For the topic this week I thought I would talk about the journey of dating, and the wonderful end result of marriage.
In Hawkins’ book, Successful Marriages and Families he talks about the different steps that lead to marriage: The Awareness and Acquaintance Phase, Transition from Acquaintance to Buildup, The Buildup Phase, and lastly, Commitment and Continuation. I want to use Ben and I’s relationship and love story as an example for transitions between these steps.
The Awareness and Acquaintance Phase
What is the first thing we look at when spotting a potential partner? Looks. I know that sounds shallow, but its true, and there isn’t anything wrong with looking for someone who is physically attractive. This is a necessary part of attraction, but not the most important part. When I first met Ben, we were in the same Family Home-evening Group at BYU-Idaho. He introduced himself, and I thought he was cute. He was shy and didn’t talk much so we didn’t get to know each other very well. It wasn’t until later in the semester when I really got to know Ben when I found him more attractive. When we date we are trying to find someone who we want to spend eternity with, that person needs to have a lot more qualities than being attractive, and there are many things that each of us desire in a eternal companion. One thing that was important to me, was humor. I wanted someone who was funny and could make me laugh. It is important for me to laugh especially in hard times, and that was one of the first things that attracted me to Ben, he was funny.
Transition from Acquaintance to Buildup
In Hawkins’ book be describes the difficulty many couples and individuals have when transitioning to a relationship from friends. Ben and I didn’t have a problem of moving our relationship forward, but I had many roommates and friends who did. Since so many are different in their own transitions the communication to wanting to move forward in a new relationship can be hard. The best way to go about this is to go on a date, in a group or by yourselves. This gives the couple a time to get to know each other, and doing something fun takes stress of the new potential relationship.
The Buildup Phase
There are two process that happen in this phase, as Hawkins’ suggests. Developing mature love, and seeking mutual influence. When people seek mutual influence they are seeking equality in their relationship in which both people contribute equally to the relationship, what was interesting to read about was that Hawkins found relationships that started out physical were less likely to have a mutual influence. The best equality in a relationship was when it started out as a friendship. Mature love is what leads to success in marriage and family life. Mature love can be seen as someone who allows room for growth, someone who is willing to commit, or sacrifice for the other person. While immature love is when someone is making excuses, not committing, and seeking lust rather than love.
Commitment and Continuation
For many, the decision of marriage is hard and a long process. As members of the church a really important part of deciding marriage is a spiritual confirmation. Since this decision is very important for members of the church, they take spiritual confirmation very seriously. When I prayed to know if Ben and I should get married, the answer came to me as a peaceful feeling. I didn’t get an overwhelming feeling, just a calm feeling, which is exactly what I needed. It was important to me that the man I married was dedicated to not just the gospel, but to God and Jesus Christ. However he chose to be committed was his choice, but I wanted to see that and the love he had for them. Many times in our relationship Ben and proven to me multiple times that he would commit to me and our family because of the commitment he had to the Lord. He looked for the same thing in me, and that is what gives out marriage mature love and commitment.
Ben and I were married for time and all eternity in the LDS Dallas, Texas temple. Our wedding was not fancy, not big, and not what I dreamed my wedding would be like. But I still loved it, because it was the start of all our adventures together with our new family. As I was dating I pictured my wedding in a certain way, I wanted my dress, the food, the reception to be a certain way. It wasn’t until after I was married, when Ben and I had our first trial when I knew that the wedding stuff didn’t matter, it was the stuff before that. The building a relationship, developing mature love and mutual influence that was what made our relationship strong and made us better and withstanding trials when they came our way.