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To Marry or Not to Marry?

The experience of “falling in love” is not a foundation for a happy marriage. It is highly possible to be “in love” with someone you should not marry. In fact, you will probably feel the “tingles” for almost everyone you date. It is the “tingles” that motivate us to want to spend time with the other person. As you date, sometimes the “tingles” dissipate quickly, and the relationship never gets off the ground. On the other hand, the “tingles” may develop into the emotional obsession I am calling the experience of “falling in love.” None of this requires much effort or thought. All you did was show up, and the emotions took over. However, a marital relationship designed to last a lifetime requires more than these euphoric, obsessive feelings.

A Time to Talk About the Real Stuff
We must not allow the euphoria to blind us from seeing the glaring differences between us on the fundamental issues. That is why I have emphasized such things as values, morals, spirituality, social interests, vocational visions, and the desire or lack of desire to have children. Dating provides the context for serious discussion about these issues if we are not blinded by the exhilaration of it all. If we are too far apart on these fundamental issues, we should be wise enough to express appreciation for the contribution made to the other’s life and then go our separate ways. To marry in the height of the “in love” euphoria and ignore these more fundamental issues is to set one’s self up for a painful and difficult marriage.

Lindsey was wise enough to see this. She and her fiancé, Marcus, were assigned the responsibility during a conference of taking me to dinner one evening. In the course of our conversation she shared with me how helpful The Five Love Languages had been to her. “I had been dating another guy for about a year before I met Marcus,” she said. “I really felt loved. I guess maybe I was ‘in love’ with him. But when Marcus came along there was something different about him. It wasn’t so much the emotions. I admired who he was. I admired his character and the way he invested his life working with troubled kids at the local boys’ club.

“After we started dating it bothered me that I didn’t have the same emotional feelings for him that I had for my former boyfriend. He was much more the kind of person I wanted to marry, but I couldn’t figure why I was still having such strong feelings for the other guy. Then one day I was reading your book on love languages. My mother had loaned me her copy. It was written for married couples, but it made sense to me.

“When I finished reading, it dawned on me that my love language was physical touch, and the reason I still had feelings for my former boyfriend was that he was a toucher. He would put his arm around me at movies. He would hold hands every time we got out of the car to go somewhere. He would hug me and kiss me every time we parted, whereas Marcus was not a toucher. At least at that stage in our relationship he was not touching me very much.

“I guess he didn’t want the physical part of our relationship to become the main thing, so he was holding back. And I was not feeling emotionally close to him. When we talked about it and Marcus explained why he was not being more physically responsive, I appreciated his efforts to hold back on physical touching until we got to know each other better.

“Of course, now he’s touching me,” she said, laughing. “My love tank is running over.”
“I always wanted to touch her,” Marcus said. “In the past I had relationships where physical touch was about all we had in common. I didn’t want that to be true in this relationship. I wanted to get to know her as a person and make sure that we had real interest in each other.”

A Commitment to Core Beliefs
“I really appreciate that about him,” Lindsey said. “The more I got to know him, the more I knew he was the kind of person I wanted to marry. When the touches finally came, I knew that he was the one I wanted to hug and kiss me for the rest of my life. That’s why I said yes when he asked me to marry him.”

Good marriages are built on a combination of emotional love and a common commitment to a core of beliefs about what is most important and what we wish to do with our lives. Speaking each other’s primary love language creates the emotional climate where these beliefs can be fleshed out in daily life.

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You will have to face a great responsibility once you get marriage and that include limited time with your friends. - Mint Springs Farm

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