Will our children ever get married?
What is taking so long? I first got married in my mid twenties and my husband did the same. Others in our generation married in their early and mid 20's. Our parents wed even earlier than we did. Current data indicates that young adults are waiting longer to get married, most in their late 20's or early 30's.
In speaking with our children, a couple of them have proclaimed that they have no plans of ever marrying, some have casually mentioned they will most likely marry in their 30's and finally our oldest (35) is making wedding plans. Hooray!!! Seven out of eight of our children are 18 and over. None of our girls are dating at this time (as far as we know).
The question that has lingered in the back of my mind is whether or not our own divorce and remarriage has influenced our children's attitudes about making a trip down the aisle. Divorce data
suggests that if you are divorced, your children are at greater risk to divorce also, but the good news is, divorce is not hereditary. However, does parental divorce influence children's attitudes about getting married in the first place?
In the book “Adult Children of Divorce,” psychologists Elizabeth S. Thayer and Jeffrey Zimmerman discuss that children of divorced parents tend to develop a fear of commitment, bad judgment about sex or emotional intimacy, and a subconscious desire to sabotage their own relationships to retain a sense of control. In another book "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce," author Judith Wallerstein followed the lives of seven children through adolescence, into their love affairs, their marriage successes and failures, and parenting their own children. One thing is for sure, all of the children's lives were profoundly altered by the divorce experience. This data caused me to be concerned about our children's fate. I began searching for more answers.
My research only found more troubling information. According to an article by Sharon Jayson, in USA TODAY, today's young adults are delaying marriage for a few reasons. One explanation is related to financial instability. Think about the number of grown children including college graduates who reside with their parents or receive financial assistance from them. The second cause for delayed marriage is that there is less stigma related to sex before marriage. Young adults are not ashamed to admit they are involved in sexual relationships, especially since they are dating longer before marriage. It is not uncommon for a couple to date 8-9 years before getting married. Thirdly, many are choosing to just live together and perhaps marry at a later date.
Okay, so where does this leave my children? I'm not sure, but it sure gives me reason to spend time talking with them about marriage and relationships. In addition, I will be praying specifically for them related to marriage and for their future spouses.
How long will it take?
Love - a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child or friend. Dictionary.com
Hate - to dislike, intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward someone. Dictionary.com
Have you ever experienced a range of emotions towards someone? You love them but
you hate them at the same time? Perhaps it was a friend, spouse, sibling, in-law, children, stepchildren, or even a parent. Someone you love, behaves in such a way that you experience strong feelings of dislike which are passionate enough to move towards hatred. The combination of the two emotional extremes is called ambivalence or love/hate relationships.
Ambivalence: The coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions (Dictionary.com).
A love–hate relationship is an interpersonal relationship involving simultaneous or alternating emotions of love and hate – something particularly common when
emotions are intense.
Ambivalence or being in a love/hate relationship is a bad place to be. These relationships are stressful, even to the point of being more stressful than just having the hate emotion alone. When we dislike someone strongly (hate), we tend to stay away from them or avoid them at all costs. Keeping our distance allows us to manage our hate. However, those we are ambivalent about are most likely part of our world and we are exposed to them on a regular basis. We may live with them or sit across from them at the dinner table during family gatherings, or worship with them every Sunday. Each time we are around them we are struggling in the middle between love and hate.
A research study was done in 2003 at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah that discovered "unpredictable and ambivalent friendships" create stress, raise blood pressure, and can contribute to cardiovascular problems. Another study found people have high blood pressure when they are around people who they have mixed feelings about, even more so than being around people they don't like. Based on these studies, you are better off loving or hating the person, than experiencing both emotions regarding them.
Even the bible talks about sitting on the fence or being hot and cold at the same time. Revelations 3:15-16 reads: "I know everything you have done, and you are not cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other. But since you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth."
In my really difficult years as a stepmom, I had feelings of love and dislike toward my husband's children. On one hand I loved them and was happy to have them in our home. On the other hand, when they ignored me or tolerated me at best, I experienced the flip side of emotions. Soon I became ambivalent about them to the point of experiencing physiological symptoms whenever they were around. It took me a long time to separate their behavior from my emotions to get out of the love/hate zone. It wasn't easy but I'm finally there.
What about you? Are you ambivalent about someone to the point that the stress is harming you physically and emotionally? Recognize the love/hate relationships in your life and make a decision to get out of the middle. It's too dangerous to you emotionally and physically to stay where you are.
How can I help you?
Sympathy or Empathy...
Which do you prefer?
For most people it depends on the situation you are experiencing. Four months ago when I lost my dear Mother, received numerous sympathy cards. Many of the cards and notes included lovely poems, and kinds words to encourage me during my loss. Greetings came from friends, family, co-workers and church members and arrived in the mail, by email, and some were hand delivered. Cards came from persons I had not seen or talked to in a while. Some condolences came in the form of flowers or plants with a kind note attached.
Eventually, I read every note, card and letter and was grateful to those who had thought of me and taken the time to acknowledge their love and concern. The sympathetic thoughts and prayers were comforting for me and my family. Even now when I am sad, I grab my sympathy bag and read some of my favorite cards.
Sympathy: Acknowledging another person's emotional hardships and providing comfort and assurance.
I also received numerous phone calls and messages and a few handwritten notes from those who shared they could identify with what I was going through because, they too had lost their mother. Somehow, hearing from others who had experienced the same type of loss was especially comforting to me. Many shared their stories and how they were able to cope with the loss of someone so dear to their heart. They not only shared sympathy, they empathized with me.
Empathy: The ability to mutually experience the thoughts, emotions, and direct experience of others. It goes beyond sympathy. Understanding what others are feeling because you have
experienced it yourself or can put yourself in their shoes.
Both words are similar but have their differences. Either way, I was most appreciative of both.
Oil and perfume rejoice the hearts; so does the sweetness of a friend's counsel that comes from the heart. Proverbs 27:9
The love that was poured out to me in the loss of my Mother caused me to examine my response to others who have lost a loved one. Just this week I learned of another co-worker who lost her Mom. I made it a point to share both sympathy and empathy with her.
It is not only during the loss of a loved one that others may need sympathy or empathy. Maybe a friend who is going through a divorce or is experiencing problems on their job. It would mean the world to them if you shared a kind expression of encouragement.
Today, take inventory of the people in your life. Who could use a word of cheer from you? Think about it, who can you bless today?
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach