Category Archives: Suitable Mate

Secret to Marriage: Final – Don’t get Married until you are Ready and Marry the Right Person

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            I know, I know, this seems obvious. But what does it mean to marry the right person? What makes them ‘The One’? Sadly, there is no definite answer. Our world is full of deception, selfishness and broken promises. However, it is also full of hope, dreams and love. Today we focus on the hope, and what to consider in making the biggest decision of your life.

            Growing up, we all have an idealized view, a fairytale view of how people meet, fall in love, and ‘live happily ever after’. If you are not in denial, and watch your own parents and other couples, you soon discover that life and fairytales aren’t the same.

            In real life, marriage is more like a football game played on a field during periodic earthquakes. Even in day to day life, sometimes you are on offence, sometimes defense, and other times when all you can do is punt. Then the earthquake (problem) happens and determines whether you and your spouse are really on the same team at all. If you are, you probably married the right person. If not???

            So how can you maximize your chances? The first and best advice I can give is don’t get married until you are ready. By ready I mean mature, with set goals, set beliefs, and set standards. Only then will you be able to choose the correct person and hold up your end of a marriage.

            One of the biggest mistakes I have seen is people who get married thinking it will solve their problems. One of my favorite sitcom movies is Six Days Seven Nights. In it Harrison Ford says about people who visit the islands to fix their problems, “It’s an island, babe. If you didn’t bring it here, you won’t find it here”. It’s the same in marriage. So enjoy your single experience. Work on you. Pursue interests. Learn, exercise, and try new things. If you are lonely, find activities with others who enjoy those activities. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, surround yourself with supportive people and learn how to solve those problems.

            Now that you are the ‘perfect person’, or at least a reasonable work in progress, figure out what you need in a spouse. One reason it was so important to work on yourself first is that now you know what you believe. Don’t compromise those core beliefs for anyone. Don’t get into any long term relationship with the belief that you can significantly change another person. This isn’t a rescue project. If that’s what you want, go to the pound and get a dog or maybe a cat (my preference).

            Next, do your homework on your intended. Meet their family and friends. How does he or she interact with them? What do they say about him or her? Another test is reliability. Can you depend on him/her? Do they do what they say and are they truthful about what they do? Are they stable? Can they take care of themselves? I believe that until a person knows what it takes to be independent they are not ready for marriage.

            Last but not least, are you compatible?  Do you share a basic set of beliefs? My dad was raised Jewish and my mom Catholic. I was raised Catholic and never celebrated Jewish traditions. That was decided before I was born. Have you at least talked about important issues like money, housing, or children? Even before our marriage Crystal and I decided, that if at all possible, Crystal would stay home, and at most work part time when the kids came into the picture. The more and earlier you discuss that kind of issue, the better you will know if you are compatible and your relationship will have a chance to last.

            OK, a lot to think about, I know. The good news is you don’t have to find someone who agrees with you on all of the above issues, just someone who is willing to work out solutions. Finding a person with whom you can work things out is the key to marriage. If they can’t pass that test; it’s better to have loved and lost than to be stuck with them forever.

Conclusion: So in summary, the keys I believe will give you the best chance of a long and “happy” marriage are: do all you can to be ready to hold up your end of the partnership, choose the right spouse, make sure you are synergistic people and work well together, and never stop dating (your spouse). Also, God’s blessings couldn’t hurt. That’s all I got.

Mom and Dad Married 64 years
Category: Suitable Mate

Women should seek to marry Boy Scouts (when grown up of course!)

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Between the ages of 11 and 16, I was a Boy Scout. I became an Eagle Scout in 1970. We dedicated a chapter in our book to the experience. Recently, at our church, I met a scout who was just about to achieve his Eagle Scout rank. I congratulated him and told him, pretty much without thinking, that  a lot of girls were looking for Boy Scouts like him. Upon further reflection, my being an Eagle Scout, never got me one date or any girl interested. However, there must be some reason that all three of my daughters told me that they wanted to marry an Eagle Scout.

It’s natural that I’m the man they want on a camping trip, but I believe there is more to it. The Scout Law is that ‘a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.’ That sounds like a pretty good guy who might stand up under the rigors of marriage.

The scout oath is ‘on my honor I will do my best to help the Girl Scouts get undressed’ (JOKE). Sorry, but that’s the version I remember (#Boy Scouts not saints). The real version says things about honoring God and country and more great things for a future spouse.

