In light of my leaving, I’d like to leave you with a few things that maybe we’ve touched on, that you guys have mentioned or asked me about, but haven’t had the time to delve into together. No intros, I’m just going to dive straight into all this stuff, ok?
This is short, read — Power, Love, and Self-Control!
So, first topic — Guarding and Protecting.
Love, as we learned from the ToB, is willing the good of the other person.
Let’s put it this way — Your future spouse is somewhere out there. Whether your vocation is marriage to Jesus Christ or to another human being, your heart belongs to them. For the purpose of this post, I’ll be focusing on the latter possibility, although a lot of this can still apply to the former.
My dears, there is so much that is crucial to understand about the way guys and girls are wired differently.
Science shows that when women date, they date guys with the qualities that they want in a husband. But men tend to have two lists — one for girls to date, and one for girls to marry. Their date-quality list doesn’t match their wife-quality list. It’s perfectly normal, but what that then implies is that girls can be a lot more serious than guys, much earlier on.
Because of the way we’re wired, dears, we are in danger, whether consciously or unconsciously, of giving our hearts away when we allow ourselves to move forward with anybody. And this, very obviously, is not ideal if we enter the dating game at an early age. It’s dangerous for us to not understand this, because at young ages, the heart-giving can be quite unintentional, probably unconscious. But the result is that when it ends, the guy walks away fine because he never meant it to be much more than… well… a time-killer? not to be insensitive to guys’ emotions, but he likely didn’t mean it to be a forever-and-ever-happily-ever-after story to begin with. But we girls, can, because of our wiring, very possibly experience all the emotions that can come with a real divorce, depending on how guarded — or unguarded — we were with our hearts. It really can go that deep for us, says science, but besides science, I do know this to be true, based on what I know about myself, about you girls, about our Brothers.
For those of you that have watched the 2008 version of Sense and Sensibility, it’s exactly what Elinor said; “I’ve suffered all the punishment of an attachment without having enjoyed any of the advantages.” Her emotions were invested where there was no relationship. I suppose that’s why our crushes can get so pathetically extreme… because the way we’re wired, in a crush, our emotions may actually be invested as if we were already in a relationship, and in an actual relationship, we’re prone to invest our emotions as if we already wore a ring. Pretty ouch. But it’s normal for us. And it’s a pretty crazy struggle. Granted, you’ll find the girls who enter the dating game early and learn to deal with it become hard… but if they’ve learned to guard their hearts the hard way, then likely they learn to play them hard, too. And we don’t want to be like those girls, do we, dears?
So back to our wiring. Due to our wiring, we tend to invest our emotions prematurely. We would do well to guard against it, but how many girls are actually aware of the difference between guy and girl wiring? So many girls just don’t get how guys, especially at early ages, can love ‘em and leave ‘em, because they can’t imagine themselves doing it, obviously, not when they’re new to the game. Can any of you? But it’s a totally different story with guys. And because they’re probably not aware of the differences in wiring, either, then we really really really need to take the initiative and protect ourselves.
Yes, men are called to guard and protect us from premature investment of emotions, but they can’t very well do that unless they are aware that we need protecting, can they? Because of our different wiring, dears, we are called to protect each other in different ways. Premature heart-giving is generally a girl temptation. Thus, we are called to protect the hearts of our Brothers in different ways. For example, dressing modestly to protect them from the temptation to lust. We Sisters do not really deal with that temptation in general, do we? Lust is generally more of a guy temptation.
So what does all this mean for us? Sisters, if it is possible for us to experience what could be referred to as emotional divorce (a term which I got from a book, either by Joshua Harris or Mary Beth Bonnaci), then ask yourselves this — Do you think your future spouse would like a wife whose heart carried so much baggage from numerous emotional divorces? Do you think your future spouse would want a wife who had given her heart away so many times in past relationships, that all he gets is a heart broken several times and never fully healed by the time he finds you?
It would be so nice, wouldn’t it? If all the guys that ever cross our path are careful to guard and respect us, and try not to take so much from us that we have so little to give our future spouses when we actually find them? Don’t you think our future spouses would be hoping that the guys his future spouse is dealing with are respecting her, and not taking from her what should belong only to him? Wouldn’t it be wonderful, dears, if only our future spouse taught us the thrill of hearing the words, “I love you”? Shouldn’t those emotions belong to him, and only to him? What good honest guy wants a girl who has gone all warm and fuzzy feelingishy from being told “I love you” by several different guys?
But it’s a two-way street, Sisters. The pressure’s on us ladies, also, to not draw that “I love you” too soon from the guys. Don’t you hope the girls meeting your future spouse are guarding and respecting his heart? Would any of us be thrilled to learn that we weren’t our future spouse’s first “I love you”? It can be forgiven, yes, but… can we say we want that? to know that he’s already said those words to others before us? Wouldn’t it be so nice if we held out for the guy who has been guarding his heart for us, and be able to give him a heart just as carefully guarded in return? Yes, it’s tempting to think that that’s a bit idealistic… but if we tell God that’s what we want, and we do our part, it’s perfectly possible, right?
So then, you may ask, is it possible to safely move forward with guys, to move forward in such a way that we will be able to guard against premature investment of emotions? Can we guard our hearts and still have lots of crushes and maybe some sessions of infatuation and possibly even more than one attempt to move forward before we finally reach the altar?
Yes, dears, there is! (I think. I hope. While all the guy-girl wiring is science proven [that’s the physical aspect], and it’s logical [the intellectual aspect], and plain-and-simple it’s how we were created [the spiritual aspect], the rest of this post is somewhat more theoretical for me, because I haven’t actually been through it yet :D.)
Remember that question we read so long ago (or so it seems xD)? Why go shopping for what you can’t buy?
