Love is Not a Feeling

Here is our first of four video blogs about dating now viewing on Christian Mingle…

(The first one was rejected by the editors because yours truly used a slang word for oral sex.)

I know, I know…Sam we can’t take you anywhere!

After some magical editing, I am now fit to be shown in middle America.

Let me know what you think.

Blessings,

Samantha

 

Is Purity Even Relevant Today?

There are many reasons to wait for sex –good reasons, lame reasons, and even churchy reasons.   But there aren’t many compelling reasons to actually deter most of us from the dirty deed. 

Sex feels good and life is hard enough, so goshdangdarnit, what kind of overbearing big brother meanie wants to take away all our fun any-who?

I never had to deal with all the Christian angst of dating the first time around.  I was just a big old sinner.  After a solid year in a sorority much of my anxiety swirling around sex dissipated.  I determined I was a decent person “morally,” compared to the other slutty coeds, because I reserved sex solely for relationships (which might have included friends with benefits too).

I picked up my ex-husband in a bar when I was twenty-one.  Three and a half years later we married and sometime in between meeting him and saying “I do,” I fell in love again and brought another guy into the relationship.

It was Jesus.

About a year into the whole Christian dealio, I tried to get on board with the fire and brimstone “purity” message I heard preached at my church –apparently to scare all the singles into behavior modification.  So I tentatively asked my (then) fiancé if we could cease having sex and wait until we were married to resume our intimacy. 

He vehemently said “no,” Ummmm.  Ok.

Ten years later when my ex-husband departed into the arms of another woman and left me with two small children I finally got my chance to try dating as a Christian.

But I don’t know if I was in any way more prepared despite the Christian sticker on my bumper.

Yes…I had given my heart and soul to Jesus.  I knew all the Bible verses, taught women’s Bible studies and was even enrolled in seminary.  And yet I still slipped up in the sex area.

I wanted to honor God.  I earnestly tried HARD in my dating relationships to avoid sex.  And it worked –once.  I was in one relationship where we were both committed to purity and didn’t compromise (and then I found out he was still “technically” married and that ended fast).  But the other five relationships, during my time as a single Christian woman were a little murkier.  We might not have had intercourse, but then again President Clinton redefined modern sex anyway, right?

When I met Tim Keller, now my darling hubby, I was living in this wishy-washy land of sexual compromise.  I wanted to be pure but I’m not sure I believed it was even possible.  I didn’t meet many men, even supposed good Christian men, who actually walked the talk. 

Pastor Tim Keller was an anomaly –an attractive single straight man of thirty-six years who didn’t grab my boobs on the second date.  And even though he wasn’t wealthy from a worldly perspective, usually a non-negotiable in my materialistic heart, he was hot, clearly loved Jesus and had CHARACTER (something lacking in most of the men I dated).

When Tim asked me to be his girlfriend, about five weeks after we started dating, he slipped a purity ring on my finger and fell to one knee.  He implored me, “to wait for him, to wait for God to bless our relationship, and to give “us” a chance to build true intimacy without sex complicating things.”

It sounded like a lot of waiting and I’m not that patient.

And so I freaked out (internally of course) and smiled and cried tears of sheer terror, thinking “How in the heck am I going to remain sexually pure when this man is so yummy?”

Tim also told me he had a zero tolerance policy for error.  If we messed this up: (A) he would not marry me, and (B) he would resign from the church for moral failure.

Now I didn’t want the poor man to lose his job, but dangling the condition of “sex=no wedding” really sealed the deal.   I was head over heels in love with Tim by then and I wanted to marry this man so bad I would wear a habit and chastity belt with a big lock impervious to his washboard abs if I had to.

But something drastic happened to me during our fifteen month courtship.  Something so radical it rocked me to the core.

First, I became aware of how often I pushed to be physical because I needed reassurance that Tim cared for me and was committed to the relationship.  I saw how I used my sexuality to manipulate, to hold power over and to get the attention I desperately craved.

Without sex I had to learn how to ask for what I needed.  I was able to see how Tim treated me even when I didn’t meet all his physical needs, what it meant to work out our problems with no “make-up sex” to gloss over the deeper issues, and I had to learn how to compromise –because I couldn’t hold out on the booty to get what I wanted.

