoid bitterness. Be ambitious—break out and burn for God’s Work! Let God pick your mate. Stay active in His Work and do all you can to prepare yourself in the meantime.

First Impressions

“Yet, when he met Abigail Smith for the first time later that same summer of 1759, he would not be greatly impressed, not when he compared her to Hannah … for Adams it was anything but love at first sight. In contrast to his loving, tender Hannah, [Abigail and her sisters], he wrote, were neither ‘fond, nor frank, nor candid.’ Adams’ first impressions were almost entirely bad and, as he would come to realize quite mistaken” (ibid).

There is another good lesson here. Beware of forming too much of an opinion during a first impression. It is God’s impression we should seek. Let Christ’s mind and His impression lead your thoughts.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2:2).

These are marching orders for God’s singles. Strive to be likeminded with the other singles and members in God’s Church. Avoid striving with one another, or letting vanity get in the way of relationships. Rather, esteem or consider others more important than yourself (verse 3).

If there have been any hitches in your giddy-up lately, or any issues integrating with the other singles, or any offense taken, think long and hard about what Paul is saying here. It is a key to unlocking selfishness, inwardness and vanity.

“Look not every man on his own things [rsv: interests], but every man also on the things [interests] of others” (verse 4). Take purposeful time to learn each other’s interests.

This is all leading to verse 5: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” This is how the ultimate Single thinks and operates.

When reading through these verses, be encouraged by the reality that we are destined to marry a Being who lives and epitomizes these verses!

Use God’s singles program to become more compatible to Christ as His Bride. Don’t think of it as a way to find a mate! That will happen in God’s time and way, but it won’t happen in a blessed way if you are not living these verses.

God Has a Plan

Imagine American history without John and Abigail Adams’s marriage. Without their 1,100 letters sent to each other, major swaths of American history would not have been written. Oh, how one marriage can change history!

Did God have a hand in their marriage?

Did this marriage have a profound impact on Manasseh breaking away from Ephraim and fulfilling prophecy? Neither Washington, Franklin nor Jefferson had a wife like Abigail. They were all important men in founding this nation, but Adams contributed in a unique way because he was well suited to a wife who complemented his willingness to serve and sacrifice for this country.

“John Adams, himself a devoted husband, said the ‘foundation of national morality must be laid in private families,’”Gerald Flurry wrote in Character in Crisis.

Generations of public servants flowed from John Adams’s marriage.

Singles, desire a marriage that makes the most difference to God’s Work and His master plan! From that marriage, a family of servants will be born to serve God’s Work!

When John Adams was 90 years old and near death, Hannah came to say goodbye. “What! Madam,” he greeted her, “shall we not go walk in Cupid’s Gove [a local park] together?” “Ah, sir,” she said after an embarrassed pause, “it would not be the first time we have walked there.”

There seemed to be something between these two, but God and the course of history had other plans.

The point is, let God’s plan for you unfold.