Most people know the scout motto of ‘be prepared’. What girl doesn’t want their man to carry some Kleenex or at least napkins and a map in the car? Or maybe you find some great tomatoes at the road stand on your trip. How great is it when he pulls out his pocket knife. And when you cut your finger with the knife, out come the Band-Aids.

You get the point. While girls might be attracted to a charmer or a bad boy, when it comes to a life partner, they need to focus on a guy with some solid character (like a Boy Scout should be).

There are other scouting attributes which help a guy in marriage. Scouting helps you to develop a broader base of knowledge. The longer you stay in the program, the more you are asked to learn. There are required badges like first aide, Citizenship, and fitness. Cooking is also required. Crystal’s grandmother approved of me instantly when she found out I could cook. She told Crystal as a little girl to find a guy that can cook or she would be stuck with preparing all of the meals.

In addition to the badges required to become an  Eagle Scout, there are also electives. The list of choices is ponderous; everything from Chemistry, to Aviation, to Archaeology. If like Crystal and me, you plan to be in this marriage thing for the long haul, you want a partner with multiple interests. Otherwise, what will you talk about?

There are other bonuses, little things, which can make a big difference. Scouts learn not to panic when they get lost. They learn to mentor others, without being condescending. This is critical in marriage. They learn patience. This is a critical marriage attribute. But you ask, how do scouts learn patience?  I once sat at an intersection for three hours listing all of the traffic violations. There were a lot of them, especially rolling stops. I spent another three hours with my scouting friend and neighbor, Ron Pozdol. I believe we were going for Insect Life merit badge. For three hours we watched all the activities of an ant hill. At one point, we were so bored Ron tore the wings off a moth and we watched the gruesome one sided battle. In the end it was dead moth down the hole.

The point is that a girl needs a guy who can be patient. I find shopping with Crystal a lot like watching that ant hill. Instead of ants, it’s people and there are no deaths in the process. However, inevitably (some time later) the moth goes down the hole, or rather, Crystal picks out the pair of shoes she needs and will complain about until we repeat the process.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not complaining. It’s all part of earning the Good Husband badge. You never actually earn the badge, but it’s fun to keep trying. Here’s a message on patience for guys. If you can’t wait for the make up to go on, you probably won’t be there when it comes off (wink).

One final lesson you learn in scouting is recovering from disasters. When the tornado hit Oak Lawn in 1967 (also in our memoir) our troop sprang into action. For weeks, after the crisis, we collected food and helped with the cleanup.

In marriage, as I’ve said before, happily ever after is a myth. In fact, you will go through times when you feel like life is just one disaster followed by another. It’s at those times you and your spouse need to stick together and complete the required cleanup.

Bottom line girls, you don’t really need to marry a scout, just a guy who acts like one (#Good Character).


One thing scouting did for me was to give me a greater appreciation for God’s creations in nature. Take time to enjoy it and your life will be fuller.


Category: Suitable Mate

Boys and Girls

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Misconceptions about the sexes have been going on since God created us. However, each individual must learn those painful lessons for themselves. When I was in sixth grade I became a Patrol Boy. I would stand on the street corner and tell the apparently blind, younger children, when it was safe to cross the street. Then, if it was cold enough, would get free hot chocolate before going to my class. I still remember the day Nancy, one of my classmates, smiled at me, thanked me and offered me a hard candy. I stood there and wondered if we were engaged. She was cute and friendly. I could have done worse.

The next year was the special after school lecture. Dads and sons were there on one evening, daughters and moms on another. I was incensed. Making me go back to that place for a second time in the same day! Was this a dictatorship? Apparently it was. The subject that evening was what everyone, and at the same time nobody wanted to know about, SEX. In particular, they talked about what was going on with our female counterparts. They talked about women and their periods. I think there was a collective groin of disbelief. Then one brave adolescent spoke out; really, every month? Then the fateful question came. When do boys start showing real interest in girls? The answer was simple. At different times, but generally when the girls shapes start changing. Then my ADD took over my brain function. That simple answer sent me into another realm. I had never really noticed, but girls and women don’t look the same. That process was going on while we were sitting there. Some of my classmates did look curiously different after the summer. Some seemed to be changing during this year or last year. Some of the changes were subtle and slow, others seemed to happen overnight. Which ones had changed and which ones were in the process? My mind raced through a list of my classmates. I know they talked about a lot of other stuff that evening, stuff that might have helped me, but I was essentially gone. On the way home dad asked if I had any questions. I said no while in my mind I was screaming, ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

