The last 48 hours have been a delightful blur. Like when you’re a kid and the cotton candy at the baseball game is larger than your head. Everywhere you look is sugar. It’s sticking to you. You literally ARE sugar.
Yesterday I learned that my book, which published a week ago during the terrible Texas ice storms (AKA Snowvid-21) managed to sell without me trying. It was amazing. And it was a #1 New Release!
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord, thank you Universe, thank you Love.
As a recovering Christian who still loves Jesus but objects to large parts of the fundamentalist Christian culture I was raised in, I have some reflections on Christian dating in the light of what’s going on in my personal life.
Most people know that back in ancient times, the 1980s, many people didn’t cohabit. Nowadays for the most part people do cohabit, even if they are Christians. Not so if they fall on the fundamentalist evangelical spectrum, or if they have something to hide.
This makes dating a bit like a high-stakes game of poker. You put on a poker face with the intent that if you bid all, you win all, and you’re able to feed yourself at the end of the night.
In this poker round, you are both the player and your bid. You view your date as the pot. Likewise, your date sees themselves as the player and the bid and you as the pot. What I’m trying to say is, you’re both greedy, hungry, anticipatory, and there’s more than fun and games going on here from the minute you message someone on OK Cupid. You’re objectifying each other. Is this person a good mother? Will he be a good provider? Is he a spiritual leader? Will we make a good home together? What will they give me?
What I’m trying to get at here is that there is no enjoyment of the other person for who they simply are, and there is no fun in dating.
For many high-anxiety types who come from fundamentalist homes, realizing the first time I just sat back and relaxed – or enjoyed myself – was a big deal. I was out of college and hiking on my neighborhood trail. I wasn’t analyzing anything, trying to grapple with hidden meanings, or attempting to ascertain whether I deserved to be viewing nature in all its glory or not. Nature was her own thing. She was cool all by herself. She didn’t serve me. I wasn’t here to get anything out of her other than to see what was up. And, I wasn’t here to persuade nature of anything. I was just walking down a dirt trail, tripping over tree roots, getting sweaty and dirty, purely myself. It was the first time I had done something like this. And I enjoyed it for what it was.
Likewise, I believe healthy secular dating adopts this model. You message someone on Bumble because they seem interesting and you want to see what’s up. There are no wedding bells going off in your head at your first coffee meet up. All this is is a relaxation into a person. If the relaxation turns sharp and uncomfortable, you tell the person goodbye, and you ease on into the next phase of life, whether it involves another person for a while or not.
I’m not saying secular dating is without its pains and pitfalls, because anything involving human beings is messy. But I do believe it has far less dangers than the traditional Christian dating model.
Christian dating is, at its best, objectifying and idolizing, whereas secular dating is far more down to earth and honest. If you want to get to know someone, it’s best to see them as a human being instead of a potential spouse. More open conversations flow that way because there’s less stress and pressure.
I may be writing this because I’ve been burned, but I’ve had other girlfriends coming from fundamentalist evangelical homes echo my sentiments. At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether you want to walk down an aisle blindfolded or slowly acknowledge someone for who they are.
My husband and I come from two different worlds. He comes from a different stratosphere than I do. I don’t get along with his family, even before I ran away twice. They mistreated me while we were just dating, and I never really understood why until I looked at class differences and ableism.
I can understand not liking me after what happened in January, but the hate I received before my wedding day didn’t make much sense to me. I was threatened with a letter from a church to stay away from my husband because I was “depressed.” Not to mention all the snide remarks about me being a bed warmer and my husband needing a vasectomy.
Unfortunately most of this was communicated to me through my husband, so it was all secondhand information. But it took me to the point where they have to ask permission to come into my house (which I usually do allow because I was raised to be a hospitable southerner) and I will never, ever voluntarily go into their homes.
In rich families, children are investments. Not in a way that children are investments for the future, but in that they can make money for the family. Who they choose to marry has a direct impact on how much cash the child makes for the family and how much of a financial burden they will be.
I was developing fibromyalgia and lupus symptoms while dating my husband. Most likely I was seen as a money pit. My husband told me his family was afraid I would drag him down.
Let me stop right here with this gosh darn ableism. An able bodied person can drag any slooshin person down. Anybody can drag anybody down. I have some friends I cut out of my life who were nightmares. And dragging someone down is cyclical. I most likely will reintroduce those negative friends again once I feel I can. We’ll start out positive and go back down the negative gravy train eventually, then it’ll get too much. But a marriage is commitment. Part of commitment is saying, “I will love you even when I think you suck.”
