00:00:00 – 00:00:06 – Musical Intro
Kristine: Hi, I’m Kristine Franklin and you’re listening to Episode six. You’re at a friend’s house and you’re there for dinner, barbecue, the kids are there everybody is ready to have a great time and then you see something that bugs you and worries you. You try to put it out of your head and try to just have a nice time, concentrate on dinner and fellowship and goofing off together, but that it’s sticking in your brain– what you saw. And you’re having this you know, argument inside your head, “no that’s really wrong, something’s wrong. I’m sure something’s wrong. No, no, nothing’s wrong,” they’re great but you’ve known these guys forever and you’re worried, something’s wrong.
You don’t say anything during dinner but that night you get home and you say to your husband, did you see the sleeping bag and pillow right next to the couch on the floor in the family room. Do you think Rob is sleeping in there? Do you think that Sarah kicked him out of the bedroom? Has he said anything to you? Do you think they’re having marriage trouble?
Your wife leaves the house for an outing with her girlfriends or going out for coffee or drinks, and you find her wedding ring in a dish by the sink. Doesn’t she always wear her wedding rings, and why would she go out without them? Doesn’t she always have them on her hand when she’s out in public? You start to worry, a lot, and then you say no, this is stupid. I shouldn’t be worrying about it, you start thinking over that last fight that you had, was it a bigger deal than you really — are you being dense? And she’s really upset with you enough to take her wedding rings off and go out with her friends. Did you miss something? Is she unhappy? You start thinking, have I seen signs of happiness, am I being a creep of a husband? Am I a jerk, what did I do? Why did my wife go out without her wedding rings? Is my marriage sliding downhill and I’m clueless?
Elizabeth Pardi wrote an article called Three Signs Your Marriage is in Trouble, or Not. You can read it at Aleteia. So here’s what happened. Elizabeth was pulling out of her garage in the van you know, she’s got the two kids strapped into the back into their car seats, and she’s kind of doing the checklist in her head. As she goes out of the garage, she’s got the diaper bag, she’s got her purse, she’s got her phone, and she’s — you know, looks at the steering wheel and she sees her hand and she goes, oh my gosh, I forgot my wedding rings. She realizes she wasn’t wearing them and she felt super weird, and Elizabeth said she worried if people would think that something’s wrong with her marriage, because she didn’t have her wedding rings on. I mean she didn’t really have time to go back into the house, so she just said, I’m going to just forget about it, people can think what they want. But it got her thinking about the kinds of things that people assume when they see certain things with married people, like that someone isn’t wearing their wedding ring. And she wondered, is it a sign of a problem if somebody isn’t wearing their wedding ring? Is that a sign of a problem? Is it — it’s easy to jump to a conclusion if you see somebody without their wedding rings. It — but it can also be easy to ignore symptoms of a marriage that’s in trouble. So Elizabeth says, check yourself on this stuff. Not wearing your wedding ring, it could be a sign, a real sign that there’s something wrong.
Tia Cunningham is a life coach and she says that it’s really important how you represent your marriage to other people, and that you need to take a lot of care. You need to care for the image of your marriage towards other people. That’s not like be fake, but she’s saying you know, the fact that you’re married is really important. And she says in her work as a life coach, she sees that when somebody deliberately stops wearing their wedding ring, it can be a sign that there’s trouble at home. So (duh), if you’ve stopped wearing your wedding ring because you’re mad, or you stop wearing your wedding ring because you don’t want people to know you’re married, or you want people to think that you’re available, think hard, maybe you haven’t consciously gone there yet and maybe you’re thinking, oh I would never commit adultery, I would never go behind my wife’s back, I would never go behind my husband’s — I would never get into a relationship but why, did you take your rings off? Why are you not wearing your wedding ring in public? What’s going on? You don’t want to represent a false image of yourself as single and free if you’re not. It’s really important to take care of your marriage.
So why, if you’re not wearing your wedding ring, why? Well, maybe you have a really good reason and it has nothing to do with the health of your marriage. There’s a good reason never to assume things, especially about other people. If you see a friend without a ring okay, don’t jump to conclusions, don’t jump to conclusions if you see this on somebody else. So, your doctor.
