Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is Teenage Romance Harmless?

I loved this article about youth and dating.... I would like to share it; you can find the original article here at Meridian Magazine.

Is Teenage Romance Harmless?
By JeaNette G. Smith

Teenage romance is touted on the movie screen, in romance novels, and on the radio. We see young couples in love and we often sigh, “Isn't that sweet?” In fact, teenage romance, although it may epitomize unjaded affection, will usually prove more sour than sweet.

Prophets have long counseled teenagers to avoid steady dating, yet 1/3 of LDS high school students currently have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Walking through a high school corridor can feel a lot like running a gauntlet—trying to dodge the couples embracing or making out in alcoves. Yet rather than discouraging romantic relationships between teenagers, we adults may inadvertently encourage them. Our encouragement may be as innocent as asking, “Do you have a boyfriend?” or as explicit as lining up couples for a date to the senior prom.

We can hardly expect our teenagers to avoid romantic relationships when the adults in their lives think they're so cute. One mother from Maryland said when her son was in high school, women in her ward frequently approached her, “Don't you think our kids would be good together?” A mother from a small town in Utah said the stake president dropped his daughter off at her house at 10:00 one night after returning from vacation, because the young lady couldn't go another minute without seeing her son.

Parents have a tremendous ability to influence their children to abstain from romantic relationships while still in adolescence, if they first, believe in the prophets' counsel themselves. Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When you are young, do not get involved in steady dating. When you reach an age where you think of marriage, then is the time to become so involved. But you boys who are in high school don't need this, and neither do the girls.” (Nov 1997 Ensign, priesthood session of General Conference)

We may think the only reason prophets discourage adolescent romance is because of the risk of immorality. This is certainly a valid concern. Boys and girls who are emotionally intimate with one another are far more likely to become physically intimate with one another. Folks who are “in love” naturally want to “make love.”

However, in addition to exposing high school students to things they shouldn't enjoy like sexual intimacy, adolescent romance also robs high school students of things they rightfully should enjoy.

Family First
Experts reveal that parental influence diminishes to almost nothing when adolescents have a boyfriend or girlfriend. In his book All Grown Up and No Place to Go, author David Elkind explains that to adolescents, love comes in a fixed amount. They believe they only have so much love to go around, and if they love a boyfriend or a girlfriend, then there isn't enough love left for a parent. Consequently, an adolescent may create conflict with a parent in order to justify giving their love to a boyfriend or girlfriend.

In addition, adolescents are far less needy of parental approval when they feel they have a boyfriend or girlfriend who so wholeheartedly approves of them.

One young lady laments that she spent her entire adolescence immersed in her boyfriend's life. She missed out on family outings because she preferred to be with her boyfriend. All the significant events that she experienced during adolescence, she shared with her boyfriend. Now she is an adult, and that boyfriend is no longer part of her life, she has no one in her family she can reminisce with because her family was not a part of her adolescence.

Just Friends
“It is better, my friends, to date a variety of companions until you are ready to marry. Have a wonderful time, but stay away from familiarity…..(Gordon B. Hinckley Ensign, Jan 2001 p. 2)

Casually dating a variety of companions is way more fun for teens then dating the same guy or girl their whole high school career. When I was young, I attended hockey games with one of my male friends. I attended jazz concerts with another, learned to drive a stick shift from another, went hang gliding with another, flew in a private plane with another, went hiking in the mountains with another, learned the history of world religions from another, attended my first wrestling meet, went water skiing, snow skiing, ice skating, scuba diving, camping, played rugby, learned photography, and mountain biking. I would have never had so many learning opportunities had I stayed in a single relationship.

One magazine once ran an article called, “Guys are like electives: You've got to take a bunch before you decide to commit to a major!”

Casually dating lots of people helps adolescents better choose someone to date seriously. Casually dating allows young people to discover traits they admire, and what traits they can't tolerate. It helps them discover what traits they, themselves, possess that people admire, and which ones people can't tolerate. Friendship with a variety of members of the opposite sex protects young people from making a poor marital choice.

Rushing into a serious relationship, without spending sufficient time in casual relationships is like taking a final exam without doing any homework. It leads to failure.

