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Posts Tagged ‘Singles’

Unless you still live with your family (or a family of some kind), as a single woman you have, at some point, dealt with the issue of cooking for one. Although it can be a fun time to explore options and creativity and try new recipes with only your own health and taste buds to worry about, it can also get tiresome. Of course, you could eat out and get take-out for every. single. meal, but that gets quickly, ridiculously expensive.

I was doing some research to find ways to save on groceries that wasn’t the already-heard-fifty-times “Use coupons,” “Buy generic/on sale/in season,” and “Don’t shop when you’re hungry.” I found one great post on the site Wise Bread (which I had admittedly never read before) called, “Grocery Shopping for the Cheap and Lazy.” Despite its (honest) title, the advice is also good for singles, even if they are neither cheap nor lazy.

The article includes such gems as:

Sure, maybe I use too much salt and vinegar, but hey, it’s my palate, and if I want everything to taste like dill pickles, so be it. I’ll worry about someone else’s palate when the time comes.

Also, “Do not fear butter. It makes everything better.” I’m pretty sure I want that on a bumper sticker for my car someday.

Some of the advice is common sense: don’t buy things in bulk if you won’t use it all, and cook foods that will taste good as leftovers. Some of it is less conventional, but still makes sense: be sure to try ethnic foods and shop at ethnic stores, allow yourself one indulgent item that will make you happy to cook, and if you must drink, booze it up at home for cheaper.

Be sure to check out the entertaining article, and many of the links from it. You’ll learn something.

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Disclaimer: I discuss my political beliefs in this post more than usual. I’m not trying to argue any of them, I’m just using them as examples and illustrations and, as always, you are all totally free to disagree with me.

This is one of the few posts that I wrote for my personal blog that, after it was published, I thought, “Hey, I should share this with more people.”

If you’ve read my sometimes-sensical ramblings for a significant length of time, you know that I’ve waffled over the will-I-won’t-I get married, or do-I-don’t-I-even-want-to. After several church sermons, some prayer, and reading How to Avoid Falling in Love With a Jerk, I’ve decided that I do want to get married … eventually. Not next week, obviously. Not even next year. But definitely some day in the however-distant future.

This has had an interesting effect on my prayer life, how I see guys, how I see myself, my spiritual desires, and what I think I’m looking for in a life partner.

For one thing, after mentally rejecting a guy who is my polar opposite when it comes to politics (and economics), I began to wonder, Am I being too picky if I reject guys who significantly differ from me when it comes to politics?

I’ve casually mentioned before that I am really into politics and economics (especially the theoretical/principle side), and I have always been especially attracted to guys who share my libertarian ideas. And if they’re libertarian Christians, then hooooo boy—instant chemistry!

Now, I am particularly extreme in my libertarian ideas, and many of my beliefs are rare in general, and especially so for a Christ-follower. So if a guy who is extremely different from me when it comes to economics is still interested in me, should I just shrug off such differences and say “Well, we can agree to disagree?”

After thinking about this for a while, I came to several conclusions.

First of all, let it be known that I do not expect to marry someone who is as extreme as I am. I know that such people are relatively rare, and I’m completely reconciled to the idea that I’m not going to marry someone who agrees with me 100% when it comes to politics/economics. I’m not saying it’s impossible, I just know it’s improbable enough not to expect it. (Also, I’m not trying to be like, LOOK AT ME AND WHAT A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE I AM! I HAVE NO EQUAL! BWA HA HA! Well, I mean, in a way that’s true, but … look, I’m just not trying to brag about it.)

I also know that a lot of people aren’t that interested in politics and/or economics. Which is also fine. And there are people who ARE interested, but not in a way that affects how they see the world. I am perfectly willing to concede that two people with vastly different political beliefs could create a very happy marriage, depending on how deeply those beliefs run.

However, my political and economic beliefs are right up there with my faith in shaping how I view the world and how I live.  Therefore, I can’t imagine being happy with someone who significantly differs from me when it comes to those things, because it affects so much about me—how I take in the news, how I perceive society, what I consider a social right/wrong, how I like to spend my time. This is one of those things where a little difference is well and good, but a lot of difference makes for complete incompatibility.

Allow me to excessively drive my point home by creating a secular, hypothetical example. Let’s say we have a casual vegetarian—maybe for her health or simply for taste preferences. That person is more likely to tolerate a common omnivore than, say, a strict vegan who is so because of her beliefs regarding animal rights. The strict vegan may cultivate a lasting relationship with someone who is a casual vegetarian, but she probably wouldn’t be able to marry, say, a hunter. They could say that they’ll “agree to disagree,” but ultimately these differing beliefs affect so much of their lives—not only what they eat, but what they wear, how they see the world around them, and how they spend their time. It’s unlikely that they can be easily reconciled. The more casual vegetarian, however, may be perfectly willing to accept hunting and meat-eating, because their “brand” of vegetarianism is not a deep-seated part of who they are.

