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    You Write the Commentary

    April 19, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]I[/dropcap] thought I’d try a different format for today. There are two reasons for this, the first being that I assume you are all quite tired of me endlessly digging through the minutiae of this book! The second is that our morning playdate fell through. I hadn’t planned on writing at all today! So now…I don’t have a lot of material to work with.

    But it’s just as well, because if you participate in the comments, I always love a good reader-contribution post. Don’t worry, I will try not to go overboard on the questions. All of them, by the way, are inspired by chapter 12 of Getting Serious About Getting Married, which is entitled Saying No to the Dating Game. The questions are in no particular order. Please answer any or all of them in the comments as you have time. I am anxious to hear your thoughts!

    • Do you/did you date in the traditional sense of the word? And would you suggest this method of finding a mate to your children?
    • Do you think there is an ideal length of time that one should spend in a single dating relationship? What I mean is, is it possible for a dating relationship to lead to marriage too early? And conversely, could dating for an indefinite length of time be detrimental to a person?
    • Do you think it is important for a person to get their parent’s approval/opinion on their date, even when they are an older single?
    • Do you think dating encourages women to pretend that marriage is of lesser importance to them than it really is?

    I will leave off with this quote {Maken quoted it from the book What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us}, which inspired the last question:

    Alas, it is usually at precisely this moment — when a single woman looks up … and realizes she’s ready to take on family life — that men make themselves most absent … So long as a woman is willing to play a man’s game at dating — playing the field, holding men to no expectations of permanent commitment — men would be around; they would even live with her! But the moment she began exuding that desire for something more permanent, they’d vanish. I suspect that few things are more off-putting to a man eating dinner than to notice that the woman across the table is looking as him more hungrily than at the food on her plate — and she is not hungry for his body but for his whole life.

    So the single woman is reduced to performing the romantic equivalent of a dance over hot coals: She must pretend that she is totally unaware of the hot rocks beneath her feet and behave in a way that will convince a man that the only thing she really wants is the furthest thing from her mind.


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  • Reply Slow Girl (aka Dessert Girl) April 20, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Those of you who know me know that I’m a strange case. I never really dated, with the exception of one “boyfriend” in high school whom I really didn’t like. In hindsight, I wish we had just remained “friends” and left it at that. Thus, I would encourage my high-school aged kids to become casual friends with the opposite sex (as opposed to running in the other diretion, as I wanted to do!), but I would definitely emphasize the priority of fostering friendships with the same gender first because I think these are much more worthwhile at that stage.

    I was also peculiar in that when I did date my now-husband, he was the one who had marriage in mind. I might have been happy to date for years if he hadn’t suggested otherwise. I needed to be taught that life involves risk, and getting married is one such risk. I think that knowing the uniqueness of your children is vital. I needed to be encouraged in an area where many women need to be slowed down! (hence my name–“slow girl”) =)

    Finally (Yes, I know I’m not following the format correctly), I would definitely recommend that parents know whom their children are dating insofar as I believe they should be acquainted with ALL of their children’s friends. Families should be interconnected in such a way that their relationships overlap. Sometimes that gets tricky (like when the daughter runs of to CA for college) but I think the effort should (and can) be made to get to know your kids’ friends. Similarly, a potential spouse (or dating partner) should recognize the importance of the role of the other person’s family in making that person who they are, and they should WANT to get to know the family. This might sound idealistic, but I think this is what people should shoot for.

    I really should get back to work now….

  • Reply Rahime April 20, 2007 at 6:00 am

    I guess I dated in the sense that I
    had several relationships before I was married. I had 3 boyfriends in high school and didn’t date in college until I met my husband. I never dated in the sense of going out once or twice with someone and each of the people I dated I had known for at least six months as friends prior to “dating”, and each “relationship” lasted at least 6 months. I probably wouldn’t let my (hypothetical) kids be involved in a dating relationship as young I as was (14/15), I really don’t think there’s any need for high school kids to date. However, I would encourage them to get to know the other person in a friendship setting before dating and to take their relationships seriously (don’t date if there’s no chance of the relationship leading to marriage).

    I think that ideally one should at least spend a year dating (or interacting with one-another with marriage in mind) before marriage and I tend to think that within six months you should be able to determine whether a relationship is worth pursuing or not. I dragged one out longer than I should have and to date that is my only regret about my past relationships. I also think that dating too long can be a problem, but I am hesitant to put a time limit on that one. I think it wise to take things cautiously, and I would generally encourage people to err on the side of caution. Dating for an indefinite period of time though usually happens when one person is unwilling to commit and that’s definitely unhealthy.