Poor Tim!  I tempted him in the beginning.  I was so bad.  I wore a pink string bikini to a singles ski retreat we both attended and had the audacity to rock it at the hot tub –heathen temptress that I am.  But he held fast, kept his hands to himself and didn’t get out of the Jacuzzi for a very long time.

And slowly I realized by his not being physical, he was actually showing me he loved me.

Real love.  Not SEX/LOVE…the kind of love that holds your hand when you are losing the fight to cancer.   It’s love that sees beauty under the wrinkles and bald spots. It’s love that protects and heals and cherishes.  It’s the sort of love that doesn’t leave when it gets tough and its old people in the park holding hands kind of love.

And Tim was telling me by his behavior I was worth waiting for.  With every smile he told me I was a beautiful treasure and he would not steal from me until it was time to enjoy this gift from God –within a committed marriage relationship.

And somewhere along the way I started to buy into it.  (Not so easy when you have abandonment issues) And I saw, really saw, for the first time in my life the way God sees me.

Valuable.  Treasured.  Worth dying for.

And I believed it –because someone showed me a glimpse of the divine.

Purity isn’t just about being a good Christian and playing by the rules.  It’s about treating another human being with dignity and respect, even when they don’t deserve it.

Purity restored me. 

I am a different person because of my husband. Tim Keller walked the talk. 

And maybe God tells us to wait for sex not because he’s mean, but because he loves us more than we love ourselves.

Sounds like a compelling reason to me.

One Click at a Time

My post Why Guys aren’t Asking Women Out has created a big buzz.  The comments are pouring in and Ruth Rutherford even blogged about her struggle with some of the male comments in “Oh Henry! There’s Gotta be More.”  In this controversial post I suggested the over-sexualization of our culture (and porn specifically) is one of the biggest contributors to the problem of women not getting asked out.

Some agreed, while others clearly did not.  I was dismissed by a few guys who by their very own comments proved my point that many men in our culture are driven by the sexual images they see.  I was also affirmed for identifying this as a cultural crisis, but my FAVORITE response came in this morning from Brandon. 

I wanted to share this because as a woman I lose credibility by the sheer fact that I don’t have a penis, AND maybe some of you can hear this message better from a man. 

(Although this whole post was done in collaboration with my husband –a male pastor and we deal with this issue on a daily basis in our church, ministry, through counseling and in the relationship seminars we speak at.)

Here is Henry’s comment, which I confess I struggle with a bit.

As a guy I have a very different perspective. I’ve dated a ton of women – more than I care to admit. I don’t think porn is the real problem as to why these girls aren’t getting dates. Any honest Christian single guy will admit he’d much rather marry and sleep with his wife/best friend than settle for porn.  Read more…

Brandon replies…

“Henry is right…men DO want somebody to cuddle up with in front of a Cowboys game, enjoy bedroom life with, and read the Bible with…but that’s about it. The long drivel that makes up the rest of his comment is incredibly shallow, ignorant, and short-sighted.

When I first saw the title, “Why Men Aren’t Asking Women Out”, a little thought popped into my head… “Why men aren’t asking women out? That’s simple. Porn.”

For Henry to dismiss pornography and the general sexualization of our society as one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, contributors to this problem means he has his head in the sand. Recently, I have discovered that multiple men very close to me…older men that I have looked up to, some of which that are in ministry or deacons of churches who have by all accounts healthy, close relationships with the Lord have struggled with pornography recently or in the not so distant past. These are men who have served as my personal heroes and confidants, all of which are in their 40s and 50s, all of which have daughters… And they have all come to me separately in the past year to confess that while they were giving me advice in my struggles…they were struggling with lust and secret sins of their own in a way that boys do now starting as early as elementary or middle school.

If these types of men are struggling with this, it’s undoubtedly even bigger than any of us probably even realize.

Pornography and constant easy access to sexual imagery is re-programming our brains one click at a time and the result will be many men and many women that are single much later into their lives, if not for the rest of their lives as well as many ruined marriages that are entered into without full disclosure of the digital women that the groom brings into the equation from Day 1.

In the spirit of transparency, I have met girls before and thought to myself, “She seems awesome. I would ask her out but [insert physical feature] doesn’t really match up with what I’m into.”

I’ve tried to capture those thoughts and re-train my thinking in these areas but with a world full of men that are more likely driven by lust and fulfilling physical desires with such quick and simple ease rather than being driven by Christ-like motivations, there will undoubtedly be millions of women who will continue to pay the price.

