Monday, June 25, 2012

Biggest Relationship Myths: Part 2

. . . continuing from yesterday:

Myth #5: It's selfish to be in a long-term relationship or marriage and to not intend to have a houseful of children and to exemplify the classic American dream family. Just as I don't believe that everyone is supposed to get married, not everyone is supposed to have children, either. Not everyone wants to have children or would be great parents. Yes, social protocol states that you will get married around the ages of 22-27 and proceed to have 2.3 kids, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence. But I think it doesn't make any sense, and is almost prideful, to say that someone who wants to get married but doesn't want kids is selfish. I know I'm stating the obvious here, but not everybody can have kids, and many of these people know that they can't long before they get married. And for those who can, not everyone wants to or feels called by God to have children, and I think that is 100% OK. Honestly, saying that everyone has to be a parent is like saying that everyone has to be a plumber, or a Marine, or an air traffic controller--regardless of whether they have the skills, the desire, the right circumstances, or the calling to be able to do it. And really, what's more selfish: choosing not to have children because you know it isn't right for you, or having children you really didn't want and aren't ready to care for just to please other people and fit in to social expectations? It's not our place to judge people for wanting to get married, but not wanting to follow that up with parenthood.

Myth #6: Being spiritually compatible with someone is the only compatibility that really matters. It is the first thing you need to find out AND the first thing that should attract you to a potential spouse. Don't get me wrong: spiritual compatibility is very important. I believe Christians are to marry other Christians so that they aren't walking in opposite directions in terms of faith. And you don't want to find yourself in a situation where you are deeply committed to the Lord, but your spouse doesn't want to read the Bible, pray, or talk about spiritual issues with you. So why is this on the myth list? Because it's turned into this wrong idea that if you are spiritually compatible with someone, nothing else should really matter that much--like whether the person has similar (non-spiritual) goals, or makes you laugh, or enjoys some of the same activities that you enjoy. It's not as if you can check spiritual compatibility off the list and then forget about everything else you want in a spouse. It's ok to want qualities in a spouse that aren't overtly spiritual. And here's the other thing. You may have some sense of where your date is at spiritually--maybe you've seen him or her at your church, or grown up together, or happened to end up in the same Bible study. But if you're just meeting them and getting to know them for the first time, where they stand spiritually may not come out the very first time you spend time with them--and that's ok. It's take time to get to know someone, and typically, deep spiritual issues aren't going to come up on the first date or two. I don't think people need to grill their date about spiritual questions before they even have a basis for a relationship with them--those questions will be answered in due time. And finally, there's nothing wrong with you if the first thing that attracted you to another person is their laugh, or their smile, or their intelligence--and NOT a faith-related quality (read: I saw them raise their hands during worship at church and I knew immediately that they were the one).

Myth #7: If you are in your early twenties and don't have at least a general plan of when you're getting married, you're weird and/ or you seriously need to re-assess your priorities for the future. But the fact is, unless you're already engaged or an engagement is imminent, you can't plan when you're getting married. I could say all I want to that I plan to get married when I'm 25, but that would be silly, especially because there's not a guy in the picture right now. Two people have to agree and be at the same place in their lives in order for a marriage to happen (I talked about this same issue when I wrote about singleness here.) And there's nothing wrong with focusing on things you CAN control--like your career or higher education--instead of trying to plan something that you can't control. There's nothing wrong with wanting to get married at a certain age or time, but I don't think people can be expected to have "plans" for how marriage is going to fit into their lives when they may not even be dating yet. Making those plans when there's no immediate way for them to become reality is a set-up for disappointment.

Come back tomorrow to read about the last few myths!

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