Friday, July 26, 2013

The Dating List: Our Courtship Story

In honor of our wedding anniversary, I thought I would include a little bit of our story.  This originally was an email to a friend about dating and then evolved into more of a chronicle of our story with some added advice.  It is a bit long but (I think) a good read.

Do you believe in love at first sight?  Probably not.  But do you believe in like (or dislike) at first sight?  We prioritize certain attributes (whether physical or personality based) that help us to be attracted to (or not attracted to) a person when we meet them for the first time.  A few years ago, I had a lengthy list of things that would get a guy points or lose him points.  It included everything from nice shoes to a good voice, from a good sense of humor to an instant spark, from a nice car to pretty blue eyes.  I was even particular about names.  There were certain names that just turned me off…and others that I found rather attractive.  There were also many things on the deal-breaker list - for example, crooked teeth, telling weird stories for a first date, having a messy car or weird ears.  It seems that men get a bad reputation for being too superficial in dating.  Sometimes, women can be just as guilty. 

A few years ago, after recently moving, I was going to a ward activity in my new ward.  I arrived at the same time as one of the men in the ward, Doug.  He opened the door for me and we chatted a little bit while walking to the gym.  I did not notice that he had any deal-makers or deal-breakers.  We sat at the same table during the activity and I quickly realized that he was extremely shy.  I wasn’t really sure if he had a sense of humor since he was so quiet.

Within weeks in my new ward, I got to know a bit more about the guys in the ward and their date-ability.  I’d been asked out by a couple of them but not by Doug.  One of my friends referred to him as “good old Doug.”  He was one of those guys that made a great friend but not one I would date.  He was an "N.G.B." - a "nice guy but..."

It was around this time that I had an important conversation with my friend, Dianna.  We were both in our late 20's and unmarried.  We were discussing a dating lives and sometimes the lack thereof.  With other friends, this conversation frequently led to blaming men for not being proactive enough in dating.  Dianna said “We are single because of us…not because of the people we date.  We are single because of the way we handle dating...”  I realized that I was quite prejudiced in dating.  We talked about what types of deal-makers we should have.  Is he a worthy priesthood holder who respects and honors his opportunity to do work in the name of the Lord?  Is he a good man?  (In the Lord’s sense of the word ‘good’.)  Does he attend church and the temple?  Would he make a good husband and father?  Does he strive to do the Lord’s will in all things?  Does he demonstrate charity?  Does spending time with him help me to “come unto Christ”? 

I started to shift my deal-maker/breaker list to things that really mattered.  I also realized that frequently I would avoid relationships that may move me out of my comfort zone.  It really struck me that I needed to stop running away from serious relationships.  I thought about it a lot.  Generally, in life the Lord does not tell us if we are doing the right thing (hence, the importance of faith).  However, he will definitely tell us or hedge up the way if we are doing the wrong thing.  Elder Scott has said “when you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision.”  With that thought, I made the goal not to shy away from or run from any dating relationship unless the spirit prompted me that it was wrong and/or the young man had serious spiritual issues. 

A few weeks later, I had a wedding reception to go to that was about 45 minutes away.  I was sure that there would not be anyone else I knew at the reception and figured I should find a date.  After considering the possibilities I decided to ask Doug…just to see if there was anything there.  My bishop had mentioned repeatedly that I should ask out this nice quiet young man since there was quite a gem underneath the shy shell.  However, I was quite nervous about spending that much time in the car with someone so quiet.  We had a nice time.  Conversation was not too strained.  However, there was no spark, no instant chemistry.

About a month later, Doug called me up and we went out again.  Again, we had a very nice time and Doug proved to be a perfect gentleman but there was no spark.  However, I had made my decision not to shy away or run unless there was a good reason.  Doug completely fit my new list of deal-makers and I finally noticed that he had pretty blue eyes.  I’d mentioned in passing on our date about how I kept picking a small, frayed bandage I had on my finger because I wasn’t sure where I had any new ones.  When I got to church the next day there was a note from Doug…along with a bandage.  That small piece of thoughtfulness really touched my heart.  I decided I would keep dating him until the Lord hedged up the way.  It wasn’t until about our 5th date that I felt I was really getting to know him and realized he was even more amazing than I had imagined.  (It was also about this time that he threw a snowball at me as we were walking out to the car and I learned he was a bit of a goofball as well.)

I was still a bit concerned about the lack of a spark.  Our bishop, (who was particularly excited about our courtship), gave me some wise counsel.  He said, “Sparks burn out quite quickly; what you want in a relationship are coals.  They may not be as easy to recognize but they build a much stronger flame that lasts a lot longer.”  Later, he explained that love is something that comes into a relationship often without you even knowing and the depths of your feelings may take you by surprise.  President Hinckley stated “True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well being of one’s companion.”  Doug and I realized that is what we were feeling.  We continued to move forward and were married 6 months later.

Previous to having my new-found resolve about who I would date and trying not to run, I’m sure I would have run from Doug or not have given him a chance at all.  I’m absolutely sure of it.  Among the congratulations I received when we got engaged, many girls said that they’d always wished Doug would have been interested in them.  My friend that referred to him as “good old Doug” said she had that wish because she knew he would always take care of his wife and keep her safe.  Each day, I love Doug more and more.  I am so grateful that I was able to look beyond my superficial list and take the time to truly get to know the fabulous young man who is now my husband and such an amazing father.  He is a good, righteous, gentle, humble and loving man who I know will take care of, respect and honor me and our children for all eternity.

When I first met Doug's parents I asked them what they most admired about Doug.  They spoke of his strength and sure foundation of testimony.  A few years ago, I spotted a plaque that extrapolated that thought a bit. It states, "Strength:  Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord...He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.  (Psalm 1:3)"  I am so grateful to have him as my co-pilot on this journey!  And, may I just say, in re-reading those deal-makers, the answer to each is a loud and resounding YES!  

My friend Rachael did a lesson on the Priesthood during Relief Society a few years ago.  She had surveyed the guys in the ward to ask them what the Priesthood meant to them.  She anonymously read their responses.  There was one that I was extremely impressed with that demonstrated a humble feeling of responsibility.  I found out later that the quote was from Douglas and I just felt so lucky to be the woman who gets to spend eternity with him.  I could not have asked for a better husband and our children could not wish for a better dad who will be such a great example to them.  The "Band-Aid" story was just the beginning of Doug's demonstrations of charity.  All of that and he has so many other great attributes.  And we laugh every day.  

No comments:

Post a Comment