WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DATING
Getting to Know YOU
Before you can be ready to find that wonderful person who's right
for you, you've got to know yourself.
By Sheila Graham
"You can live on love." "Most marriage problems could be
solved in the bedroom." "Children hold a marriage together."
Divorce statistics should have long ago dispelled these and
many other common misconceptions about marriage. But in spite of
the marital disintegration around us, marriage is still one of
our most popular institutions. (In the last 20 years since this
article was written, marriage is much less popular - the popular
is more and more "co-habiting together" - "common law" as it is
known in some countries - Keith Hunt)
Is there a way to choose the right mate? How can we tell if
the person we are dating might be the one we would want to live
with for the rest of our lives? Can a long-lasting and happy
marital relationship be foreseen some way in advance, and a bad
Of course, you and I both realize not everyone is too
concerned about whether his or her marriage is long lasting. Some
are repeating their wedding vows with their fingers crossed.
For those wanting more out of life than a succession of
disasters, however, who see the value of the stabilizing
influence of a long-lasting marriage, both on their emotions and
their pocketbooks, let's go back to our original question:
Is there a way to tell in advance who we should marry?
Dating practices change
Dating practices reflect the society and what part of the
world we live in. But in Western society, your grandparents may
have "courted" on the front-porch swing under the watchful eyes
of Dad and Mom.
Many of your fathers had to go to their girlfriend's home to
meet her parents before taking her to a dance or to the movies.
And whether to kiss on the first date was a sizzling topic of
Today's singles are just as concerned, but about when to go
to bed together for the first time. Times have certainly changed.
All sense of what the real purpose of dating should be has been
lost, or not understood in the first place.
Dating has become a competition between male and female to
see how much each can get from the other, perhaps trading
flattery and attention for sexual pleasure.
This selfish way of thinking is no way for two people to
determine if each other would be the right lifelong mate. Divorce
statistics prove it. Today's habit of living together without the
sanction of marriage is not a good way to get to know the other
person either. A relationship without a lasting commitment is
playacting to the highest degree.
These short-term relationships lead people to a false con-
cept of what real love is all about. Once the passionate edge is
off the sexual side of the relationship, they believe that their
love is dying and start looking for someone else to "love."
True love is much more than sex. Sex is important, but a lot more
is involved in long-lasting love. That's why the right kind of
dating, uncomplicated by a premature sexual relationship, is so
important to a happy marriage.
Proper dating gives both male and female the opportunity to
see the other react under various circumstances, to find out what
their hopes and dreams are, how they feel about certain subjects.
Choosing the right mate is one of the most important
decisions you will ever make. Emotions are certainly an important
factor, but if you allow your emotions to overrule reality in
this decision, your fantasy world of the "perfect" marriage can
come crashing down around you.
Dating should allow you to get the information you need to
make this decision. Right dating eventually leads to a right
Getting to know you
But before you are ready to find that wonderful person, the
one so right for you, you've got to know yourself. Do you really
know who you are, what is most important to you in life, what you
want from the marriage relationship?
No amount of dating toward marriage will be successful until
you know you. Until you do, there's no way you can evaluate
whether you could make another person happy in marriage or he or
she could make you happy. Let's get to know you.
You may think you are one of the most laid-back, flexible,
easygoing people in the world, but even if you are, you are
unlikely to change certain of your beliefs, no matter what.
One of those significant issues is children. How do you feel
about having children? How many do you want to have? When do you
want to have them? If you feel strongly about a large family - or
no family - realize this belief is a key consideration in the
happiness of any marriage.
How you feel about children is especially important to those
of you considering a marriage to one who already has children.
These children, as much as you might grow to care for them, have
another parent who can make himself or herself a constant
reminder that you are not the only one in your mate and
children's lives. All are not as tactful and considerate of
others' feelings as they should be.
Only the most mature and unselfish adult should consider a
second marriage that involves children. There are extra
challenges to be confronted in a second marriage, of course, even
when both mates have children or when no children are involved.
It's not impossible to have a successful marriage the second time
around, but be sure you are ready to make the special sacrifices
Personal opinions count
How do you feel about religion? Is your religion important
to you? Would you want your children reared in your religion?
