The Ten Commandments of Dating- A Review
The 10 Commandments of Dating By Ben Young & Dr. Samuel Adams
The first thing that strikes me is the photograph on the cover of the book. It is a photograph of a young man and woman, the woman wearing a “tank” top, and the two seeming to “hang” on one another. I realize that authors do not always have a choice of what goes on the cover of their books, but I feel they could have maybe pushed for a more discrete cover. The cover appears to want to appeal to teens eager to find that “special one”.
The authors admit that people may be tired of the whole dating scene, and also admit that reform is needed in today’s world. The author, Ben Young, admits that the “pain, struggle, and loneliness” was well worth the years it took to eventually find his wife. I wonder if he feels that all singles must undergo a time of pain and struggle to find their one and only. He also states “if you kept these laws – we call them commandments – you would be blessed, and if you broke them you would be cursed.” CURSED? Strong language, and a word which, for me personally, causes doubt to rise to the surface. I am confused as to whether his statement is that if I don’t follow what he feels is best then I shall be cursed. Hmm…food for thought.
The vision of the book is preventing the reader from the pitfalls of modern dating and to increase the “odds of successful dating.” I had thought I gave up all the games people play, but evidently, this book supposes that we all should still be in “game mode”.
The authors wish to strike down 2 attitudes about dating before they begin. The first is Moral Relativism that states there are really no absolute truths. The authors state there IS absolute truth, and they do state that the Bible is the foundation of that truth. The second is the Mystery of Relationships, which alludes to the idea that people just give up and “hope for the best”. I don’t think this is a slam against courtship, however. I believe there are just folks out there who just don’t care either way.
Finally, the author DOES admit “dating is risky business – but doing it right is well worth the risk.” I disagree with this statement, personally. Once you have gone through this “risk” and “gambled” enough times, you realize that the “risk” is sometimes not worth undertaking to gain a “prize”.
Commandment One Thou Shalt Get a Life
I was pretty much in agreement with this chapter. The authors state that you should not wrap your whole life around one person. Nor should you invest all your time, energy, and money in trying to obtain a date or a relationship. You should not allow a relationship to become an obsession. The authors state that those people who do not follow this advice have an “un-life”.
A person with a un-life is one who has put their own life on hold. Symptomatic of the un-life is the 4 “Deadly Ds”: Desperation, Dependence, Depression and Loneliness, and Detachment.
Desperation – people develop a desperation about finding a relationship. These people usually reach peaks of desperation around certain milestones in their lives – graduation, certain birthdays, when divorce papers are signed, etc.
Dependence – “A dependent person gains a sense of significance and security through others.” These people have difficulty making decisions and/or taking responsibility for their lives. They have a tendency to suck the lifeblood out of other people.
Depression and Loneliness – because a single can get depressed about their state, they may buy into society’s ideal that someone else will make them happy. Depression can lead to “unhappiness, gloom, lack of energy, and withdrawal from others.” This condition can become so severe that it requires medical treatment and/or counseling to get one back on course.
Detachment – someone who has separated themselves social relationships, friends, church. They are isolated, withdrawn, and lonely. The authors describe people who watch Jerry Springer as being in this category.
“Un-lifers” use media technology to combat their problem. According to the authors, “un-lifers” “rely upon the television, radio, video, or Internet for fulfillment.” The authors call these people “Media-bators”. They claim these “Media-bators spend all their time in front of a screen, at Blockbuster, in a chat room (watch out Meeky!), or at the local CD exchange.” For one having a radio ministry, it seems as though the authors come down pretty hard on those who simply enjoy technology. The attitude I picked up in the book was that if I engaged in any of these activities I was an “un-lifer” and a bad person with whom nobody would want to spend time with!
What is the solution to being an “un-lifer”? The solution to the 4 “Deadly Ds” are the 5 “Gs”: “grounded, grouped, goal-oriented, giving, and growing.” Actually, this is not bad advice. Let’s take a look at these.
Grounded – People who are grounded have a “solid identity and sense of self”. They recognize their worth and value and feel self-confident and secure. The authors state that they are “complete and whole within themselves”. I noticed the authors did not mention anything about G-d helping us along with out completeness and wholeness (but, then, in the introduction they DID state that this book could be used by people of all faiths or no faith – a “Christian” perspective?). The authors DO state, however, that we are to embrace the fact that we are created in the image of G-d and that we “have inherent worth and value”. In other words, we already have self-worth, it’s just realizing that we have it.
Grouped – “Getting grouped is all about developing replenishing relationships.” The authors are trying to state that people are made to be part of a community, and we need to be “involved in some sort of group”. People need to get connected at a deep level. Basically the group can be an accountability group, Bible study, or sports team. Something you care about and want to get involved with.
Goal-Oriented – One should be very specific about goals. The authors draw a distinction between high salaries and people having concrete goals. The authors state that one should figure out what they want in life, develop a plan, and start working on it.
Giving – People need to get outside of themselves and do for others. They stress that people should not “seek to please yourself”. The authors suggest that one should “start giving to others around you”.
Growing – People should always be growing in some way. “Growing requires the willingness to learn, improve, explore, discover, and reach out to ‘boldly go where you haven’t gone before’.” Some suggestions would be to learn a new language or sport, go back to school, and take lessons in something.