The only thing women can really do is pray and ask the Lord to show them areas that they’re falling short in their relationship with him, which will undoubtedly make them more attractive to the right type of man. Also, continue to pray for your future husband. It’s very likely that he is in a spiritual battle with sin and the enemy that needs your interceding. As for men…there are a lot of difficult choices to be made, but the first of which is to step up, take responsibility, get our heads out of the sand, and start fighting for the wives and the children that God has yet to entrust us with because we’ve been warped by a computer screen.”

Brandon, THANK YOU!  You articulated this beautifully. 

What do you think about Brandon and Henry’s different perspectives?

 

Photo credit: Via pinmarklet

Why Men Aren’t Asking Women Out

Why Aren’t Men Asking Women Out?

Every now and then, a woman will sneak up to me after we speak at an event and with teary eyes choke out, “I’m not very attractive and men don’t ask me out.  Like EVER.”

My heart aches when I see a woman in despair and hopelessness.  They desperately want me to have a fix-it-all answer and I am left stuttering. 

Helping a woman date well is pointless when there are no dates to go on.

I usually respond by going back to God’s word and reassuring them of his ravishing love for them and their true worth and beauty.  But in all honesty, it’s a hard sell when a woman believes she is an ugly duck and no man is willing to fight for her heart and convince her otherwise. 

Ruth Rutherford’s blog –I Kissed my Date Goodnight explores this topic in greater detail.

Although I am weak on answers, my husband and I do have an opinion as to why this scenario is playing out more and more often with single women.

And it’s not because we are JUST an image obsessed culture.  It goes much deeper.

The Problem

The problem is the over-sexualization of our culture. And porn magnifies this.

When men watch beautiful women expose and degrade themselves on a regular basis they begin to subconsciously believe they are entitled to a hot chick that operates in the same fashion in real life. 

But there are a limited number of women who meet this elite criteria.  That leaves the rest of us.

Prior to the first Playboy in mass circulation, it seems as though men were more likely to move towards marriage and relationship.  A below average looking guy would pursue and love a woman who might not meet all of the societal norms of beauty. 

Unfortunately, these days he would rather stay single and settle for his hand and a box of Kleenex.  Real women are complicated and take effort but a fantasy porn woman will bark at his command. 

Porn is cheap and easy.

Many men’s expectations have become so distorted by pornographic images they lose the ability to even be intimate with a woman not digitized on a screen.  As more and more men isolate, real women suffer the consequences and ultimately men do too, although they may not realize it until it’s too late.

The truth is we have an enemy who loves to destroy relationships and porn ruins a man’s ability to engage in healthy dating relationships before he even begins. 

It’s not like this is a new scheme of Satan’s.  Reading throughout the Bible, rampant promiscuity is not fresh to modernity.  It’s just getting more prevalent and widespread with technology.

No Easy Solution

Sadly, there are no any easy or pat answers.  I have a teenage son.  I know all too well it’s a battle men face on a daily basis with an adversary who plays into their weaknesses.

I wish it were different.  But until the day Jesus returns I believe many of us will be left wanting and craving for something more.   

What do you think?

Photo Credit: Via Pinterest

Taking the Honey out of Honeymoon. Why Buddymoon’s are the New Trend.

My husband and I always have the same conversation at weddings.

“Purity or shacking up?” my husband whispers.

I carefully examine the bride.  If she scowls or looks grumpy, it’s a no brainer-“they’ve slept together.”  If she cries walking down the aisle, I know immediately –“sex.” But if she floats down on cloud nine, gallops down with a goofy grin, or smiles like a Cheshire cat it’s just as obvious –“no sex” I exclaim.

It’s a gift I have, this radar for purity and wantonness (possibly because I’ve worn both pairs of shoes).

I can always tell at weddings if the couple has already consummated the relationship.  In marriages where sex is as common as brushing teeth, or better yet –flossing, the wedding is the denouement or the culmination of the relationship. 

These are the “bridezillas” who display a freakish sense of control over every tiny detail.  And it has to be perfect because the big day is about as good as it gets for her.

But for the bride who has a honeymoon to look forward to, a real honeymoon with a slow deliberate unveiling, a full vacation of exploring her beloved’s body, and a once in a lifetime retreat to connect physically with a man she has yearned and waited for, the wedding is just a step towards a new life together.

