Thursday, July 24, 2008

Seeking Advice

I just finished a sweet little romance book - written in 3rd person but semi chic-lit. The book is called, "The Guy I'm Not Dating" and the plot is written around the girl's attempt at "Kissing Dating Good-Bye" - the non-dating approach made popular by Joshua Harris. I think I agree with that concept, probably more than most, but also felt like the terminology of what makes a couple dating or non-dating isn't as much important as their like minded attitude towards their relationship or future.

It got me thinking, however, as to what advice you would feel important to pass on to your kids- or children you know, from your own experiences or those that you've encountered regarding dating, engagement, and getting married. As most of you know, these blog posts eventually get turned into an annual book for our family, so as you post comments, I'll eventually move them onto the post so they will make it in to the book. (As the program currently works, comments are never published). I'd love for my kids to read over them now and then - and hopefully pay attention!

Stephieanne's advice: Do not get engaged (or stay engaged) unless the couple actually has a wedding date in mind (0r approx. date). The man I was engaged to prior to John, actually canceled our original wedding date, because "he just wasn't sure", but still desired to remain engaged. It left me in a terrible place of wandering - a no-man's-land of technically being engaged but not certain if my fiance ever wanted to go through with a wedding. It was miserable and caused a great deal of insecurity.

Also, never settle. I think my mantra to this is, a life of singleness, as lonely as it may feel from time to time, is infinitely better than feeling trapped in a marriage that feels like a dead-end or tears you down emotionally (or even worse). I know of more than one story of a bride walking down the aisle, wondering if they were making the right decision. That's pretty scary.....

What's your advice?


StephieAnne said...

Hey y'all - I just wanted to point out that I had absolutely no one in mind except myself and the two people I know who thought that prior to walking down the aisle (neither of which read this blog) - when writing. I always feel like I need to mention that when I hand out advice, that I have no ulterior motive in directing it to anyone.....I promise!

Gotta GROW with it said...

c and i were engaged FOR A YEAR!!! not good. do not recommend it. talk about trying to have self-control (wink, wink)! oh my, my, my. not easy.

maybe i'm in denial (especially of the little girls at harlow pool today giggling, watching and following my 9 year old..who i thought was oblivious, but sadly not.) but really i am not looking forward to those days. i love these little men and i know they are both hunks, so i have a feeling it's gonna be quite the ride when the whole issue of dating know, when they're 30! ;o)

Anonymous said...

This is SO WEIRD; I picked up that book at Goodwill a couple weeks ago and I'm about 80 pages in...I really didn't like the first bit (too cliche with the hunk catching her in his strong arms and all that dribble) but the good writing kept me in it and now it's getting more interesting (I always wish I had a little gang of close friends).

OK, so, my advice would be to take seriously what a big, huge, life altering decision marriage is. That's so hard to do when you're young and emotionally driven. The person you choose WILL alter your life, whether for better or worse.

Also, abstinence. And if there's not abstinence, do not try to use marriage to justify or "make it right." A much better option is to deal with the behavior if it's convicting you (and if you're a Christian it should). At the age of 16 (yeah, 16, gotta love prom night) I locked myself into thinking I HAD to marry a guy in order to make it right, and boy, one poor decision led into another. Sex really just complicates things by adding layers of emotion and intimacy that should not be cluttering up the development of a good solid friendship and commitment.

I also think it's really important to have open lines of communication with your parents and to do things in groups so that others can observe the relationship and help point out red flags and hold you accountable. Otherwise tunnel vision sets in fast. After my divorce I told my mom some of the things that happened during our marriage and all she could say was, "I'm sorry, I never knew about all that." I also had a pastor tell me I should have gotten out sooner; but I stayed because *I thought* what was happening did not meet the Bible's criteria for divorce. If I had sought wise counsel I might not have suffered so long.

Do not be unequally yoked! If your religious beliefs mean anything to you then your greatest desire should be to find the mate God has for you, who shares your beliefs. It will not spare you rough times but will give you a firmer foundation, and I believe, your prayers will have more power because the Holy Spirit can work in your spouse.

I could go on and on!

Anonymous said...

Hi -

My advice is more for the parents... and a little for the kids.

First - Dads - you MUST MUST MUST care about who your kids (of both sexes) are seeing! I know this is going to sound a little country music-ish, but if you are picky about who your kid is with and really show that you care your kid will be too. (And the datee will pick up on that!)

Moms - we usually know a little more, for whatever reason, about who our kids spend their time with and what they are like. Respect your kids and their privacy, but don't be afraid to snoop if you must. And, for goodness sakes - ASK QUESTIONS! Find ways to talk about the hard stuff.

To both parents (and all us aunts and uncles, family friends) - be available to listen without passing judgement. (Sharing your values is a lot more effective than coming across as disapproving.) Be honest and expect honesty from the kids you know.

And for the kids - find someone you can really be honest with. Never settle for someone who doesn't have the same values as you do, or want the same things in life - and REALLY explore these things before you get too serious.

OK - I could go on and on. :-) Be careful what you wish for!

Stephietoo said...

