Well it has been a while since my last Huggie-Wuggie post, and I felt that I needed to explain to you all the reason for my Huggie-Wuggie silence. So here it is: absolutely no substantial reason at all! Actually, here is the real thing: usually I need a certain amount of time and peace to focus on these thoughts and think through them, and of late my mind has been so full of other things. You know what? This is an observation I have made so many times before. But the way I have been too pre-occupied to really sit down and lavish lots of time and thought on this blog lately is EXACTLY the way that many couples are too busy to lavish lots of time and thought on their marriages.
For me it is quite hard because I feel legitimately busy and I think “well, at the moment I’ve got to focus on these other things…” But perhaps that is the way everyone thinks; perhaps there will ALWAYS be things that suggest themselves as being more urgent. Perhaps for me, I’ve got to use this blog as practice for myself to always make a big and wide space for thinking about my marriage in my life, so that when hopefully it actually does happen, I will just easily and simply transfer my time and attention from the blog to the man himself. (I think I’ve said that before too!)
So anyway, it has not been all quiet in Huggie-Wuggie world. Many thoughts have been dancing around in mind. However I have been lacking that deep level of concentration to really give birth to those thoughts.
So anyway, this is what I want to write about today, and it is so cute and romantic! Basically, it is like this: on this blog I have made a really big thing about why I am not keen on pre-marital dating. To summarise, these are the key reasons why I have argued against it; by dating I mean going out on succession of fun-filled dates
1. Getting to know someone: I just don’t like the idea of putting myself in an emotionally and physically vulnerable situation with someone before I really know him. Some people start acting as if they own you as soon as they get your telephone number. I really don’t need that. Also, obviously, everyone will be on their best behaviour, so you will not get an accurate representation of this person’s character, and of course everyone will be saying all the right things and displaying an exaggeratedly exciting personality.
I want to really know the person who I am going to marry. I don’t want to marry a lie. So for me it makes sense to really get to know the person first, in a non-intimate environment, before I consider them romantically. (In practice, this does not actually work that well for me, as my loneliness tends to latch onto people immediately. But at least that’s the theory!)
2. Temptation: Why would you put yourself into that kind of sexual temptation? Or even the temptation of getting too close emotionally – which is also big and serious? Even if nothing actually happens between you, I know and have heard of so many marriages which are affected by close emotional relationships that either of the partners cultivated before marriage. So if the two of you don’t actually end up getting married to one another, the closeness of your friendship remains such a threat to a would-be spouse. And let’s be candid, many of these friendships do become adulterous – hello?! Actually, perhaps that is a different issue, and not actually related to “dating” itself. And perhaps I am speaking to myself most on this issue, because, erm…..anyway, let’s swiftly move on!
So anyway, those are a few quick thoughts on why I am not a big fan of the concept of “dating”. Or at least pre-marital dating. But once you are sure that you are with the right person, you’ve built an adequate and robust foundation of friendship and you’re already married to one another so things can get “out of hand” (to shamelessly steal a phrase from Joshua Harris!) – then dating becomes a married couple’s best friend – after prayer – or possibly combined with prayer!
But then I was asking myself: but what will this actually look like?! If you’ve never really dated your man before marrying him, then how do you start possibly from scratch?! In a way, you’d think that this would be very straightforward, right – you just throw yourself into it and go with the flow (Tosin!) Honestly, I’m just throwing a few ideas around in my mind, so I don’t know whether this idea I’m about to suggest is maybe a little too radical or unrealistic or possibly, at best, unnecessary. But I’m going to put it out there anyway! The idea that occurred to me is this: practising romance. In exactly the same way we would deliberately build a foundation of friendship and communication before marriage, and learn how to share our thoughts, and learn how to disagree and learn how to be gracious about our differences, until it almost becomes second nature, so in the same way we could also take deliberate time out to learn how to relate with one another in a romantic way.
From 0 to everything:
So I’m with this man. Because he and I have been ultra careful before marriage, we’ve never really had any physical contact with one another. We’ve never even held hands and ironically we’ve barely hugged. Kissing?! No way! Our mutual focus has been on 100%, unassailable purity. And now we’re talking “wedding night”! Seriously, how does that work?! Is that not just a recipe for supreme awkwardness – going from “zero” to “everything” so quickly – in the space of one night, to be exact?! And then to mix up the thing even more – we’re now living together. So we are having to endure all the stresses and strains of that while also trying to manufacture an insta-romance into our relationship and overcome the awkwardness of learning to talk about these things.
You know what? Nothing is going to change my mind about cultivating a 100% commitment to sexual purity before marriage. But what about this: thinking of the time before marriage as when you decide if you want to marry this person – and then you go ahead and get married – and then taking the time after the wedding to actually develop the romance. All those things we never allowed ourselves to do before marriage – like stay up all night talking, like walk around holding hands, like “accidentally-on-purpose” let my hand brush against him…and linger, like go on fun, cute dates. In truth, there is absolutely nothing to stop a newly married couple doing this. However, I guess that the issue is in my mentality; my default thinking has always been that the romantic aspect of relationship has to be fully fledged by the wedding but without physically expressing it. What though if you think of the wedding as a mere springboard and starting point for romance and dating?
