The Dating Game

In case you weren’t aware, just because you’re happy dating someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be happy married to them

I’m not sure whether I should be rolling on the floor laughing because of the utter obviousness of this ‘study’, or weeping because it undoubtedly received some amount of my tax dollars.  I think I’m leaning towards weeping.  
Not that I’d consider myself a genius about women or relationships.  My wife will vouch for the humorousness of any such assumption, so I won’t even attempt to make it.  
I wasn’t able to review the actual article or abstract (without purchasing a subscription to the journal), so I don’t know the specifics of the study.   While I think it highlights our essentially selfish nature, I think it’s probably too narrow in focus as well.  As though somebody had a hunch and crafted a study around that hunch.  It would seem that there are a lot of factors that differentiate dating from marriage.  Also, I’m curious as to how they define dating – whether they consider one or a few dates as eligible for survey purposes, or whether they’re focusing only on longer term, exclusive dating relationships.
For anyone who has dated, it probably became obvious, if it wasn’t initially obvious, that what made a person enjoyable/intriguing to date did not necessarily mean they were prime spousal material.  There are plenty of reasons for being interested in dating someone – social prestige, convenience, loneliness, curiosity, convenience, just to name a few.  Some people don’t know this going into the dating game, and find out the hard way once they’re in it.  
A major reason why it shouldn’t take a scientific study to determine that happy dating doesn’t necessarily equal happy marriage, is that the premise of dating is no longer finding a spouse.  Dating has taken on a life and dimension all it’s own – with different rules and different goals.  What works in a dating relationship is not what works in a marriage relationship.  The two don’t have to be separate, but  I tend to think that our culture encourages them to be separate.  Plenty of people – from teenagers to folks in their late 20’s and 30’s – see dating as an end in itself, and are stunned if they find someone that they actually want to marry.  Dating is premised as a ‘me’ sort of undertaking.  It’s all about fun.   Do you make me happy?  To you make me feel good?  Do you help me actualize myself – or whatever the study language was/is?  
But marriage is a different animal, and while plenty of folks might be surprised by this, Biblical Christians shouldn’t be.  The Bible consistently treats marriage as a unique and very different relationship from any other human relationship.  Assuming that the Genesis bit about ‘one flesh’ is only a cute euphemism for sexuality is missing the depth of the portrait the Bible paints of marriage.  Two people agree that they are both better together, not simply that the other person is good for me.  The individual is bettered in part because the focus of the relationship is not on the individual – but on the betterment and health of both partners.  There is a give and take which dating does not encourage beyond the most superficial of levels. Marriage is a new game, and the dating rules not only don’t apply, they train people to lose at the marriage game. 
Maybe a few tax dollars are worth it, if it helps people think a little more seriously about what they’re doing – or what they’re encouraging their children to do – in terms of dating and marriage.  

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