Make sure you know, understand, and can accept what your fiance wants/doesn't want in life. Know that you cannot change that person's feelings and you should not walk into a marriage thinking that he/she will change their mind. When Travie and I got married, I knew that he did not want children and I accepted that. Seven years later, I have moments when I yearn for my own kids, but know that I walked into this marriage knowing my husband did not; that I love this man more than life itself; and could not imagine my life without him.

Brayden and Mikayla, I am so lucky to have you in my life because you two have made not having my own kids a lot easier to deal with. I love you both so very much; you are like children to Travie and I; and I think God put you in our lives for a reason.


Anonymous said...

Chele said...
Wow - great advice from everyone. I want to be in denial too - but those days are creeping up for my kids in the not so distant future, so I best be prepared.
In addition to the advice given, I want to add that especially as our kids get older, we need to remind them that they only should be dating someone they would possibly want to marry. Having worked with high school girls so much in the past, I see so often this crazy passion to date cloud their reasoning as to who they are looking for in a date. I think they can easily justify, "we're only dating - it's not like we're getting married..." = to which I have to wonder, why even date then? This not to say that I expect my son's first date to be the woman he eventually marries, but I would hope that she would have those qualities he'd be looking for in his bride.
Also, I remind these girls that the same dominant characteristics that your date possesses that draw you to them might be viewed differently by you years down the line. For example, I was drawn to my husband's "alpha" confident, bold, take-charge, protector persona - it is a very romantic package when you are being courted. But "alpha" can occasionally mean "grizzly bear" when he is tired and grouchy - and perhaps confident can equate to sometimes stubborn and unwilling to bend.... BUT = that is what I chose! I recall asking my senior high school girls one time to determine which extreme of personality they would prefer (confident or shy, extrovert or introvert, loud or quiet, goofy or serious, neat freak or sloppy, always on-the-go or couch potato... etc, etc.) knowing that they might not want the absolute extreme of either but forcing them to each personally recognize which extreme is more attractive in a future spouse. I then reminded them that later on they needed to appreciate that same "preferred" quality - even in it's extreme as they chose it over the other. (Case in point, I have to remind myself regularly that while I don't love picking up after my honey (he is getting much better though!), I'd so much rather "fill this gap" than have a husband who is so militant about a clean house that I would never feel like I would measure up...)
Sorry - long winded - terrific question though... :)

StephieAnne said...

Wow - you guys rock! I will start moving these over to my post and make this mandatory reading material as soon as my kids hit dating age....(30!)

Gotta GROW with it said...

hey! i "tagged ya". i don't know if you've had one before. you can play along if you want, no big deal if you don't. have a great weekend!

Jodi said...

Ok, this doesn't look like repeat advice after scanning the other comments...My advice is to trust your friends and family if they don't like someone you are dating. Listen to them without getting angry. Take what they say into consideration. Good friends and family who love you will be looking out for you and will have your best interest in mind. They might see something that you can't see.

I also think it is incredibly important to look at the family your future spouse was raised in. This isn't always 100% the case, but you can tell a lot about a person based on how they were raised. Clearly there are GREAT people raised in dysfunctional homes, but keep in mind that where they spent 18+ years of their life WILL affect your marriage, whether you just have to deal with the dysfunction regularly or it affects your spouse. Just be prepared and open your eyes to what they saw as family for all those years and figure out how it affected them, how to deal with it, and if you can.

I think that is it for now!

richard said...

OK, now for the Single Dad of a pre-teen overdeveloped daughter to chime in.

Keep in mind that the term "Boy" can be changed to "Girl" depending on circumstances.

I am having to watch my kids grow up while I am over in the Desert with the Military this year. I have gone through a lot with her this year. Her Mom and I have strict rules regarding boys. #1. No dating until you are 16, then it will be considered on a case by case basis. (This applys to the boy too) #2. No "boyfriend" until after 16, you can have friends that are boys, just not boyfriends. #3. Right now the most important thing for you to do is do well in school.

She was busted kissing a young man at school when a bunch of notes were found, she was told how dissappointer her mother and I were in her and that being popular that way is not a reputation she wants to have. Also that type of reputation will follow her throughout High School also. We even discussed sex and some other things that this can lead to. I think in the end she got the message to respect herself first and foremost!

I think that the best thing we can do as parents is set a good example so that our kids know what a great relationship is. If our spouse is angry and yells at us, then our children will think that is the way things are supposed to be, and will treat their spouse the same way. We seem to forget as our children grow up they imitate us throughtout their lives and relationships are another thing they watch and learn from us. So we as parents need to set the example on how to be in a great relationship.

As for me, because I have kids I have some dating rules, that I am very clear about up front. #1. I am a single father, I am very much involved in my kids lives and they will always be #1 and if they need me I will help them. #2. If you don't already know my kids, you will not meet them until we have been dating for 2 months. I don't want them to see different people coming in and out of my life.

I love them with all my heart and will do whatever is needed for them.

Genny said...

Regarding your comment on my site, no clarification needed! I still think even if you only write on your blog, you are still a writer to some extent. And that co-writing effort on your romance novel counts too (smiles). By the way, I didn't know you could take what is on your blog and turn it into a book/family keepsake. So good to know! Thanks!