Consequences of Breaking This Commandment “You will be bored, depressed, lonely, self-centered, worried, and hopeless.” So I guess all us techno-geeks are one or all of the above? And also: “If you choose not to obey, then just expect to continue repelling the opposite sex and being unhappy.” Hmmm…didn’t know that attracting the opposite sex was a condition of happiness. And here I thought all along that the L-RD was my happiness! Gee, maybe I need to get my priorities straight so that I can get myself married! (Sorry, folks, this IS a sarcastic remark, I know, but it was what I was thinking)
Benefits of Keeping This Commandment “When you have a life of your own, you are attractive to others.” When following their guidelines and building up their characteristics you will “inevitably draw others to [you] like a magnet”. One will also have a greater capacity for intimacy, and a better way to handle the challenges that come with a relationship. The added bonus is that one will not “put undue pressure and unreasonable expectations” on a partner to fulfill needs, emotional and sense of completeness.
Commandment Two – Thou Shalt Use Your Brain
This chapter deals with the differences between “romantic love” and “real love” and being able to distinguish between to the two of them. The authors also stress the importance of using one’s head in matters of the heart.
“Romantic love” has more to do with passion, or the physical nature of love. Personally, I am bothered by the widespread use of “romance” to describe this aspect of love. It makes the idea of a “romantic” evening a bad thing. Most women consider a “romantic” evening might consist of a gentleman bringing her flowers and having a candlelight dinner. It’s all a matter of feeling special – and nothing physical need enter the picture. I feel it is important to distinguish between “romance” and “passion”, as the two can be very different things.
The authors bring up the point of the Greek versions of love, however they do not consider phileo, which I personally consider to be the MOST important in beginning a relationship (for those who don’t know, phileo is a friendship or brotherly love). The authors state that eros is romantic love, and agape is a real or mature love. I would agree to this point if it were clear that “romantic love” is physical love, which the authors do point out. The authors do a fine job of explaining agape love: solid, enduring, seeking the good of another whatever the cost.
The authors make a good point, over and over, that couples cannot use eros to determine the maturity of a relationship, because eros involves the emotions and one cannot determine a relationship solely on emotional impact.
The authors state there are 3 drives of romantic love: emotions, hormones, and spiritual leadings.
Emotion-Driven Dating: a couple allows their emotions to take over completely. They become involved much too quickly, commit much too quickly, and pay the consequences.
Hormone-Driven Dating: people experience a strong physical desire for another person, and base a relationship, possibly marriage, on that one single aspect. This is doomed to failure, because the physical aspects of a relationship are not enough to keep it alive.
Spirit-Driven Dating: people are listening for “voices on high”, so to speak. This involves cases where a guy might say to a girl that G-d has told him that she is to be his wife. What the authors are really cautioning against here, and I’m not sure if a non-Christian would understand this, is when one person feels lead by the Spirit and manipulates the other person into going along with it. The authors are trying to stress that each person much come to the same spiritual leading. I don’t know if they did the best possible job with this one. I think some may be confused, thinking they must rely solely on what they THINK, and not allow G-d in at all. Confusing.
The authors define 5 steps which people can use to help think with their brains:
1. “Balance the Head and the Heart”: a person must drive them to consciously think about pros and cons of a relationship, and decide what is the best thing to do. I feel if one is caught up in a relationship already, this would be very difficult to accomplish, because one gets all the “warm fuzzies” and they are hard to dispel.
2. “Refrain from Physical Intimacy”: Refrain??? What is that??? The authors state it is best to start out slowly here. They recommend that one doesn’t hold hands, kiss, or hug on the first date. They also state it is a bad idea for the second, third, or fourth (no mention about the fifth!). The authors do recognize that once a person allows a certain amount of physical intimacy into a friendship, the friendship takes on a whole new dimension. I have to give them something for that!
3. “Analyze Your Past Relationships”: the authors advise that one look at their past relationships, and try to determine where things have gone wrong, and what a person may do to “fix” the situation in the future. The authors also suggest that people do this for their friendships as well. This is something any self-help book dictates. Most people with severe relationship problems are just unable to either see the mistakes they have made, or are to the point where they feel unable to change.
4. “Include Others in the Process”: the authors state that you should have friends, mentors, or family members around you to help see things that may be missed. “In fact, we suggest that you appoint at least two people to be on the ‘lookout’ while you’re involved in a serious relationship.”
5. “Never Neglect Opportunities to Evaluate”: the authors suggest that one pay heed to the advice of friends, mentors, and family members. And also, the authors, advise that one continually look for ways to evaluate the person they are involved with, and give a few questions to ask. Sometimes this is just very difficult to do when, again, one is already investing some emotional time into a relationship – everything seems rosy.
The authors state that if one lets their feelings “rule”, that person will experience pain. If one uses their brain, that person will continue to a mature, long-lasting relationship.
Commandment Three – Thou Shalt Be Equally Yoked
The authors seem to states that the equally yoked idea has more to do with the couple having similarities in the relationship. They state that relationships that are doomed from the beginning are “Unequally Yoked Relationships”. The authors DO state: “In the Bible, there is a passage that exhorts Christians not to be yoked with non-Christians.” The authors interpret this to mean two people going in opposite directions. I feel this is somewhat misleading, especially to some young people or new Christians. These people may state that the person they are “in love” with isn’t a Christian, yet they hold the same ideals, and are therefore going in the same direction as they. I think the Bible is explicit that we are not to enjoin ourselves in marriage to others who are not Christians, period.
