Modern birth control changed bonding relationships profoundly.  Universal internet connections to practically everyone in the world has been another game changer.  For many of us our beliefs and expectations about relationships has lagged behind the reality of modern relationships.

familyBefore Birth Control (BBC)
In the times before modern birth control intimate relationships between men and women normally produced babies. Mothers nursed infants and cared for the kids and the nest.  Men worked outside the home. Couples exhausted the remainder of their youth and all their middle age raising their families.  Mostly, couples bonded for life. Religions and laws supported this lifestyle.  Couples committed to the relationship once and then made it work as best they could “til death do you part.” Divorce was rarely an acceptable choice. It wasn’t a perfect arrangement, but it lasted centuries.

After Birth Control (ABC)6155_O'Connor_Sandra Day O'Connor being sworn in as US Supreme Court Justice, 1981_with credit_Collection of the Supreme Court_crop2
Birth control affects women more profoundly than men. For men, birth control has allowed the control of taking on the responsibilities of being a provider for a family under the old family model.  For women, it meant they could have relationships and at the same time  be a provider.  Women are no longer expected to be limited to the role of “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.”

Fluidity of Relationships
Divorce – Since women started entering the career world divorce rates have skyrocketed.  In the BBC way of thinking this has been a shocking reality, but in the ABC world it’s not really so negative. While there are substantial negatives to divorce, particularly with children, divorce is more manageable when both spouses can work and support themselves, as is often the case today. Divorce also allows escape from bad marriages.  The old stigma of divorce is melting away.

Unmarried or late marriages – Statistics show a great increase in men and women who are choosing to remain unmarried or postpone marriage. With birth control they can have careers and relationships without the challenges of raising kids.

Child Care – Career women who wanted children but didn’t want to abandon their careers created a need for child care to take care of their precious little ones during working hours.  Some husbands split or assume all the responsibility for work time child care. Though sometimes reluctantly,  many husbands today are sharing other domestic chores more equally with their wives.

Internet Dating and App Dating
The ease of finding a compatible mate is remarkable when compared to the profoundly limited choices of just a decade or two ago. It’s fast, easy and cheap.

Uncommitted? Relationships
Are humans naturally monogamous?

Is a lifetime commitment the goal of bonded relationships?

When is divorce the right answer for a marriage?

Are religious ideas of marriage keeping up with changing science and cultures?

How do overpopulation and lower mortality rates relate to making families?

Are expectations of having a home like Beaver, or even Bart, becoming obsolete?

If you can answer these questions with intelligence and sensitivity, you need to have a voice that is heard.  For many people the answers to these questions have changes radically over the past few decades.  Our observation is that marriage age people today generally have very different thoughts about marriage than their parents.

 

 

No, not in bed. I’m talking about a lover in the sense of a person who brings love to a relationship.

Love for this purpose is multi-dimensional. To name a small set of love’s positive attributes, love is about – care, truth, respect, gentleness, commitment, understanding, intimacy, generosity, industry, sincerity, cooperation, communication, responsibility, unselfishness, support, faithfulness, forgiving, reliability, gratefulness, receptivity, and, of course, affection and passion. I’m sure I’ve missed a dozen or more other attributes. True love is a very, very good thing.

A hand holding a yellow pencil filling in a computer checked answer sheet on an examination. Education concept

Objective testing
I’m willing to bet you have not been tested by some “independent laboratory” to determine your lover index quotient. Unlike admissions to college there is no standardized admissions test to be admitted to a relationship.

thinkingSelf-evaluation
Research shows that healthy humans tend to significantly over-rate themselves for attributes that are valued, and the attributes of love fit into that category. People think they are better at driving, friendliness, leadership, healing, etc. than they actually are. We are biased toward ourselves as part of our fundamental self-esteem.  So, we generally believe we are better lovers than we actually are.

75/25 rulebalanced
I heard this one as advice from a dad to his son, the groom, right before his wedding. “If you want to be giving 50/50 to the marriage, give 75% because you will tend to over-rate your contribution and under-rate hers.”  Ah, the joy of wisdom.

The best way to be a great lover is to presume you are not.
avisAnswer the title question “no,” work at loving better, and you are more likely to be a great lover.

Don’t you want somebody to love
Don’t you need somebody to love
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love
             Jefferson Airplane

giveloveIt is in our nature to want to be loved.  We want it, we need it, we love it, we try to find it. There is no confusion about that.  It is the clear, yet often unspoken, drive behind dating.

Oddly, we don’t generally recognize a similarly strong desire to participate in the active side of loving, the powerful need to love.

The Joy of LovingAunt Joan
Take a minute and think about the most loving people who you know personally.  I bet they are not unhappy people.  I think of my Aunt Joan. The church at her funeral was overflowing with appreciative recipients of her love, and I can only remember her with a smile on her face. Giving love creates joy in both the giver and receiver.

Mutual Love Giving
Now imagine your relationship with the person with whom you share the desire to give your love more and more every day. Your joy in the relationship comes from the other’s joy, and your loved one feels the same way about you! It’s like a snowball rolling downhill and gathering mass.  You love more, so they love more, so you love more, so they love ….  It happens.  And it can happen to you.

xmas2Mature Loving
How old were you when you noticed that receiving Christmas presents wasn’t as much fun as giving them?  Kids are all gimme gimme. Nothing pleases a parent more than seeing their kid light up with happiness when opening the well-chosen present.  It’s the same with love when we learned that the giving is the best part. ( We all need to be good receivers too.  When the other gives love, take it in with gratitude)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make             The Beatles

Fit and Balance
We have nine kids between us. Wait, let us recount. Yep, nine kids, and that has not been a problem for us. Actually, it has been an opportunity to have a better relationship.

