Featured: Are You Waiting For ‘The One’? M and D Peterson[Vol. 4, #17.5]

August 19, 2011 — 4 Comments

 

A Dating Book for New Monastics
and other Community-Minded Christians

A review of
Are You Waiting for ‘The One’?:
Cultivating Realistic, Positive
Expectations for Christian Marriage.

by Margaret and Dwight Peterson.

Review by Jasmine Wilson.

Are You Waiting for ‘The One’?:
Cultivating Realistic, Positive
Expectations for Christian Marriage.

Margaret and Dwight Peterson.
Paperback: IVP Books, 2011.

Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

I’ve been in a dating relationship for nearly three years, and I’ve often bemoaned the lack of good Christian dating resources. The one that was most popular all through high school was I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris. I admit, I never wound up reading that one, but I did pick up the sequel, Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship a few months ago, and I couldn’t get past the introduction, as it was saturated in a Hollywood culture that plays the same story-line over and over: girl and boy meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after. And most importantly, the person you meet and marry has to be “the one.”

Margaret and Dwight Peterson tap into this question, asking Are You Waiting for ‘The One’?: Cultivating Realistic, Positive Expectations for Christian Marriage. Nothing against Joshua Harris and his notion that there is a sense of romanticism in dating (err, I mean, courting), but the Petersons paint a much more helpful picture of what dating and marriage should look like for Christians. They begin by talking about the “myth of the one true love” and can give firsthand knowledge of that, since both of them had been married before marrying each other (one was divorced, and one was happily married and became a widow). This book is based on a class they teach to seniors at Duke, and when students hear that Margaret had been married before, they ask all sorts of questions like, “Dwight, how do you feel knowing she loved someone else the same way she loves you?” or “Margaret, how do you know which husband was ‘the one’ for you?” Young Christians are often plagued with the romantic myths of the broader culture: “Don’t ‘settle for less,’ marry someone who will treat you like a prince or princess;” “Singleness is not an option for Christians,” and “One should marry their best friend, not getting emotionally intimate with anyone else except your potential spouse.”

The Petersons argue how these perfect love stories are very unrealistic, put so much pressure on young people and are not truthful to the Christian lifestyle, which is about unity and community-forming, and marital love has enough in common that you can practice on family and friends, and the more you practice the better you’ll be. All too often I’ve seen my friends (and myself, to be honest) get in a relationship and get isolated from their other friends and family. But true love is hospitable and welcoming to others, and marriage should not be two people against the world, but a type of living in the kingdom of God that witnesses to the faithfulness and unity of God, and if the couple has children, those children express a hope that God is in control of the world, even when it seems dark and full of despair, God will protect the world in generations to come.

Looking at the table of contents of this book made me know I would love reading it: after they talk about young love, they talk about what Christian marriage is (which I just paraphrased above), then they talk about the importance of family and family traditions that will affect the couple as they embark on their own families (this part is really helpful I think in getting the couple to ask the right sort of questions that will help them look at the way they grew up objectively and compare it to their potential partner, so they can discuss how they will do things that might have seemed that was just the way things were done. When one compares it to their partner, they realize people do things different ways, whether it is division of chores, how meals will be handled, how often the family goes on vacation, etc.).

Chapter 4 is “Peace: Handling Conflict Constructively”; then “Friendship: From Acquaintance to Intimacy”; Chapter Six is “Sex: Embodied Communion” (here they make clear that talking about sex with single people isn’t going to increase the chances of them having it, and how premarital sex isn’t the worst thing anyone did, although they aren’t condoning it). Chapter Seven is “Hospitality: Welcoming Children and other Strangers.” Next, is “Households: Forming an Economic Partnership.” And finally, they end with “Old Love: Growing Together into Maturity.”

There really was not a lot that the Petersons didn’t cover, and almost everything I read was helpful in providing a perspective that was faithfully Christian. The one thing that I thought was really interesting was their bias against contraception. Their point was that many parents are okay with their children marrying young, but with the understanding that they will not have children until they are settled: out of graduate school, settled in a career, etc. They suggested that people should not unthinkingly participate in contraception, since sexual intercourse is primarily a childbearing enterprise (although it also is an avenue for creative enjoyment of one another), but marriage then is meant to be a sphere for family-building (since before contraception, children came right after marriage). They encourage couples who are contemplating marriage to be ready for children too, and if they do participate in contraception, they do it thoughtfully and not just because that is the norm.