So it is not as if you are playing before the marriage. You sit down and invest all necessary thought and prayer etc into this decision: is this the right person that I want to be committed to? You build that foundation of friendship and communication. When you are absolutely sure etc, then you get married, and then the fun and games can start!
Not so radical?
Perhaps this idea is not so radical, for this reason: People who are married readily concede that the topic of sex is one of the big challenges in marriage. Hollywood, books and movies make it seem that with enough passion it just spontaneously falls into place. However, everyone who is actually there is shouting the exact opposite. (I know that “sex” does not equate to “romance” but it is obviously a very important part of it.) So what if Huggie-Wuggie and I actually take some time to deliberately plan into this aspect of our marriage – and even practise as necessary? I’m thinking that there will probably be a difference for most people between what they expect themselves to be like before marriage, and how they actually are in marriage. This is not anything heavy; it is simply taking some time after marriage to go on those exciting (or quiet) dates, to take it as slowly as needs be (Huggie-Wuggie is not going to love reading this – after I’ve already made him wait for two full years! Some good news below*) to learn how to be emotionally intimate with one another. Does this sound crazy – to even learn how to hug – until everything becomes fluid and natural between us – like Hollywood insists that it should be. (Not that my life is dictated by Hollywood, of course!)
You know one idea I really don’t love? This: that you are ultra careful before getting married, finally get married, go on an awkward honeymoon, where you are likely to argue a lot, and then on returning to “real-life” the romance between you gets relegated to one night a week, aka “date nights”. Ha ha – no way! Our entire life will be one protracted date after marriage and then, after a few months, when we are fully comfortable with one another, then we can go on our exciting honeymoon – and really make the most of the time together – wink wink! Yeah, I said it! Out of all these ideas, the one idea that I’m really loving is this: staying up all night talking. Candidly speaking, there is absolutely no way that this would happen between a man and me before getting married – not even on the phone – absolutely no way! And yet after marriage it is the kind of thing that would be so cute, so easy and so cheap to do – maybe watching a movie together, laying my head against his shoulder, boldly taking his arm and wrapping it around me, laughing, giggling, accidentally dozing off – know what I mean?! I think you know exactly what I mean!!! I mean fully-clothed by the way!
You know how all this sounds to me?
Like an investment. A deliberate and conscious investment of time into this. Not expecting that it will just happen. People who have been there before us tell us that it does not “just happen”. To keep romance alive in a marriage takes work and deliberate intention and effort. To awaken it in the first place is I’m sure nothing less. It might sound a bit stilted or artificial at first for both partners to share their dreams of what an amazing romance would be. And then when you actually try to act out these things – at first, you’re both a bit unsure of where your hands should go, how you should physically stand – awkward! But then as time goes on, as you become more comfortable with one another, and your bodies learn to flow in rhythm with one another then hopefully the idea is that it becomes spontaneous. And then if it ever becomes jaded or tired, then you can always take some fresh time out in your schedule to re-learn one another once again, to share some fresh or updated dreams for this aspect of your life together.
PS – I’m thinking that another advantage of practising is that if you are both carrying a “we’re still practising” mentality, then that relieves the pressure on you to get it all perfect first time around. Going back to Hollywood/TV as these have largely and subtly informed my attitudes to these things – there is is a kinda expectation or sentiment that two people who are romantically compatible and passionate about one another can only share amazing kisses etc from the outset. So it could be easy to interpret poor kisses as a sign that we are not truly compatible with one another. Or sharing poor kisses etc could lead to disappointment that we are apparently not that romantically compatible, which could in turn lead to giving up in this area. However if we laughed through our initial failures, reassured one another of our mutual passion, and persevered (Hollywood be damned! (not literally!)) then I’m sure that we would get there, and sooner rather than later! Moreover, If we were both aware that we were still practising, then perhaps it would also be easier to be honest with one another. Instead of pretending that it is all amazing, then perhaps we could say “actually, that hug did not do all that much for me – could we try it this way?”
Building in time for it?
A key point in this post is to deliberately build time for these things. Perhaps we will quickly discover that trying to carve out time to literally practise hugging etc is the most boring thing on earth. However, if we deliberately carved out that same time for some light-hearted, low-key fun, then these things might arise of their own accord (she spontaneously hugs her pillow! – yeah, like that!) So perhaps there does not need to be any regimented timetable – “Sorry, I can’t make that appointment – Tosin wants us to practise kissing today!” – but rather just blocking off good and appropriate time together to just hang out, or chill, or try new restaurants, or even simply chat or watch TV.
*Sincerely speaking, I think I’m at the point of rethinking this two-year thing. Candidly speaking, I just don’t know whether I can wait that long! 🙂