The next year we were forced to take dance classes after school. Apparently, you have to dance in High School. I later found out that fortunately, unlike classes dancing was optional in high school. I opted to not. Our dance classes weren’t too bad though. Somehow I managed to keep the same partner through most of it. Sandy was a very nice young girl. She smiled and even laughed at some of my jokes. I thought about asking her out that year and even the next year. Sandy was pretty, but she didn’t look like Rachel Welch (sexy movie star at the time). I worried about peer pressure and judgment. I also worried about rejection. I wasn’t very good at reading signs and now that I knew girls were different, what if I had misinterpreted the signals? This kind of uncertainty followed me through my high school years.

Freshman year, I was awkward and shy around girls. While that didn’t improve much, the next year I took a shot. I asked a pretty girl with a leather jacket who hung with the tough group just off the school grounds. She said something mean and called me a name. OK, she was probably a bad choice, but the damage was done. Message received; girls can be mean.

The next year I was shocked when one of the prettiest girls in school asked to be my chemistry lab partner. Unfortunately, she only wanted me for my brain, even though I was willing to give so much more. We both suffered that year. Even though I liked chemistry, I found myself continuously distracted. We both might have gotten better than C+ if she hadn’t kept leaning over the bench so often. I just couldn’t tell her.

Senior year at least I found some common ground. I was good at sports. I gave some private tennis and skiing lessons to girls who wanted to learn. At least I was learning to interact one on one. They no longer seemed mean or manipulative.

Finally in college most of the clicks were gone. Everyone had at least one common goal, survive as painlessly as possible and inevitably graduate. Fortunately, I got lucky and fell into a great group of friends who more or less stuck together for four years. Finally, one of the girls revealed the secret to dating. If you don’t ask, they won’t say yes. She went on to explain that if I was tactful and my timing was OK (i.e. never through a bathroom door), there were only two possible outcomes; either you would make some girl feel a little better about herself (someone wanted her), or she would say yes. Apparently, I had been looking at this dating thing all wrong. You don’t have to understand women to ask them out (thank God). What a relief that was. Suddenly it struck me. This was no longer a problem in sociology, at which I suck. It was now a simple statistical problem, which I could handle.

In my time at Bradley University I had the opportunity to make many young ladies feel good about themselves. I also got to date some really nice girls. Some even surprised me. One time when I noticed a very cute girl (way out of my league) laughing at my corny jokes I thought I would take a shot. When she said ‘sure’ my mouth just fired before my brain could stop it. I said “REALLY?!?” They say seven is God’s perfect number, so it might not be a coincidence that Crystal was the seventh girl (I barely knew her) I asked to the semi-formal dance my senior year. Statistics work.

So what lessons have we learned? A really good golfer noticed a similar situation in his sport, when he noted that 100% of the puts that are short of the hole don’t make it in. Go out and make someone feel a little better about themselves. Finding the one starts by finding someone.

As far giving advice to young people, just stick with everyone goes through awkward times at their age, but it will get better. They won’t believe you, but at least they know you care.

band geek 001


I know! How did the girls in my high school keep their hands off me?

Category: Suitable Mate

Answering the Ultimate Marriage Question at a Wedding

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The day after my dad and I returned from our South Carolina adventure, Crystal and I went to a wedding at our church. A young couple tied the knot. The young woman was roughly Lisa’s age (our youngest daughter – early twenties). We had known her and her family since we had been in the church. The young man had also attended our church for at least a couple of years. While we never really got to know him, he was obviously a nice guy and a fun loving character. During the ceremony, the groomsmen did a bit about not being able to find the rings, and before he kissed the bride the groom gave a big smile and thumbs up to the audience. I have to admit to being a little jealous. Why didn’t I think of that for our wedding?  Oh yes, because Crystal would have killed me.

The reception was held in a local motel banquet hall. There was barely enough room for everyone to sit.  We arrived early; however, tables were already taken. We sat at an open table with one other man who we didn’t know. Soon though, several others joined us. They were friends and more distant relatives of the groom. One was a new mother with a beautiful nine month old baby girl. This child was full of life and quickly became the entertainment for our table. What would she eat and who would she allow to hold her. The answer is anything and anybody. She was obviously used to being the center of attention.

