Racism [The Morning Offering]
Dispatch From Charleston: The Cost Of White Comfort [NPR]
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Condemns Shooting at Historic Charleston, S.C. Church [GOARCH]
Dating and engagement are interesting periods. It’s so fun to move together from intrigued by each other to twitterpated to loving, at home together, and a good team. But it’s an in-between time, it’s temporary. It’s a time with the unique quality of becoming-close while needing certain distance. And it is really hard to keep our thoughts and actions chaste.
That’s worth repeating: it’s really hard. It’s not just you. We’re not broken or wrong, we’re designed to yearn to be close to someone else. That’s a healthy thing! It leads us closer to one another.
People are wired differently, so we all have different things we yearn for most and different boundaries that work for us. But no matter where we are in life—single, dating, married, widowed, monastic, celibate—we have to strive for chastity. And like all virtues, it is a struggle.
Specifically for the dating/engaged days, here are a few things that help.
*Yes, obviously some choices are pretty objectively better for your spiritual life, but that’s not what’s most important in this conversation. For some, it’s easy to be pretty close without going nuts. For others, holding hands leads to daydreaming leads to the torture of wanting what you can’t have. Ask Your Priest (or matushka) if you need help figuring out what boundaries are healthiest for you right now.
It’s rarely helpful to say “X and Y are always wrong, A and B are always right.” We’re all different, and our needs shift over time. Look at the effect your actions have on your spiritual life and your sanity. If a kiss on the cheek makes you daydream so much you stop saying your prayers, then re-evaluate. If holding hands gets you hot and bothered while you’re fertile, do things differently this week (and mark your calendar for next month). Doing X or Y may work just fine in a week or a couple months, but if it doesn’t work right now, don’t shame yourself. Just set your boundaries so they work for you.
Love, Factually: Gerontologist Finds Formula for Happy Marriage [Cornell Chronicle]
A survey of 700 older and long-married people finds that certain clichés have a solid backing…
7 Marriage Tips to Ignore [APracticalWedding]
…and other clichés can be laid to rest.
Everything You Thought You Knew About L-O-V-E Is Wrong [Time]
Wait, comparing arranged marriages and Tindr? Huh. The more I hear from Aziz Ansari, the more I like.
Forget Falling in Love With the Perfect Guy [Verily]
“We so easily fall into the habit of imagining, planning, and perfecting our lives—especially when it comes to the sort of relationships we’d like to have—that we often let our fantasy cheat us out of the real deal.”
Turn Towards Instead of Away [Gottman Institute]
What it means when your partner makes a bid for your attention. For example,
How do I look? Can I have your attention?
Let’s put the kids to bed. Can I have your help?
I talked to my sister today. Will you chat with me?
Did I tell you the one about…? Will you enjoy me?
Want to cuddle? Can I have your affection?
Want to play Cribbage? Will you play with me?
I had a terrible lunch meeting today. Will you help me destress?
Originally published in November of 2013. Written by Anna.
A few weekends ago, I grabbed some friends and went to a monastery. In addition to being places of prayer, work, and solemn joy, Orthodox monasteries are places where, as I joked on the trip, introverts can be introverted together. It would have seemed out of place to bring an ipad to the common room of the guest house, so in the evenings we sat and talked, knit, and read. It was very nice.
Nuns have given up the worldly life for a life of prayer and community. They receive a new name at their tonsuring because they are dead to the world. One nun explained that if she were to leave the monastery, with her rank it would be like divorcing Jesus, and she would be excommunicated from the Church.
While I have no desire to be a nun, I do think that their detachment from the things of the world is something to emulate, especially if one is single. We laity are called to “be in the world but not be part of it”, but we are still influenced by the morals of the culture we live in. Unfortunately, this sometimes means as single women dealing with anxiety over whether we are “attractive enough”, and dealing with men who have no idea how to relate to women as human beings.
Seraphic says, “I wanted a man, I have a man, and now I can ignore what all men on earth, save one, think about attractiveness. I am fortunate. But I worry a lot about Single women who lurch from one relationship to the next in the quest to find the man who will free them from the intolerable burden of wanting a man. Looking at break-ups and unrequited crushes from a married point of view, I now realize how awful it is to hear a weeping woman say, “But where will I find another [guy who gets me, clever intellectual, romantic poet, serious Catholic]?” I want to shake them and yell, “STOP LOOKING! JUST LIVE YOUR LIFE!” But that’s easy for me to say; marriage has killed that restless longing.”
I deeply understand that restless longing to get married, and the answer to it is detachment. Being open to getting married, but not predicating being happy with getting married.
It is very freeing to quit making decisions based on the probability of meeting eligible people, whether that’s moving for work or deciding whether to go to a party or going on dates with people you don’t really like. So far I have not met my spouse at, let’s see, church, work, classes, parties, bars, online, the theater, and many other places, but my enjoyment of these things has increased by letting go of the hope that I will meet Imaginary Husband there. Instead I can focus on the work or fun or people that are actually in front of me.
While I’d be lying if I said that I am never grumbly about being single, overall I’m content. As a younger person, I had a script in my head about how my life was supposed to turn out. Letting go of that, seeing the appeal of other ways of life was key. Admittedly, I am sure I would be less happy with my life if I didn’t have stable employment, a strong church community, family and good friends.
Men and women who desperately seek the other sex’s approval are searching for something that cannot be gained by romantic love. To begin detaching from the anxiety of getting married, one need not join a monastery. The place to start is to pray for detachment, the ability to hand your anxieties to God and to gain His peace.