Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Relationships and Growing More Sensible
Over the last couple years I've had the opportunity to have a number of non-relationships and maybe one serious sanctioned one. What I've learned is that in the conservative ideology of courtship and letting your parents make your decisions... some things don't exactly work out according to the expectations of various celebrity authors who write books that are quoted more frequently than scripture in religious circles in reference to dating and relationships.
And why not? Isn't a method and a system easier than letting God work out the details over time? Obviously the fact that God might work differently in various people's lives is not evidence that a one-size-fits-all model is wrong!
I've been learning a number of things... often painfully. Firstly, patience. This quality may seem obvious, but in their rush towards marriage, many books overlook the idea that this could be reckless and dangerous. Some parents even oblige prospective mates to promise to marry their children before they can possibly have time to know the person. My readers may easily see the problem with this... marriage is important and inseparable and should be entered into with conviction and hopefully not too many lingering doubts.
Clearly marriage is a source of many a trepidation. The fear of commitment is often said to be the source of endless hesitation on the brink of going from dating to marriage, often turning into many years (some turn this into lifetimes). The fear of the future should not impede marriage, but it is essential that a couple keep a healthy view of their relationship without allowing this to become clouded by the rosy ideas that come with the excitement caused simply by being in a relationship.
The emotions and hormones that are wedded to the happiness of having someone to love and enjoy, to be your friend, and to share life with may easily hide their faults and incompatibilities. This is an important reason why it is imperative not to set any arbitrary timetable for the relationship. It is quite possible that God may allow problems to become apparent or for the relationship to change course over time. Rushing through the details may cause a couple to lose sight of these insights/revelations and to become locked into a marriage that may have been ill-advised to begin with. In hindsight they may regret their decisions only to realize that their best opportunities to have chosen a different path have already been taken away from them.
In the end, patience is not only a virtue, it is indispensable. Making promises later, after getting to know your partner, rather than before will save you many heartaches. I only hope now that I don't make the mistake of making a girl wait too long before driving her in circles about what my thoughts are for the future!
I suppose it is possible to wait too long to show interest or to move between stages in a relationship... however, as I feel that I've never done it too slowly before, I can't imagine slowing down for me will result in a total destruction of the drive-train!
Another thing that's important is becoming one's own person... an individual capable of managing one's own affairs. Having moved out, I find my life much more peaceful and the ability and necessity to make my own decisions is good. Don't worry, I haven't done anything too crazy! Unlike what some parents may think of their children, if you have raised them properly, they probably won't crash and burn! If you really think they will, either they are completely stubborn/stupid or you may have failed to cover some important topics at some point in their childhood.
This brings me to the parenting part of this. Too many parents anticipate that they will make all their children's important major life decisions for them. Mature relationships should be between equals (more or less) helping each other live through life and enjoying the results in an intimate friendship of understanding, etc. If your children are not capable of mature decision-making, managing their life for them isn't going to fix it. Telling your child that he/she will fail at life does little to increase their confidence or chances of success. Allow your children to make their own decisions--at times one must make mistakes to learn. This is life and there is nothing wrong with reality. To protect children from all sin and suffering is to attempt to provide an existence for them that is neither humanly possible nor conducive to their well-being in adult life.
However, it is up to us young people to make the right choices... if we fail, there cannot be the expectation that our parents will come in and fix our mistakes every time. Part of growing up is learning to handle life. Honestly, both through the advice of others and my own life experience, the only way this learning can be accomplished is through experience. As much as I've hated it, the fact that my parents have forced me to earn my own money and cover my own expenses has been vital to my financial stability thus far. They also taught me to stay away from debt and spend within my means. Now, whether or not my budgets and diets are completely sane may be debatable--but I'm not yet drowning and I've been living on my own for almost a year now.
Relationships are not evil. Children growing up and getting married is not dangerous--it's the natural pattern of life. In fact, it's a wonderful thing. The thought of many of my friends being married right now gladdens my heart. At the same time, while I wish for the same, I must continue to live somewhat sensibly for the meantime. Additionally, I must not lose my mind completely and throw patience/common sense out the window when I decide to pursue a woman who catches my attention!
In closing, let me simply say that all of us make mistakes. In fact, I probably make a fair quota of the world's mistakes. In writing this article, my reasons are multifaceted. I wanted to reflect on poor decisions and/or advice that I've taken in the past and seen fail--yet at the same time, I also desired to show how learning from the past will hopefully guide me in a better direction. It's this constant learning and course-adjustment that not only complicates life, but if we let it, pushes us on in a straighter and clearer path ahead.
P.S.: Maybe I'll write another post about the fears of dating. lol. ;) Even with being young, I'm realizing there are so many thoughts and ideas to write about on these topics. I do not claim to be an expert, just a traveler sharing the wisdom and ideas I have learned along the way.
Also, picture at the top of the article is from Northanger Abbey (iTV) and is here simply for illustrative purposes. I claim no rights to the screen capture.