When you think of finding the match for you and your kids you might ask yourself, “Who in the world would want all of us?” Sounds like mean old Mr Fear has been whispering in your ear.  We all know that guy too well. In reality, there are thousands of people who want all of you. Your job is to find the one you want.

Fitpuzzle-pieceXSmall
We tend to think that finding the right person is all about precise fit.  Life is not that demanding.  As we have all learned as we’ve traveled through our lives, things don’t work out exactly as we imagined they would, but they work out.  The pieces of life actually have a sloppy fit. That looseness is both good and bad; bad, only if you insist on perfect fits in a world that will always frustrate you by denying you perfection, good, because your options for a “good fit” go up astronomically when you accept imprecision.  Forget the perfect fit image.  People are flexible and ever changing, unlike jigsaw puzzle pieces (unless you’re 4 and think you can cram in that close to fitting piece).

wonderland-mobileBalance
Think about getting families together as adding to a hanging mobile.  Each person is a piece. Balance gives a desirable harmony. Begin by imaging how all these pieces for your family are arranged and hanging together.  Rarely is a family hanging in perfect balance at any one moment.  For example, one child may be too heavy with a personal problem that throws everyone else out of their comfortable place.  Maybe your family now has a nice balance that you don’t want to spoil.

Balance Rule #1 – Light pieces are easy to balance
Adding one small piece is pretty easy.  It doesn’t need to throw the family mobile into a crazy arrangement.  Start light with dating, like not meeting the children until you’ve dated a while and not trying to jump into a parental role too soon, if ever.

Balance Rule #2 – Each added piece changes the balance
When a new piece is introduced, don’t act like it’s not happening. As the parent your job is to observe the consequences of the new piece and deal with them in an appropriate manner.  Maybe introducing a new partner means spending more, not less, time with your kids.  It’s your balancing work that needs to be done.

Balance Rule #3 – Adding a group of pieces is a serious balance challenge
The two of you must have your act together before attempting the challenge of combining your family mobiles. A wire and metal mobile maker can work on a table then pick it up and try the balance.  You don’t have that luxury.  You have to hang new pieces while your family mobile is swinging in space.  You need serious planning and great execution.  Even with those things, expect some crazy swings and collisions at first.  Adjust and compensate with all your focus, and you will achieve a workable balance.

Balance Rule # 4 – Keep your mobile out of the wind
Wind on mobiles can be destructive.  With family mobiles that wind is fear.  It will happen. Anticipate it, and deal with it with love and intelligence.  You are going to be afraid, and your children will too. Like fear of the dark, fear of the unknown is rarely necessary because of real dangers.  Ask yourself and your children about the real concerns with changing the family dynamics.  Honor the fear, don’t discount it.  Remember, it is often easier to move the mobile out of the wind than to untangle the mobile after the wind messes it up.

A link to Wonderland Studio on Etsy who offer the mobile above. No connection to us – we just think they make nice mobiles.

Wanna get lucky?

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”   Seneca

get lucky

When we want something we tend to want it as soon as possible.  Maybe we want to skip the preparation and move right on to the opportunity. When you start dating, preparation is very helpful.

Sometimes the best place to start with preparation is simply to clarify the goal. Ask yourself one simple question and take the time to think about it.

What do I want?

Knowing what you want gives you the benefits of having a goal. With a goal you can devise a strategy for accomplishing it. With a goal you can know when you are off track.  With a goal you will know when you have succeeded.

Be forewarned by Yogi Berra – “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

We suggest that the key to answering that question is to start with answering:

What type of relationship am I looking for?  (casual, great friends, partner, spouse, etc)

If you can write a clear paragraph (or at least a good sentence) about the relationship that you believe will work for you at this point in your life and possibly beyond, you are well on your way to getting lucky.

Good luck!

“There are two types of people in this world – those who believe you can divide people into two types and those who don’t.”    Dave the astrophysicist and camera repairman

Let’s say you could divide the reasons for dating into two types, just for fun dating and serious goal dating.

datemature1. Dating for the pleasure of dating
You do fun things and meet interesting people.  You get companionship without commitment. It gets you out of the house.

2. Dating to find a more permanent relationship
You may be dating as means to accomplishing something else, like finding someone to settle down with.  This type of dating makes the date itself secondary to the desired future relationship.

What if you go on a date for the second reason and you realize it isn’t going to work on that level with the person?  Why not shift gears into the first type and just have some fun!  Everyone can enjoy some casual companionship.  You may end up making a good friend.  It’s also a great way to learn how to relate better to someone new and different. That’s a skill everyone can refine and benefit from.  Practice makes perfect.  Have fun!

DatingIt probably goes without saying that if you are just dating for fun, and you meet your dream-come-true soul-mate, you might be inclined to let ideas of a long term relationship drift into your consciousness.

There are benefits to being open minded. We encourage you to find pleasure and fulfillment in dating regardless of your goals.

“There are two kinds of people in this world : those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better.”   Tom Robbins

Maybe you can’t really divide dates into two types?

Enjoy!