I was thrilled to receive some really excellent questions from a reader on this post that I’d like to answer in greater detail.
The original comment was as follows:
If you don’t mind getting personal, I have a question for you: Did your father (or parents) prepare you during your entire childhood for a betrothal? Did you have any ideas or expectations that you should “fall in love” before marriage? Were you permitted to watch movies (like Disney movies or Jane Austen)? If so, did this impact your feelings or beliefs about romantic relationships before marriage and did your parents actively counter this? Obviously you don’t have to answer if you don’t want, or maybe you can do another blog post about it. 🙂
I’m going to break up her question into three parts:
1: Was I prepared throughout my childhood for betrothal?
2: Did I have expectations that I should fall in love before marriage?
3: How did media impact my views of romantic relationships?
Was I Prepared For Betrothal?
The short answer is no. Growing up I held to the belief that my dad would be involved in helping me find a spouse, but that we would go about it in a courtship fashion (more in section 2 below). When I was 19 my father and I worked together in setting up a profile for me on Sovereign Grace Singles, an online “dating” site for Reformed Christians.
In short, after a few failed relationships on that site (and some with guys I actually knew in person) I became very disappointed with the way we were going about the marriage process. As you can read about in more detail here, I finally read “What Are You Doing?” and it changed my entire outlook on the path to marriage, and also confirmed what I’d already been feeling: that courtship wasn’t any more Biblical than dating.
It was then that I went to my dad and asked him to betroth me, “just like in What Are You Doing“.
I will also note that, even though I had told my dad to “just get me a husband”, he asked me if I was really okay with Joshua before he gave me away to him, to which I responded (very excitedly) in the affirmative.
Did I Expect To Fall In Love Before Marriage?
Sure, I knew that in other cultures they sometimes got married before they knew each other, but that’s just not the way we do things in America. Right?
As I mentioned above, I fully expected to go through a courtship. I didn’t know exactly how it would go (since everyone’s courtship is different), but I knew it could involve months of emails, phone calls, letters, going on dates, and the like… and that’s all even before getting engaged.
How Did Media Impact My Views On Romance?
I’m a hopeless romantic, y’all. I read every courtship (and dating) story I could get my hands on, I was always quick to listen in on any conversation that was about a romantic relationship, and I dreamed up plenty of romance stories of my own.
In my childhood my family watched your typical shows, cartoons, and movies, with plenty of Disney thrown in the mix. When I was nine, however, we came under conviction about the theatrical use of the TV, so we threw it out. (Actually, being homeschoolers, we grabbed some tools and took the whole thing apart before taking it to the trash dump where we all stood back while Dad threw an axle onto the remaining pieces, including the glass. It created a most magnificent explosion!)
Looking back, I can see how much those romances (i.e., Disney) nurtured some really head-in-the-clouds ideologies in me. As a kid I was the most easily swayed out of my siblings by what I saw or read. “Monkey see, monkey do” described me to a “T”.
When I was about twelve I recognized this fault in myself and came under the personal conviction not to read out-and-out romance novels (i.e., Jane Austen). Even Elsie Dinsmore caught me up in the romance so much that I got to the point where I knew I ought to cut back and stop reading them.
My parents worked at discouraging me from unrealistic romantic aspirations, but for the most part the Lord just really worked in my heart and gave me convictions about what I ought to be reading, and how those things were affecting my views of romance.
I will add that it’s precisely because of this fault of mine that it was so important to me that my dad be very involved in my marriage (even back before I wanted to go the betrothal route). I knew that, if left to myself, my desire for romance, a husband, and children would blind me when I most needed clear vision, and remove my critical thinking skills at a time when they’d be the most necessary.
Thank you, Terri, for the time and care you took in commenting with these great questions! I hope I answered them in satisfactory detail. Feel free to ask for clarification on anything that wasn’t clear.