Let’s say, metaphorically speaking, that I’m the meat-eating hunter—I may be able to forge a lasting relationship with a casual vegetarian, but any further differences beyond that is probably just not going to work, based on my set of values.

Maybe Hypothetical Future Husband Guy believes that government should be tiny, but should still have more powers than I think it should. Maybe he likes Sarah Palin way more than I do (read: at all). Maybe he believes in a Fair Tax, or that certain people should be restricted from owning firearms, or that some drugs should not be legalized. As long as we can agree on major things—smaller government = better, and free-market capitalism is the best economic system available—even if he’s not as enthusiastic as I am, that’s a better recipe for success than someone who subscribes to Keynesian economics and believes in high corporate taxes and strict gun control.

My conclusion: While “agreeing to disagree” on politics is the best approach when it comes to coworkers, friends, and family members, I don’t think it’s the proper stance for me when seeking a future life partner.

So no, I’m not being too picky. Well, I am, but reasonably so.

So what about you? Are there any non-negotiables or barely-negotiables that sound superficial but may actually be fundamental for a future relationship? Think about what’s really important to you—in a godly way.

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who have real-life examples that would shoot down my inexperienced theories. I’m just waiting to hear someone comment with, “Actually, my uncle is a meat-eating hunter who runs down roadkill for fun and his wife is a raw-food vegan who doesn’t wear leather and they’ve been happily married for 30 years.” If you know of a couple like that, please share. I would love to hear that story.

Additional disclaimer: Just so we’re clear, I’m only talking about non-salvation related issues that truly are a matter of opinion, biblically speaking. Obviously there are things that the Bible makes perfectly clear are non-negotiable, such as the Christ-follower’s calling to marry only another believer and not be “unequally yoked.” I’m not talking about anything quite that serious and deep-seated. This is just good, clean, hypothetical fun.

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The second (very long) section of this book begins with an in-depth discussion of what it means to know another person, how important that is in spotting the jerks/non-jerks, and why it takes much longer than we really think.

Dr. Epp warns against judging too soon whether you really know someone or not. Significant patterns in a person’s behavior are usually not even obvious until much later in a relationship—the third month, not the third date. We begin to bond with someone as we get to know them (not merely after), so it’s important that we’re getting as much correct information as possible, so we’re not bonding with the wrong person. We tend to feel a bond with someone about whom we know a great deal—even if all our information is false! But even if all the information we have is true, we may not really know a person just because we can recite a pile of facts like height, favorite color, and where they went to college.

I love the part where Epp says (emphasis mine):

Romantic relationships often begin in a whirlwind of excitement and passion. You see your heartthrob across a crowded room, you make that first connection when your eyes meet, and you feel electrified with the slightest touch. But the process of getting to know the person takes just as long as it would if there had been no connection at all. Once again, there are no shortcuts!

I’ve said before that I relate very much to Marianne Dashwood of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. In the film version, after meeting Mr. Willoughby, the Dashing Man of Her Dreams, she says, “Time alone does not determine intimacy. Seven years could be insufficient to make some people acquainted with one another, and seven days could be more than enough for others.”

When her sister Elinor dryly responds, “Or seven hours, in this case,” Marianne argues, “I feel that I know Mr. Willoughby already.”

Dr. Epp likes to use films sometimes to illustrate his points, but he doesn’t use S&S, much to my disappointment. Marianne and Willoughby’s relationship is a perfect example of bonding too quickly with someone before really knowing them, only to be brokenhearted and disappointed and realizing that too much trust was initiated too quickly.

While it’s true that time alone doesn’t determine intimacy, it’s a very, VERY important part.

So what’s the long-cut? Dr. Epp recommends a formula in which Intimacy equals Talk, Togetherness, and Time. This is the only proven successful combination, he says, to really know a person. I haven’t finished the book yet, but from what I’ve read so far, all the rest of his advice is based on that formula, though he may not refer to it specifically. But in every aspect of dating and of life, he reinforces the need for time to get to know a person, talking and self-disclosure, and spending time together in a variety of situations and activities. This will give a more well-rounded picture of the person one is dating.

(When you think about it, this formula, like a lot of his advice, is based on conventional wisdom.)