Dennie Hughes, the author of the book Dateworthy says, “The more people you date, the easier it is to keep from getting too involved too soon with the wrong person….. Anyone who expects you to commit in the early stages of dating is a red-flag personality.” (Rodale Press, 2004)

High school students need a variety of experiences that can only be found outside of a steady-dating relationship. Teens who go steady don't have the freedom to make friends with a variety of members of the opposite sex either because the “steady” will get jealous or because they are always with their “steady.”

Not only do exclusive relationships deprive high school students of experiences they sorely need to thrive emotionally, exclusive relationships expose adolescents to harmful experiences that actually cause emotional damage. Exclusive relationships that lead to sex, or that end in a breakup both expose adolescents to trauma they are better off without.

Breaking Up is Hard To Do
Breakups among adolescents are as predictable as the seasons. In previous generations steady dating in high school led to marriage because ½ of all girls married while in their teens. In this generation, the average age for a young woman to marry is 25 years old. Steady dating and falling in love is perfectly appropriate when marriage is an imminent possibility. Pairing off when marriage isn't likely for 9 more years will surely result in a break up.

Breakups are far from easy for high school students. One young lady began her first love affair at age 14, before she was technically old enough to “date.” She met a boy on the Internet who was 15 years old and they communicated constantly. They decided they were destined to be together and committed their undying love to one another. Disaster struck when this young boy turned 16 and felt free to go on real dates. He broke up with his Internet lover and left her devastated. She cried constantly, stopped eating, went to the doctor and was eventually diagnosed with anorexia. Clearly, young people have an amazing ability to love. But they don't have much of an ability to love faithfully.

Breakups, such as the one described, can result in mild depression, where the teenager holes himself up in his room for a few days and mourns. Or the consequences of a break up can be moderate, wherein a jilted lover may blow his grades for a semester, or get arrested for keying his ex's car. The consequences of a break up can also be quite severe, such as the girl from my son's junior class who jumped off a building in downtown Jacksonville .

Regardless of the level of hurt a breakup produces, mild, moderate or severe, breakups in high school are entirely unnecessary. High school students shouldn't even be glued together in the first place, so there should be nothing to break. Granted breakups are a part of life, but they are far less likely when a couple is emotionally mature and when marriage is a realistic possibility.

Risk of Divorce
Statistics show that the number of failed relationships a young person has before marriage corresponds directly with the likelihood of divorce after marriage. Knowing that high school romances more often break up than succeed we can conclude that high school romance can actually compromise the ultimate success of a marriage.

The human heart is extremely resilient, but it still has its limits. It can only get broken so many times before it is unable to mend. Teenagers who enter one painful relationship after another eventually lose their ability to trust. Although breakups are often necessary before finding the relationship that leads to marriage, it is wasteful to enter a relationship knowing full well that it will eventually break up.

Adolescent learn lousy relationship lessons when they go steady, not only because their relationships end in breakups, but because few adolescents possess the maturity necessary to be in a serious relationship. Adolescents are at a developmental stage where they are generally selfish, impulsive, fickle, and idealistic—the opposite traits that lead to successful marriages. Teenagers who learn about intimate relationships from partners, who treat them poorly, may be slow to trust their eventual marriage partners. Rotten romances leave scars.

With all the harms caused from high school romance, and all the healthy learning that eludes those involved in a high school romance, one would wonder why we still see Latter-day Saint youth going steady in high school?

Perhaps the LDS youth may choose to go steady because they have not been taught correct principles, or alternately, they may choose to go steady because parents teach correct principles but are overwhelmed with the difficulty of enforcing them. Steady dating in high school is such an inherent part of our culture, we might wonder if we can ever eradicate it. Young people can hardly wait until they turn 16 so they can have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Homecoming dances, Sadie Hawkins, Prom, are all designed for high school students to pair off, (to “hook up” in the students' vernacular). High school romance is as deep-rooted in our culture as the Palmetto plants in my Florida back yard.

The traditions of our fathers, just because they are deep-rooted, however, doesn't mean they are healthy. Our task is to improve on each generation, to make this generation better than the last. Traditions that may have worked in generations past, do not fit in the new millennium. Perhaps this generation can create some new traditions.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Does Your Nose Run When You Yawn?

During the first part of our marriage there were many occasions when my husband would hear me sniffle and wonder why I was crying. I would explain to him that I was not crying, but in fact was yawning. Then, life would continue without any further comment. I didn’t expect anything else since I had in fact explained the cause of the sniffles.