The authors point out 5 “Unequally Yoked Relationships”:
1. “The Missionary Relationship”: the authors state that some young women (the authors seem to speak only to young women – where is the responsibility of the guys!) think there are no Christian men available, so they must go “into the world” to look for a relationship, hoping they will be able to “convert” whoever they find. The authors also state that some young women, who are already involved with non-Christian men, and these women stay because they believe they will bring the men to faith. The authors state that women are more vulnerable to these types of relationships because men will say whatever is needed to “get the girl”. Nothing is stated about Christian men falling into this trap because they may see a girl (non-Christian) who is stunningly beautiful and they will try to “bring her to faith”. (I have personally known one man, in his 40s, who has tried to do this) The authors condemn this type of relationship, not because it is un-G-dly, but because it is starting a relationship with a hidden agenda. Excuse me??
2. “The Mother Teresa Relationship”: this is also known as a co-dependent relationship. The person (here the authors also use a female!) tries to “fix” the other person. These relationships are harmful and deadly – I know, I was involved in one for 7 years! The authors state that people are to be equal partners in a relationship. If one is trying to “heal” the other, there is no equality. It is just a give-give relationship.
3. “The Exotic Relationship”: the example here is that someone (again a female!) will be drawn to someone with an extremely different cultural background, simply because it is more thrilling. The relationship has no other merit other than it is a form of “daydreaming” – there are many stereotypes involved here, most specifically, the “Latin lover” idea. People (women to the authors) get so wrapped up in the idea of dating someone like this, they lose sight that there is nothing else the two of them have in common.
4. “The Sugar Daddy Relationship”: here the authors cite a significant age difference in the two people involved. They believe that people are trying to compensate for emotional needs unfulfilled by parents, and they are looking to someone older to fill those needs. I firmly believe that someone with these types of needs are not going to realize it based on this book – many need help in the form of counseling to realize this about themselves.
5. “The Dennis Rodman Relationship”: the authors here point out the dangers of getting involved with someone who family members or friends state is a bad influence. This is also referred to rebellious dating, as I have heard of it. People who get involved with this type of relationship (again it is girls) are angry/frustrated with the expectations by family, and are seeking to rebel. I think some have to realize that, in some cases, girls and boys may be attracted to people their families would not approve of, but this usually fades if people don’t make too big of an issue out of it. I dated a man once my parents vehemently opposed. I continued dating him because it was thrilling to rebel. When my parents starting showing they just didn’t care, I quickly lost interest in the guy and we broke up (it was a good thing my parents took on the attitude of not caring, because I was 6 months from walking down the aisle with this guy!)
The authors state that “Equally Yoked Relationships” have 3 levels:
1. “The Spiritual Connection”: the authors state that people should have the same things in common on a spiritual/ religion level – this could apply to Christians, Buddhists, whoever. The authors do state that Christians should date only Christians, and there should be no exceptions. The authors state one can recognize a Christian by the following: “Personal Testimony” and “Changed Lifestyle”.
2. “The Physical Connection”: the authors state that “[B]eing sexually attracted to your partner is a prerequisite for a healthy relationship.” One must have “that spark”, or “chemistry”, if you will. While I do agree that physical attraction is an important issue, I don’t think this relates to an “Equally Yoked” situation. It has been proven by sociologists that people will automatically gravitate towards people who on the same attractiveness “scale” that they are on. Truthfully, how many truly happy relationships have you seen where two people are SO different in the looks department? Not many.
3. “The Social Connection”: all of us are raised in a certain type of family environment – we have different ways to celebrate holidays, rules within the family, finances, raising children, in-laws, etc. The authors believe that one must be equally yoked in this area as well. Again, I feel that most people will sort this out by themselves in most situations, unless they are involved with a rebellious dating situation.
The authors state: “What does it mean to be equally yoked? Well, similarities between people make life together much simpler.” The authors state in the beginning of the book that they wish to break away from political correctness, but I feel this statement feeds right into that. This is not a Biblically based use of the term, and I feel that it is misleading for younger people (I’m talking here of maturity level, not age) who may be more gullible
Commandment Four – Thou Shalt Take It Slow
The authors state that people need to take time in a relationship to truly get to know the other person. People should not rush into a marriage commitment too suddenly. The authors state 3 reasons why people should slow down:
1.“You do not get to know a person in a short period of time.”
2. “You need time to bond.”
3. “You protect yourself from getting attached too quickly.”
The authors state: “Another study reveals that the longer the courtship and engagement period, the longer the marriage.” I don’t think they are referring here to the version of “courtship” discussed on CC, but their words merit some investigation, and I believe there is truth in them. The author, Ben Young, states that he and his wife “courted” for 2 ½ years before marriage, and I think I have a tendency to agree – if not to be actively courting, then at least to be on good friendship terms with the other person. The authors explain more fully the 3 reasons listed above:
1. “You do not get to know a person in a short period of time” – “If you think you can really get to know a person’s true colors in a three-to-six month dating period, then you are either psychic or psycho.” I think there is much truth to this. The authors talk about discerning one’s character, and, for most people, this takes a period of time longer than 3-6 months. Most psychologists agree that when 2 people meet, there is a period of infatuation which may last anywhere between 3-9 months. Making a decision in this period that may affect the rest of one’s life is treading on thin ice.
2. “You need time to go through the necessary stages of bonding” – “Taking it slow allows you to let the glue dry in your relationship.” I personally am coming to the idea that any bonding needs to be done during a courtship situation, and not just in a casual dating relationship. Bonding involves the emotions, and once you are emotionally bonded to someone, and it doesn’t work out, one can suffer a great deal of pain.
3. “You protect yourself from getting attached too quickly” – here the authors seem to focus on the physical aspects of a relationship. “When you seek to take it slow, you hold off any physical affection until you are ready to enter an exclusive dating relationship.” Huh?? Does this mean that emotions have nothing to do with all of this? Does this mean that once 2 people enter into an “exclusive dating relationship” they can then involve some degree of physical intimacy? Dating is really very little or no commitment here, folks. Involving physical intimacy at this level involves a lot of risk, which the authors speak of later, and, to some degree, contradict themselves!
