Memory lane is one of my favorite places to wander on. The summer Eric and I graduated from ‘friends’ to ‘more than friends,’ I was in North Carolina with my parents and Eric was working in Virginia. A month before we decided to accelerate our relationship, I finished my bachelor’s degree and was looking forward to a summer at home before moving into my first apartment and starting my Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s degree program.
Because I wanted my education paid for, I decided to seek employment at my alma mater so I could take advantage of their education benefits. My first interview was for an admissions counselor position. The downside was that I had to travel five hours for the interview. The upside was I got to hang out with my friend, Eric, of whom I had grown extremely fond in the preceding months.
During the winter of my senior year, I struggled to decide where to do my graduate work. As I pondered coming back to my alma mater or applying elsewhere, I thought about the man I was dating at the time (not Eric). “If I leave there, I will never see him again.” Honestly, the thought did not bother me very much… which was eye-opening. Then, I thought, “If I leave there, I will never see Eric again,” and my heart seized. I could no longer fool myself. I had feelings for Eric. He was not interested in me and had made that abundantly clear, but I could not turn off my heart as badly as I wanted to.
After graduating and moving home for the summer, it seemed like Eric’s feelings for me might be changing, but I had fooled myself in the past and did not want to go down that road again. Still, his comments and actions continued to soften which left me unable to concentrate on much else. Does Eric finally love me back or am I going to get my feelings hurt again?
So, on June 11th, 2004, Mom and I packed the car and headed up to Virginia for my interview. Much of the way up there, Mom (my captive audience) had to listen to me talk about Eric. “What if he does not like me after all? What if I dreamed up everything? What if nothing is going to happen?” She put up with me… and I still appreciate it. ~smile~ We arrived, unpacked, and with butterflies in my stomach, I got ready. Whether or not I got the job, I was happy to make it through my first adult job interview!
Shortly after my interview, Mom and I met Eric at the Golden Corral for dinner. He jumped out of his car and attacked me with a long bear hug. (And, even after that I was still not sure if he liked me. I am telling you, I was on guard!) After dinner, Eric and I hung out for several hours on our own and that is when he confessed, “I have missed you…” and the rest is history! All the books about hooking men tell us ladies to play it cool and make the pursuit a little tough for our suitors, but everything I read flew right out the window that night. He liked me! I liked him! I was not about to play hard to get.
It was extremely difficult getting back in the car the next day and driving away from Eric. My heart was flying. The following day, a few middle schoolers from my church told me I was glowing. ~grin~
As difficult as it was to be apart for those few months (I think I just heard long distance couples everywhere groan), I thoroughly enjoyed our talks. Eric read to me over the phone. We asked each other questions. We talked about our future. We grew. In many ways, the distance forced us to grow closer because we had to talk. We could not go to movies, snuggle at sporting events, or have game nights with friends. If we wanted to be together, we had to talk, and it was definitely for the best.
There is no such thing as rapid intimacy. – The Science of People
“Relationships take time to grow” is statement most of us believe, but a truth many of us consider annoying. We are in love. Why do we have to know each other better before we get married? Can we not learn what we need to know after we marry? Sure, couples can give in to the attraction, make a lifelong commitment, and then discuss such topics as, “Do you want children?” “Do you want to live in this town forever?” “Are you planning to go back to school?” “Do you want pets?” “How much money is enough money for you to feel secure?” Then, as the insane attraction begins to fade (and it always does), those same couples can learn oodles of frustrating information about the stranger with whom they now share a bed and home.
Getting to know each other well is worth postponing engagement (ask anyone who got married too quickly).
Thus grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure: Married in haste, we may repent at leisure. – William Congreve, The Old Batchelour, 1693
Eric and I could fill multiple books with questions to ask your significant other before popping the question. Maybe someday we will! ~smile~ So, for fun today, we will suggest seven questions – enough to enjoy on a date without your time together feeling like an interrogation.
Whether you live near to your love or far, here is a smattering of questions for date night. Happy learning!