Then, one day as we were driving along and I was looking out the window next to my seat, my husband heard me sniffling and asked what was wrong. Again, I explained matter-of-factly that nothing was wrong, I was just yawning. This time he asked why I tell him that I’m yawning when I could just tell him what is wrong. Why am I giving him such a silly excuse as yawning when he knows that yawning doesn’t cause one to sniffle? What? Yes it does. I was taken aback when he said his doesn’t run and had never heard of such a thing.

He thought the idea was ludicrous. Now, I learn that for all those years he thought I had been upset and was refusing to share with him the cause while giving him some absurd excuse of yawning. I can only imagine the thoughts that were going through his mind all those times I said I was yawning. Yet, even now I couldn’t convince him it was the yawning.

I was stumped. I thought everybody’s nose ran when they yawned. My eyes water and nose runs. Not usually for simple little yawns, but when I'm dog-dead tired, I'll have to get out the tissues.

Since I couldn’t get him to believe me I started asking everyone I met if their nose ran when they yawned. I was shocked to discover that everyone said no. They would always look at me really funny, as if it were a trick question. I might as well have been asking them if their toes jingled when they crossed their eyes. Just wondering…… let’s change the subject.

It took me nearly a year to find someone who said yes. It was funny because he answered with all assurance that this was a very common expectation from all people.

“Well, yes. Doesn’t everyone’s nose run when they yawn,” he had asked.

His friend said, “no, just you weirdo’s!”

He was as stumped as I had been. So, I explained to him the history of this question. Now he knows. We are minorities. For some reason, ours runs and most of the world’s does not. Go figure.

So, tell me, how alone are we? Does your nose run when you yawn?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Do You Know Your Credit Score? NOT!

A few years ago I had a credit score of 775. Then, we started investing in real estate and purchased eleven properties in about seven months. With all that new activity and inquiries into our credit my score quickly dropped to the mid 600's. It stayed there for a while and I can guarantee that it has dropped even more since then. Now that we are getting out of real estate entirely and will be going back to our previous no-debt lifestyle I was concerned about rebuilding that strong credit score. I didn't like the thought of the techniques of building it, though. I didn't want to have anymore credit cards.... none at all. I didn't want to simply go into debt so that I could build the score. I was torn. Some would argue that it is important because without a good credit score my insurance rates will go up, any loans I get will be higher in interest. That may be the case, but I don't plan to go into debt other than my house that I already own and perhaps someday a vehicle, in which I will save money so that any money I do borrow will be minimal. I am really intent on staying debt free. We were before real estate investments and we can do it again.

What about the credit score? I ran into this answer given to someone with the same kind of concern that I have and this has now convinced me not to worry about it anymore. Although, I still am using my credit by having a mortgage, I feel that Dave Ramsey wrote this answer for me as well as to Wayne. I thought I would share it here.

Better to Leave Them Open?
by Dave Ramsey Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Dave,
We’ve paid off most of our credit cards. My wife doesn’t want to pay all of them off, though. She says it’s a good idea to have open cards and a high score on your credit report to show that you’re creditworthy. I want them out of our lives completely. What do you think?

Dear Wayne,
I think it depends a lot on the goal you have in mind. If your goal is to stay in debt for a really long time, then by all means keep a credit card open. If your goal is to get out of debt and stay out of debt, then what does it matter if your credit score goes down? My FICO score is zero, and I could probably buy the FICO company for cash!

A credit score is really nothing more than an “I Love Debt” score. It isn’t based on how “worthy” you are, how much you have, or how much you make. It’s based on the fact that you got into debt, stayed there for a long time, and paid creditors a lot of unnecessary money. I stopped borrowing and paying back debt 20 years ago. As a result, my credit score gradually deteriorated to the point where it doesn’t even exist anymore.

FICO will love you if you’re always in debt and making payments, but you’ll never be able to take care of your family, retire with dignity, or make a difference in the world through giving.

Close the accounts, Wayne. Cut up the cards and pay cash for everything! You can’t worship at the altar of the great FICO if you want to get out of debt, and stay out of debt!
– Dave

For more great advice from Dave, please visit http://www.davesays.org/.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Seven Things No One Tells You About Marraige

I read this article today and thought I would share.... the original link is below. I think there are some valid points here and I enjoyed her sense of humor.

