Are you living in a Relationship Simulator?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

“Hold it a little further to the right,” he said. “Yes…like that. If you want the plane to make a full circle, you have to align the white line on this gauge with the direction you’re heading…”
My eyes locked onto that gauge and its bright readout, then came back to watch the horizon as it slipped past the windows.
“I can see the Shelburne harbor!” I cried. The plane was coming around now and the lake opened out before me, a startling blue beneath the cloudless sky.
The man beside me smiled. “Okay, now have a try at bringing her down. There’s the runway to our right.”
I could see it plainly – a straight black line cutting through the grey-green forest and surrounding businesses that looked like little bug homes from 5000 feet of altitude. I zeroed in on that stretch of pavement. I had to make this.
The altimeter told me I was descending, and there was a jerk as we shifted to the right with changing wind patterns. The yoke was cool under my excited hands, my heart beating a thrilling rhythm. I was getting a taste of my lifelong dream of flying.
“Pull up slightly,” the man said gently, guiding me expertly as the ground came up beneath us. There was a fleeting sensation of floating; that feeling of which I have dreamed for so many years. And then the slight bump as the wheels touched the pavement and we were down.
“Congratulations on making a successful landing,” he said. Then he paused for a moment. “That was really good,” he added quietly.
I let out my breath slowly. Every part of me felt keyed up in a beautiful, wonderful rush. I was living my dream.
Only, I wasn’t. That was just a very, very high-tech flight simulator at a free VT flight academy event.
There’s a reality to the dream of a private pilot’s license: time, effort, and money. Lots and lots of money. Lord-willing, I hope to achieve this dream sooner rather than later! But it’s going to take a lot of work.

A “Relationship Simulator” is a great relationship that mimics marriage, only without the responsibility, without the practical learning, without the reality of joint decision-making, without the deep-level resolution of differences. It is excitement and affection without in-depth examination or compatibility analysis.
I’m not talking about a particular couple here! :) I’m referring to a trend among young people, a situation that church leaders are facing frequently.
Spring has arrived and there is an increasing number of Christian couples who get together and are Just.So.Excited to be “in a relationship!!!!!!!!!” They are naturally so enthusiastic about being liked, about living their dreams, about experiencing the romance of coffee dates and the excitement of phone calls and the beautiful emotional rush of having a special someone to care about, that the real work of finding out if they’re suitable for each other – or possibly the difficult consideration of maybe-this-isn’t-the-right-one – is pushed aside. And when you don’t think too hard about core suitability issues, well, it all feels so right!
Just like in a high-tech flight simulator, there are all the sensations of the real thing. In a simulator like the one I experienced, the whole structure moves (sometimes startlingly) under one’s guidance of the yoke, the brakes work, the flaps cause the aircraft to shift, the ground whirls past below and the wind is unexpected. But one can make a mistake or fail to check the plane over thoroughly and there are no long-term consequences. Ultimately, it is not fully “right”; it is not real. It is a thrill-a-minute without analysis, paperwork, license, or cost.
In the same way, one can experience all the pleasant exciting feelings of being in a relationship, the highs and lows and the minor relational bumps along the way, along with the beautiful dreams of an approaching future as a Married Person, without being fully honest with oneself about the rightness of this person as a lifetime match.
The couples who make it into old age are the couples who get out of the simulator and who save the romance for after the analysis stage.
Their advice to us? Face the hard questions, do the work of relationship-building, and build a solid foundation for a lifetime of love, parenting, and beautiful old age together.
Cheers to awesome, excitement-filled marriages that last!!

1 comment:

  1. You have a blog!!! This is so great! Now I can keep up with your family! You guys need to come up to visit sometime... it's been to long! �� God bless you and your family!


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