All things are fresh and new to the couple who has waited to have sex. But I remember all too well, waking up the day after I married my first husband. 

My exorbitantly overpriced bridal frock was crumpled on the chair, the carriage carted off and the ice sculptures melted along with my enthusiasm.  I thought I would feel differently once married, and I did, somewhat, but the disparity was more of an anticlimactic disappointment.  

Just to clarify, It had nothing to do with love or committment to the marriage.  I had both, but by acting married before I was married, I stole my own joy before it’s time, like a kid waking up on Christmas morning and knowing what’s under the tree because they snuck a peek when mom wasn’t looking.

It’s what so many couples do when they play house before the ring is on the finger, forgetting the repercussions which inevitably follow namely a boring honeymoon.

Been there…done that…BIG YAWN.

To compensate for the lack of awesomeness a honeymoon used to symbolize, the new trend according to the New York Times, is to take a “buddymoon “and bring the family and friends along.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia notes…

“Today, when about 65 percent of couple’s cohabitate prior to marriage, the honeymoon is less likely to be a major turning point in their relationship,” said Professor Wilcox.  “For them, I think having friends come along is less of a big deal and in some ways makes it more of a special and exceptional occasion.”

By taking the “honey” out of honeymoon, couples enter marriage already disenchanted enough with each other to need outside entertainment.  Thus they need “buddies” to get them through the hump of spending one week alone with the person they have just chosen to spend the rest of their lives with.

And this new trend makes me sad.

I think we –as a culture are losing a precious rite of passage by robbing OURSELVES of a once in a lifetime opportunity to revel in our spouse. 

Tim and I treasured our three-week honeymoon to the Mediterranean.  We loved, we laughed and we made new and amazing friends, who as fellow honeymooners shared our fledgling memories.

I believe in my heart that part of the reason my first relationship didn’t work out is because we didn’t hold our purity in high regard.  Because we had sex prior to marriage, it clearly made it easier for my ex-husband to have sex with someone else while we were married.  With God’s grace, I got a second chance to do it right and chose purity for my relationship with Tim…and it changed everything.

The second time around, I practically ran down the aisle (dragging my dad) to join my groom.  People commented they had never seen a smile as big and bright as my beam.  I didn’t notice the flower arch met an untimely crack, or the misplaced name cards or any of the other minor details that were far from perfect. 

All I saw was my honey.  And no offense to my buddies, but we did just fine without you.

Would you consider a buddymoon?

 

Modified from an article first posted on Kellerdating

An Experiment in Motives

I’m not very good at fasting.  Only once, did I manage three days without food, and it was traumatic enough to avoid repeating –ever.

But I recently came across an idea –or motto really, I thought was worthy of emulating.  It was a line in a mediocre movie that somehow made the film memorable because it stuck in my head and won’t go away, lodged in like a piece of sticky gum to the indent of a shoe. 

The depressed male protagonist reaches for a drink and offers one to the lovely lady he desires.  She admonishes him, pushes away the cocktail and states, “I don’t drink to feel better, I only drink to feel EVEN better.”

What a line!  A string of words so powerful I’m still thinking about it six months later.

Hmmmm? 

Do I drink to feel better or do I drink to feel EVEN better?

So, after much contemplation, I decided to try a little self-examination and take a month off of drinking alcohol, noting my motives and becoming self-aware of the moments I might be inclined to reach for a glass of wine or order up a frothy margarita to feel better. 

Now, I’m not a big drinker.  Some of my friends call me neurotic regarding my self-imposed limitations.  I almost never have more than two drinks unless its vacation and the effects are extended far throughout the day.  It’s a control thing, and a Jesus thing, and an issue with idiot’s thing –namely I don’t want to act like one.

But that being said, I’m no teetotaler.  I do like the mommy sippy cup on a Friday night, the skinny margarita on a Saturday afternoon, and the soothing mimosa of a Sunday brunch.  When I check off the box at the doctor I fess up to three drinks a week –maybe four.

It’s been ten days now of my self-imposed drinking fast and this is what I’ve discovered.

When it’s been a tough week of work, I feel entitled to a drink.  Stress, fatigue, kids…these all make me long for release, for the languid relaxation a good Cabernet has to offer.  If the wine accompanies chocolate…it’s even better.

On Saturdays when I am with my family and friends I want to celebrate.  I think my motives are the most appropriate here.  I’m happy, content and genuinely desire to enjoy relationships, a good meal and rejoice in my blessings.