The authors state there are 7 strategies that one should use:
“Make the Two-Year Commitment” – simply stated a couple, after determining that the person may be “the One”, should allow 2 years from their 1st date to the marriage date. I agree with this. Yes, time may involve situations that can be trying for a couple, but a couple needs to know how to handle conflicts along the way for a marriage to survive. Giving oneself and their partner 2 years is a long enough time to evaluate them (the infatuation stage wears off) and truly develop a friendship with the other person.
“Make Your First Date Short and Casual” – I would have thought this to be basic, but I do know of couple who state their first date lasted all weekend. I think that is telling in itself. The author’s reasons for this is to, a. take it slowly, and to b. become more attractive to the other person because you will not become overly dependent on that other person. Hmmm…just don’t know if I agree.
“Don’t Volunteer To Much Information” – The authors caution about revealing too much about yourself at first. There will come a time to get into matters of more significance later. In the beginning, keep it light, casual, a way to see if you can be friends first.
“Delay Physical Affection” – Per the authors: “Holding hands, hugging, kissing should be symbols of a secure relationship, not a means of gaining a secure relationship.” The authors do recognize that once a relationship has physical aspects it changes everything and makes ending the relationship more difficult. My question would be, why do the authors advocate involving physical incidents if they know the relationship may not be lasting and cause difficulty and pain? The author, Ben Young, is very telling in his opinion in that he and his wife refrained from kissing until the had been dating for 3 months – he states that there had been sufficient time to build a foundation that could handle that level of physical intimacy. I would caution that people are on different levels, and what worked for Ben Young could be disastrous in another person’s experience. I believe it best to err on the side of caution.
The authors caution women that men are looking for a CAR – Challenge, Attractiveness, and someone they can Respect. Funny, how the authors do not consider stating what it is that women are looking for! Again, do men not have any responsibilities in the dating arena? I began to think at this time, that these two men were basically reinforcing the idea that women are the “gatekeepers”, and therefore it is more important that they be told how to protect their virtue then holding men equally responsible.
“Stay Connected with Your Friends” – a good point here is that some people, mostly women, lose contact with their friends when involved with someone, and this is bad. The authors state that one needs their friends to give them advice and feedback during the dating process, and (and this is telling) they will need their friends “if and when you get dumped.” Matter of fact, ya gotta go through it, folks. I just don’t like that rationalization.
“Do Not Pray Together” – I thought this was rather strange, but the authors are suggesting that prayer is very intimate. Yes, it can be, I agree, but if we were cautioned not to pray in mixed circles, most churches would have to section off the women and men in separate quarters. The authors belief is that, while you are in the act of praying together, you may become so “amazed” by this person (because you are involving your sexual drive with your spiritual drive) that you will begin to see this person as “the One”. I could understand how someone who is very immature might see this, but most mature Christians that I know of would not be bothered by this.
“Don’t Mention the ‘M’ Word” – this I wholeheartedly agree with. The authors state that unless the relationship has had a chance to mature, neither person should mention the word “marriage”. I know this hurt the past relationship I was involved in. Michael was terrified by commitment, yet he kept involving the word “marriage” (telling me his ideals for it, telling me his fears of it, telling his sister, and then telling me, that he felt he would be “ready” to propose in few months). To be frank, I felt 3 things – 1. He really was going in that direction, and 2. I began to believe him, and 3. I was a little frightened by the whole thing, because he was assuming my feelings and hadn’t truly asked/considered where I was coming from. The authors also state to ignore the wishes and desires of others. Again, I couldn’t agree more, and this was something else that caused death to this relationship – meddling friends. People who tell you that you make a “cute couple”, “when are we going to hear those wedding bells”, and “you should make that commitment to marriage after 6 months of dating and be married within a year”, are all people who can damage a relationship before it has a chance to get off the ground. It is hard to ignore these people, and I wish the authors had provided ways in which to cut these people off at the beginning.
Commandment Five – Thou Shalt Set Clear Boundaries
This was a very important chapter, I felt. The authors are stating that people need to set up relational boundaries and that the common denominator in is responsibility – of both people.
“Boundaries define who you are, and they reinforce the idea that you are separate and distinct from others.” They describe what you “think and feel”, “willing to do”, “accept and won’t accept”, “where you begin and others begin”. The authors state that “[B]oundaries are about drawing lines. There are 4 categories for setting boundaries:
1. “Your body belongs to you” – IMPORTANT! “Physical boundaries include the ability to say no when your partner wants to go beyond what you believe in appropriate.” It is important to know one’s limits and stick to them. I like the way the authors put this – “God has given you a body, and whether you like your body or not is irrelevant to the issue of being a good steward of it.” I think that is beautiful.
2. “Your emotions belong to you” – There are two points the authors make here which I feel are worth quoting – “The ability and willingness to identify and express what you are truly feeling is probably the single most important factor in promoting intimacy within your relationship.” And – “If you discover that your feelings are somehow dictated by your partner’s actions or emotions, then you are too emotionally connected to your partner.”
3. “Your thoughts belong to you” – The authors are stating two ideas here. One is the concept that if you think negatively about yourself – “no one will every go out with me” – it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Also, this is the first time scripture is quoted – “As he thinks in his heart, so he is” (Prov 23:7). The other idea is that one shouldn’t expect others to read their minds. One should be willing to express how their thoughts.
