Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What I've learned about Relationships...


A high school classmate posted the following question in a Facebook note:

"Would you stay with a person if you knew they were never going to marry you?"
Relationships are something that I spend a lot of time thinking about, and I already had an answer for her question:

"I wouldn't. To me, the point of a relationship is to lead towards marriage. I'm not saying that I'm planning my wedding in month one, but there should be an understanding that if we're going from just dating to a serious relationship,
it's because there's a plan for the future. I also see it as a waste of time
that would be better spent finding my forever man."

I figured that my blog was as good a place as any to expand on this answer. As I said in my response, I don't necessarily think that after a month of being in a relationship we should be buying rings, but at the same time, I've learned some key things from both recent and past experiences as well as conversations with friends, preaching from the pulpit, and two great books that I recommend for everyone "Waiting and Dating" and "Every Young Woman's Battle" (although, I'll mention that "Every Young Woman's Battle" is geared toward a high school aged crowd, so you should check out the other books in the "Every Man Series" to see what feels most comfortable for you.)

1. Men and women were made to have certain Man-Woman feelings for each other that can sometimes blind us. Pastor B puts it best when he explains that he can't cast these feelings out of you, because when you get married, he'd have to cast them back into you! So once we know that the feelings are there to stay, what can we do? We can remind ourselves that we are human beings with self control and rational thinking, and physical feelings do not control us, and that those feelings are not enough to determine whether or not a relationship will work.

2. When you're friends (really friends though, not simply acquaintances) with a person before jumping into a relationship, you have time to learn a lot about them. How do they treat others? How they react to difficulties and blessings (I know some sore winners who are much worse to deal with than any sore loser I've ever met!) What they value most in life. And even, how they deal with those that they date (if you're close enough friends for long enough.) These are only some of the things that you should be observing. Pay attention in the friendship stage for things that you love and hate. People are who they are and they will not change once you get into a relationship, things will jut be a more intense version of what they already are!

3. You shouldn't even get into a relationship with someone until: a) you feel that you're marriage material and b) they are marriage material FOR YOU! My suggestion is to make sure that both of these are present. This requires some work beforehand, since you need to figure out for yourself what characteristics you deem necessary for marriage. Do you feel that you won't get married until you have a college degree? Then why are you in a relationship as a senior in high school? Get yourself together before even working on a relationship. And figure out what you want from a significant other also. Do you know that your faith is important to you and you never miss Sunday mass? Why are you getting into a relationship with an Atheist? They could be a great person for all intents and purposes, but are they marriage material FOR YOU? This is especially important because feelings within relationships sometimes snowball and you don't want to invest lots of time and emotion on a relationship that isn't right.

4. It's OK to date! I don't know about everyone else, but I wasn't raised in a culture that encouraged dating. Either you had a boyfriend/girlfriend or you didn't, but there was no acceptable in between place. If you chose to date different people, you were a "player" or a "whore" even if you weren't doing anything more than dating. It has taken me time, experience and counsel of good friends to realize that it is quite alright for a man to take me out to dinner and a movie without there being any plan for a future. I do have feelings about how to choose dates and what should come prior to dating, but that's a whole post in and of itself! But once two mature people feel that they are ready to date, I think the practice should be encouraged.

So, what do you think about relationships leading nowhere? And what relationship advice have you learned along the way?

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