But the toughest one to admit is I how much I long for a drink at brunch on Sunday following church.  And this one could go either way regarding the “feel better or EVEN better scale”.  Certain Sundays I feel encouraged and buoyant with joy and determination, but there are other days I feel exposed and prickly. Maybe the pastor hit a little too close to home and my emotions are in a tangled turmoil.

But out of rote habit I order a drink because it’s just what I do on Sunday –not a very good reason.

I also noticed when we cut out the drinks how I reached for sugar instead.  I wanted to stop and get a mocha coconut frappachino after church if I couldn’t have a glass of wine –darn it!

This little experiment has made me inordinately aware of my coping mechanisms and the emotions behind them.

I want to be the kind of person who takes every hurt and tension to the Lord.  But the truth is, I sprinkle a few burdens at the gym, drop off some more on a good run, hand a few over to chocolate and release the last voluntary dregs to a margarita. 

Then, and only then, do I hand over all the stuff I can’t control to God.  I can imagine him watching me carrying around my big pile of junk and chuckling at my woebegone state…just waiting for me to come and lay it at his feet.

We have about twenty more days of our drinking fast (I roped my husband into doing it as well) and it’s been deeply revealing about the state of my heart and where I turn to cope with the beautiful chaos of life.

How about you?  Do you drink to feel better, or to feel EVEN better?

 

What 20% of Successful Daters Know

Ever wonder if those commercials for Match.com are true? Match boldly claims one in five people currently meet online.

Really, come on?

They make it sound like everyone along with their pooch and second cousin from Arkansas met online, and if you don’t surf the web for a date you are clearly missing out on all the Appalachian hotties.

So, is it a bunch of advertising schmooze to get singles to flock to their site or is their truth behind their ostentatious assertion?

As I was doing research for the book Tim and I are writing on dating, I stumbled upon the study Match used for their statistics. And it was an eye-opener!

Current dating statistics now reveal almost 20% of relationships start online (17% to be exact).

As Pete the Cat from Mickey Mouse likes to say… “Well, pinch my papayas!” I had no idea internet dating was that big of a phenomenon? And that was two years ago, I bet the stats are even higher now!

In 2009 and 2010, Match.com engaged research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey to conduct three studies to provide insights into America’s dating behavior: a survey of recently married people, a survey of people who have used internet dating, and a survey of single people and people in new committed relationships.

Another shocker I didn’t expect to uncover is that more than twice as many marriages occurred between people who met at an online singles site than those who met in bars, at clubs and other social events combined.

So, just to make this crystal clear –your chances of getting married are better if you meet someone online, than say… in Hooters.

This makes sense, but what about church or work or all the other “social events” people meet at. If 83% of singles meet somewhere else, but their odds of getting married are lower, than the smart Christian dater might want to consider signing up for one of these sites in addition to their other networking methods.

Are you still reluctant? I was too after some bad bouts with the internet.

Mainly because as a former Match.com user myself, all the “Christian” guys I encountered were just as sex crazed and into hooking up as the rest. People check off the Christian box like the ethnicity box.

I live in America, I celebrate Christmas…therefore I am a Christian. (NOT)

(I really think they need to add a “Do you kiss on the first date?” hint, hint…box)

So, from personal and painful experience, I might suggest EHarmony or Christian Mingle.com, just to be safe, or even some of the new Christian sites out there, though I’m not familiar with all of them. It makes sense to avoid the sites that cater to the one-night stand crowd, unless it’s what you’re looking for. (In which case I recommend my husband’s dating boot camp)

I used to feel guilty telling people I went out with someone I met online, but times are a changing! And even though I didn’t meet my hubby there, I know a bunch of people in the church who did and are in great relationships moving towards marriage.

So go online. Don’t feel guilty, feel empowered! Just date smart!

Because you really don’t want to miss out on the Jesus loving hottie from Wisconsin your best friend just connected with while you were trying out your new moves at Hooters.

Dating -How Long is Long Enough?

 

Leaning back into the patio chair at Starbucks Ladera Ranch, I took a big gulp of frothy yumminess and released a contented sigh.  AAAAAHHHHHHH!

Faith caught my eye as she intently focused on my drink.  She looked perplexed.  “Mommy, you’re cup says Jason on it.”