4. “Your actions belong to you” – The authors state it is not the responsibility of anyone to try to fix someone else or to try to change them. If the person is not what is suitable to you, move on.
The next area the authors get into is the boundaries to be used after a breakup, and this is where I think they go a little off base, personally. To the authors, breakups appear to be a normal and usual flow of things. Something one is to consider as being just a part of everyday life. I don’t think this should be so. That would be like saying G-d wants us to suffer, and I don’t think He does. I think He grieves whenever two people try to begin a relationship and break it off and one or the other or both are hurt. The authors do not bring this up, and I feel they are telling young people that breaking up is normal, continual giving away of your heart, having it broken, and getting on with life is a normal occurrence, so get over it. Here is what they say:
“Unless the breakup is one of those scorched earth wars, one side or the other often eventually feels the temptation to seek closeness with the ex.” (I agree – every man I ever broke off a relationship with always wanted to get back together, and this provides for a very uncomfortable situation) “It is critical that you set up boundaries after the breakup for the good of both people.” “This is the Band-Aid rip method at work.” “…you can rip the thing (Band-Aid) right off in one fell swoop, quickly, and with only one grimace. The pain is still there, intensely, but it’’ gone in a moment, and you’re soon back to normal. It’s the same in a breakup. You can have a climactic, decisive breakup talk, hurt like crazy, and move on.” WHAT!?!?!?!?!? HELLO!!!!!! Psychologists have proven that if men are not overly involved in a relationship, i.e. casual dating, they are capable of breaking off a relationship, hurting for a short period of time, and then moving on as if nothing happened. (things change for guys if they were more seriously involved with a woman, engaged, or married) With women, however, it is VERY different. We involve ourselves emotionally from the outset, and that “hurt like crazy” can last months in some cases because it truly feels like your heart has been ripped out. Plus, women play those little mind games like, “is he still thinking about me”, “is he seeing someone else yet”, “does he even remember all those special things we did together”. I’m not saying that a woman should make a pest of herself and try to get re-involved with a man, but these are some of the things we think about. If a woman has allowed herself to get emotionally tied to a man, even in the matter of a couple of months, it is NOT an easy thing to “move on”. I personally feel as though the authors are showing a true male bias in this regard. No, guys I’m NOT male bashing here, but women just view relationships differently at different stages.
The authors seem to think that people would have resistance to setting boundaries, but I think most people would agree. Anyway, here are the lies the authors feel surround boundary setting…
1.Boundaries are Walls
2.Boundaries are Selfish
3.Boundaries are Controlling and Manipulative
4.Boundaries are Insensitive and Rude
It is interesting to note that in the case of #4 the authors make this point: “You are responsible to breakup in a caring, compassionate manner, but you are not responsible for your partner’s emotional reactions. And besides, the nature of a breakup is hurt feelings-it is normal to experience loss.” So I guess it is OK to involve some one in a relationship, decide it doesn’t work, and break it off, without a thought as to the other person’s emotional reaction? My question to these guys would be: What about the Christian concept of defrauding another Christian? Yes, I know that I am not responsible as to how someone may react to what I do. But, if I suspect that my actions may lead that person into an area where I am defrauding them, then it DOES become my responsibility.
Commandment Six – Thou Shalt Save Sex For Later
I’m really not going to comment too much on this for a couple of reasons:
1.I know that there are young people on this forum whose parents have given them the OK to visit this review believing it to be a place which promotes Christians values, and I do not wish to disrespect their wishes without consulting them first. And consulting each parent whose child happens to be visiting here is impossible. 2.The issues brought up in this chapter are ones that I feel a parent should be discussing with their teenagers. Teenagers have enough images in the media without having to find out these types of issues from a book or some stranger on the Internet. I would suggest if any young people are truly interested in knowing what this chapter states in its entirety that they consult with their parents and then possibly buy or borrow the book for themselves. I will try to choose some things from this chapter that I deem appropriate for this forum.
The subject matter contained within this chapter is basically more educational. The authors do promote abstinence, and I definitely agree. The authors do state that sexual situations before marriage involve giving away a part of your soul to each person you become involved with, and I think this is a point which courtship principles brings out. The authors also state that when two people become more intimate, there is bonding between them, and that can make separation more difficult. The authors do state that they fully support intimacy AFTER marriage and never before.
There is one statement that the authors make which I would like to quote: “If you are a Christian or hold to a theistic worldview, then you believe in the concept of a moral law and of a moral Lawgiver. Because this moral Lawgiver, God, clearly states that you should wait until you are married to have sex, you have choice to make. You can either obey this command or disobey it.” I don’t feel comfortable with the “hold to a theistic worldview” – what is that! But I believe the authors are trying to state that G-d expects His children to reserve themselves for marriage, period.
The authors state there is power in purity, but then they do not state in exactly what way. They also state that “the most effective was to maintain your wholeness and purity is to set clear boundaries.” Something I believe is worth mentioning as well.
Commandment Seven – Thou Shalt Not Play House
There is a strong conviction among young people, 18-32 years of age, that people must live together before marriage. The authors state that “45% of all women in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 34 have at one time lived with someone.” The authors bring up the popular notion that people who try to bring logic to living together frequently state that by living with some one, a person can discern their true character. The authors state this condition to be the “Test Drive Theory”.