Here is a link to Mormon Insights: Seldom Discussed Principles in Marriage that puts an LDS angle regarding the following article.

Seven Things No One Tells You About Marriage
by Ylonda Gault Caviness for Redbook

You're smart. You know life is no storybook. But admit it: Somewhere deep in your subconscious lurk romantic visions of Cinderella, or maybe Julia Roberts. The images may be sketchy and a little outdated, but you can still make out the silhouette of the bride and Prince Charming riding off into the sunset.

In real life, sometimes your Disney fairy tale ends up feeling more like a Wes Craven horror flick -- and you're the chick who keeps falling down and screaming for her life. I've been there. Let's face it, marriage is not for the faint of heart. You want to believe your pure love for each other will pull you through. And it does. But it ain't always pretty.

That may sound grim. But here's a secret: Sometimes it's the least romantic parts of marriage that have the most to teach you about yourself, your partner, and the nature of love. Read on for some simple truths that will unlock the surprising treasures and pleasures in your imperfect, unstorybook, real-life love.

1. You will look at the person lying next to you and wonder, Is this it? Forever?
When you get married, you think that as long as you pick the right guy -- your soul mate -- you'll be happy together until death do you part. Then you wake up one day and realize that no matter how great he is, he doesn't make you happy every moment of every day. In fact, some days you might wonder why you were in such a hurry to get married in the first place. You think to yourself, "This is so not what I signed up for."

Actually, it is. You just didn't realize it the day you and your guy were cramming wedding cake into each other's faces, clinking champagne glasses, and dancing the Electric Slide. Back then you had no idea that "for better and for worse" doesn't kick in only when life hands you a tragedy. Your relationship mettle is, in fact, most tested on a daily basis, when the utter sameness of day-in/day-out togetherness can sometimes make you want to run for the hills. That's when the disappointment sneaks in, and maybe even a palpable sense of loneliness and grief. It's not him. It's just you, letting go of that sugarcoated fantasy of marriage that danced in your eyes the day you and your beloved posed in all those soft-focus wedding photos. You're learning that marriage isn't a destination; it's a journey filled with equal parts excitement and tedium.

Waking up from a good dream to face the harsh morning daylight may not seem like a reason to celebrate. But trust me, it is. Because once you let go of all the hokey stories of eternal bliss, you find that the reality of marriage is far richer and more rewarding than you ever could have guessed. Hard, yes. Frustrating, yes. But full of its own powerful, quiet enchantments just the same, and that's better than any fairy tale.

2. You'll work harder than you ever imagined.
Early on, when people say, "Marriage takes work," you assume "work" means being patient when he forgets to put down the toilet seat. In your naivete, you think that you will struggle to accommodate some annoying habit, like persistent knuckle cracking or flatulence.

If only it were that easy. Human beings, you may have noticed, are not simple creatures. Your man has mysterious, unplumbed depths -- and from where he sits, you're pretty complicated, too. You have to learn each other the same way that you once learned earth science or world geography. And getting married doesn't mean you're done -- it just means you've advanced to graduate-level studies. That's because every time you think you've mastered the material, he'll change a bit. And so will you. As two people grow and evolve, the real work of marriage is finding a way to relate to and nurture each other in the process.

"It's like losing weight," says Andrea Harden, 45, of Buffalo , NY . "You want it to be a one-time deal. You lost it, now just live. But then you learn it's a lifestyle. That's marriage. The effort is a forever thing." So don't be too hard on yourself -- or him -- on those days when you feel like you're struggling through remedial math.

3. You will sometimes go to bed mad (and maybe even wake up madder).
Whoever decided to tell newlyweds "Never go to bed angry" doesn't know what it's like inside a bedroom where tears and accusations fly as one spouse talks the other into a woozy stupor until night meets the dawn. If this scenario sounds familiar, I've got three words for you: Sleep on it.

You need to calm down. You need to gain perspective. You need to just give it a rest. I've found that an argument of any quality, like a fine wine, needs to breathe. A break in the action will help you figure out whether you're angry, hurt, or both, and then pinpoint the exact source. Maybe the fight that seemed to erupt over the overflowing garbage can is really about feeling underappreciated. Could be you're both stressed out at work and just needed to unload on someone. Taking a break will help you see that, and let go. Or maybe you really do have a legitimate disagreement to work out. Without a time-out, sometimes a perfectly good argument can turn into an endless round of silly back-and-forth, rehashing old and irrelevant transgressions as you get more and more wound up.

