Friday, May 10, 2013

Blanket Forts and Lasting Relationships

I recently came across this article. It talks about how many young single adults are participating in dating activities which encourage them to act like children. Things like building blanket forts and going on scavenger hunts for group dates. The author points out that this culture may encourage prolonged adolescence and make the transition to married life difficult.

I beg to differ.

This fort represents the joy and happiness our family experiences as we play together. Like the fort, the play time is only temporary buy helps us enjoy time together as we build meaningful lasting relationships.

The Truth About Childish Dates


He brings out some good points. I think that the YSA culture does tend to make it easy to never grow up. But that is the nature of the single lifestyle in general. The problem isn't with those that are going on dates, even big group dates. The problem lies with those young adults that are unwilling to accept responsibility and move forward with life.

I am far more concerned about the men and women that are spending their friday nights at home in front of the TV or playing video games. I worry more about those that are enjoying their freedom so much that they travel so often that they never have the chance to see the same people consistently enough to build a relationship. Even those who take the time to go on dates but do nothing more than watch a movie or make out don't understand the purpose of dating.

If a guy (or girl) has taken the time to plan out a date and create a fun environment, he is doing what he is supposed to. They are taking responsibility for the evening. You know what else? A blanket fort or scavenger hunt or any number of activities that are typical of youth or children demonstrate that the person planning knows how to have fun and plan. It is easier to have conversation and get to know one another in a blanket fort than in a restaurant full of people, a lot more frugal too.

I married my husband because I had fun being with him. We would often go and play at the park or swing on swings, and we still do. When I was 7 months pregnant we made a purchase that involved a sizable box with a lot of cardboard. We made our living room into a fort (with the help of some visiting siblings). Does this mean that we were unprepared to grow up and be parents? Or does it mean that we recognized that it would be a waste to just throw so much big cardboard away when it was perfect fort material?

A Word About Group Dates


Group dates are excellent when a person is young and not really seeking for marriage. They are also great for first dates, blind dates or an opportunity to spend time with other friends. Depending on the size of the group and the nature of the date, they may or may not be a good way to get to know other people.

I met my husband at a group gathering. We were in a class sitting a few rows apart. Without interacting face to face, we were still able to observe characteristics that we found desirable. Over time we got to know each other and became good friends.

When it appeared that there was potential for more than friendship, my husband, being the gentleman he is, asked me out on a date. There wasn't any fluff of a group date, we wanted to spend time with each other in a one on one setting to see if we were compatible. One date led to another and at that point in our relationship, we enjoyed the time we were able to spend alone together. We wanted to talk about things on a deeper and more personal level than would be appropriate in a large group.

Group settings are still a valuable part of life. While dating, we enjoyed spending lots of time together, but we didn't shirk our other duties and responsiblities. We would join each other when possible, and still maintained our other friendships and relationships.

Transitioning To Married Life


I agree that the transition from single life and lifestyle to married life is a big transition. And the couple should be prepared and know what they are getting into. They need to accept that it will be a big change and be mature enough to handle it.

When you get married, all your friends disappear!

That may be a slight exaggeration, but it sure feels that way sometimes. If you really like your spouse, it isn't a huge deal and you just enjoy time together, but it can feel lonely sometimes. I think there are a few reasons for this.

  1. Living circumstances have changed. The groups are families instead of roommates. The cliques are families instead of interest groups.
  2.  The goal is to strengthen families instead of to find someone to start a family with. This changes the motivation for socialization.
  3. If you want to make friends, you have to find friends and plan activities rather than waiting for a munch and mingle.
  4. Newlyweds are the newbies in the area, so they go from being in a social group that is constantly changing (and thus new friendships are constantly forming) to a social circle that includes busy families that have been friends and neighbors for many years and may be resistant to change.
Newlyweds leave behind a state of constant change and uncertainty for a completly different sort of change and uncertainty. It isn't as fun and free as being single. But that is all the more reason to live it up and have lots of fun while being single! There will come a point when "fun" isn't enough and a person will yearn for something more substantial. It is better for them to have fun and get all the play out of their system and be mentally ready for the transition.

Oh, and knowing that fun child-like dates don't necessarily correspond to immaturity or lack of responsibility and commitment, these planners can be the ones to plan fun get togethers with friends instead of feeling like there is nothing "fun" to do. I went to a murder mystery dinner planned by one such friend, and it was awesome!


Doing Children's Activities Prepares Us For Parenting!

When we found out we were pregnant, I wasn't concerned about my husband's ability to be a good father. I knew he knew how to be responsible and would be committed to doing what was best for our family, but I also knew he liked to play! The day we got engaged, we were playing in the children's garden at Thanksgiving Point and doing all sorts of silly stuff. Did my silliness deter him? Did he cancel his plans for proposing, steer clear of the hidden ring and take me home? No, he joined in and played with me.

Now we have a little boy, and while parenting comes with responsibility, it also involves a lot of play. I'm glad we didn't stop being ourselves while we were dating. We have been able to have joy in the journey through friendship, courting, marriage, and parenthood as we recognize that there is a time and place for seriousness and responsibility, but there is also a time for play.

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