The authors give 4 reasons why people feel the need to live together. They are:
The authors state the reasons above are only shams, that there are actually 4 reasons why people REALLY seek to live together. They are:
1.Fear – the fear cited here is one of divorce, especially of those 30 years of age and under. Somehow these people feel that by living together first they will be able to determine whether they are compatible and be able to move if not. The authors dispute this idea, because people who cohabitate, just as a married couple would, have the same feelings of pain and separation that a divorced couple would experience emotionally. So people who engage in this type of activity are not sparing themselves any additional undue pain.
2.Sex – the authors come down pretty hard on the guys on this one. Maybe there are some kernels of truth, but I get the feeling the authors are pretty much thinking of non-Christian guys here. The premise is that guys will move in on the promise of free sex – that it is the ultimate situation for a man – a physical relationship without commitment. I personally have known men involved in a “live together” situation, and when it broke up, they were just as devastated as females. Men are not callous individuals without feelings – they become involved with their partners, and when a relationship fails, they hurt just as much. Yes, a man may be motivated by a physical relationship at first, but he can become just as attached, and I feel the authors fail to take note of this.
3.Manipulation – the idea here is that women allow themselves in a “live together” situation in hopes of getting to the altar. The idea is that if she good enough at acting the role of wife, she will eventually attain the title. I have to agree, that in my personal experience, most of the women I know of who do this are doing it because they plan on getting married to the guy “one day”. Too sad.
4.Immaturity – the authors bring up the fact that a marriage, commitment, take a tremendous amount of sacrifice and work. People who are living together are not really showing the true maturity needed to sustain that type of behavior. The authors bring up the idea that in a “live together” situation both parties have a vested interest in keeping the relationship on a “feel good” basis EVERY DAY. In a marriage, “feel good” doesn’t happen every day – there are ups and downs, and a couple must know how to deal with these feelings.
The authors give some statistical (yes, Eric, I shuddered) regarding whether or not “living together” really works. Some of what was cited:
1.Fact #1 – “the Houston Chronicle reports that couples who live together have an 80 percent greater chance of getting a divorce than those who don’t.”
2.Fact #2 – “A Washington State researcher discovered that women who cohabitate are twice as likely to experience domestic violence than married women.” Also, “cohabitating women have four times, four times, higher incidence of depression than married women, two times greater than unmarried women.”
3.Fact #3 – “In one survey of over one hundred couples who lived together, 71 percent of the women said they would not live-in again.” This last fact is true – I have done this, once, and I swore even at THAT age (19) that I would NEVER live with a man unless we were married. Too much work, not enough reward – even though we were engaged and I broke off the engagement 6 months before the wedding!
The authors state that even the idea of the possibility of living together can be damaging to a relationship. If one or the other states they wish to do this, it sends a double message to the other: 1. The person loves them, and wants to know them in a more intimate way, and 2. The person is constantly looking for an escape route. This minimizes trust, and destroys a relationship before it has a chance to grow, even if the couple does not live together.
Commandment Eight – Thou Shalt Fight Fairly
This chapter dealt with how to control conflict and the best ways to manage conflict with someone you care about. If you don’t know anything about effective communicating, this chapter is good. If you have already done all the effective communication self-help books and stuff, this was blasé. I’ll leave it up to the individual.
According to the authors, there are four harmful responses to conflict. They are…
1. Peace at All Costs (Avoidance) – the situation where one partner absents themselves from conflict, either from withdrawing, silence, or leaving the scene. While these individuals may “keep the peace”, they suffer from stuffing unresolved issues deeper and deeper. As this used to be my communication style, I can speak from experience and state that once these issues have been deep enough and over a long enough period, you have a tendency to “erupt”, usually bringing all the “dirt” over a period of months (years?), which the other person has no way of defending themselves against. Communicating this way is unhealthy for both parties!
2.Win/Lose (Defensiveness) – the authors state these people view an argument as something which is either won or lost, and they intend to win. When people take this attitude, they have a tendency to concentrate on how they feel, or what they will say next. They tune out the person entirely – their feelings and what they are saying. It’s not a team effort.
3.You Don’t Count (Invalidation) – the authors state these people simply dismiss others who don’t agree with them. They call others “stupid”, or state that they are “overreacting”. Some will even state that the other person really doesn’t feel the way they do.
4.All-Out War (Intensification) – the authors state that these people usually think that whoever can “outyell” the other wins. Sometimes abuse, such as insults, criticism, name-calling, and even physical violence, is involved.
The authors do give advice on how to fight fairly, however. Those 5 things are:
1.Dial Down – the authors are basically stating that one should never just “mouth off” without thinking. If a person is too “hot”, they may need to take a few minutes to calm down before approaching the situation in a more calm, collected manner. Again, the guys get picked on here. Yes, some men do have a volatile temper, and men are usually bigger and stronger than females, so there could be a threat of physical violence. But I have heard women going off without calming down, and it can be just as frightening as it is with men. I don’t believe the authors should have made a distinction here.
2.Set the Tone – this comes into play when a person is about to present an issue to the other person, and there is the idea that a disagreement will result. The person presenting the problem needs to mind the tone of their voice, to keep it calm, soothing, non-accusatory.
3.Shut Up and Listen – most people want to be the first ones, and sometimes the only ones, heard – especially in an argument. The authors are stating that people should be careful to make sure they understand the other person’s point of view, make sure they are hearing and understanding them correctly, before proceeding. Sometimes this communication style states that one is to repeat what the other is saying so they can understand that they are both on the same page.
4.Use “I” Statements – the authors caution that people should never state in an argument “YOU make me feel”, or “YOU did such and such”. Rather, a person should state “I feel _____ when you”, or “I felt _____ when you did”. It puts the emphasis off the other person, and hones in on your feelings. It will usually cause the other person not to feel defensive.