Now for my favorite part. Epp reveals a “dating disclaimer” that I learned all too well from the relationships of friends and family, and from being a child of divorce and subsequent blended families. Buckle up kids, because this one is a bit of a blow: The good doesn’t always last, and the bad usually gets worse. If you’re following along at home, it’s page 65 in my edition.

What he is saying is NOT 1.) the good will never return, or 2.) it’s no use to even bother with a relationship. What he says is that how a person treats his/her significant other while dating reflects how he/she will do so in marriage. This sounds like a “Duh” moment, but he explains it further. If a couple shares interests, common beliefs, effective communication, and if they feel a strong, bonding friendship with each other besides romantic affection, then their marriage has a good foundation. Although it’s not easy to “stay” in love, such a couple will definitely find it possible, even as certain feelings come and go, and conflicts will arise.

But a couple that constantly battles with trust issues, miscommunication, minimal chemistry, or any other possible relationship problems will not see these issues improve just because they’re married. In fact, they will probably get worse. Their premarital relationship wasn’t so great before, so there’s no reason to believe that marriage will set the bar any higher. Relationships have to have good communication, varied shared experiences, and oodles of time before you really know a person, and before you even know whether it will last.

That was my summary of just one chapter, but I won’t cover them all in such depth. I went on about this one at length because it establishes a foundation for the rest of the book. Plus I don’t want to tell you everything! You need to experience the book yourself!

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I’m doing a classroom-style Kay Arthur Bible study at my church on Sunday nights. So far it’s been educational, exciting, overwhelming, and challenging, and tonight I learned something at the class that was unrelated to the lesson. Actually, it was something I overheard the instructor telling another young woman as we waited for the class to begin.

She was telling my classmate about a man who was praying to God about the “future wife” he was looking for. But he eventually came to the conclusion that he first needed to pray about whether or not it was even in God’s plan that he marry at all–which would change his perspective on dating and the kind of woman he sought. It was only a snippet of a conversation that I overheard, but it was enough to turn on a light bulb in my head. Here was something, I realized, that I needed to be doing as well.

Lately, I have really been questioning whether God even has it in His plan for me to be married someday—but I haven’t been praying about it seriously. This hasn’t changed my desire for a boyfriend, or heck, a date next Friday. But I have been learning a few things about myself that have made me question if I’m supposed to be married someday.

For example, I am an introvert who needs alone time to recharge her batteries and stay sane. This doesn’t necessarily mean I am shy or that I have no social skills, but I do thrive on alone time. The #1 thing I hate about living in the DC metro area is that it’s too expensive for me to have my own place, because I desperately want to live alone. Although I have friends that I treasure and I absolutely love to make new ones, I’m not really a people person in general. And my things that I enjoy about being single haven’t really changed. Also, I don’t really want to have kids, and 99.99% of Christian guys that I have met … well, they want them.

And yet I have some qualities that seem ideal for being married someday. Firstly, if I may be honest and yet put it lightly, I’m not crazy about the idea of lifetime celibacy. Aside from that? Well, I may hate sports, but I like sports bars (mmm, bar food) and I wouldn’t begrudge a man his Sunday-night game (unless that interfered with church, and God gave us Tivo for a reason). I couldn’t care less which way the toilet paper comes off the roll. I don’t need jewelry or flowers, I can carry my own purse, and I would never ask, “Does this make me look fat?”

Some people know that they will get married someday, it’s just the when or to whom that remains to be seen. Other people, as Paul writes in I Corinthians 7, know that they are called to a life of celibacy and singleness. I’m in a strange state of limbo and could see myself going either way. Hence the need for serious prayer about this issue. In the past, when I said “IF I get married,” or “IF I find someone,” it was followed by a wistful sigh of self-pity. Now I use “if” seriously, genuinely not knowing that marriage is in my future. Sadly, some people, who have been conditioned to do so, jump at the chance to say things like, “Of COURSE you’ll find someone! Don’t be silly! Guys are just stupid and don’t know what they’re missing.” Then I have to correct them and say, “No, really. I really don’t know if I’m going to get married!”

So, all my single ladies: Do you know for sure you want to get married and that someday, somehow, you will? And if you are, what are you praying? Perhaps that God will not only prepare your future husband for his new life with you, but that you will be prepared as well. And for those of us who don’t know, are you praying for God’s wisdom, that He will show you what you are to do and be? I think in either case, it’s also good to remember to pray for patience, and for the peace to be content in our current circumstances, whatever they are.

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According to Bethany, my spiritual gift is Ranting. Hence, this letter.

