Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Courtship vs Dating--Our Story, pt 2

So, in my last post I was explaining how Gothard's teachings on courtship had affected my relationship with Carlos. Really, though, it was much more than the idea of courtship vs dating. It was underpinned by the strong emphasis on patriarchy that goes throughout his materials. The father is the final authority of everything in the family, including who his children, particularly the daughters, shall marry.

I've known some happy marriages who believed in wifely submission. As long as the husband is laying down his life for the wife and respects her and is unselfish, it can work for some people. I was surprised and later pleased to learn that Carlos doesn't agree with that. He believes that the husband and wife should both submit to Christ, and that they should both demonstrate unselfish love to each other. Being male doesn't give him a position over me.

Of course, all the people I know who believe in wifely submission agree that the husband's dictatorship should be benign, that he should not abuse his power, etc. (kind of like how the people I know who spank insist that it shouldn't be done in anger). In practice, it doesn't always work that way, and when it doesn't, the wife has little recourse. She is often told that her attitude is at fault, and if she would only x, y, and z, then her husband would come around.

Bill Gothard teaches that the person under authority is the one who must be responsible for any change. He does give the right of appeal and then the choice to suffer for doing God's will if the authority doesn't yield. However, in nearly all circumstances, it is hard to prove that the husband's will is a direct violation of Biblical commandments, so it usually is interpreted back to the wife's lack of reverence for her husband. If she is visibly unhappy by anything that he has chosen, that is also wrong, because she is publicly shaming him by not being cheerful. The message is clear that the wife must put up and pretend to like it. While this is directed primarily to wives, it definitely applies to their children, as well.

I said at the beginning of part one that I am not sure how much to share about people other than myself. My parents believed the patriarchal teachings, but in my relationship with my dad, there had been relatively little conflict, especially concerning decisions that only involved the two of us (I was guilty of "taking up offenses" sometimes regarding others). I knew that my dad wasn't thrilled with my relationship with Carlos, but since he had responded passively when Carlos asked permission to court/date me, I assumed that would continue.

For those of you who are wondering, yes, yes, I was already demonstrating a lamentably strong will and lack of deference and meekness by not responding to the unspoken disapproval by cutting off the relationship entirely, let alone going ahead with it. Ah, well.

Some of you are also wondering what it was that my dad didn't approve of. It wasn't anything specific with Carlos. He was a dedicated follower of Jesus; he was very disciplined financially and had a good job; he was close to his family and helped his parents in the church they pastored; he had obtained his Masters in one year with a 3.9 GPA; he didn't have issues with anger, lust, etc. He loved kids, he was both bilingual and bicultural. It basically boiled down to the fact that my dad hadn't heard a clear, "Thus sayeth the Lord" that I should marry him. Or at least that is what my dad said.

I could speculate on other factors in their personalities, and my dad's possible preference for another guy who attended our church, but it would be pure conjecture. (The other guy pretty much worshiped my dad, and naturally it is hard to resist someone who admires you so profoundly. I had seen the way this guy treated his sisters, and didn't agree with him on much of anything, so I viewed him quite differently. And, as shallow as this sounds, I must say that physically I was not the least bit attracted. Even at a size 6 and about 118 lbs, I probably outweighed him. It doesn't inspire romantic feelings when sitting next to each other I notice that my thighs are three times as wide as his. But of course, that is my carnal side coming out. I must add, though, that if you have seen pics of Carlos, even someone much more impressive physically than this guy couldn't compete.)

Anyway, Carlos and I dated for a year. After all the weirdness and ups and downs of the previous three years, this year was delightful. I was finishing up my degree and teaching at our community college; he had started a new job and we were both busy with responsibilities there as well as being part of the worship team at church and interpreting regularly (the services were bilingual). We also spent a lot of time with my little brother. All of our time together, though, just cemented our growing love and respect for each other. I felt more myself with him than with almost anyone else. Not only did I like him, I liked myself with him. After a year, we both were ready to commit to marriage. He asked my dad for permission. My dad said no.


Carrie said...

I have enjoyed your story! The part about your Dad saying no made me chuckle. On my wedding day, my Dad told dh that I would not make a good wife. Then he told me privately that he would not be a good husband because he was a "Momma's Boy". Wrong on both counts!

I am one of the "submissive" wives, for lack of a better word. LOL! In practice, it's probably more like your relationship, but I like to lean on him for the big decisions, so it works for us.

My parents determined to follow the courtship guidelines as written by Dr Allen Jones, but they never stuck with anything. Instead when I would go on a date, they would send my little sister with me. Um, yeah, that's great fun. HAAA!

How do you think you will do with your children on the matter of dating vs. courting?

dulce de leche said...

Thanks so much, Carrie! You are such a gifted writer--your compliments mean a lot!

I am so glad that your marriage is such a good one. From everything you have shared, it sounds as if you and your husband both love and respect each other deeply.

LOL at the little sister. My little brother used to come on most of our dates, too!

I honestly don't know exactly how I will do with our kids on the whole dating vs. courting matter. I can see some good things in it, but I am not nearly as dogmatic as I was when I was younger on that topic. What about you? I'd love to hear your thoughts and insights!

Libby Anne said...
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