Next time you’re at the doctor or dentist, notice they don’t wear wedding rings. Why? Because they wash their hands all day and also it punctures rubber gloves. So if you’re working in a hospital, probably don’t have rings on any kind on your finger, so that’s a totally legitimate reason for somebody to not be wearing a wedding ring, that doesn’t have anything to do with their marriage. A person who works around dangerous machinery, it may be a rule at their work, you can’t wear a wedding ring or any kind of rings or jewelry, because it could get caught in machinery and cause a bad accident. Ask your carpenter friends if they take off their rings and bracelets and stuff when they’re using saws and machinery, because it’s just good practice not to you know, be dangerous.
In Elizabeth’s case, she just forgot. She was doing some dirty cleaning and she took her rings off because she didn’t want to get gooky and so she just forgot to put them back on.
My husband does this for me every year around our anniversary, he takes — I take off my wedding rings, they’re soldered together, my wedding ring and my engagement ring, I take them off and I give them to him and he takes them to the jeweler. We don’t live in a big city so he has to take them into a jeweler that’s 40 miles away, and then my ring stay there for two weeks and they get cleaned and they do a prong check on the diamond on my engagement ring. Now my wedding rings are really precious to me, but they have extra sentimentality because the diamond in my ring is over one hundred — it’s been in well, it’s over billions of years old, but it’s been in my husband’s family for more than a hundred years. So it’s very special, I never want to lose it and so he does this as a favor — kind of an anniversary gift and so for two weeks, I don’t have a wedding ring on, and I hope nobody’s assuming bad things about me, because I have a very good explanation.
So, if your — your wedding ring is a sign of fidelity, monogamy, commitment, so if you stop wearing it for the wrong reasons, it could be a sign of trouble. But it’s also a piece of jewelry on your hands and you may have a really good reason not to wear it some of the time. Don’t assume your friend is looking for a date. Assume the best, assume the best.
And so, what about the guy who’s sleeping in the family room? First of all, is he? Hey guess what, yeah he is, you were right, but you don’t know why. The marriage bed is a place of privacy and intimacy and it’s also where you sleep. And when two people are experiencing unhappiness in their marriage, they may withdraw emotionally and physically from each other and, sleeping in another room could be a sign of that. If you’re sleeping in separate rooms because you don’t really want to be near your spouse, you don’t want to be available and you’re avoiding intimacy, because of emotional hurt, that needs to be dealt with. Marriage and family therapist Linda Lewis Griffith says that when two people sleep in different rooms because of emotional distancing, one of those people is pulling away. One of those people is pulling away and what she said, that spells trouble. So are you sleeping in separate rooms? It might not be that your marriage is in any kind of trouble at all. You might be perfectly happily married. But examine yourself. What are your reasons?
Plenty of happily married people sleep in separate beds. Maybe one of them work shifts and comes in at weird hours. I have a girlfriend who’s a nurse and she works OB, and she comes in at really weird hours you know, she may — her shift may go long, she may work till one o’clock in the morning, and she comes in and she sleeps in another bed that night or on — or in the — she actually she sleeps in the family room that night because she doesn’t want to wake up her husband, who has to get up at 5:30. Sometimes it’s just a courtesy, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with their marriage in fact, it’s a kindness. When one spouse has a sleep issue that causes the other person to stay awake, like snoring or tooth grinding or flailing around, sleeping in separate beds might be a fine arrangement. It isn’t the bed that makes the marriage, it’s the intimacy and the trust that two people share and work hard to maintain.
If you’re sleeping in the separate beds because you’re pulling away, then your marriage is in trouble and you need to examine that, and maybe get some help. If you’ve got another reason and it works for you, and it isn’t messing up your intimacy, it isn’t hurting your marriage, in fact is helping and you’re getting better sleep, it’s nobody’s business but yours. And it might even help your marriage, hey, better sleep, better mood, happier day. And British royalty and aristocrats, they always have their own bedrooms and that doesn’t mean they don’t love each other, it just means they have way more rooms in their houses and space to spare, and they get a really good night’s sleep. So it’s kind of like, what the elite do, is sleep in their own rooms.
So if you’ve got some things to decide and work out in your marriage, all the time, this is an ongoing thing. You start, here’s another thing that might be going on. You decide you’ve got some stuff going on, you start couples’ counseling, but you don’t want to tell anyone because they’ll assume you’re headed for divorce. In fact, you tell your mom and she freaks and she starts lecturing you on the permanency of marriage, blah, blah, blah, and you totally wished you hadn’t told her.