5.Negotiate and Compromise – one should have guidelines prepared for dealing with situations. This seems difficult, yet the authors do provide a guide for doing this, and the steps include: “Identify the problem, list possible solutions, commit to try one or a combinations of possible solutions, and reevaluate your choice at a later time.”
Of course with a psychologist writing this, one can expect to be given good communication advice. If you already were aware of these techniques, you would be familiar with how they work. If you have never seen these, then they are good to learn and incorporate into your life.
Commandment Nine – Thou Shalt Not Ignore Warning Signs
Uh-oh, the authors are making comparisons to the movie “Titanic” here – watch out! Seriously, this chapter does have some merit and is worth reading. I believe that if one has his/her parents involved in the screening part of a potential mate, a lot of these warning signs will be resolved before the two can get to know each other beyond friends – at least in a courtship situation.
The authors point out 7 warning signs, which they state are “major warning signs”. These are:
1.Abuse – the physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse of another person. This can include hitting, striking, insults, threats, and behavior outside of what the other person feels comfortable with. The authors strongly suggest that if a person is involved with such a relationship, they get out IMMEDIATELY, and stay out. If the abuser gets treatment and displays long-term change, there may be a chance to reconcile, but not before! 2.Addictions – the authors make a good point that individuals involved with a drug or alcohol dependency make that dependency their primary concern. That means anyone involved with such a person is considered the “other person”. The authors compare this situation to one where you would be dating a person who is involved with another person. Personal experience on my part knows that this is TRUE! The authors again suggest, strongly, that if involved with this type of person, one exit relationship IMMEDIATELY! I strongly agree! They and I recommend that you DO NOT try to “fix” the person – yeah!
3.Infidelity – the authors drive home the point that if a person does not show you faithfulness in the dating stage, how can you expect them to show you faithfulness within the boundaries of marriage? The advice? Get out. Also, the authors point out that it is entirely possible for “you” to be attracted and tempted by others in this regard. If that is true, it is important to understand if “you” are ready for a relationship.
4.Irresponsiblity and Immaturity (The Peter Pan) – this is a person, usually a man, who refuses to grow up and accept responsibility. They are usually good at finding women who are more than eager to try to “mother” them and take care of them. Because these people refuse to grow up, they will never be able to fully undertake the commitment to marriage seriously. There are a variety of ways to distinguish this type of person, some are: Lacks goals/direction/purpose for life, poor self-hygiene, procrastinator, difficulty keeping a job, late for important functions, careless spending habits, constantly overdrawn/writes bad checks. Again, the authors state to GET OUT!
5.No Physical/Sexual Attraction – the authors state that there should be some attraction, or chemistry, or spark within a relationship. They do acknowledge that if two people were simply friends first, the attraction may not build until some time has passed. They warn, strongly, against going into a relationship where one or the other feels no attraction, hoping it will develop with time. They state it usually doesn’t, won’t, and it is best to get out, and find some one you ARE attracted to.
6.Emotional Baggage – the authors seem to think that EVERYONE is carrying around a load of emotional baggage. As I see it, if you come from a fairly well-adjusted family background, have never dated, and have not made a lot of harmful emotional ties, you probably DON’T have emotional baggage. Now some one like ME….well, we just won’t go there. The authors here acknowledge that people will have emotional baggage (and this does get worse the older you get), and they are not saying to avoid these people entirely (Whew, at least I’m not TOTALLY out of the picture!), but rather they are more concerned that the person is dealing with, or has dealt with, their baggage in a healthy, constructive way. People who “wallow” in their emotional baggage are not in a position to commit. The authors do give pointers on how to realize if someone is stuck with this: “a reasonably clear awareness and understanding of their issues, knowing how these issues affect the current relationship, and whether the person has dealt with or is actively engages in healing and recovery”.
7.Denial – the authors point out that people sometimes do realize there are problems within a relationship, but for some reason don’t feel as though they can get out. Some of the reasons for this denial are: “It’s familiar to them”, “They don’t deserve anything better”, “It’s better than nothing”, “They have the same problem”, “Fear of Breakup”. The authors do make good points, denial can be very harmful. But, then again, using the guidelines of courtship, I feel a lot of this denial can either be dealt with, or can be alleviated by the couple not continuing based on the opinions and insights of others (parents/accountability partners).
Commandment Ten – Thou Shalt Choose Wisely
The authors are stating that people need to make wise selections when it comes to dating. However, read this quote, “How many men and women across the globe have had their hearts and lives torn apart because they chose poorly in the dating process? Why do more than half of all marriages crater in divorce? Why do so many couples divorce each year before they have a chance to celebrate their second wedding anniversary? It’s partly because men and women are simply choosing poorly! They’re selecting the wrong people to date and then marrying one of them.” I think that, with their own words, the authors are describing what is wrong – dating as it is! I don’t personally think putting a band-aid on it (like this book) is going to help. People get involved in the heat and passion of a dating relationship, and rational thinking goes right out the window. If people could think more rationally about a dating situation, they wouldn’t be making those poor choices.
The authors state that one must discern the true character of a person in order to know if the relationship should continue. The “barriers to discerning true character” are:
1. First-Available Syndrome – “You are desperate for love, and therefore settle for the first available warm body.
2. Fooled by the Externals – “You are looking for the wrong things and are thereby fooled by the superficial qualities.
3. Blinded by Sex – “You are literally incapable of seeing the faults and negative traits in another because of the sexual relationship.”