Even when you do manage to stay focused and on topic, there are some fights that stubbornly refuse to die by bedtime. And if you stifle your real feelings just to meet some arbitrary deadline, your marriage will surely be the worse for it. "This was a huge lesson for me," says Andrea. "As women we've been trained to make nice. But the whole kiss-and-make-up thing just to keep the peace was eating me up inside. I'd let things build up inside me until I just exploded. Now I wait a while to get hold of myself -- let the emotions settle a bit -- and state my position. Even if that means reopening the fight the next day."

4. Getting your way is usually not as important as finding a way to work together.
I can be a bit of a know-it-all. There, I said it. It's really not my intention to be hurtful or brash with people I love. It's just that a lifetime of experience has taught me that in most areas, at most times, I am right about most things. What shocked me several years into my marriage, though, was the realization that the more "right" I was, the more discontented my husband and I were as a couple. See, oddly enough, throughout his life Genoveso has been under the misguided impression that he's right most of the time (go figure!). So we'd lock horns -- often. That is, until I learned a few things.

Namely, that when it comes to certain disagreements, there is no right or wrong -- there is simply your way of looking at things and your husband's. "I used to be very black-and-white earlier in our marriage," says Lindy Vincent, 38, who lives in Minneapolis . "Now I see that I'm not all right and my husband is not all wrong. There's more gray in life than I thought, and that's taught me patience and the value of compromise."

5. A great marriage doesn't mean no conflict; it simply means a couple keeps trying to get it right.
Maybe you think that because of my newfound wisdom, Genoveso and I never fight anymore. Ha! As important as it is to strike a balance, it's also important to have a big, fat fight every now and then. Because when you fight, you don't just raise your voices; you raise real -- sometimes buried -- issues that challenge you to come to a clearer understanding of you, your man, and your relationship. I wouldn't give up our fights for anything in the world, because I know in the end they won't break us; they'll only make us stronger.

6. You'll realize that you can only change yourself.
Ever seen the '80s sci-fi cult classic "Making Mr. Right?" When the stylish heroine, played by Ann Magnuson, is hired to teach a robot how to act like a human, she seizes the chance to create a perfect guy. A hotshot commercial whiz, she uses her marketing prowess to shape John Malkovich's android character into her personal version of the ideal man -- sensitive, eager to please, and willing to listen.

There is a bit of that makeover fantasy in all of us -- something that makes us believe we can change the person we love, make him just a little bit closer to perfect. We may use support and empathy or shouts and ultimatums, but with dogged conviction we take on this huge responsibility, convinced we're doing the right thing.

Whatever our motives, the effort is exhausting. Transforming a full-grown man -- stripping him of decades-old habits, beliefs, and idiosyncrasies -- is truly an impossible task. And you will come to realize, sooner than later if you're lucky, that it is far easier to change the way you respond to him.

7. As you face your fears and insecurities, you will find out what you're really made of.
There were clues when Genoveso and I were dating, especially with the trust thing. Early on, I was supersuspicious of him. He used to say things like, "I'll call you at 8." Then, just to try to trip me up, he'd call at 8. I knew he was up to something, I just couldn't figure out what. The same kinds of experiences followed after the wedding. Except occasionally he would actually mess up. And I had no sense of scale when it came to rating his offenses; everything was a major violation. Whether he teased me about a new haircut or came home late, I seethed for days and even let thoughts of divorce creep into my head. I figured, if he loved me -- really and truly -- this stuff wouldn't happen.

I'd like to be able to say that this irrational behavior lasted only a few months and I eventually worked it out. Kind of, sort of, is closer to the truth. After years of looking deeply into my soul and talking to good friends and the best sister a girl could ever have, I've come to recognize certain things about myself. Not to get all Dr. Phil about it, but I've had to examine my history with an emotionally distant dad and a strong-willed mom and face up to all the ways, both good and bad, that those relationships have affected how I approach my marriage.

That's the strange beauty of marriage: It's full of hard times and hard lessons that no one can ever prepare you for. But in the end, those are the things that give richness to your life together -- and make your love even deeper and stronger than when it began.