As the evening rolled on we feasted on chicken and burgers with all of the sides and fixings. There were also these really good looking meat balls. I went up several times trying to obtain one. There must have been something magical about them. No sooner did a tray appear, than several people passed by, each with a pile on their plates, and they were gone again.

As time passed and the cake was cut and the groom went under the dress for the garter (I thought he would never come up for air), we started to talk. One of the young women at our table was a beautiful twenty-five year old with dark skin, brown eyes, and a smile that lit up the room. She asked Crystal and me the casual question ‘how long have you two been married’? When we responded 36 years she appeared shocked. I was sure her shock was merely a reflection of my youthful vim and vigor. Crystal also has always looked younger than her age. However, the next words out of her mouth corrected my misconception. She asked the fatal and ultimate marriage question, ‘what’s your secret’? I then figured out that she was referring to our marriage’s longevity and not my youthful good looks (or Crystal’s). I don’t think anyone had ever asked me that question before. Here Crystal and I had written a whole memoir (yet to be published) based on the subject of several long marriages, and when confronted I had no answer. Of course, that’s why I have Crystal. She can talk at length about almost any subject without the least provocation or planning. As I sat there thinking, Crystal rooted out additional information. Apparently the girl had been in an on-again/off again relationship for some time. They would fight, he would threaten to leave, and then they would make up. It seemed like she was ultimately asking for us to make a decision that we had no business making, or maybe to help justify one she had already made, but couldn’t act on. Crystal started to talk about our relationship, how we met, and all we had been through. I was able to add a few platitudes about the importance of communication and working on your marriage. Over all I think our answer was quite sufficient considering the short duration of our relationship with the young woman.

Since that time however, having sufficient time to reflect, there might have been some better answers to the question about the secret to long marriage. First, to answer her real question about what to do with the guy…Dump him! If he is threatening to leave now, how can you count on him when you are stuck and the chips are really down? Marriage requires continual maintenance from both parties and requires a lot of hard work and commitment. I firmly believe that not everyone should be married. When considering a lifelong commitment to an individual, and the answer to the ultimate question about the secret to a long successful marriage, consider the following. Even Jesus acknowledged that, “in this life there will be tribulation”. That means you will go through trouble no matter what. The key when considering a spouse is, stop picturing the wedding or the honeymoon, and start picturing stress and problems. They will happen. Will you get through them better on your own or with the help of your intended? Being stuck in a bad marriage is always worse than being independent. Ask anyone who’s in a bad marriage or divorced.

So the next time someone asks for our secret to being happily married for such a long time, my answer will start with, we picked the right partners. If they ask, ‘how did we do that?’ I will probably let Crystal answer, while I think about it.

SC trip 2014 035SC trip 2014 041

Fun at Hilton Head South Carolina

Category: Suitable Mate

All Men are Jerks

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            I don’t know if I have mentioned it yet, but I went back to school at around fifty years old to get an RN degree. It was an unbelievable challenge. I told some of the young women in the program that I was only there to find a good nurse to take care of me in a couple of years. I said a lot of funny things between and sometimes during classes to help relieve the tremendous stress we were all under.

            It was my privilege to get to know some of the people in the program. Most of the students were young to middle aged women. At times I felt like an insider where no man should be. I heard of abuse, neglect, and infidelity, of youthful indiscretions, and the men who wanted nothing to do with the girl who ‘got herself’ pregnant. My overwhelming lesson from the experience was that ‘all men are jerks’…………….

            I know there are a lot of jerks out there. Having three daughters, I have spent a lot of time worrying about their choices. They are grown now. My oldest used the trial and error method of selecting a mate. I could tell you some stories. But it’s always better to leave what’s past, past, and focus on the present. Today she has a great husband and family. My other two are still at different points in the decision making process.

            However, if all men are jerks what are women supposed to look for? But wait? I’m no jerk. At least I’m not consistently a jerk. I have my moments. If I was, Crystal would have told me. She tells me everything. I don’t think I’m unique. My dad isn’t a jerk. Crystal’s dad isn’t one.

            As I said there are a lot of jerks, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem for women is finding a guy who isn’t a jerk. One major pattern I uncovered during my covert ops in the land of women was they think they can fix us. They find a guy who is a little rough and try to sand off the rough edges. Guys don’t generally like or respond well to being sanded. What you see is what you get. Women need to think in terms of eternity. Is this the guy, the way he is today, I will want to be with, in ten years, twenty, fifty?

