Right around the time T and I started dating, we attended a relationships seminar that was offered by the college. The speaker gave a definition of love that we adopted as our own: “Love is doing what’s best for the other person.” Also around that time, T handed me three typed pages of rules for our relationship! Of course, we didn’t call them rules, which sounds totally unromantic; we called them “boundaries.” Maybe that doesn’t sound much better, but holding each other accountable to stick with our written guidelines increased our respect for each other and helped us learn to work together as a team, thus strengthening the bond between us. In that sense, our boundaries were romantic, as they allowed us to show love by “doing what’s best for the other person.”
The boundaries were designed to keep us physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. One big limitation was not even one that T or I made up–it was a college rule that a male and female could not be alone together in a house (although being alone together in a vehicle was okay–go figure). We ate many meals together sitting outside on T’s doorstep when his roommate was not at home.
T felt that kissing would inevitably progress further than intended, so we made the decision not to kiss until we were married (well, actually T made the decision and I went along because I wanted to kiss him eventually, and that was the only way it was going to happen. I would have liked to have started kissing when we got engaged, but I respected his conviction and was willing to honor it.)
We had boundaries about how late to stay out at night, off-limits conversation topics, even how much money to spend on each other so we wouldn’t blow our budgets buying gifts. T was writing his master’s thesis and I was, of course, a student, so we also had limits on how much time we would spend together overall in order to leave enough time for schoolwork.
We agreed not to hold hands together again for a month because we felt it would be healthier for our relationship to have a foundation of friendship and conversation rather than just the fleeting thrill of physical touch. As my ninth grade geometry teacher used to say, we chose to eat our Wheaties rather than Frosted Flakes.
A couple of days after our D.T.R. (if you don’t know what that means, ask your nearest college student), I was still blown away that this godly, sweet, funny, older guy actually liked me, so as T and I were taking a walk, I said, a little shyly, “Tell me again why you want to date me.”
“I’ll show you,” he replied. We rounded a corner and came to a camellia bush with only one bud beginning to open. A bright pinkish-orange could barely be seen inside.
“Sometimes you find a flower that is just a bud now, but you can see the color inside, and it’s so beautiful and so different from anything else you’ve ever seen that you want to have a front-row seat to watch it bloom.”
(To be continued…)
Go to Part 7.