People fall down and then they come back up again like a dolphin out of water, complete with sex for pleasure and all.
Rich people tend to hide these basic life lessons from their kids by controlling them with gifts that come with invisible strings only made visible when the kid steps out of line. Basically, rich people scare me.
I suffer from an extreme form of fibromyalgia, which gives me constant pain and even worse pain flares, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can turn ordinary life experiences into nightmares. Because of this living my life is a bit like Russian roulette: you play your cards but there’s always a price, no matter how they’re dealt. You’re never sure when you’ll get shot, either.
My husband and I have an extra bedroom, and during pain flares I often find myself retreating there to avoid skin-on-skin contact. Even worse is when my PTSD is acting up, or when my pain and PTSD are going bananas at the same time. The spare room is my hidey-hole. It’s right next to my office, and it makes a sort of blanket fort.
After beginning EMDR, my marriage with my husband has significantly improved. The best thing about EMDR for me is the use of imagination to cope with daily life. That’s me in a nutshell. If I feel scared by a loud noise, I can escape to my private worlds and receive comfort instantaneously.
I’ve been in a pain flare for a month, and have spent most of my time in my figurative blanket fort. One time the pain got so bad I started crying. I wanted a friend. Anyone who could acknowledge what I was going through.
I plodded through the house in tears, calling my husband’s name. I knew he was my friend. He was and is my best friend. It was midnight, and I was afraid he would come out of our bedroom in a huffy attitude. But I was met with buttery, gentle sympathy. He caught me in a warm, tender embrace as I cried, and I knew I wasn’t alone in this battle.
“Do you want to spend the night in bed with me tonight?”
I didn’t hesitate.
“Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”
We went off to bed and I slept hard, for the first time in a month. I woke up in time for breakfast with him. My pain flare wasn’t gone, but it had abated a little. But I was happy to see his face next to me in the morning.
Marriage gives you a guardian angel to watch over you, someone to fight with you and for you, and you likewise, when it’s a good one. I just needed to remember to reach out. My husband had been shelved by my physical and mental turmoil, and I merely had to remember he was my friend to find peace and solace.
Spending the night with my husband is not something that happens every night, and I don’t think that’s a doomsday marker for my marriage. It’s not because we fight. It’s not because we don’t love each other. We are learning how to cope with my physical and mental ailments together, and we will spend the night together every night as I improve and we both learn to communicate. I have hope and gratitude for us. This is why I am thankful for every night I spend with my husband.
Bear and I only cohabited for 2 months before the wedding (although I pushed for longer) so the good ol’ moving in together strangeness is upon us, besides being married is just weird. Here’s just some of the weird things we’ve done as newlyweds.
1.Fighting Over Pizza
As newlyweds, you will fight. Wedded bliss isn’t exactly a thing where you’re fight free, but one of the sillier, harmless fights is whether or not to order pizza, what gets put on it, et cetera.
2.Random Classy Twerking
You two will just twerk on each other. (It’s classy twerking because you’re married and it’s done in the privacy of your own home.) Whether one of you is in an office chair working at home, cooking in the kitchen, or doing your makeup. Twerking of this kind can be dangerous, and neither of you will exercise caution. Just speak up if you are cooking, putting on mascara, or on a conference call.
3. Never Leaving Each Other Alone
Want some spare time to make a phone call? Need to see your friends? Is your spouse looking over your shoulder as you write this?
Yeah, it be like that.
But would you have it any other way?
4. Getting Frisky In the Kitchen… With the Windows Open
You wake up, make coffee. Wait for him to get up so you can have breakfast together, and well… he is excited to see you. Very excited to see you. So you oblige him a little, and eventually you realize your large windows were open.
5. Incorporating Your Dog Into Your Married Unit
Now, I never officially made Bear Pupper Princess’ Doggy Daddy. I know some girls who make their boyfriends their pet’s dad after a year or so, but I wasn’t comfortable with that. What if she got confused? What if there was a custody battle?
I’ve had my dog for 8 years now. Bear keeps introducing Pupper Princess as our dog. It’s been hard to accept that she is, in fact, an “us” doggo instead of just “mine” now.
Being a newlywed couple comes with many emotions. Anger, lust, adventure, fun, awkwardness… and weirdness, as explored by this post. I assume cohabiters can relate to this as well. Hang on for the roller coaster ride! I hear it gets better!