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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Married Eyes: Not Open and Shut Case.

My daughter is becoming obsessed with her wedding. If it were my ten year old this would be a little disconcerting, but understandable. It, alas, is my 3 year old. She has been peppering us with marriage questions lately. The most recent was a doozy:

"Do you have to close your eyes to be married?"

Well yesterday we watched our wedding video from '98. We showed Lucy that yes our eyes were indeed open.

You bloggers know that every thing that happens in the life of a blogger reminds them of a good blog post idea. Well this most recent Lucyism was no exception. It got me thinking about the expectations we have when it comes to relationships.

When it comes to marriage, some people enter in with their eyes closed. They do this for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes it is simply not having a proper understanding of the differences between men and women.

I heard an excellent sermon series a few decades back by Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Church. He stated that men often compartmentalize their activities. When a young man is wooing a woman, he will pull out all the stops: candlelight, dinners, moon lit walks, poetry, flowers, candy, the whole bit. Hybels stated that after the wedding that the husband will now refocus those energies that he put into courtship, into advancing his career. So now the energies that were devoted to his fiancee are channeled into making a better living for them.

Hybels goes onto say that the woman felt that this "special treatment" was going to continue long through the marriage. When it ends the woman may begin to wonder if they married the right person. Hybels does it much better justice than I do, but the point remains opening your eyes to the inner working of the opposite gender especially of that special someone can make the transition from romance to honeymoon to marital life that much smoother.

Other times eyes are closed based, as they say in court room dramas, "from making assumptions not based on facts in evidence." By this I mean, for instance, if you are romantically interested in someone who has the second largest collection of Star Wars Action figures in the county, you shouldn't be surprised that once you're married, he continues to buy new ones week after week.

Many times closed eyes occurs from settling. People often feel that they have to lower their standards in order to find a marriage partner. Sometimes, as we will discover in a few paragraphs, they do need to as their "standards" were unattainable. Often, however, standards are lowered for no other reason than fear of being alone the rest of their life. I have seen teenagers lower their standards for this reason. Teenagers!

Here are two examples of what people should not settle on:

1. If you are a Christian do not marry an unbeliever. This is what the bible calls unequally yoked. The word picture is that of two different sized oxen plowing a field. Tethered together pulling in different directions, no useful plowing can be done. The same is true of the person trying to please God and the other trying to please only themselves. Don't just take their word either. Look closely at their life.

In applying for jobs when I was in college, I would often be asked how many words a minute I could type. Now I could have certainly exaggerated my WPM in order to have a better chance at the job. The thing was, that the employer generally followed up the application process with a typing test to determine my true WPM. This is a good practice in relationships as well, look for outward evidence of professions.

2. Do not marry anyone who is ever physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive. Too many people marry known abusers, thinking either they deserve the abuse or that they can change the abuser. If someone hits you once, the deals off. Don't think that you need to marry them because this might be your last chance. You need not to marry them for the same reason!

Other settling that can be avoided is marrying out of fear rather than love. The bible states that perfect love casts out all fear. I did not marry until I was in my mid 30's. Prior to courting Amy, I was getting to the point where I was considering lowering my standards. I t would have been easy for me to lower my standards and settle for less than God's best for me. Instead, I yielded my will to God. For the first time in almost 15 years, I felt at peace with the idea of being single the rest of my days. It was at that point that my eyes were opened to the possibility that my best friend of 7 years, could also be the woman I was looking for all my life. Amy also had accepted singleness as a gift rather than a curse and had chosen not to settle for something outside of God's timing.

As I stated before, sometimes our eyes can be too open. My older sister planned her wedding out for years before she ever met her husband. Specifically she had planned out all the songs that would be played at her wedding reception. I think she had 8-10 hours of must songs by the time she met Andy. Mercifully, not every must song was played at her wedding.

In the same way not every thing on your list for your future spouses attributes may need to be there. Over the years people change and what you felt was a must for a spouse when you were married could no longer be true 5 years into the thing.

As I have mentioned here before I plan on following a courtship model for my own children. This means I will be very involved in my daughters' and son's selection process. While courtship may not be for everyone,I strongly advocate the involvement of parents, other family members, and friends in the spousal selection process.

My lists for my childrens' spouses may be different than their own lists. This would be for 2 reasons: 1) As their father, I have a certain amount of insight into their character and their needs. 2) As a married man, I will have a better understanding of what is needed for a strong marriage than they would. I plan on taking advantage of the many opportunities I have to relate these insights to my children as they grow.

So no Lucy, you don't have to have your eyes closed to get married. I'm gonna keep my eyes open, on your behalf.

Next time: Four Weddings and a Funeral. Part III.

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