            In this age of gender equality I think we miss some things. Roles are important in marriage. They don’t need to be absolute like they were at one time. I have changed my share of diapers, and Crystal has taken out the trash. For the most part, however, we have done the jobs we are better at. I am stronger and have done more of the physical jobs. Crystal is more detail oriented and takes care of the bills and bank accounts, etc, etc. I have seen this kind of role logic work with my parents and Crystal’s. My parents were like two halves of the same brain. Dad was everything logical and analytical, while mom was at times an overflow of emotions. There was friction at time, but for the most part it worked very well. They balanced each other. Crystal’s mom was one of the most generous people I have ever known. However, if it weren’t for Jim, she probably would have starved to death when she gave everything away to the less fortunate (which was almost everyone else according to Mary Jane).

            I think that’s the key to a successful marriage. Unless the two of you are better than either one by yourself, and (this is important) you both know it, stay single. A wise man once said (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘It’s better to spend your whole life wanting something you don’t have than having something you can’t stand.’




Spring is coming. At least I found something green.

Category: Suitable Mate

What Were You Thinking Girl?

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              Being the father of three young women, a husband, and a male nurse, I have heard it all. When it comes to why young women make the choices they do with men, I still don’t totally get it. I have seen it in my family, in nursing school, and just in life in general. Women are driven by factors other than logic when it comes to finding a mate. I’m not saying its just women; men make equally bad choices. My advice will cover both sexes. I just have heard more, especially in nursing school, about the female’s point of view. I can’t tell you how many young women openly admitted about the bad choices and not understanding why they were so blind. Hind sight is great, if you learn from it. There is no denying the presence of a biological clock. However, life choices have to be made with more than short term thinking or feelings. Again Crystal is my best example. She had no intention of finding her mate in college. When we met she was very analytical about me. She studied my relationships. She talked to others about me, including ex-girlfriends. As I have already shared, she even analyzed my hand writing. I think the main thing she did right was that she never saw me as her last option. She always had plan B. She was working on becoming the best version of herself. Her plan included education, career, and once settled, family. I messed with her plan. All too often, for women, the guy is the plan. I can’t tell you how many young women I talked to in nursing school, who admitted to surviving their “bad” choices, only to now be focusing on their own goals. Often these were single mothers. Remember ladies, making the wrong choice can cost you more than it will the guy.

            So my advice is simple and covers both sexes. Work on becoming a complete person. That needs to be your goal before you enter into a relationship or look for ‘the one’. Have goals in life that have nothing to do with another person, and then work toward them. This includes but is not solely determined by what you want to accomplish with your life. Set goals to optimize your physical, mental and spiritual health. Before I met Crystal, she had a very specific goal of going to Oregon and working in her chosen field, writing. She was independent and completely capable of taking care of herself. I think that is one thing that I was looking for. You should too, in a spouse, and in yourself. I told my girls that, ideally they should live on their own for a while before marriage, and make sure their guy has done the same. Unless both of you can take care of yourselves, your relationship could become codependent and dysfunctional.

            So live, love, laugh and enjoy where you are at. Remember that, in the long run, no relationship will make you happy if you’re not happy with yourself.


Our Girls Having Fun

Category: Suitable Mate

Love is All You Need

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            Obviously, you need love to make marriage work. With few exceptions, everyone that gets married is in love. Of course there is the couple where, someone is trying to stay in the country by marrying a citizen. There are also marriages that result from a trip to Vegas and too many of those free mojitos. We will include other lapses in judgment in that second category. But for the most part love and marriage go hand in hand.

            The problem is that there are different kinds of love. I can see this topic returning in future blogs. It is very important. Often the love which brings us together isn’t the kind that will keep us together. I love Burger King, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I think a big problem today is that we are programmed to view life with the “do what makes you feel good” philosophy. Everything is based on what you get out of something. How that new car with the pretty girl lying on it will make you feel in the driver’s seat. However,  as in marriage, someday that car will need maintenance, the new car smell will be gone, and a ding or two will appear. Eventually you are programmed to just go out and get a new model. Yes, today that seems to go for marriage as well. This is why I think you have to be a certain type of person to have a successful marriage. You need to be unselfish. Sticking with the analogy, the person you have selected already has some bumps and dings. Are you ready to help them with those problems? Can you see yourself giving up your freedom to a life of helping/maintaining them? Does making them happy result in greater happiness for you? Are you willing to lose some individual battles in order to strengthen the relationship? If two people with that attitude get together there is a good chance for a successful marriage.


