Saturday, March 27, 2010

Courtship vs Dating, pt 3

Growing up as a Gothardite really tweaks your perception in many areas. Carlos and I had spent four years seeking God about our relationship, we were both in our mid-twenties, financially stable, etc. To most people, it would have been a no-brainer that if we wanted to get married, we should. However, my dad's disapproval was a very big deal.

Some people wondered if it was a racial thing. That always surprised me. Although Carlos will always have a much deeper tan than I will ever get, that was never a blip on the radar at all. In fact, my dad was my role model for approaching racial issues. I never once saw or heard any form of racism, either subtle or overt from him. Not only that, he would bring to our attention things that many people never notice if they are not the target. If someone made a negative comment using racial descriptors, like, "I was waiting for that parking space and then that Black woman took it from me!" he'd question it (after all, who would say, ""I was waiting for that parking space and then that tall woman took it from me!"?). A couple of times when we were little, my sister or I repeated a racial joke that we had heard without realizing the significance. He was genuinely saddened and took care to explain exactly what the terms meant and why they were so hateful and hurtful. That is one of the things that I have always admired about him.

Again, it would be pure conjecture on my part to give reasons that I never fully understood to his opposition. I am not a psychologist, although I occasionally play one in real life, ;) but I know that he was going through a very difficult time. After an entire lifetime of pastoring, he was giving up the church, and I think that he needed to feel that there was an area where he still had a position of authority. But, I could certainly be wrong.

How did Carlos' dad feel? Well, years before I ever met their family, he had a dream of Carlos and me being married. He recognized me from the dream as soon as we met, and welcomed me with open arms. During one of the rocky points early one in our relationship, he intervened with some wise counsel and encouragement that helped tremendously. When Carlos met with my dad to ask his permission for us to marry, his dad came, too, to share his support.

My mom, of course, had loved Carlos from the beginning (she told me the day she met him that we should get married!), but she was in a hard position because of my dad. We had a lot of people whom I respected tremendously listen and share loving, wise words with us (thank you again, Granny2Five!!!). If my dad had come against it strongly from the beginning of the relationship, I might have followed his wishes. If you haven't been a part of that kind of patriarchy, it is hard to understand how deeply ingrained it becomes. But after four years of earnestly seeking to do the right thing and believing that it was for Carlos and me to be together, I decided to go ahead without my dad's approval.

We set our wedding date after my graduation the following Spring, and that Fall was incredibly busy. I was teaching seven college classes, and taking five, all while planning the wedding. I was very grateful for the work, but it was hard to prioritize some days. I made my first B, in Ecology, and cried and had bad dreams over it for an absurd amount of time. It makes me laugh now at how important it seemed to keep that 4.0. Things were a bit uncomfortable at home, so I didn't particularly mind being gone so much.

My dad decided that he couldn't participate in the wedding at all, since he felt that it was wrong. He wasn't going to walk me down the the aisle or even show up. Ouch. We didn't talk about it much, because there didn't seem to be too much to say. I heard some things second-hand, about how we would regret the marriage and that shortly after, I would meet "The One," but I don't know how accurate it was.

Those close to us were praying for everyone involved. Interestingly, I learned later that a couple of very strong women felt led to speak with my dad. I don't know what all was said, but three days before the wedding, he told me that he would come and walk me down the aisle if I wanted him to. We both cried. I know that he still had some reservations, but he wanted to reach out and be a part of us. I am so very, very grateful.

It sounds pretty cheesy to say that we all lived happily ever after, but my dad has never said a negative thing to us since then, and not long after was bragging on Carlos as if it had all been his idea in the first place! Seeing the joy we have together has been a significant part of that, and of course, he adores his grandkids, too. I know that Bill Gothard would say my diamond was irrevocably cracked by going out from underneath the umbrella, but we have blessed with a rich and joy-filled marriage.

Now I am left with the confusing part of trying to figure out exactly what to teach my own children on the whole issue. I can see a lot of good things in the whole courtship approach, but I don't feel nearly so dogmatic about it being the only way. It is something that I will be exploring in subsequent posts, and I would love your input!


Libby Anne said...
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Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

So fascinating to read your courtship story, Dulce! I'm glad it had a happy ending, despite the ups and downs. I'm really glad your dad came around and there's been healing there. I was really glad that my parents loved Sam right off the bat, after very much not admiring my previous boyfriend. In some ways, a courtship model might have helped, where they could just have been open about their feelings against him, because instead they just implied it to me in a hundred ways but there was never any honest discussion. Not that I would necessarily have reacted well to their criticism of him, so, oh, well. The contrast became so clear when I met Sam and could see the joy my parents had in interacting with him — what a relief that was! I'd thought maybe they were just against their little girl growing up and moving out, but it really was just that boyfriend in particular who irked them.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your story — really interesting!