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?


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.

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Exchanging Deep Relationships For Social Media

Some new stats on Americans’ use of technology are out, and some of them are startling.

Focus on the Family’s reports on several new studies, including new research on smart phone use from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.

It turns out that most college students in the US interact with their phones about seven hours every day. That includes sending an average of 110 texts, receiving 113 texts and checking their phones 60 times.

James Roberts, a Baylor professor and author of the book Materialism 2.0, says this about the findings, “At first glance, one might have the tendency to dismiss [this level of] mobile phone use as merely youthful nonsense—a passing fad. But an emerging body of literature has given increased credence to cell phone addiction and similar behavioral addictions.”

Another new study looked at social networking. The Neilson company found that the average woman who uses social network sites spends 18 hours and 20 minutes on sites like Facebook each month. That’s compared to about 13 hours for males.

Among 18- to 24-year-olds, both men and women spend an average of 21 hours a month social networking. 25- to 34-year-olds are close behind at 20 hours a month.

Many experts are concerned that we are spending so much time communicating electronically vs. face-to-face, and I tend to agree.

God calls us to deep, authentic relationships with others. First Peter 1:22 tells us to “love one another deeply, from the heart.” Is that really possible if our relationships are based on texts, tweets and Facebook posts?

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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Healthy Eating Does Matter

If you’re at high risk of having a heart attack, changing your diet can significantly lower your chances of heart disease.

But can eating fruits and vegetables help someone who already has heart problems?   Maybe so.

Time magazine is reporting on a new study done by a group of international researchers.  It shows that for heart patients currently taking medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol, healthy eating can have an added beneficial effect.

Mashid Dehghan, a researcher at the Population Health Research Institute in Canada says “We encourage everyone to eat healthy.  But especially high-risk patients, we want them to know: Take your medication, but modify your diet as well.”

Dr. Dehghan says “Some people think that if medication lowers their blood pressure, healthy eating doesn’t matter. We want them to know that this is wrong.”

The new study is the most comprehensive research of its kind to date.

That’s because of large size of the study population, and the fact that it included participants from 40 different countries.  [The researchers tracked 30,000 adults aged 55 and older, all with a history of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.]

It found that patients who ate healthy AND took their medication had the best outcomes of all.

Dr. Denghan points out that healthy eating is not about one single nutrient or food group, but instead, about the big picture.   She says “People can eat healthy or unhealthy three times a day, so if you modify your diet it can have a big impact.”

If you’d like to learn more about the study, go to and enter “heart disease” in the search engine.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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Entertainment Affecting Attention Spans

America’s teachers are concerned about the impact that entertainment is having on learning.

In a new poll, 71% of teachers say they believe that entertainment is hurting their student’s attention spans, and nearly 50% believe that it’s keeping them from doing their homework well.

The study was done by Common Sense Media Research—and it described texting and spending time on social networks as “entertainment,” alongside watching television, playing video games and listening to music.

The majority of teachers believe that such media is also hurting students’ ability to write coherently and communicate face-to-face. Many teachers also say entertainment and technology are impairing critical thinking skills.

One elementary school teacher wrote this for the study, “Attention spans seem to be decreasing, as does students’ abilities to persist through difficult tasks. (They’d rather just push restart and start over.)”

By the way, another new study on the impact of technology found that the “auto-complete” functions on smartphones seem to make teens faster but less accurate in cognitive tests. Time Magazine reports that kids who are frequent texters tend to score higher in their verbal reasoning ability, but lower on actual literacy.

Scientists also believe search engines are reshaping our memories. With so much information at our fingertips, we no longer have to store it in our brains.

And while email may be an effective way to communicate on the job, employees who juggle looking at email with other tasks suffer a temporary 10-point drop in their IQ by the end of the day.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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Football Players & Head Injuries

More concern is being raised about football players and head injuries.

ABC News reports that researchers have announced that 34 NFL players whose brains were studied suffered from CTE, a degenerative brain disease brought on by repeated hits to the head.  CTE results in confusion, depression and, eventually, dementia.

Researchers at Boston University have published the largest case series study of CTE to date.  Of the 85 brains donated by the families of deceased veterans and athletes with histories of head trauma, they found CTE in 68 of them. Of those, 34 were professional football players, nine others played college football and six played high school football.

However, it isn’t known how much brain trauma results in CTE.

Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the lead researchers who performed the study, says “While it remains unknown what level of exposure to brain trauma is required to trigger CTE, there is no available evidence that occasional, isolated or well-managed concussions give rise to [the disorder]”

Several highly publicized suicides by NFL players have focused attention on the impact of repeated head trauma.

San Diego Chargers veteran Junior Seau and ex Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson both died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the last two years.  Researchers say that Duerson definitely suffered from CTE, and Seau’s brain is currently being studied for effects of the disorder.

Seau’s death  prompted NFL player Jacob Bell to quit the sport altogether, terminating his contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.

CTE has also been found in hockey players, wrestlers and boxers. It’s still not possible to diagnose while a person is alive.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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We’ve Become a Nation of Yellers

Have you yelled at someone today? According to a story in USA Today, we’ve become a nation of yellers.

Apparently most of us yell in anger, in frustration, or simply to “vent.” It seems that for some Americans, they’re preferred mode of commutation may be yelling.

A few years ago, researchers asked a thousand families about yelling and found that 88 percent of parents admitted yelling, screaming or shouting at their children during the year. In families with 7-year-old kids, that number climbed to nearly 100 percent.

The USA Today article reports that raising our voices is exhausting. Especially if it becomes our reaction to stressors — or our way of relating. Not only does it take a physical and emotional toll on the yeller, but it deeply affects those on the receiving end of the angry communication.

Psychologist and Researcher Myra Shure, author of Raising a Thinking Child, says children’s brains are so sensitive to yelling that a child who is yelled at regularly can become “immune” and start to “tune it out.”

In her research, she found a troubling correlation between kindergartners whose parents disciplined through yelling and the children’s own expression of aggression.

Dr. Sure says that chronic yelling can create a kind of “relational erosion,” damaging trust and security between two people.

There are some key triggers that tend to drive our yelling: stress, impatience, needing to be heard and feeling anxious.

For some ideas on “quelling the yelling,” go to and enter “yelling” in the search engine.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM

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More Facebook Friends Means More Stress

Could your Facebook friends be stressing you out? Maybe so. According to a new study, the more Facebook friends you have, the more stressed you may be.

CBS News reports on a new study done at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. It indicates that you if have a large variety of friends on Facebook, you may feel more anxious.

The researchers say that stress can increase when a person participates in behavior that may not be approved by their peers on Facebook, such as swearing, recklessness, drinking and smoking.

The situation may be exacerbated by the growing number of people joining Facebook. Back in the early days, members mainly consisted of college students. But now, folks of a wide variety of ages and background are on the social networking site.

Ben Marder, a fellow at The University of Edinburgh and the author of the report, says “Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you could dance, drink and flirt. But now with your Mum, Dad and boss there the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines,”

You know, that makes perfect sense. If posting about activities that some might consider immoral or inappropriate, you might not want your supervisor or your Mom reading all about it.

By the way, Facebook’s minimum age limit is currently 13-years old. In August, the social network reported its oldest user was a 101-year-old woman. Average users can fall anywhere in that spectrum.

You can find more information about the study on the University of Edinburgh’s website.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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