            As an illustration, I got cancer when I was twenty-eight years old. They said it was probably the chemicals I was exposed to in the lab where I was working as a chemist. Eventually, I had to change my line of work. This was just as we were starting our family. Crystal was there for me every step of the way over those next five years. She was my rock. When we finally got the news that the experimental Chemo treatment had worked, we were elated. Soon after that, Crystal totally fell apart. She probably cried for the better part of two days. I had no idea how worried she had been. Apparently, she had talked to her mother for hours on end, her friends, pastor, etc. She had broken down any number of times without me knowing. She had managed to shelter me from any additional stress. That’s the kind of love I am talking about.


Crystal’s Corner

            When we found out that Ron, who was one of the healthiest people I have ever met, had cancer, it was devastating.  I was finally pregnant with our first daughter.  I had had physical problems since before we were married.  My chances of conceiving kept being reduced.  God actually helped lead me to get pregnant.  We were so happy.  Then this happened.  It was hard to be strong for Ron, but I did have God and a very good emotional support group made up of family, friends and the church family.  The men in the church called me and also went to the hospital to see and encourage Ron.  At this time he was working fulltime and going to school at night to get his MBA.  The five year battle was rough on both of us, but our strength as a couple pulled us through it.  We kept going to God for the answers and He delivered abundantly.

Category: Suitable Mate

Meeting “The One”

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One of the hardest things to do is being patient enough to find the right person to commit your life to. Today, it’s story time. I will apologize in advance to my daughter Elizabeth for revealing this.

Elizabeth, like many first born children, is determined (I called it stubborn when she lived with us), independent, and self actualized. As she grew up, though, she went through many problems, had a rebellious nature, and firm belief that her parents just didn’t get it. Honestly, there were times I thought she might be right. Once she lived through all of that, and some less than desirable relationships, she was ready to change. A little pride may be good. Too much and, well, God might take you down a notch or two for your own good. She was done settling and ready to listen.

Some time later, Liz was living on her own, after just finishing nursing school. One of the last things on her mind was looking for a man. One day she went to Wal-Mart for some plumbing supplies. While pushing her cart down the aisle a young man walked up to her and said, that his brother thought she seemed really nice, but was too shy to introduce himself. She went over to talk to him. A little while later Brad and Liz agreed on a first date.

Today Brad and Liz have been married for five years and are raising four wonderful children (our grand children). Liz has a successful career as a nurse in adolescent psyc. Also, if you ask her, Crystal and I have gotten a lot smarter since she was a teenager.

The point is you really can find whatever you need at Wal-Mart. I’m just kidding. The point is, finding the right person can happen any time, any place. So don’t worry about it, but don’t ever just settle. Continue to work on becoming a more complete person and pursuing your dreams. Carpe Diem.

Crystal’s Corner:
What is even more interesting about Elizabeth and her finding the right person is that I predicted it. Michelle and Elizabeth were both complaining to me about not being able to meet men to date. They did not want to go to the bars, thank God, but were not meeting anyone suitable in their daily lives. I said without really thinking “you could meet someone anywhere. You could meet someone at Wal-Mart.” They both just gave me one of those glassy eyed looks that every mom knows too well. Two weeks later, Liz called me and told me she had a date with someone she had met at Wal-Mart. I think this was prophecy. God already knew what was going to happen.

Category: Suitable Mate

Assess Character

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Well it’s time to move on. Writers House is obviously not interested in our memoir. Crystal and I have both been researching literary agents and are developing a list. Crystal just sent a query letter to an agent whom she read about and really likes. One day and one step at a time is the only way to proceed.

By the way, that is not unlike the approach you need to take in finding the right spouse. If I asked you, what is the most important thing you look for in a potential spouse, what would you say? In my opinion the answer should be good character. That includes a lot; honesty, integrity, solid, stable, independent, hard working, and good moral values. Determining this can be tricky, as are many people these days. One thing which makes character assessment difficult is your own feelings. You’ve heard the expression, “love is blind”. Well it usually is. Often when emotions are involved we lose our ability to be objective. But if we want our marriage to last, objective is exactly what we have to be.

