“I just did not like the way they talked to each other.” A friend was telling me all about her second date with a young man which took place at his sister’s house. On their first date, she was somewhat intrigued and interested enough to hang out with him again; but, when she watched how he and his sister interacted with each other, she became extremely concerned. In fact, it completely turned her off from having a third date.
“I did not like the way they picked on each other. They put each other down.” The picture I gathered was that this family enjoyed sarcasm and hurled playful insults at each other as a way of life – even to say, “I love you.” Though some families thrive in such an environment, my friend knew it was not a family culture of which she wanted to be a part – and, certainly not how she wanted to raise her future children. My friend had multiple siblings and her parents did not tolerate insulting language or behavior.
Had she and this man formed a relationship, their methods of communication and views on family life would certainly clash; and, had they gotten married… well… I have a feeling she would have visited me… a lot. ~smile~
In the dating days, it can be difficult to cut through the emotions to see reality on the other side. I am thankful she was given the opportunity to see her date’s family life long before her heart became attached to him. A sister’s house may be a strange second date option, but in this case, it was a blessing!
You Can Concentrate in This?!
Years ago, I recall studying at a friend’s house when suddenly, I heard an emotional eruption come from down the hall. A family squabble had broken out and it took my only-child self completely by surprise. In all the cacophony, I looked up from my book to see my friend still studying and asked, “You can concentrate in this?!”
We all come from different environments and cultures; and, in some cases, one is not more desirable than the other – they are just different. Some enjoy a lively, loud home while others prefer a subdued, calm environment. When a couple is contemplating marriage, it is wise to be aware of the family culture of which he or she came and the type of home he or she wishes to create. However, the homes we come from will always influence us. We can certainly break cycles, but it takes a lot of hard work and determination.
Other environments are simply unhealthy; and, it is okay to walk away from dating relationships which are leading to those environments. If physical or verbal abuse are present, no matter how many apologies you receive, get out now. If you are disturbed by how your significant other’s family interacts, and he or she does not understand your concern, don’t ignore your gut feelings and observations. If he or she does understand and is also unhappy with how his or her family behaves, have several serious discussions about what type of home life you both want to create. If your relationship continues to progress, discuss how involved you want your future children to be with your families.
Pull Out Your Creed Notebooks
Below are more questions to add to your Creed notebook this year:
- Which behaviors will I not tolerate between my children and why?
- What do I foresee doing to prevent or mitigate such behaviors?
- Which disciplinary measures am I comfortable using?
- How do I believe a husband and wife should speak to each other in the privacy of their home?
- Are raised voices or yelling okay?
- Is sarcasm and/or insults okay?
- Should words be chosen carefully or any thought be expressed?
- What do I want my children to see when they look at my relationship with their mother/father?
- How much time do I believe is appropriate to spend with family each week?
- How much time per day?
- Which activities?
- Family devotions?
- Bedtime stories and snuggles?
- What type of “aroma” do I want in my future home? (Eric often says when I am in a bad mood, it fills the house with a metaphorical burnt popcorn smell – it just isn’t pleasant.)
- A peaceful aroma?
- An energetic aroma?
- A jovial aroma?
- What must happen to achieve such an aroma?
- Which traits and traditions do I want to carry from my childhood home to my married home? Which traits and traditions do I want to leave behind and why?
- Based on what I have seen, is the person I am dating a good match for the home life goals I wish to achieve? Am I a good match for his or her goals?
What Does the Bible Say?
“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3-4, ESV)
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6, ESV)
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Proverbs 14:1, ESV)
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:20-21, ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24, ESV)
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10, ESV)
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:32-33, ESV)
Your family environment will shape (in large part) who your children become and will affect everyone who comes into your home. What type of home do you wish to create for your children, your guests, and yourselves? How do you foresee your future home life affecting your marriage relationship?
When you write your couple’s creed, we encourage you to add something specific about the type of home life you intend to create. When you display your creed in your home, it can serve as a reminder and accountability to you and your spouse since all who enter your home will have the opportunity to read it. Periodically, look over your creed and ask yourselves, “Are we cultivating the type of home environment we believe is best for our family and our visitors? Is God pleased with how we behave towards one another?”
It Is Not Only What You Add
Sometimes, to create a desirable home life, we must not only concentrate on what we add – love, hugs, quality meals, family time, etc. – but we must also consider what we need to remove. Is there entertainment in our home which redirects our hearts from God and then from each other? Is the music we listen to honoring God and effective in cleansing our minds of worldly thoughts and desires? Do the games we play lead to closeness or cause division? Is there bitterness we need to address? Is there anything in our home which may be counterproductive in producing the home life we, and more importantly, God, desires?
We hope you and your sweetheart have a terrific date sometime this week. If possible, discuss the questions above and the topic at large. What culture do you want to create in your future home? What do you want others to see, feel, and remember about visiting you and your family?
Dream together. Plan together.
Do you and your significant other wish to create the same type of family environment?