Well, the big, gross day of chocolate and hand-holding and cooties is over. Did everyone make it out okay? I think we all survived.
Now that everyone’s coming off their candy heart induced love stupors, I’m throwing out a montage blog, all about the tender beginnings and not-so-tender endings of marriages. Now that people live so much longer before and after their marriages, it’s worth thinking about what we do with all the time we’re not in love with someone.
Test Driving the Car
When my wife and I got engaged, we rented an apartment, got some furniture together, and even bought a new bed and sheets. It just made financial sense so we weren’t paying two rents, and we were eager to get our own place. We were all set and ready to start our new life together…Then I promptly moved back in with my parents while she lived at the apartment until the wedding day. Being the first time in five years that all four people in my family had lived together, those four months were, to put it delicately, hell on earth.
You thought we shacked up, didn’t you? Well, we didn’t…but, I did come over to the apartment to sleep…while she was at work, and I was between seminary classes. Ha, psych again. Those two hours in that brand new bed were the best sleep I could get, since there was just a futon for me at my place, which was little more than a sticky hospital mattress balanced on some junkyard scrap wood. I was very eager to get married, and sleep on a real bed again. My back was in terrible shape after our engagement.
And when I told a new friend about how we didn’t live together before we got married, she thought that was “cute.”
Cute. I didn’t quite take that as a compliment.
“Cute” is something naive, innocent children do. It’s not something serious adults who are planning a lifelong committment together do. I really didn’t know what to say. But that’s where we are today. Declining to “test drive the car” before you buy it is considered “cute,” if not a little naive.
As much as pastors won’t admit it, there’s probably not a lot of ammo in the Bible against co-habitating. Except, have you ever known a co-habitating couple that wasn’t also co-fornicating? Probably not. I just don’t get why people want to get everything over with. When I was a kid, I really wanted to grow up, and my parents warned me that you only get to be a kid once, so enjoy it. Well, you only get to be newlyweds with someone once too. If you really get along with someone, I ask why would you want to take that very short newlyweds phase, and get it over with by moving in together beforehand?
Kiss Dating Hello
Of course, for some people, co-habitation isn’t even a question, because dating is entirely off limits. These people “kissed dating good-bye,” and good riddance.
Let’s face it, dating isn’t always a lot of fun. But I actually think dating has a big advantage.
You can dump someone. And you can get dumped. I think almost everyone should dump someone and get dumped at least once in their life. I know, ironic that dating’s biggest advantage also really isn’t fun.
I followed my first girlfriend around like a pathetic lost dog, just trying to make sure I was doing everything right, so she wouldn’t dump me. It’s a really good thing she dumped me. I learned that following a girl around like a pathetic lost dog doesn’t make a girl respect you.
My next girlfriend almost constantly disappointed me. She was a daily exercise in re-evaluating (read: lowering) my standards. I think the turning point for me was my birthday, when she tossed a cheap, thoughtlessly unwrapped gift in my lap, and then asked for a shoulder rub. Girl knew how to make a guy feel important on his birthday. It’s a really good thing I dumped her. I learned that it’s okay to have standards, and not put up with some slacker who never meets them.
And those are two real world “teachable moments,” that I probably couldn’t get any other way. Maybe you married the first person you dated, but I think my marriage is better because I dumped and got dumped first.
Another Weird Phase
It was really weird when my circle of friends started getting girlfriends. Then it was weird when our friends started getting married. Even weirder was when they started popping out kids. Now my friends are moms and dads. But weirdest of all is that I’m now entering the phase where some of our friends are divorcing. I thought that was something all you older people did. But even the small world of Christian blogging has sad announcements of divorce recently. If you know who I’m talking about, I don’t need to spread the word. It’s not like I even know these people as friends, but it really troubles and affects me to see the marriages around me crumble. I thought our generation would be different. Didn’t we all?
It used to be that pastors could rant and rave about how God hates divorce, and it would maybe hurt one person in the audience. Now, any sermon on divorce is bound to affect half the congregation. However churches deal with it, the key word is God hates divorce, not people who get divorced.
Well, I’ve thrown three more big topics out there. Tell us what you think about shacking up. Is it really against the rules, or was it the best thing you ever did before you got married? Do platonic coed roommates count as co-habitating? Did you kiss dating good-bye, or was getting dumped the best thing that ever happened to you?