Practicing for Marriage or Giving Up a Dream?

Our local newspaper is running a series of weekly “Senior of the Week” articles, highlighting individual seniors.  (We live in a very rural area, where this is a typical community type expose’.)

"WATCH YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER^^" - NAR...

“WATCH YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER^^” – NARA – 535653 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week’s Senior is a young lady with very impressive credentials.  Honor student, in leadership positions, athletic, and well-liked.  She has already made plans to attend our State University, but not exactly sure what she wants to major in.  At the end of the article, she casually said that she and her boyfriend will be going this summer to find a shared housing situation close to the University.

That sparked a conversation between my husband and myself.  His thinking was that kids are much more mature about relationships and should have the ability to live together after high school.  My thoughts were not quite the same.  My thinking didn’t have anything to do with maturity or morality or religious convictions.  It had to do with the following:

In a relationship, often one partner sacrifices something they want to do because of the  hardship it causes within the relationship (finances, availability, etc).  How many times have we seen, experienced ourselves, or being aware of the fact that one partner takes while the other partner gives?  Isn’t this what relationship is about?  Learning how to give and take?

But what happens when you are 18 or 19 or 20 and you find yourself already giving up on your dreams so as to support your partner in his/her dreams?  My main concern is that by living in a committed relationship upon entering adulthood, that young people thwart their ability to reach out and take the risk that is needed to propel themselves to being able to live a dream, or at least close to that dream, as they can get.

Some committed relationships make it from high school to old age.  But not many.  Most of us humans need to practice in finding just the right partner, and even then it isn’t easy.  I think there is a reason to hold “dating” as a practice that we need to engage safely in.  It is practice.  And it is practice without the emotional baggage that comes with the a committed, living together relationship.  Without the daily living together, individuals within a couple ship can struggle with their own identity and what they want, without feeling the obligation to deny their own needs to make their partner’s life easier, better, etc.

Am I old-fashioned?  Have I missed something?  Are economic times and sexual lifestyles to the point of not allowing for the dreams of what can be?  Are these times telling our children that they would be better off to put their energies into what can feel good now without expecting much for later?  Or are our children taking a close look at individual goals and wanting more from a committed relationship rather than from establishing a life’s goal/career field, which may not be realized?

What do you think?

Be gentle with your children, no matter what their age.

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