Friday, April 6, 2012

The Battle Plan - Part V

(This is the continuation of a post about giving the perfect gift.  You can find the previous strategies here, here, here, and here!)

Strategy #8: Perseverance
When you are waging a war, you don’t always win every battle.  There will be little skirmishes, here and there, that you will lose.  There may be times you and your beloved will slip-up, fall back into old habits, compromise on your guidelines.

The key is to keep your mind on your goal: giving the perfect gift.  Don’t let losing one battle cause you to lose the whole war.  Admit your wrongdoing, stand back up, and resolve not to fall again.  The best soldier isn’t necessarily the one who is never wounded; it’s oftentimes the one who, though wounded, reenters the fray with renewed zeal and determination.

Giving the perfect gift is worth every ounce of effort and sacrifice.  It’s worth fighting for…again, again, and again.  There is never a time when it’s too late to begin anew.  There will always be a new day, a new opportunity to fight for what is true and beautiful. 

Love is sacrifice.  If you love your beloved, you will try every single day to give him or her what is best so that, even if you fall one day, the next day you’ll be even more determined to love more purely and generously.  Chris and I didn’t do everything perfectly in our relationship and engagement.  We had our falls, too—times we didn’t follow our guidelines.  It was tempting to become discouraged and to throw in the towel.  But our desire to love each other was too strong and the goal of the perfect gift too noble to ignore. 

As I walked up the aisle on our wedding day, it was, in many ways, a victory march.  Chris triumphantly waited for me at the top of the aisle.  My white wedding dress was our banner flag, waving in victory.  We had done it: we persevered in waiting to give each other the perfect gift.

Keep fighting the good fight.  Let the white of your (or your bride's) wedding dress be your victory flag of purity.  No matter your past or how many times you have fallen, pick yourself up and begin again.

Strategy #9: Hobbies
You may find, once you have created your guidelines for physical affection and are following them, that suddenly you and your beloved have a lot of free time on your hands. 

This is exactly the way it should be—the period before marriage is a discernment time.  Up until the moment you say, “I do,” you are trying to figure out if this person is your vocation, the man or woman you are meant to spend the rest of your life with.  Physical intimacy isn’t going to answer that for you; as I mentioned earlier, it often makes the answer more difficult to find.

So, with your free time, get to know your beloved better.  Take up some hobbies together.  Learn how to dance.  Go on a bike ride.  Play a game of chess or read a story together (in a library or other public place). Explore some historical sites in your local area.

Find ways to let your beloved know how much you love him or her.  Affection and romance don’t have to always be physical.  Write him or her a poem.  Create a playlist of songs that chronologically represent your relationship, or that remind you of your beloved.  Leave flowers or homemade cookies on his or her doorstep one morning. 

One of the benefits of reserving the sexual act and sexual affection for marriage is that it adds beauty and depth to things that are important and that strengthen a relationship, but otherwise may be overlooked.  Suddenly holding hands becomes something incredible precious, something absolutely romantic.

Use your free time to talk…really talk.  Have some deep, personal conversations.  What was your beloved’s most cherished memory?  What is his or her darkest fear?  Who does he or she admire the most and why?  If he or she could change one thing from the past, what would it be?  What does your beloved consider his or her greatest fault and greatest strength?  What is your beloved’s goal in life?  How would he or she define “love?”  Talk about the future.  Where does he or she see both of you in ten years?  What is his or her view regarding your roles in marriage?  How many children would he or she want?  What is most important to him or her in raising children? 

Ask these questions because the answers will help you really discern if this person is the best fit for you.  If you and your beloved have a radically different understanding of the purpose of life or the meaning of love—it’s time to figure out why and what that means for your relationship.

The time before marriage is the time to build emotional and spiritual intimacy—not physical intimacy.

Tomorrow I will post the last--and most important--battle strategy for giving the perfect gift!

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