    My husband and I dated for about 3 1/2 years before we were married, but the first year and a half I was still in school. By the time we got engaged (8 mo. before marriage) we had only lived near eachother for about a year, the rest of our relationship had been long-distance, so I think our long courtship was best for us. (We knew, however, at day one that we would married.)

    I think that there are a lot of variables that go into whether or not it is important to have one’s parents approval of a relationship. I think that family input is very important, however, I also think that it is difficult for parents to be objective. I hope that my hypothetical children would seek my opinions, but I would also hope that I would raise them well enough that as adults/mature teens I could trust their judgment.

    Oh, boy. I don’t know what to say on the last one. I guess I’ve seen too many young ladies whose sole aim in life was to be married but yet they had no promising prospects. If a (Christian) man and woman are dating, though I think its important that both have marriage in the forefront of their minds as a goal for the relationship. If they don’t, or aren’t able to talk about it, then they have no business being in a “romantic” relationship. While I think Maken’s quote is reflective of the secular dating scene, it should not be a picture of a Christian relationship, and a woman in such a relationship would do well to run and not look back. I guess I haven’t really encountered this attitude in the single Christian men that I know.

  • Reply Brandy April 19, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    I will try and answer a couple myself. It’s only fair. But I have three kids under five (had to throw that in, as I only have a month left to use it!), so we will see how far I get.

    –I definitely dated in the traditional sense, though much more in high school than in college. I think that I would suggest that my child not date in the traditional sense of the word. This doesn’t mean they will be isolated from the opposite sex until they are marrying age, but I think that encouraging romance before they are capable of actually marrying is doing them a disservice. And I also think that the dating process encourages romance for the sake of romance instead of romance for the sake of marriage. So I think a modified form of dating, where the goal is marriage and not fun, is more ideal.

    –I don’t want to be too formulaic, but I do think that knowing a person for at least a year, and seeing them in every season, can be beneficial. Si and I did not officially date a year before getting marriage, but we didn’t really need to because we had known each other well for four years prior, and only chose to date because we thought there was a good chance we would get married. However, I think that dating past two years is unwise unless there is a really good reason for it. I think two years is enough time to know where you want the relationship to go.

    –I would have to agree with Rebecca and say that if you are going the traditional dating route, then meeting the parents on the first date is probably not important. However, because of how I hope things play out in our own home, with the process being more akin to courtship (though I hesitate to use the term), meeting parents early on would be important. This would not so much be in the form of asking permission, but rather of seeking to gain wisdom from those who know you best. Getting sound advice from close friends would also be advisable.

    –I had never though about this before reading the quote, but it is true. I think that even when a girl is young she is looking for marriage. Most girls want marriage. But we are constantly told that bringing up marriage might scare a man away, and also that it is forward. I think that the courtship model (where marriage is the goal) gives women the right to admit the desire for marriage while also protecting them from being forward and taking leadership of the relationship.

  • Reply Rebecca April 19, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Since I was the one that canceled on you, I will try to answer all of the questions while Lauren naps.

    1. I suppose I did date in the traditional sense. I didn’t date a lot and didn’t spend a lot of time dating people that I knew I would never marry. I would usually agree to a first date even if I thought the relationship wouldn’t progress- usually because the person asking was more than just an acquaintance. I also knew the person that I ended up married to as a friend for a long time before we ever dated.

    2. I suppose I would make two recommendations to my child in dating: a) Don’t waste your time dating someone you know you wouldn’t marry, whatever the reason may be and b) date people who you are friends with.

    3. I don’t think there is a perfect length of time for a dating relationship to last. The length of time the couple has known each other outside of the dating relationship, the age of the people dating can be factors. I do think it is possible for a dating relationship to lead to marriage too early. There has to be sufficient time to know your future mate and their values. I think that dating too long is possible as well. If dating is supposed to lead to marriage, there is a point when the relationship should end if marriage isn’t in the realm of possibility.

    4. I think it is important to have your parent’s input on a future spouse. If you are going on a one time date with a person, I don’t think the approval of parents is needed.

    Ok- Lauren is up, so I can’t finish now. I am interested to read other’s thoughts on this.

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