- What do you look forward to most about marriage? It is easy to assume your significant other’s reasons for pursuing marriage mirror yours, but you may be surprised! Maybe you are looking forward to cuddling up at night with your mate, but your boyfriend or girlfriend might be dreaming of working on home projects or raising a large family. We have many reasons for desiring marriage, but what is your partner’s most motivating reason for pursuing marriage? What is yours?
- Can you tell me about a time (or multiple times) you laughed until you cried? For me, this question would be almost impossible to answer as I laugh until I cry every week or so. Laughing keeps me sane. I love listening and watching stand-up comedy – although, nothing beats laughing with old friends. Eric, on the other hand, is more reserved. He laughs, but rarely so much that he violently shakes. Some of my fondest memories of him are when he is laughing uncontrollably – like the first time he heard a particular Jeff Foxworthy joke or the time he almost fell out of his chair at a Tim Hawkins concert. Use this question to understand better what it takes to make each other laugh.
- What do you appreciate most about your closest friendships and what do you look for in a friend? Learning what your sweetheart desires in a friend will tell you a lot about what he or she desires from you. Your spouse, Lord willing, will be your closest friend. If loyalty and understanding top the list, you can be sure he or she will hope for loyalty and understanding from you. If he or she loves spending time with friends who are active, funny, and always ready for the next adventure, he or she will hope for those same traits in you – probably even more so.
- When did you experience powerful emotions and what prompted them? As a middle school and high school homeschooler, my graduation ceremony took place with other homeschoolers from all over North Carolina. As was fitting, instead of a principal or official handing us our diplomas, we walked across the stage in one direction and our parents walked across the stage in the other direction. Meeting in the middle, each parent handed their child his or her diploma. How sweet, right? Halfway across the stage, my Mom’s face changed from a smile to a look of grief and amazement as if it just hit her, “My baby is graduating!” She handed me my diploma (she earned it as much as I did, if not more!) and then Dad whispered tearfully in my ear, “I’m proud of you, baby.” It was all I could do to hold back my tears throughout the rest of the ceremony. That day, I experienced powerful emotions I pray I never forget. What are your sweetie’s stories? What are yours?
- How do you express joy and anger? Once in my late teens, I screamed – screamed – in someone’s ear when my anger towards him had finally reached a 10. It takes a lot to get me to that point, but I got there. So, I leaned over (I was driving, by the way) and bellowed something unkind in his ear. He responded by calling me a freak and then he got out of the car and walked home. Another time, while thoroughly frustrated, I kicked a bag of Ramsey’s dog food. The joke was on me, though, as I broke the bag and had to clean up my mess. Thankfully, I do not always express my anger this way. I would have few friends if I did! ~smile~ Usually, I like to be alone when I am angry. Sometimes, I talk to a friend. Occasionally, I write a letter to the offending party (just to get it off my chest – not to send it). When I am overjoyed, I tend to squeal, laugh, or hug. Either way, my anger and my joy are usually noticeable. Eric’s anger and joy are often quiet unless they cross his threshold, so I have learned to read his signals in other ways, (e.g., he does not want to be touched, he is verbally short, he grins a lot, he plays silly games with the dog, etc.). Discuss how you and your partner express joy, anger, and other emotions.
- At the end of your life, which three accomplishments will mean the most to you? In our youth, it is hard to fathom our deathbed. Not only is it morbid to think about, but it seems so far away it is hard to consider fully. As best as you can, imagine sitting in your rocking chair looking out over your front yard. What do you see? Who is with you? What memories do you cherish? What have you done in your life that leaves your heart feeling full and satisfied? Share your visions with each other.
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be and how would you use it? I would fly! Eric would be invisible! I would rescue people, give them cheap “flights,” and deliver my invisible husband to his destinations. ~smile~ Eric would listen in on conversations and probably stop wars, warn innocent people of impending doom, etc. What power would you guys choose?
We hope you and your special lady or gentleman can go on a date this week! As you sip your coffee, enjoy your food, or breathe in fresh air at your local park, pose some or all of these questions. See what you can learn. Laugh together. Grow closer.
The shortest distance between two people is a story. – Patti Digh
How well do you know your special someone?