Monday, January 18, 2010

Part Two: The Dos!

The best practical description of love I've ever heard was this: "Love is when you give someone enough of your heart that they have the power to break it, but trusting they won't." Sounds risky, huh? You bet it is. So now that you know what to avoid, if you’re looking for love in the new year and putting your fragile little heart out on the line, be sure your new interest stacks up to these dos, and is worth that wonderful risk. Good luck!

Do date someone who shares your interests. Once I dated a guy who asked if I was ready to leave an Iowa football game in the middle of the fourth quarter... um, no. We broke up three days later. Since then, I’ve learned to make it clear early on in a relationship that my two non-negotiables are Catholicism and Hawkeye football. If there is something you care about to your core, be sure the person you are dating can at very least tolerate your passion for it, if not engage in it with you.

Do date someone who has him or herself figured out. Unsure of career path or vocation? Ditch 'em. A life plan does not need to be scrolled in blood script, but if you're old enough to be dating to discern marriage, you're old enough to know the general direction toward which you are headed. If you don't know that general direction, you are not ready for marriage, and therefore probably should not even be dating.

Do date someone who has a network of friends and respects family. Dating sets up discernment which sets up marriage, which is all about relationship – most importantly with God, followed by one another, and then your children, but even on from there as your life extends to your church, community, network, etc. Look to the family and friends of the person you are dating to be sure he or she is able to cultivate and sustain stable, long-lasting, emotionally intimate relationships.

Do date someone who understands the merits of interdependency. I was once broken up with because I was "too dependent." I tried to convince him I could be less dependent… which, in hindsight I see was a totally dependent plea. See, the truth is I want interdependency. I want someone to have my back, to support me through tough times, to encourage me when I’m down, and who expects the same from me. Throughout a relationship, and especially in marriage, there will be times when both parties need to rely and be dependent upon one another. And as two persons in the marital union of one flesh, that is necessary as well as totally appropriate. If that concept is not understood, say good riddance.

Do date someone who appreciates those three little words. There's a critical exchange that goes like this: Person A: "I am sorry." Person B: "I forgive you." So often pride and stubbornness make simple disputes escalate into substantial issues. Learning the forgiveness exchange is a fundamental concept that, unfortunately, is widely under-used. I dare you to go practice today.

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