Of the dating books I have read and appreciated, many of them often rely solely on the stories of the writer and his or her spouse. What I appreciate about this book is that a lot of the stories they tell are ones their students have told them about throughout the years, and I don’t feel like I’m just hearing about them and their lives. I would recommend this book strongly to anyone who is thinking about marriage, is recently married, or is trying to think through their marriage through the lens of some of these themes.

I’ve been in a dating relationship for nearly three years, and I’ve often bemoaned the lack of good Christian dating resources. The one that was most popular all through high school was I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris. I admit, I never wound up reading that one, but I did pick up the sequel, Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship a few months ago, and I couldn’t get past the introduction, as it was saturated in a Hollywood culture that plays the same story-line over and over: girl and boy meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after. And most importantly, the person you meet and marry has to be “the one.”

Margaret and Dwight Peterson tap into this question, asking Are You Waiting for ‘The One’?: Cultivating Realistic, Positive Expectations for Christian Marriage. Nothing against Joshua Harris and his notion that there is a sense of romanticism in dating (err, I mean, courting), but the Petersons paint a much more helpful picture of what dating and marriage should look like for Christians. They begin by talking about the “myth of the one true love” and can give firsthand knowledge of that, since both of them had been married before marrying each other (one was divorced, and one was happily married and became a widow). This book is based on a class they teach to seniors at Duke, and when students hear that Margaret had been married before, they ask all sorts of questions like, “Dwight, how do you feel knowing she loved someone else the same way she loves you?” or “Margaret, how do you know which husband was ‘the one’ for you?” Young Christians are often plagued with the romantic myths of the broader culture: “Don’t ‘settle for less,’ marry someone who will treat you like a prince or princess;” “Singleness is not an option for Christians,” and “One should marry their best friend, not getting emotionally intimate with anyone else except your potential spouse.”

The Petersons argue how these perfect love stories are very unrealistic, put so much pressure on young people and are not truthful to the Christian lifestyle, which is about unity and community-forming, and marital love has enough in common that you can practice on family and friends, and the more you practice the better you’ll be. All too often I’ve seen my friends (and myself, to be honest) get in a relationship and get isolated from their other friends and family. But true love is hospitable and welcoming to others, and marriage should not be two people against the world, but a type of living in the kingdom of God that witnesses to the faithfulness and unity of God, and if the couple has children, those children express a hope that God is in control of the world, even when it seems dark and full of despair, God will protect the world in generations to come.

Looking at the table of contents of this book made me know I would love reading it: after they talk about young love, they talk about what Christian marriage is (which I just paraphrased above), then they talk about the importance of family and family traditions that will affect the couple as they embark on their own families (this part is really helpful I think in getting the couple to ask the right sort of questions that will help them look at the way they grew up objectively and compare it to their potential partner, so they can discuss how they will do things that might have seemed that was just the way things were done. When one compares it to their partner, they realize people do things different ways, whether it is division of chores, how meals will be handled, how often the family goes on vacation, etc.).

Chapter 4 is “Peace: Handling Conflict Constructively”; then “Friendship: From Acquaintance to Intimacy”; Chapter Six is “Sex: Embodied Communion” (here they make clear that talking about sex with single people isn’t going to increase the chances of them having it, and how premarital sex isn’t the worst thing anyone did, although they aren’t condoning it). Chapter Seven is “Hospitality: Welcoming Children and other Strangers.” Next, is “Households: Forming an Economic Partnership.” And finally, they end with “Old Love: Growing Together into Maturity.”

There really was not a lot that the Petersons didn’t cover, and almost everything I read was helpful in providing a perspective that was faithfully Christian. The one thing that I thought was really interesting was their bias against contraception. Their point was that many parents are okay with their children marrying young, but with the understanding that they will not have children until they are settled: out of graduate school, settled in a career, etc. They suggested that people should not unthinkingly participate in contraception, since sexual intercourse is primarily a childbearing enterprise (although it also is an avenue for creative enjoyment of one another), but marriage then is meant to be a sphere for family-building (since before contraception, children came right after marriage). They encourage couples who are contemplating marriage to be ready for children too, and if they do participate in contraception, they do it thoughtfully and not just because that is the norm.

Of the dating books I have read and appreciated, many of them often rely solely on the stories of the writer and his or her spouse. What I appreciate about this book is that a lot of the stories they tell are ones their students have told them about throughout the years, and I don’t feel like I’m just hearing about them and their lives. I would recommend this book strongly to anyone who is thinking about marriage, is recently married, or is trying to think through their marriage through the lens of some of these themes.