Saturday, October 22, 2016

Meeting, Dating, and Choosing an Eternal Companion

Last week we discussed, "should we get married." We decided, hmmm, yup. This week I'/m going to share the ABC's of successful romantic relationship development!
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Actually, it's the ABCDE's...

A. Awareness of or Acquaintance with another person
B. Buildup of the relationship
C. Continuation following Commitment to a long-term relationship (which may result in marriage for many couples)
D. Deterioration or Decline in the interdependence of the couple
E. Ending of the relationship

(This list was taken from my text book "Successful Marriages and Families", chapter 2.

Now, not every relationship goes through all five steps. For example, eternal marriage would end (or continue) at C.

When my husband was a school teacher he explained to a class of eighth grade girls, who were distraught over the breakup of the "ultimate couple" in their class, the outcomes of dating. After a big lead in and lots of diagrams and writing on the board he drew the conclusion.... "Jr. High relationships will end up in either A) a breakup or B) marriage!" The girls thought about that hard. Then Bill asked Paige, the girl who just suffered her heart break, "So, did you want to marry David?" She responded with, "Ew, no way!" And then Bill pointed out that because of that their relationship was doomed to break up anyway. The girls all got over the disappointment at that point and were able to move on with their days.

Which brings us to D and E, yes some relationships are going to end. Some relationships don't even make it into the acquaintance phase and some go straight to the E phase. A relationship can end in any phase, and really, most should! Sometimes couples go back a phase to fix a problem.

Now, on to the good stuff....

A -

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The awareness and acquaintance phase seems to start off with appraisal of attraction as a first step. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to the person you want to be with. In fact, Elder Bruce R. McConkie suggested that, "the right person [for you to marry] is someone for whom the natural and wholesome and normal affection that should exist does exist." Now, although it's necessary, it isn't the most important factor.

Once I dated a guy purely for his looks. He was an RM and could sing as well, which were good qualities. He was dreamy to look at, girls literally swooned when he walked by. I dated him for a few months and found that he was a complete jerk. Her treated me and most of his friends like inferior beings. I decided to stick with him because... "Well.... look at him.....". Not a great move on my part. The relationship ended in heartbreak for me when I needed his help and he bailed, leaving me to move a whole apartment full of furniture without his support. It was not a pretty breakup and we did not remain friends. That being said, our break up was the best thing that could have happened. It turns out pretty boys who are jerks are still jerks, and they just aren't worth your time!

So, what else should you look for? Here is a list given by Elder Richard G. Scott:

  • Temple worthiness
  • Someone who loves the Lord
  • A Commandment keeper
  • Someone who is understanding
  • Forgiving
  • Willing to give of self
  • Desire to have a family
  • Wants kids
  • Committed to teaching their family the principles of truth

B -

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The First Presidency recommends skipping over the "hanging out phase" that seems to be plaguing young adults today. Instead they recommend dating, which means a planned date, where couples are paired off, and the man pays (Dallin H. Oaks). This is the kind of thing that will lead you to the Buildup phase.

Seeking mutual influence means the desire to have an "equal" relationship in which both partners contribute fully to all aspects of the relationship. These relationships are hard, if not impossible when a relationships starts out as physical.

Developing mature love leads to success in marriage and family life while immature love does not easily lead to these successes. Elder Marvin J. Ashton said, "True love is a process. True love requires personal action. Love must be continuing to be real. Love takes time. Too often expediency, infatuation, stimulation, persuasion, or lust are mistaken for love. How hollow, how empty if our love is no deeper than the arousal of momentary feeling or the expression in words of what is no more lasting than the time it takes o speak them."

C -

These are my sweet friends Stuart and Tina who went through the first 3 stages (ABC) and made it to Eternal Marriage. This is their reception after their temple marriage. I just love these guys!

Moving from the buildup phase to the commitment phase requires questions like, "Do I know enough about my partner? Do I like what I know about them? How well do we communicate?" These questions lead to that mature love I mentioned earlier.

If we are obeying the Lord's commandments and keeping ourselves clean we are entitled to His help in making the decision to commit to someone. When we ask the Lord if we should commit to a person forever it is sometimes hard to discern the answer. It is suggested that you make the decision and then go to the Lord with it for approval. Rather than, "Lord, I want you to tell me if I should marry Bartholemew",..."Lord, I want to marry Bartholemew and I'm going to accept his proposal. Do you approve?" might work better.

The Lord loves us and wants our marriages and family relationships to work even more than we do. We can lean on him for love and support.

Edited: 12/10/2016 - Ideas and quotes were enhanced by the text book Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives. Edited by Alan J. Hawkins, David C. Dollahite, and Thomas W. Draper. I really recommend that everyone purchase and READ this book. It's so great.

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