Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Dating is a marriage negotiation!
Many marriages end before they begin because of the lack of communication. Sure there are the typical assertions of undying love and devotion and the acclaims of always being there when needed. Some believe, erroneously, that this is enough to sustain a HAPPY union……NOT!
I dated for 4 years before going to her father and telling him of my intentions to ask that she wed me. FOUR YEARS you say? This seems like a long time, I’m told. Maybe I am a bit old-fashioned, or, it took us that long to come to compromises that equate to a life together forever. If you think the latter, you would be 100% right.
When we first became a couple we immediately started the process of finding out if we were compatible enough to be together past the week. We began to talk about future goals, where we wanted to live when we grew up (we were early 20’s), our religious affiliations (she was catholic and I was confused), our family histories (because you do really marry the family), our plans for careers, our expectations of each other physically (won’t go there too much, Mom reads the blog sometimes). Our financial plans, even our plans for world travel and vacations. Believe me, this is just a few of the things that took us 4 years to negotiate through. She wanted 8 kids, I wanted 3. She wanted to stay close to Mom; I wanted to get far away. She wanted to do non-profit work; I wanted her to go corporate. She liked Chevy, I liked anything Japanese. She had much credit card debt; I was not going to marry her with it. I had always approached dating in this fashion and had eliminated previous “friends” when I realized that our lives would at some point be headed in opposite directions. In some cases my life forward and her life would be standing still. With my current wife, we had things to work out but we were going the same place.
It took us 4 years to negotiate these things out to a point where we would not have to deal with these hassles after considering marriage or DURING the marriage. Like any good deal, concessions were made and there was some hard selling going on, but we made it to a point where we knew enough about each other’s expectations, dreams, plans, goals, and pursuits that we thought we could make the deal happen.
There have been some addendums to the contract since the marriage, but they are hassled out with the respect that came from the four years of optimistic conciliation. The point being, we learned that we needed to go into a marriage with no surprises and no false expectations. It was almost a self examination and four year counseling session to assure that we could work things out between JUST the two of us and God. I am not saying this is going to work for you, but, the alternative seems to not be doing so well in this fair country of ours. People are “getting together” too soon without the benefit of actually knowing the other person and their family. More people are dating with no expectation of marriage. If this is for you, it is for you….no judgment on my part. Even if marriage is not for you consider the following in any long term relationship. Take some time, kick the tires. Go home and pray about it. Plan out the unplanned and think about the unexpected. Negotiate a wonderful life so that there is no “buyer’s remorse”. ALL relationships are easy to go into blindly and hard to exit without seeing it all. You should do that with any significant other. I should hope that you would invest at least that much……..you do so before buying a car after all.