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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Society needs to update its dating techniques

We are a culture obsessed with dating. With all this interest in relationships, you would think that Americans would have strong families, yet according to DivorceRate.org, “50 percent of all marriages in America end in divorce.”

If you have any experience with divorce, you know the harm such a separation can often do to a family: child support payments and court settlement fees hassling an individual and unrelenting burnout threatening single working parents.

The U.S. Census Bureau found that single parent families are far more likely to have a low standard of living than families with a stable marriage.

If our current strategies for finding a marriage partner fail to keep 50 percent of marriages together, I would conclude that a radical change needs to be made in the dating process.

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Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, postulates an approach I find much more effective and authentic than the one employed by the generality of society.

In this approach there are four stages: personal reflection, acquainting yourself with the other’s character, courtship and parental consent.

Bahá’u’lláh describes marriage as a “fortress for well-being” and emphasizes the importance of careful preparation for marriage.

Before considering marriage, Bahá’ís are encouraged to reflect on their own character. For me, this means recognizing my strengths and weaknesses and knowing what I want from life.

A surface investigation of my own character might reveal that I am a creative thinker who presents only the illusion of being organized and who finds joy in most aspects of life.

Any person I consider marrying would have to accept and encourage these qualities.

The next step in the process is becoming thoroughly acquainted with the character of your prospective spouse. This means noticing the character traits of those around you and gauging how they mesh or clash with your own.

By noticing and encouraging the good qualities revealed by this mindful search, you can strengthen good in others, which, if you make a habit of it, will benefit society whether or not you choose to marry that particular individual.

If you are already accustomed to noticing the positive qualities in others encouragement will be second nature when you marry and will help support a lasting, loving relationship between you and your spouse.

When you meet someone who seems to match your character, specific attention paid to that individual can then take the form of a courtship.

You and your potential marriage partner court by engaging in service together with other friends and taking the time to thoroughly discuss every facet of life.

By engaging in service, you learn how each of you react to stress and how you work together as a team.

Rather than going to dinner and dressing up for a special occasion, why not take the opportunity to simulate daily life in a practical way, and learn who the other person really is on a day-to-day basis?

By taking the time to discuss the little things you can avoid nagging habits later that can drive a wedge between married couples.

By taking time to talk about dreams (and goals for the future too) you can decide if the life you want and the life he or she wants can be combined harmoniously.

It seems logical to me that both lifestyles and future plans must be compatible to make a marriage work.

This kind of courtship requires that both people are dedicated to a relationship unaffected by physical intimacy.

This kind of relationship avoids the challenges of illegitimate children, single working parents and marriages forced upon two individuals by a sense of duty to their child.

By detaching oneself from physical intimacy, one might avoid the scenario of “falling in love” only to “fall out of love” just as quickly when lust has been satisfied.

Because Bahá’í courtship focuses on the content of a person’s character, rather than on physical intimacy, Bahá’ís must find other ways to learn about each other.

Two good friends of mine spent many afternoons in a local coffee shop reading favorite books aloud during their courtship.

The pattern continued on into their marriage and is still something they enjoy doing together.

Once two individuals decide to marry, as Bahá’ís they are required to seek consent from their parents. This helps to maintain family unity, both in parental generation and in the new union.

This method may seem old fashioned, but if you look at it carefully, it is new and incredibly radical.

A Bahá’í marriage must be built on equality, frank and loving communication and a lifestyle of service to one another and to humanity.

It will take concerted effort on the part of every individual to realize such a reality, but our families and our society are in a sad state. Is it not time for a change?

I’ve gotten some pretty strange looks when I try to explain why I choose not to “date” in the usual sense of the word, but I feel it’s worth it.

I’m different, and I want to be, because I am not satisfied with the family structure I see modeled by much of society today.
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The change you make in your life could be as simple as learning to listen and really hear your friends when they talk.

Notice only the best in people, and encourage them to strengthen those qualities by not gossiping about their mistakes.

Ask yourself if you have the courage to change the norm and create a society based on your lasting marriage.

I believe that everyone does, but you must believe it is possible to make a difference. Lasting marriages could be the norm in the future.

It’s up to us to make the change.

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