4. Going Too Fast – “You are in such a big hurry to get married that you miss important road signs along the way.”
The authors claim that “dating is discernment”. And that “discernment is: ‘the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure…a searching that goes beyond the obvious or superficial.” This is the goal of dating, to them. The authors do point out that in dating the object is on presenting oneself in a “good light”. People who are dating want to portray themselves as attractive, interesting, polite, and whatever the other person wants them to be. The authors admit that U.S. dating culture is one that demands people hide their true selves from each other. YET, they state that there are more bizarre practices in other cultures, and one is having “the parents play a primary role in picking out marriage partners, and the game playing is kept to a minimum.” The authors continue on to state: “we aren’t interested in telling you to ‘kiss dating good-bye’ as some have suggested. So, we’re stuck with the tremendous challenge to get beyond the masks and discover the true person underneath.” Wait, wait, WAIT!! They just stated dating is deceptive, a result in hiding from each other, putting on a “face”, yet we are STUCK!?!?!?! Who says?? And why would G-d (oh, yeah, that’s right we should mention “HIM”, shouldn’t we, at least every now and then) put us in positions which causes us to deceive each other, when we are called upon NOT to? We are not “stuck” with anything, unless we choose to be shackled to something. We are creatures of free choice, and we can change how things are done in our lives. I personally think this is very harmful “double-speak” to be giving out to young people.
The authors seek to define character, and I feel they do do a good job here. They define aspects of character as our convictions, principles, and moral integrity. It is who we really are, and how we really act. Character is what we are when one is looking. The authors point out 5 “essential character qualities” needed in a future mate. They are:
1.Faithful – “A faithful person is loyal and can demonstrate an allegiance to others.”
2.Honest – “An honest person is genuine, and free of deception.” This includes words, actions, and personhood. 3.Committed – “The idea here is to find someone who can demonstrate a lifestyle of commitment, not someone who just verbalizes his commitment.”
4.Forgiving – “Forgiveness is simply releasing a person from the debt you perceive they owe you. It is about letting go of the need to punish, resent, or hold grudges when you have been wronged.” 5.Giving – “This quality is not about giving material gifts but, rather, the capacity for selfless behavior. Giving means putting other first.”
I agree. The authors also point out helpful hints for discerning character. They are:
1.”Crisis reveals someone’s true character.”
2.”Character is who you are when no one is looking.”
3.”Friends are a window into a person’s character.”
4.”Look back on prior relationships to determine patterns of behavior.”
5.”Give it lots of time.”
Again, I agree. The authors close this chapter by stating that people should not “compromise in this crucial area.”
Conclusion – Thou Shalt Take Action (The Eleventh Commandment)
The authors end by asking the reader whether they feel they need to take action to change. Their advice is:
1.Take a Look at Yourself – “You must be solid and complete all by yourself. Do you know who you are? Do you feel good about yourself? Do you have a solid sense of worth and value?” And “make it your number-one goal to solidify your identity, and deal with this once and for all.”
2.Take Responsibility for Your Relationship – “If you are the type who constantly finds yourself in unhealthy relationships, it is time to identify the patterns and resolve to change it.”
3.Take Back What You Lost – “Perhaps you have lost your confidence, dignity, or self respect. Well, it’s time to take back what you may have lost. It is up to you to start the process of healing through acknowledgment, confession, and renewal.”
4.Take a Look Around You – “More than likely Mr. or Ms. Right is someone you already know.” The authors state you will not meet the right person at “the bar scene, social clubs, or dating services.”
5.Take Time Out – Basically, the authors state one should step back from a relationship and evaluate it to see if it is fruitful.
I did not feel very spiritually uplifted while reading this book. As a matter of fact, I didn’t feel very spiritual while reading this book. There may be a couple of reasons for this. First, I don’t think I’m the authors anticipated audience – I believe their audience is teenage girls, who are fearful if they follow courtship they may end their social lives as their friends see it. Second, the authors appear to be talking to, most of the time anyway, to girls already involved in a relationship. I am not in a relationship. And, lastly, the authors almost seem to assume their audience is young Christian girls involved with young non-Christian men. While I know this does happen, I think more credit needs to be given to those young ladies who do seek out young Christian men. Also, I personally felt that these authors were a little too hard on the guys. I do understand that a lot of guys will take advantage of girls, but a lot of them don’t. As this book is written, apparently, for young teenage girls, it might leave the impression that ALL men (even Christian men) are looking for cheap physical thrills, to get a girl to do whatever he wants no matter the cost, and that, ultimately, a girl just can’t trust those guys for ANYTHING. Yes, I know men wrote this book, but I couldn’t get over the feeling that they were being somewhat patronizing, and it bugged me. What kept coming to mind was Michelle McKinney Hammond (sorry, can’t help it). She has experienced a lot of pain in relationships with men, probably some very similar to what I have gone through, yet she in no way “bashes” men nor does she judge them all the same. I believe that to be only fair. My advice to any parents out there? Well, I’m 39 years old, never married, no kids. But I would NOT recommend this book, “The 10 Commandments of Dating”, to your child. There are many other wonderful books, which can help build character, provide G-dly wisdom, and principles that will enable your child to become a truly wonderful woman of G-d. This book simply wants to “fit in” with the worldly, secular principle of going through series of partners and “trying them on for size”. Very disappointing to me, personally. I believe that as an older Christian, we have a lot to be proud of in our Christian youth. I do not mind seeing them eventually taking on leadership roles within the church, and have much confidence in them. BUT the age they are going through – teenage years – are TOUGH. They need support and encouragement to help build a different, better path to happiness, not a “quick fix band-aid” to a system which has proven over the past 50 years to be declining in achieving a total good.