Okay so yeah, sometimes couples’ counseling is because a couple is trying to save a marriage that’s falling apart. But good for them, good for them, they’re taking steps toward healing and staying together. They wouldn’t — they wouldn’t be in couples’ counseling if either one of them was like, I’m outta here. We would be at a divorce lawyer, right. So if a couple’s in counseling, good for them, good for them. And maybe you and your spouse are in counseling not because your marriage is on the rocks or falling you know, you’re falling apart from each other, maybe because it’s — you love each other and you want more tools in your toolbox to help you love better.
Better communication, huge. It’s huge and if you didn’t have a good example in your home growing up, you might not be very good at it — about it. So going to counseling can be a good way to get some skills, some mad marriage skills that will help you, your whole marriage. Or maybe one of you has had a lot of trauma in the past and it’s kind of leaking into the present and affecting your marriage. And so you can deal with that baggage together as a couple, so that your spouse can learn how to love you through this difficult time and understand you. Good for you, good for you if you’re working that stuff out.
The moral of the story is, don’t jump to conclusions about other people. Take a look at yourself, your own relationship, and decide whether or not there are danger signs going on. If there are, talk to your priest, ask for a good recommendation from a good counselor, also you can go to catholiccounselors.com and get advice. You can pay for a session on the phone if you don’t have any way to get help near where you are. First talk to your priest or you can go on a Marriage Encounter, that’s a very inexpensive way to get a start on getting some of those good marriage tools. And anyone can go to a Marriage Encounter, they’re all over, just look at Marriage Encounter — I think — .org, and you’ll find in your area a Marriage Encounter that you two could go to together, to get some tools, some skills in your toolbox for communication, for loving each other and understanding better. That’s a good thing and it’s nobody’s business but yours. Check out catholiccounselors.com, that’s a good place to start Marriage Encounter. If there aren’t any big problems in your marriage, just forget what other people think. You don’t wear your wedding rings for a reason, forget what people think. If you’re sleeping in different beds, forget what people think. If you’re going to marriage counseling together great, forget what people think. Do what you need to do to love one another and to be healthy and to grow your marriage and to get those skills you need, and to agree together, what’s going to work for us, what works for us. That’s what’s most important.
Are you having difficulty in your marriage? Ask, pray, talk to the Lord about it, get counsel, talk to your priest. But if you aren’t having any trouble, and you know, people are asking you questions like, wait I saw there’s — there’s a two bedroom set up, what’s going on? None of their business, none of their business. So don’t assume about other people, just take care of yourself. That’s pretty — that’s a pretty good way to live anyway.
Up next, e-mail inbox, question. When should I let my daughter start dating?
Male Speaker: Stand by to receive our transmission.
Kristine: We’ll be right back.
00:13:31 – 00:13:33 – Musical interlude
Male Speaker: don’t want to miss a single episode of Hello and welcome? Head on over to helloandwelcomeshow.com and subscribe right now. iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, we’ve got it all. And while you’re at it, send the link to a friend and then do the world a favor and share to social media. Spread the love around, Hello and Welcome, a Catholic podcast for everyone.
Kristine: Hello, welcome back. Hey, definitely get over to the show website helloandwelcomeshow.com and subscribe and take a look at the blog, we talk about — I write up on the blog every week about the different episodes and so if you missed part of it, you can catch up, you can subscribe there. Just — we really want you to be part of this. Every week I get questions and I get a lot of prayer requests from listeners just like you, and e-mail inbox is a way to answer them on the air. I always — now so you know I always ask permission first before I put something up into a podcast. But maybe, I usually pick something that I think would help other people. Question with like a broader audience. So if you have a question and you’d like it answered on the air, you wouldn’t mind or you just — you have a prayer request, go to the show website, helloandwelcomeshow.com and fill out the e-mail inbox form.
Today’s question comes from Jenna. Jenna’s in Corpus Christi, Texas and here’s what she writes. She says,
“We have three little girls, ten eight and six. The other morning at breakfast my ten year old asked, ‘when can I have a boyfriend mom?’ and I was totally caught off guard. I didn’t date until college and my husband says they can’t have boyfriends ever, he says it in a joking way, but he doesn’t really have an answer that we could agree to. What’s reasonable for when to let my daughter have a boyfriend?”
Super good question Jenna. It’s — your lucky that she asked, because that brings up the subject and you can start addressing it right now when she’s ten years old and not kind of wondering about how it falls out and dealing with it later. Really good question.