When Crystal first met me she did some smart things. She took advantage of the girl network. She talked to other girls about me. This even included other girls I had dated. She got consistent reports. I was a nice guy and safe. Later she enjoyed hearing stories about me from some of my friends. Friends and family are often willing to share things you wouldn’t. She noticed that I treated other people in and outside of my life with respect. She saw that I could take care of myself and was responsible. She even took one additional step when she was getting serious about me. She took one of the reports I wrote to the library and analyzed my handwriting. Normally I would say that’s a little excessive and I’m not sure how exact that science is. However, when she told me, I must admit to being a little impressed. It told me something about her. She is thorough. Besides, she said I passed, although my penmanship left much to be desired.

Now Crystal had an advantage in that, when she met me, she wasn’t even thinking about marriage. Really, I think that is a key. Too many times, people just want to be married. Don’t be too anxious. Try to enjoy the process, and don’t just settle. Also don’t make the common mistake (especially prevalent in young women). Don’t think you will change someone once you are married. Always assume what you see is what you get. If there are red flags, don’t just dismiss them. It is much worse to be in a bad marriage, than to break up with someone you don’t thoroughly trust or who can’t give you what you need.

Crystal and I have been married for thirty four years and still love each other. It hasn’t always been easy. For us, though it has been worth it. We aren’t experts and only want to give our two cents worth to help in a resurgence of this great institution (marriage). Have a great day!

Crystal’s corner:
The main reason I tested Ron’s handwriting was because I had heard so many good things about him. I had also observed his good character when I was with him. I think I was afraid he was too good to be true. I already knew that his handwriting would come out fine. God had led me to him. I trusted God completely. But it was very reassuring that science backed up God this time. His handwriting analysis showed that he was honest and had integrity. So true.

Category: Suitable Mate

Pray About It

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With teenage girls, I was never sure how much of my “sage” advice got in. After all I was “just dad”. However, now that I am writing this blog, over the internet, where everything is true, I’m sure you realize that I only have your best interest at heart. The first thing I told my girls was to pray for your spouse. This was a practice that both Crystal, though I didn’t know her at the time, and I both practiced. This is a practice which works even if you are not particularly religious. I’ll explain why shortly.

I started while in the confusing world of high school. With all of the bullies, geeks (which I was probably one), different social groups, sexual and role confusion, etc., it was a very stressful time. I saw my parents in their ups and downs, highs and lows, regardless they were always on the same team. I always knew I wanted that someday. I never fixated on it. Over the next few years, I may have prayed for the health and well being of my future spouse a half a dozen times. The funny thing was, whenever I did, the things I was looking for became clearer. I think that is the key. Have an idea in your head about what you need in a spouse and make it a plan. I don’t mean pray for a movie star who only lives to please you. Trust me I have tried that, and all I got was a mental image of God laughing. I mean what is really important to you.

What are your basic values? What traits are you looking for in a spouse? Picture people you like and get along with. Whatever, whoever, comes to mind, that’s who you are looking for. Don’t ever forget that, when emotions and “love” are involved, they have a way of blurring your mind. For me dating was a great diversion and screening tool in college. While I never planned on coming out of college with a fiancé, there were a few girls who I thought were spousal material for me. Somehow though, things never worked out. For me, that was just part of God’s screening process.

When I met Crystal, it was interesting, but never love at first sight. She kept coming back into my life and my thoughts. Our first date was a semiformal dance. She was the seventh girl I asked. The more I was with her the more I realized that maybe this was the person I had been praying for. When she was sick, I just wanted to take care of her; or when I needed a paper typed and she dropped everything to do it; we just knew. Crystal and I don’t share tons of interests, but we still date and make sure that our spouse can continue to pursue their non-mutual interests. An unselfish attitude is a key for both you and your spouse. But we can save that for another day. Have a good one!

Crystal’s Corner
Since Ron is writing this blog about marriage and our relationship I thought it would be good if I throw my two cents in from time to time. I believe he is right when he talks about praying for your future spouse. Right before I met Ron while I was at Bradley University, I was praying for God to send me a best friend on campus. I was a transfer student so I was new to the school as a junior. I thought my best friend would be a girlfriend that I could confide in and spend time with on campus. But God had a different idea. He sent me Ron and he became my boyfriend and my best friend for life. This was very confusing for me for a while. I had a five year plan for after I left college. Ron talks about this in the memoir. But it is true that God moves in mysterious ways. This happens in our life all the time. (How did we end up in Ohio after living in Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois?) Wait for God. He knows who the best spouse is for you and the timing of it too.

Category: Suitable Mate