The book I'd like to share is called, "Have a New Husband by Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman. Dr. Leman is a nationally known psychologist who has talked about relationships and marriage on The View, Fox & Friends, Today, The Early Show, American Morning, Life Today, and The 700 Club. He has also served as a contributing family psychologist to Good Morning America.
Contrary to it's title, this book does not tell us wives how to change our husbands into the men of our dreams by the end of the week. But what it DOES do is provide in-depth explanations of how many different types of men function and how women can understand their men better. Dr. Leman does not sugarcoat things. He dives deep into both the negative & positive issues that have helped form our men into who they are today. He doesn't hold back on challenging women to communicate to men in ways that their gender will understand and respond to. In striving for a better understanding of their spouses, women can then change how they act and communicate towards them....this produces the "new husband". Dr. Leman's goal in this book is for wives to gain the change in their marriages that they desire, but to gain it by having a clear understanding of who their unique spouse is and how that spouse communicates and functions in daily life. Great read. If you'd like to find this book, click here "Recommended Reading." What comes up on page 1 always changes so just scroll through the books if you don't see it right away.
A blog reader sent Jake and I the following question: "My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and are now dating more seriously - I question how much autonomy is necessary and good as far as time with others, serving in different arenas (at church or in the community) when you are dating with the intention of marriage or does it depend on the people and stage of dating?"
At some point in any relationship a couple will go through the "Sickening Couple Syndrome."
This is when a couple can't get enough of each other. They spend all their time together, talk about the other constantly, and spend nights dreaming about the perfect person they have found. Usually people ditch their friends for a while at this juncture and can really seem to forget they have a life outside of Mr. or Miss love of the moment. This is normal, it's the infatuation stage of love and after about 6 months or so it usually wears off. (*Note - As all Gordon people going to school with Jake and I will tell you, this stage lasted waaaaayyy longer than normal for us. We were annoyingly too much together...and honestly much more involved than we should have been at that point.)
It seems as though you and your boyfriend are past the infatuation stage as you have an awareness that time and friends need to be at a healthy place. This is good. As I mentioned above, Jake and I learned about autonomy the hard way. Meaning we ditched our friends, meshed our entire lives together, and spent all our time together by the end of year one and stayed that way until right about the time we got engaged, 3 years later. So from experience what I can say is this. If you are dating make sure that you both keep your friends. Guy friends and girlfriends are invaluable to you as individuals and to your relationship. You should discuss and decide for yourselves how much time you think is healthy for your relationship to be spent apart on separate friendships. Every relationship is different.
The same goes for serving in ministries or engaging in activities. If you're not married, there should be some separation of those things. It's important to maintain who you are as individuals. That being said, it's also ok to do some of those things together. Shared interests and goals probably have a lot to do with why you two are dating in the fist place.
The key is balance. If you have a mindset towards balance, then you're on the right path. Yeah, sometimes you'll choose your man over your girlfriend and sometimes you'll find that you've spent the entire week together. Just make time the next week for friends and doing some things apart. It's always a work in progress.
Once you get married, you'll find that you have to mesh more of your lives together and spend more time together. But balance is important even in marriage. Jake and I have found how important it is to have separate friend and interests. It keeps things healthy and gives us stuff to talk about!
Hope that helps. - Melissa