Dear Valentine’s Day:

There is no sense in denying that, for years, we have lived with a powerful mutual loathing. Although I have been long resigned to this state of existence, I am aware that it was not always so. In my childhood, you were simply a random day in the middle of winter reserved for wearing pink or red, eating chalk-flavored candies with “Fax Me” printed on them, and cutting out hearts with red construction paper. Maybe there were cupcakes or cards from Grandma, but that was the general gist of it.

Upon entering middle school, however, these relatively pleasant memories were corrected, to be replaced with memories of adding to the usual 12-year-old angst reminders that I was an unpopular outcast, when I witnessed my classmates pair up to “go out” with one another (to where? McDonald’s?) and send the pretty, more popular girls carnations—with the number received clearly illustrating one’s middle-school social caste.

Sadly, this tradition was carried on into high school, though we were mature enough to at least pretend to laugh it off, and perhaps send carnations to our most beloved, still-single friends in an act of solidarity and mutual comfort. This comfort was particularly critical for the high-school spinsters who clutched the carnations to their bosoms as they rushed between Spanish class and choir practice, dodging through the obstacle course that featured more than a few couples engaged in the infamous hallway-make-out sessions.

With the progression to college, it was hoped that such unseemly acts of immaturity would be left behind in an environment of education and openness. However, the act of Flower-Based Social Stratification remained, especially perpetuated by young women whose eyes glinted like Tiffany diamonds and whose fangs dripped with brownie batter, hoping to impress the guy in the dorm across the street so that the lyrical vow of “Ring By Spring” would be honored. Such women sneered and taunted those who dared to defy the spirits and deities of Valentine’s Day by wearing any color that was not red or pink (with mercy given to those who wore white, but particular woe upon those who dared to wear black!), and rolled their eyes at those who postponed a day of celebration to take advantage of candy sales on Feb. 15.

Unfortunately, my dear Valentine’s Day, even in the “real world” after the bubble of college, I cannot escape your hatred, and you continue to cultivate mine. Although I am known as a staunch libertarian and defender of free-market capitalism, you are, with very little doubt, the one result of true capitalism that I despise over every other.

I hate everything you stand for: overpriced greeting cards, low-quality chocolate, candy message hearts (which STILL taste like chalk), shallow sentiment felt only because society has told us that it MUST be felt, pointless traditions (as no one really knows which St. Valentine is being honored on 2/14), the color pink, obligations to celebrate (much like New Year’s Eve, Mardis Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and the U.S. Fourth of July), the societal requirement either to feel bad about being single or to celebrate singleness as a way to overcompensate, bad romantic comedies, and disrespect for the (possible) death of a martyr—especially one who (may have) died in defiance of one of history’s greatest tyrannies.

This year, I was about to declare a truce and say that perhaps this year it will not be bad after all, since a dear friend will be in town to visit, and another dear friend who already lives here will be around. But now this dear friend is sick, and the flight has been canceled, as we are currently buried in several unprecedented feet of snow, and I am unable to even see ANYone, but must remain in my small and drafty apartment, without even the comfort of booze or chocolate to sustain me.

I wanted to think better of you this time, Valentine’s Day. I was ready to offer the olive branch, the white flag, but then you decided to pull this charming little stunt. And for that, I feel obligated to keep on hating you, until I am a shriveled old spinster living with my hypoallergenic cats and throwing chalky candy hearts at passersby.

With All Sincerity,

Me.

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I was going to publish a “love letter” to Valentine’s Day that I had already written and published on my personal blog and on Facebook. I may still do that on Sunday.

BUT when I came to sign in to WordPress.com, I found this lovely post on WP’s homepage: 10 Anti-Valentine’s Day Cards. Even if you like Valentine’s Day *coughbethanycough* do check it out. This one, for example, struck just the right chord with me. I may employ the unethical use of office resources and print them out to distribute to my coworkers. (Though it may be inappropriate for my married-with-three-kids boss.)

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This week’s FF comes to you courtesy of my friend Kim, who alerted me to the presence of …

zombieHarmony!!!

As a horror genre/monster, I can’t handle zombies. Even perusing the site for, oh, 30 seconds gave me the heebie-jeebies. Give me a non-Twilight vampire, a malicious ghost, or an old-fashioned serial killer any day, but for some reason, zombies freak me out more than anything else.

I can still appreciate the humor of the site, regardless. The sad thing is that zombieHarmony provides more useful “match” information than the real eHarmony.

Sorry about the late update, by the way, but due to the ongoing Snowpocalypse in the DC area right now, I was working from home today and didn’t have time, and then when I tried earlier, my Internet was acting up. It’s all good now, though. Happy Friday!

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