The first thing that springs to my mind from your letter is the question is, was your life horrible because you didn’t date until college? You said you didn’t date until college, so you’re kind of like out of the loop of what’s — you know, what should I let my daughter do she’s ten and asking, can she have a boyfriend or when can she have a boyfriend. You say you didn’t date to college, was that this terrible thing? Or were you just busy being a kid, doing sports, doing school, busy with after school, busy with your family? Was it like the worst thing that ever happened in your life, or can you look back and say, you know I just missed a lot of drama because I didn’t date until college. If you didn’t miss out on anything, obviously, you’re now married with kids, so not dating as a teenager didn’t mess up your life at all.
Think about how putting off dating might have been a really good thing in your life. Share your story with your ten year old. Take her aside, not in front of the other sisters, talk to your ten year old about the fact that you didn’t have a boyfriend, you didn’t date until you were in college. Talk to her about that.
Second and also how it didn’t ruin your life. Second it’s important to define and understand what dating even means now. You know, if I said to my mother dating, you know in her mind that was, you go for an ice cream together and he pays, or you maybe go to a movie together or ride bikes or play tennis, and that was a date. Now you know, they don’t even say dating, they say in a relationship, and here’s what it means. It’s not safe fun activities, it’s now among kids who are quote in a relationship, it means a lot of texting, a lot of concentrated time, it means early physical contact which leads to sexual intimacy, a lot of drama, very possible sexual experimentation very young. The younger they start quote dating or being in relationships, the younger they start experimenting sexually. Most, this is scary but true, it’s not like it used to be.
Most 13-year old boys now have already been exposed to pornography and a lot of them are using it regularly. So what do you think their view of your girl is? Girls are exposed to pornography too. What do you think that teenage girl is expecting from your little son? What do you — what do you think teenagers are doing when they’re spending time alone and texting each other in the middle of the night and sending each other pictures?
I mean we have to think this way because this is the world that that we live in, this is the world you live in. Girls have been exposed to an image — a false image of what it means to be attractive, and that means sexually attractive right? Who’s attractive? Sexually active — attractive. If you don’t believe me, go to Wal-Mart and go to the little girl’s section and look at the underwear, it’s sexy, I mean they’ve got push-up bras for little tiny girls, sexy underwear. What is the point of that? Sexual attractiveness — and so girls build their image on sexual attractiveness, what boys can I attract? If I can attract boys, if I can have a boyfriend, if I can be in a relationship then I’m valuable and that’s a lie. That’s a total lie. Our culture is super sick and young kids pairing up before they’re ready, that’s just a sign of it.
Your job as a parent is to protect, to guide and to protect. So let’s think this through a little bit more, let’s define what does it mean to date? What does it mean to be in a relationship? From a Catholic point of view, being in a relationship means you are actively seeking to find out whether or not this special person is the one you’re going to marry. Is he marriage material? Can he take care of a family? Will he commit? Is he chaste? Does he love God? Ideally a relationship of quote dating or in a relationship is God-centered, other-centered, two people who both want God’s best for each other. And that takes a lot of maturity. Anything less, it’s not worth the heartache, it’s not worth the drama and it can do a lot of damage.
Girls who become sexually active early are much more likely to experience severe depression, suicidal thinking, anorexia, to become promiscuous. And then there’s all the STDs, unplanned pregnancy, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real hurt is inside. Your ten-year old does not have a clue about any of this. What she’s seeing is that at ten years old, kids in her class are starting to pair off. There’s — girls are starting to have boyfriends. She’s seeing this and so she’s asking a really good question, and it’s one that you can start talking about now. When can I have a boyfriend? The answer is easy.
You can have a boyfriend when the boys are grown up enough to be considered for a life partnership for marriage, and when you’re grown up to make wise and picky choices. It doesn’t have to do with crushes. It doesn’t have to do with quote-unquote liking. It has to do with, is this person the one I’m going to marry? Remind her that she is worthy of the best man. She’s worthy as somebody who treats her not like a princess for a while, but forever. Somebody who will grow old with her, somebody who will have a family with her and take care of her, and love her and honor her for the rest of his life.
When you start talking about the reality of what dating is for, you know, what happen is they’ll get the giggles. Just ask her this, do you know any boys in your class that you’re — that you think or you’re ready to think about marrying, and they’re old enough and mature enough for you to consider marrying? When do you think you’ll be ready for a boyfriend or a girlfriend if it’s a little boy? When my kids were about the same age ten, my daughter — no my son didn’t ask, but the kids were together when my daughter asked this very same question. And so, I — we — my husband I had this conversation with them. Said here’s the point, here is the reason for dating. Do you understand that? Yeah. Do you know any — I said to my daughter, do you know any of the boys in your class, this is fifth grade okay, you know any boys in your class that are mature enough to start thinking about he’s the one I might marry? And she just giggled because it’s so — was such a crazy idea but she got it, they got it and we set a rule.