I looked down in horror and snorted in laughter.  It was true.  On the outside of my skinny mocha frapachino with whip was a name that was most definitely not mine.

But I knew it was my drink.  I saw the guy make it just the way I like it, it was simply a case of mucked up identity.  It was my drink but not my name.

Unfortunately, I was too embarrassed to tell Jason I snarfed the whole thing down.

And while the incident was stupid and dumb and funny it also brought to mind a reader’s question –How long should you date someone? 

It’s not an obvious connection- wrong name, mocha frap, mistaken identity??? (But stay with me here for relevance)

I considered some of the past dating relationships I’ve been involved in where I messed up my own drink –figuratively speaking.  I messed up my identity by pretending to be someone or something I’m not.  It was me in the relationship, but not the best parts of me.  And there was a guy, but did I really know him?   

My best (or possibly worst) experience with this lack of knowing was when I dated Mr. B (it stands for bad word) for a mere four months. 

Mr. B was a producer.  He was wealthy, maintained a powerful edge in the entertainment business, and he showered me with clothes, and Mahnilo Blahniks, and the life of the flouncy flouncy.  And I got sucked into the vortex of all things material and shallow for a time. 

Our relationship came to a head one night at a ritzy restaurant with Mr. B on his knees holding out an engagement ring.  I stared at him in shock.  Ironically, I thought this is what I wanted until it actually came to pass.

I didn’t say no.  I didn’t say yes.  I did worse than no…I hesitated.

And in a weird Holy Spirit minute where time stood still, the four months of our brief relationship flashed before my eyes.  I saw laughter and luxury and a carefree existence, but I also saw glimpses of impending darkness.  I remembered Mr. B berating a waitress, Mr. B hounding me with text messages when he didn’t know where I was, and one horrible evening when Mr.B picked on my son for crying.  I saw a guy who went to church with me but didn’t share my faith.  And I saw a future of selling my soul for box seats at a Lakers game.

And so I hesitated.

Mr. B jumped up and ripped my arm out of the seat.  He screamed at me, “It’s the Jesus thing, isn’t it?  I’ll never be good enough for you?”

I looked out the window as he drove me home and thanked God for saving me from possibly the worst mistake of my life.

“Yes, it’s the Jesus thing. (And I secretly thought an A-hole thing too).”

It was the last time I would see him.  But I discovered an “oh so important lesson” about dating that night.  Getting to know someone takes time.  There are no shortcuts on this one.  Generally speaking, happily ever after doesn’t exist when you get married by Elvis in Vegas.  And even if you stay married for the rest of your life, you will more than likely doubt your hasty decision.

People can pretend to be anyone for a few months.  Usually it’s just little lies –like girls pretending to enjoy camping and endless afternoons at sports bars (when they are secretly bored to tears) and after a while the truth leaks out she’d rather go shopping.  Guys pretend to be sensitive and attentive to a woman every need and then reality bites hard when she becomes a football widow at the first kickoff in August.  Typically, after the first six weeks, the cracks start to show and hints of people’s true personalities emerge.  But skilled deceivers can last up to three or four months.

When my husband and I were dating, Tim was advised by a well respected Christian counselor to spend as much time as possible with me.  The reasoning behind this was to see how I operated under different circumstances.  And in turn, I got to see how Tim dealt with the stresses of life.

We were also advised to date through all four seasons –one full year of getting to know each other through the good, the bad and the ugly.

And it certainly wasn’t all pretty.  During our first year of dating, we experienced together: job loss, two moves, a home sale, health issues (me), a cross country road trip with two little kids, pre-marital classes (before we were engaged), holidays with family, a crazy mission trip, vacations with family, 38 planned dates, and plenty of time with our respective friends.  Dating wasn’t just dating; it had become a mission to get to know each other.

At the end of each season we celebrated with a special night out and Tim gave me a “season charm” to be placed on a dating bracelet he had given me after our first winter together.  It was an intentional move on Tim’s part that both honored our time together and held out hope for a future with one another.

By the time Tim proposed at the end of the first year -we knew each other intimately and the only secret I wasn’t in on was a surprise proposal.

This time when Tim dropped to a knee in front of my parents, children and sixty of our closest friends I hollered out a resounding “yes” through tears of joy.  There was no hesitation!

It was fifteen months from first date to the altar.  And then a whole new way of knowing each other began.  But the foundation had been built on rock and not the shallow sands of compromise.