Even worse, why go shopping for what you don’t intend to buy from the outset?
In the same way, what’s the purpose of a relationship that’s leading nowhere? If a relationship is not leading towards marriage, then what right does either party have to enter into that season where they begin to treat each other as if they already own each other?
Friendship is getting to know someone, right? which doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone’s particularly interested in anyone else.
Courtship is a step past friendship, but it’s not a relationship, which is what makes it less ‘risky,’ if you will. Courtship is getting to know someone even more, a lot of talking and a lot of hanging in a lot of different settings, preferably in either group settings or in each others’ homes. Courtship is not exclusive. Thus, it eliminates a lot of could-be regrets. Because it’s not exclusive, it’s easier to guard against many things, and for us, one of those is premature investment of feelings. Because of location (preferably not just the two alone), it’s easier on the guy’s part to deal with the temptations they have due to their wiring. So it protects both parties according to how they’re wired.
Courtship is a season for questions. It’s about reaching past the surface. Talk about the nitty gritty stuff. Remember what Deacon Madz said on Sunday? about how some couples don’t know what they’re jumping into because all they talk about is the love part and not the practical things? So talk about the practical things. Talk about your beliefs, your goals, your standards. Talk about the contraversial issues that it would do well to see eye-to-eye on if you were ever to discern that an exclusive relationship is the correct next step, like politics and finances and Life issues. Basically, figure out if it’s for real. What do you have in common? Can you actually put up with this guy every single day of your life?
If the guy gets around to figuring he doesn’t want to be tied down to you in an exclusive relationship, then he’s under no obligation to continue. And because it’s not exclusive (meaning there’s no you-have-to-be-true-to-ME-and-ME-only rights), we ladies are free to have more than one person courting us, because neither party is pressured, in courtship, to give too much too soon. And maybe one of the best parts is, if the courtship ends, it can end without bitterness. You never treated each other like you owned each other — you just got to know each other on a deeper level than everyone else you interact with. So even if you decide you can’t put up with that person every day of your life and thus end the courtship, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be your friend. Depending on what you’ve learned about them, you may find that you have a very good friend, a close friend, possibly even a best friend. Just not one you can live with every day for forever. Lol.
So back to exclusivity for a bit. Technically, exclusivity dictates rights. Exclusive couples are supposed to stay true to each other, right? But until when? Why treat someone like they’re yours if you’ve no intention of keeping it up? First of all, yes, you’re just wasting their time and emotions. Second, when the break-up comes, why does it? Obviously because there was no clear intention from the outset. But often besides that, because feelings fade, people get tired of each other, or they learn stuff about a person and can’t live with it.
That’s why people get divorced. They never learn any other way than to jump into an exclusive relationship — and that relationship is one based on feelings, AND they get to know the person WHILE they’re already tied down to them! And so they jump into marriage the exact same way — based on things they feel, figuring they have the rest of their lives to figure each other out. But how foolish! In God’s eyes, they’re tied to that person FOREVER, and anything they do for the rest of their lives that does not speak of fidelity to that one is a sin. Insanely high stakes to be gambling with based on feelings. Only death frees them. But they can’t afford to get tired of each other. They’re no longer allowed to. The problem is that the confusion of not-properly-prepared-for-exclusive-relationships is no adequate preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage.
So would it make sense that a good answer to being adequately prepared for marriage would be to learn about a person you’re interested in without being tied down to them, until you move past love as a feeling and get to love as a choice? That’s why so many wise people have stated that the dating game — especially as America’s culture knows it — is a training ground for divorce, not fidelity. Does that make sense to you, dears?
Love is very nice as a feeling. It’s how any love begins. But a relationship can’t be based on feelings, we already covered that.
Quick read — Some Things Just Stay With You
Backing up a bit, again, Love is an act of the will. Love is willing the good of the other person. Love requires choosing. Love becomes stable when there is made a choice to love – in spite of feelings.
In the friendship stage, it means respecting each other despite differences. In the courtship stage, it means holding back premature emotions and knowing when to end a courtship – when the courtship is no longer moving towards an exclusive relationship. In the exclusive relationship stage, it’s keeping rights in moderation, recognizing that even though it was hopefully properly discerned as the correct next step, you’re still not bound for eternity. In the engagement stage, that’s even harder. In marriage, it’s remaining faithful, even after feelings fade, if indeed they’ve actually lasted up until that point. More likely the feelings went up and down. What kept things from falling apart was the conscious choice.
Elaborating on the “Some Things Just Stick With You,” we can put it this way — The question is, Do you love me because you need me or do you need me because you love me? What the former implies is that one loves someone only because one is dependent on them, and that with ceasing to depend would come ceasing to love. It’s “I love you ONLY because I need you and will love you for ONLY as long as my need for you continues.” But then what the latter implies that one recognizes that one needs someone regardless of how they feel about them, which includes absolutely detesting someone, the way we may not particularly like God in a given moment yet we acknowledge our continued need for Him no matter how distasteful the need may be for any crappy reason whatever. It’s… well, yeah. Moving past love as a feeling into love as a choice.
Our parents are perfect examples. All our CFC Titos and Titas. They’re certainly not in love every single second of every single day! But they love. The way we aren’t always full of warm fuzzy feelings towards our parents, yet we continue to love them; so it is between them also. It’s when people get mad and clash or get overwhelmed or bored or whatever with each other, but rather than drop it, they work past it. Again, Love is continually willing the good of the other person no matter how you feel.
Haha, I’ve written enough for tonight… I’m gonna get to bed. If I think of more that I want to write to you girls (and I can almost promise that I most probably will), I’ll post more; maybe this will be “The Love Behind Logic” series. Lol.
Oh! and I know. If there’s anything you want me to elaborate on or something in another post, please let me know! I’ll do my best.
– ‘te ais