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Student Asks About Marrying In College

Dear Dr. Bill,

I am a 19-year-old college student on a full-ride scholarship. I’ve been dating my girlfriend for about 5 months and I already know this is the woman I want to marry. We were both raised in solid, godly families — and we’ve made a commitment to purity before marriage. After much prayer, we’ve decided we’d like to get married in 2 years.

The good news is that both sets of parents approve of our plans. But my parents disagree about the timing. They think we should wait until after I graduate. I think this issue is about their preference rather than facing the fact that I’m ready to make this decision for myself. What do you think?

–Cody


Dear Cody,

It sounds like you and your girlfriend are starting off with a good foundation. I also admire your decision to pursue sexual purity. However, at 19-years-old, I don’t think it’s wise to make a decision about marriage after dating someone for five months.

Your girlfriend sounds wonderful, and she may be just the person God wants you to marry. But during the first 3-6 months of your relationship, you’re in the “infatuation” stage. Your brains are releasing chemicals called endorphins, which contribute to a heightened sense of happiness and well-being.

During that time, we’re basically “in love with being in love,” and we’re unlikely to view our dating partner or our relationship realistically. That’s why I advise couples to date for at least a year before getting engaged. I believe it’s better to have a longer courtship and a shorter engagement, rather than vice versa.

Also, most people don’t know this, but research shows that people who wait until they’re at least 23 to get married, have a much lower divorce rate than those who marry younger.

You didn’t mention how old your girlfriend is, but I’m assuming she’s around 18 or 19. Although your marriage might work out fine if you marry during college, your chances for success will greatly increase if you give your relationship an extra year or two.

Thanks for writing Cody. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this article.

12-12-12 is Tomorrow

Tomorrow is 12-12-12, which means an increase in weddings. They say that 7500 couple will get married tomorrow. Seems strange since it is a Wednesday and who really wants to get married in the middle of the work week. Most brides consider it lucky to get married on a day like 12-12-12. Grooms also consider it lucky because it will be easier to remember their anniversary! @ShineBMac

A Mom Facing Divorce Struggles with Some Tough Choices

Dear Dr. Bill,

In the middle of marital struggles with my husband, we became pregnant. Despite this, my husband announced that he wants a divorce. Since I am originally from Europe, I’m considering a move back home rather than staying in this country where I have friends but no family. But I wonder if this is the best decision for my child.

–Heide


Dear Heide,

My heart goes out to you in this very difficult situation. But I would encourage you not to give up hope. Because you are under such a great deal of stress, now is not the time to making major decisions. Give yourself some time and space to think through all of the alternatives available to you.

The research on divorce shows that if couples will slow down the process and seek outside professional help, many marriages can be saved. Although it may feel to you or your husband that divorce is the only option, in reality it’s not.

The fact is that children do better on every measure of well-being if they grow up in a home with a married mother and father. Even if a marriage is less than perfect, staying together is always better for your kids than getting a divorce.

If your husband has no desire to reconcile but is willing to take an active role in your child’s life, I would encourage not to you not to move back to Europe. Fatherlessness has profoundly negative impacts on children, and your son needs his dad.

On the other hand, your husband refuses to take responsibility for parenting his son, moving back to Europe to live with your extended family may be the best option. A loving grandfather or uncle can’t replace your son’s father, but they can certainly give him the male attention and affirmation he so desperately needs.

Thanks for writing Heide. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this post.

Discouraged, Trapped, & Burned Out

Dear Dr. Bill,

My husband and I have four children, ages 9, 6, 4 and 2. He’s a full-time faculty member at a Bible college where I’m a part-time student. We’re both in full-time ministry and love working with the students at the college.

But we’re having a problem over expectations about our home — and I’m struggling with resentment toward my husband.

He loves to have a neat and orderly house and has a tendency to go a little crazy when things are in disarray. I’ll admit that cleaning and organization are not my gifts — I’m much more interested in relationships.

I’m very hospitable and want to use our home as an outreach to the students we work with. But my definition of what’s presentable and my husband’s differ. I feel discouraged, trapped, burned out, and that none of my efforts are ever good enough! What should I do?


Lisa, let’s review here. You have four kids under ten years old, including a toddler. You are working in ministry full-time and going to school part-time. Your husband wants a neat and orderly house and feels it your responsibility to keep it that way. What’s wrong with this picture?

You need to sit down for a major pow-wow session with your husband and discuss your priorities and expectations. Basically, you are working the equivalent of two full-time jobs and going to school. If he wants a cleaner, more organized house, he should contribute 50% to the housework and do it with a cheerful heart.

There’s bigger issue at stake here. Somehow you’ve bought into the notion that you can “do it all”—be a wife, mother, student, and be committed to full-time ministry to college students. It’s time to take a hard look at your life and decide what’s really important.

I’d suggest you take a break from ministry, limit yourself to one class per semester, and focus on your children and your marriage. If you don’t, your stress, resentment and frustration is only going to get worse and your family is going to suffer.

Thanks for writing Lisa. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.