We said, long before the kids were pairing off, ten years old or so, we said you cannot have a boyfriend or girlfriend until you’re an adult. Wow, radical parenting and guess what? My kids did not care. In fact my daughter told me so many times, mom you know that rule that you said that we can’t have a boyfriend, whoo man, I’m watching all my girlfriends go through all this boyfriend drama and I’m so glad it’s not me. She thanked me, she says she remembers watching her girlfriends go through the all these break ups and crying and threats and they didn’t even have cell phones okay? So this was before cell phones and texting, she felt like she was spared all the drama because we had this rule and it gave her inner strength, it made her really super picky and she didn’t date until after college. Yeah, that’s when she thought I’m ready to date now, after college. And she met a wonderful guy, a Catholic guy and he was mature, and they both knew a dating was for and they’re married and expecting grandkid number three.
So, it didn’t ruin her life, it didn’t ruin my son’s life. It’s okay to be the parent, it’s okay to think it through and lay down reasonable rules. Now you might have a rule — you can have of course you can, you can mix with groups of boys and girls. I mean unless your kids are at an all-girls’ school or an all-boys’ school, this is going to happen, they’re going to mix, that’s okay, everybody come over to our house, watch a movie, mom and dad are home, we’ll feed you popcorn and buy the pop whatever, fine. But know what our kids were told was no pairing off. You may not pair off until you’re an adult. They understood it, we weren’t mean about it, nothing bad happened,
Jenna, I would say your little girl is right for this talk. She brought it up, she’s noticing that kids are pairing off, maybe there’s a cute boy that for the first time she’s thinking he’s sort of cute. Okay, their hormones are waking up, they’re starting to notice the opposite sex. This is normal. You can have that talk with her. Oh honey are you noticing that the girls are getting silly around the boys and blah, blah, blah you know. Yeah mom, they are, they’re getting boy crazy. That’s what my daughter used to tell me. They’re getting boy crazy. Well here’s why, because your bodies are changing and that’s a good thing. But you’re not mature enough to pick a life partner and that’s what dating and that’s what a relationship is for, to pick a life partner.
It’s totally okay for you to be the parent, to lay down reasonable rules to keep your children safe. Allowing hormonal teenagers and preteens to spend a bunch of time alone, they will — they will become intimate, don’t fool yourself. You’re putting them in danger, all kinds of danger. Keep them innocent, help keep them chaste. You asked Jenna, that’s my take on it. Keep your girl safe, teach them how valuable they are and point out how immature the boys are, and vice versa. If you’ve got boys and you’re listening point out how immature the girls are. You’re not ready to pick a life partner. Be a kid, enjoy being a kid. You want your kids to grow up safe and strong and really sure of themselves and dating early will not do anything. In fact it will take away. When they do start to date, they’ll really be ready, they’ll understand the purpose and the point, and they will make decisions themselves, like right away, on a first date.
Now deal breaker. Yeah I went on a date with him and you know I have just gotten to know him a little bit and too many deal breakers mom. That’s what they’ll say. Be really glad your daughter opened up this discussion. It’s a good one and ten is a fine age to start talking about this, because they’re starting to notice it. Way to go Jenna, be a good mom, you can do it! You can do it! Don’t be afraid to lay down rules for the protection of your kids. You might have to negotiate some, but talk to your husband, think it through, talk about the meaning of dating, what’s it for, and talk to your kids frankly. Tell them that it’s for their protection and because you love them. And if you have a kid who is dating, or has a boyfriend or a girlfriend against your — like your — you’ve made a rule or they’re sneaking around behind your back especially like if they’re middle school, high school age, they’re very attached to someone, you should dig deep and find out what’s going on. And maybe they’re missing out something at home and that’s why they’re seeking quote-unquote love outside.
If you have a question, any kind of question go to helloandwelcomeshow.com, fill out the e-mail inbox contact form. Now we can’t use all of the questions obviously that we get, but we do pray for everybody who writes. So feel free write, you don’t even have to leave your last name or anything.
Next time on Hello and Welcome, Your money personality. Do you know what it is? You have one, find out more. May God bless you today and every day and bless your families and all the people you love. Remember that no matter what you’re going through or what state of life you’re in right now, whatever you’re worrying about, whatever is weighing you down, remember that Jesus is near.
00:27:50 – 00:28:15 -Musical Outro