Religion can be one of the most unifying factors
in a marriage, and it can also be one of the most divisive.
Perhaps for some of you religion has not been much of an
influence in your life up to this point, but if certain religious
principles have guided you from childhood, you will usually feel
strongly that similar guidelines should mould and shape your
As you get older, your opinions solidify. Don't kid yourself
that you can take religion or leave it. Also don't kid yourself
that your mate will automatically see things your way. He or she,
too, will most likely have strong feelings about religion in his
or her own and your future children's lives.
How about your political views? Are you a conservative or a
liberal? Some mates feel so strongly opposed to their
spouse's political leanings that they have been known to go to
the polling places just to cancel out their mate's vote.
Whatever you may feel about politics today, just as with
religion, your viewpoint is likely to become more important to
you as time goes along.
What about your career? Does your job take up most of your
waking hours? Would you be willing to give it up? If you had to
make a choice, would your mate and family come first, or your
career'? Is your job a means to an end, or the end itself? Are
you a morning person or do you not really come alive until others
are yawning and contemplating going to bed? Are you ready for a
lifetime of pressure by your mate to conform to his or her
totally opposite biological sense of time? Are you an organized
person, almost obsessed with neatness and order, or are you a
slob? No one should be a total slob, but think how frustrating
two such differing personalities could be to one another. Where
do you like to live - in the city or in the country? Do you
prefer warmer climates or colder ones? Could you adjust to living
just anywhere? Some have had to.
How about food? Is food important to you? I mean really
important to you? Do you envision three home-cooked meals a day,
frequently accompanied by fresh, hot breads and pastries? If food
is that important, you may be shocked to discover that not all
people share your opinion.
How about your cultural background? How well do you really
know your father and mother? Maybe now is the time to get to know
them better. After all, they had a lot to do with shaping the
opinions you have today. Your parents, your grandparents and your
other close relatives are a real part of you.
In times past, relatives, especially parents, were a lot
more involved in the choice of mates. It's wise to consider their
opinions. Getting to know them helps you to get to know you.
Many of you have tried practically everything - and nothing
has worked. Perhaps you have gone through several "significant"
relationships and maybe even failed at marriage already. You know
that something is wrong somewhere in the system.
What's wrong with the system?
Something is wrong. Sound moral principles have been left
out of the modern dating scene. Why? Because human nature is
selfish and wants to get all it can and not give any more than
God's way of give means that you must first look at
yourself, examine yourself, know yourself, prepare yourself,
before you begin to seriously consider marriage. Are you mature
enough, unselfish enough to give your time, your money, your life
to another? In other words, are you really ready for marriage?
Marriage is not for children, and the sexual revolution has
made many of us children mentally and emotionally.
When singles worry that their virginity may be a sign they
are sexual misfits, and the married wonder if their faithfulness
to their mate shows they are somehow lacking in normal virility,
something is intrinsically wrong.
Nobody wants to go back to the overly prudish Victorian age,
but the sexual act itself and how skilfully it is performed has
now become more important than the people involved. Those who
thought they were freed are becoming prisoners - actual victims
of the sexual revolution. What a travesty!
Get the right perspective
Look at dating in the proper perspective. Get to know
yourself and then use dating as an enjoyable way to get to know
the person you are dating. Keep dating casual and fun. Don't be
pressured by this society and its media to complicate the
relationship with sex. It's your life. You have a choice. Make
the right one.
Go back over this article and candidly answer the questions
listed. Write down your answers. Think of more questions that
will show you what is really important to you and answer them.
Read your answers over again. This is what you believe. This who
Talk to your parents and other relatives. Get their input.
What kind of a mate have they always pictured for you? It's your
decision, but you might be surprised how much help this
information from those who love you the most can be.
For those of you who feel marriages are "made heaven,"
remember that like everything else in this life, God expects you
to do your part first. Make right choices is part of character
The more compatible you are with your mate, the more
successful your marriage will be.
Once you know who you are, you have taken the first vital
step in preparing to choose a mate. Now you are ready to find,
through right and proper dating, that special friend with whom
you want spend the rest of your life.
(To be continued)