Thoughts about Marriage for Young Adults, Part 1

We were recently interviewed by a former student, Dan Kamys, who is now an editor at fitandfabliving.com, a web site for young adults.  This week we offer an excerpt from the interview.  We will have another excerpt in the near future.

Editor’s Note:  We recently got the chance to talk to Bob and Rita Boeke, authors of Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime and The Wonder of Marriage Blog about how young people can navigate today’s sometimes confusing world in search of their partner. They have been married for over 40 years, so they know a thing or two about making relationships last.

(Dan)  What would you say to younger men about finding the right person for them in today’s world?

(BOB)  Don’t marry a stranger!  I think that the person you want to spend a lifetime with must be one with whom you can be yourself and who doesn’t disappear when you share your greatest hopes and deepest fears.  A woman who continues to love you and support you when you are at your worst is a great prize.   But you cannot expect her to do that for you unless you are willing to do the same for her.  This suggests that you should date long enough for some of the starry-eyed infatuation to fade and for you to develop some confidence that you can support each other through thick and thin.  Become friends, explore each other’s values and look for someone who shares most of your most important values.  Marry the person you can imagine growing old with and cannot imagine growing old without.  In this hook-up culture, where interaction without responsibility is considered the ideal, a lifetime commitment can be scary and perhaps even feel foreign to you.  I would suggest that when you find a person you think might be the one, consider mutually agreeing to a temporary commitment to “date” (not live together, sociological research suggests that chances for a long, happy marriage get even better if you don’t introduce sex early in the relationship) exclusively for a time, then reevaluate.  If necessary, extend this to additional periods.  Eventually, you will know.

(Dan)  What would you say to younger women about finding the right person for them in today’s world?

(RITA) First and foremost to find the right person one has to know her/himself.  It requires some degree of independence, self-knowledge, the ability to enumerate one’s values and then the courage to live those values.  Once a woman can begin to do that that she can begin to look for someone who shares her values, someone who will respect her and what she stands for, and someone who will help her grow and develop all that she has the potential to be.  In addition to finding someone who shares her values and to live them, the right person has to be open to allowing her to do all the same for and with him.  Marriage is a journey of change; change that should draw two persons together as each can draw strength, determination and support from the other.  While being romanced and made to feel special are important in a marriage relationship, the right person must learn to cherish her for all that she is and all that she has the potential to become.  That might include a fulfilling career, it might include being a mother to children, it might include challenging him to become the best he can be.  In the end she will never know for sure if he is the right person until the risk of marriage is taken.  As she lives with him in her shared values she will indeed discover more than she imagined that he is the right person.

(Dan)  Do you think things like internet dating sites help or hurt young people trying to find their partner?

(Rita)  Dating sites are for profit companies and while they may be useful, young people should remember that the dating sites do not necessarily care about you as long as you pay them the fees.  With that said, I think it is difficult to find a partner as marriage is delayed until later in life.  I think the whole dating site scene in some cases encourages promiscuity and encourages people to lie about themselves.  Yet, I do know that many have found their partner on dating sites.  It might be one way for people to meet but it should never be the only place one looks for a partner.  Going back to my idea of discovering someone who shares one’s values it might be beneficial to get involved in activities where one could meet that person.  This might include church or service activities as well as other places that support one’s interests.

(Bob)  While dating sites make a big deal about the couples who met on their site and were married, they don’t, of course, talk about those who don’t, which I’m certain is a much larger number.  Still, there are occasional matches.  If you can enjoy spending an evening with a stranger whom you may see only that one time, go ahead.  At least a few people are fortunate to find a mate.  If you join a dating site and expect to quickly find a life partner, you are likely to be disappointed.

(Dan)  How did you know you were right for one another? How can people tell when they’ve found the right person for them?

(Rita) Unlike most couples we cannot remember specifically when we met.  We attended a small rural high school together and Bob’s sister was/is my best friend.  As I became involved in school activities I discovered this young man who was charming, intelligent, had deep religious and spiritual values, and was planning a future for himself.  From the time I was a sophomore in high school I knew in my heart and mind that I wanted and could spend my life with him.  We only dated a little in high school because both of us were more interested in our studies and in developing a meaningful future for ourselves.  We actually discovered that we had shared values and wanted to grow together the summer after I graduated from high school.  We quickly realized that we were planning a life together.  I think I knew Bob was the one when I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it and yet it frightened me to think about making the commitment to share my life forever with him.

(Bob)  In high school I got to know Rita as my sister’s best friend and as a member of various clubs and activities.  I knew that she was interested in me, but my focus was more on grades and getting into college.  I thought I would be married some day, but at that point I didn’t even date much.  Rita even asked me for our first date.  When we did start to date regularly, I quickly found myself starting to think about being married to Rita.  Early on, in the middle of a conversation I heard myself say:  “When we get married” but quickly changed it to:  “If we get married.”  We both wanted to finish college and spent the next four years living in different cities and often not being together for several weeks at a time. We wrote lots of letters and got together when we could.  Long distance phone calls were too expensive in those days (no cell phones) for us to talk very often in between.   I think we both knew at least three years before we did, that we would get married.  We used the time to get to know each other very well and to build our friendship.

Watch for our next excerpt.  New post every Wednesday.

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About Rita & Bob Boeke

Rita Boeke has experience teaching scripture and with her husband Bob has experience in enriching marriages through workshops and retreats. They post a weekly blog at thewonderofmarriage.com and co-authored Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.
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