Don’t cheat yourself on the knowing

Marriage isn’t the time to find out he or she has got another personality, a gambling addiction, or a secret love child and garnished wages –dating is ♥

Are you too comfortable in your relationship?

My husband mentors a group of twenty-something guys courageously trying to do dating different.  Fortunately in God’s economy, as much as Tim pours into dater dudes, they in turn flood our lives with uproarious laughter through daily text updates on their awesome dating adventures/catastrophes.  I adore these guys and I love how they make my husband light up like a Christmas tree.

So, I was talking to one of the dater guys at church the other day debating over how much looks should be a part of the process of his dating selection.  And as the conversation heated up, I felt myself getting agitated by his blatant bias towards beauty. Just as I began to climb up onto my soapbox and really lay into him- I got the nudge.

From the Holy Spirit that is.

And a vision of my own shallowness in the dating realm nipped at my toes.

“Really Jesus? Now?  I’m chewing him out so well.”

Yep.  Now is a good time Sam.

Right.  Deep breath.

So I fessed up.  I admitted I used to be a sucker for ripped abs and Tim had me at six-pack.

Dater guy looked at me with a puzzled expression.

Here I am busting his balls for dating hot chicks and yet one of the reasons I (initially) liked my guy was because he made me weak in the knees.

Dater guy looked at me weird.   “Pastor Tim?  Pastor Tim was fierce?”

Tim walked up then.  He rolled his eyes. “Is she telling you about how fabulous my abs used to be?”

Dater guy nodded his head yes.

And then Tim ratted me out.  “She isn’t exactly the same woman I married either.”

OUCH!

Ok, maybe I’ve let myself slide a little.  Ok, a lot. 

“Isn’t the fact that I used to be hot, enough dear?”

We laughed on the way home, because we love each other deeply and for way more than just the looks department.

But it made me think about how once we got married and oh so comfortable; we began to let ourselves go –one mystic tan and protein shake at a time.   I guess, since we already bagged the love of our life, it was a relief to stop the madness of trying so hard to be uber attractive.  It’s much more fun to relax on the sofa holding hands with a bag of Doritos and some Girl Scout Cookies.

But how far is too far?  Have I gone too far?  Clearly…I might need to shower more because exhausted mommy with baby poop on her isn’t doing it for my man.  (This was revealed to me on the way home)

So what is a good balance between apathy and relational confidence?  Between showing your spouse you care enough to be attractive and yet not overdoing it to get outside attention?

So I came up with a test. 

1. Do you shower most days?

a. Yes  +10  b. No -15  c. Define most?  -5

2. Is alcohol or chocolate one of your food groups?

a.  Yes  -10  b.  No  +10  c.  Does chocolate covered bacon count?  -5

3.  Do you wear clean underwear? 

a. Yes  +20  b.  No -50  c. Are you talking about the days I shower?  -25

4.  Do your pajamas have sock monkeys on them?

a.  a. Yes  -10  b. No  +10   c. The sock monkey is in the pajamas  +25 

5.  Ok Ladies…Are you within 10 lbs of your honeymoon weight?

a.  Yes  +10  b. No  -10  c.  Does my honeymoon weight include my wedding dress?  -25

6.  Hey Dudes?  Are you still sporting a mullet?

a.  Yes  -10  b.  No  +10  c.  I’d love to have a mullet because it would mean I had hair!  -25

7.  Have you had a pedicure in the last six months?

a.  Yes  +10  b.  No  -10  c.  Is it a problem if I rip sheets with my toe-nails?  -25

8.  Is lingerie a foreign word in your marriage?

a.  Yes  -10  b.  No  +10  c.  Does my husband’s V-neck t-shirt with pit stains count?  -25

9.  Is your idea of a hot date going to Costco and eating samples for dinner?

a.  Yes  -25  b.  No  +25  c.  Splurged on the ice-cream on the way out  +10

10.  Do you get moderate exercise?

a.  Yes  +50  b.  No  -25  c.  Men-if your primary wardrobe consists of sweet muscle shirts and you drive your Camaro to the gym twice a day  -50  Ladies-does Gymboree with my toddler count?  -25

Results:

Below 0=You might need a marriage makeover

1-80 = Soft in the middle…but on your way.

81 + = Keep Rocking it!

*Sidenote*  Sam got +75 and Tim got -25   (must have been the Camaro that took him out)

 

 

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