Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Are Love Letters Real?

Dating is so hard! Do love letters complicate it? Watching my children experience dating relationships, I can really see the strong benefits of waiting to find your mate when you are ready to marry. We always taught our children this but "courtship" is so antiquated.

To us, "Ready to marry" means you are financially stable enough to support a wife and begin a family. Of course, no one is ever that ready so it means you have a steady job, a means of support. This is the ideal, not the one and only standard.

What to Say in Love Letters (love letters by Lizkit50 on deviant art)

My husband and I got married at 21; we have been married for 30 years. We had no money; well, $300 if you count the money we got as marriage gifts. We had no jobs. I had recently graduated as an LPN (licensed practical nurse) preparing to support my husband through college. We moved to a new city, Nashville, TN, as a newlywed couple. I still have the first groceries receipt that took a little over a third of our wealth. We had no staples: not a broom, mop or spices. We needed it all.

We rented a brand new one bedroom apt; it was a very nice way to start our married life together. I definitely did not marry for money. I married my dearest friend in the world; he is still that today. Through all the ups and downs life brings, he has been stable and steadfast in his unconditional love. I can guarantee you that true commitment is better for a marriage than $30,000 put away in the bank and a well-paying job.

I laugh at my earlier statement that a person needs to be "ready to marry" that is what my husband said about children; he kept saying we needed to be financially ready to have children. So we waited 10 years until we both were finished putting each other through college. I am glad to have my degree. I know we have been blessed financially by him have his two degrees (that is another story). But of course we were never "ready to have children." So what does all this have to do with love letters?

Although I love to write, I never felt compelled to write a love letter. I barely like to write in cards. It is not that I do not love. It is just that love is an action expressed through our daily communications and our behavior; it is not words on a piece of paper. I have written a few letters to my husband in our 30 years of marriage, but it has been at times when I have talked until I am exhausted and I still think he is not hearing me. So I put my words on paper, so he can reflect on them without my tone of voice or poor timing, hoping he can hear that way.

Also, through the years, I have also jotted down quick, little, sticky-type notes to my husband and children in surprise places to build them up or to say I love you, but these have not been long letters of declarations of my devotion.

I look at a love letter one of my children received from a person they dated. Both of my children who have dated have a least one of these. In the letters are an overwhelming promise of forever love: "I will always be there for you," "I will support you through everything in life," "you are truly the man for me," and "you are my dream." But when the relationship breaks up, a person is left with a piece of paper of empty promises. The words were heart-felt when written I am sure, but without the right timing of the ability to make a commitment to marriage I think they are premature.

Love letters during dating are a slice in a a time of life. A way a person feels about another in that moment. They are genuine, but usually not permanent states of commitment.

This is why I think we need to be very careful about relationships, particularly "love relationships." We can say a lot of things we feel without really thinking about the weight of the words or the followthrough of our commitments.

The Bible says we need to let our yes be yes and our no be no; we are to follow through with commitments which are in many ways vows we make to another. When we say we are going to do something we really need to think deeply and make sure we really can honor our words.

Maybe love letters need to be more general, like "you make me happy," "I smile when I think about you," "I think you are amazing," or "I enjoy spending time with you." These are also some of the words written in my child's love letter. These are statements of the present time and valid for that moment. Until one is committed to lifelong marriage, love letters are better to not contain promises that will not likely be kept. This way they can always be an encouragement letter, even read 10 years later.

"I love you" is true, but no one can foretell the future to know what shape that love will take. Sometimes the best way we can love a person is to let them go. Of course, no one would write that in an early love letter but in maturity it is a reality of love that does not enable or hold back.

These are simply my thoughts. Feel free to share yours.

You might also enjoy these posts:

Do You Love Unconditionally?
Marriage Is Hard Work
I Choose to Love

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