I’d like to take a few moments to praise dating slowly (and country music).
Please allow me a few clarifications: I’m not advocating you kiss dating goodbye and I am not calling you back to a premodern state of chaperones, parlors, and carriages.
Rather, I am coming against the haste of the modern Christian march to marriage and advocating for taking a good, long time in dating before the “big plunge.”
Here’s the problem: we want to believe in love at first sight. People long married tell us how they just “knew,” how they bought an engagement ring after the first date, how they saw him or her from across the room and it was destiny. That sounds exciting, so we think our stories should be the same. No one tells us the stories of how they dated for years before getting engaged; those stories aren’t nearly as exciting for us adrenaline addicts. We only hear stories of haste.
Personally, my now-husband and I met in May, and by August, I basically wanted to be engaged—I dreamed of getting married at Christmastime. He wasn’t willing to give me what I wanted, and kept saying we’d take this step by step. I hated that idea. I was 37 and that biological clock was tick-tocking rather quickly. I wanted to know now, but he was determined, and today, I’m glad he was willing to take it slowly, get to know one another, and move forward with all the information.
Here are some reasons that I appreciate him “putting the brakes on.”
- Marriage is not a task on the “to do” list
I get it. We’re American and we like to accomplish things. Often we look at relationships as something we tick off our “to do” list, and then move on to other things. Sometimes we make marriage itself a goal, more than finding the right person. A person is simply a means to accomplish the goal—we want “it” more than him or her.
Marriage is not a task on the “to do” list, and though we may exchange vows, the wedding is followed by a lifetime of work and compromise. It never gets “ticked off,” but is always on the “to do” (or “honey do”) list.
If we never put the check next to “get married,” that’s okay. While we can make it a goal and work toward it, we cannot measure ourselves by whether we walk down the aisle. So, it’s time to take it off the “to do” list, and replace it with “find a great life partner” on the list of dreams that may or may not come true.
- Dating is fun in a way that marriage isn’t
Don’t get me wrong. Marriage is fun—it’s fun to wake up next to each other, make coffee, and eat breakfast together. It’s fun to invite others to the home you’ve made for yourselves. It’s fun to play with your kids and build a life together.
But it’s not the carefree fun of dating.
Dating is carefree fun—usually less budget conscious than marriage dates, and dating is filled with the fun of discovering a new person. There’s something exhilarating about meeting one another at special places and at special times, and then going back to your “own life.” The fact that you don’t live together allows absence to make the heart grow fonder.
Dating lacks the marriage-planning pressure of engagement, and the life-planning-and-living thoughts of marriage. Dating is simple fun.
Trace Adkins’ “Your Gonna Miss This” (lyrics) reminds us to be fully present at each stage, and that we will miss the earlier stages of life; don’t rush through the fun of dating, because you will miss it!
- It takes time to really know someone
Yes, I realize this is a no-brainer, but let’s be honest: we don’t show our full selves at first in any relationship. We put our best foot forward and try to be as pleasing as possible. And until the pressure’s on, whether from work or from something else, we look pretty good.
No one is the perfect spouse, but some show more potential than others. Selflessness, kindness, and other characteristics are often visible early. It’s over the long haul that they are proven, though, and the negative ones are revealed. It’s important to take a good look at both before plunging into the lifetime of marriage.
While it may feel like too much time, Keith Urban sings about “Wasted Time” being the best days of his life (lyrics) (okay, that connection was a stretch, huh?)
Tune in next week for more country music and these three more reasons to go slowly:
- Sex is a TINY portion of marriage
- This isn’t your last chance.
- God never seems to be in a hurry.