Lily Maley’s Redemptive Story of Love.

By: Lily Maley

I became an unwed mom at 21. Of course, I don’t regret it at all. My daughter is a joy and I love her to pieces. She’s an incredible gift that God gave me. She is also the sole reason that I am married to the incredible man that I am married to today.

I never would have picked Matthew prior to being a mom and truth is that he would have never picked me. I was a typical fun-loving college girl that did not have a clear sense of purpose or understand who I was. I loved God but wasn’t sure what that really meant in the context of being a young adult. Then I got pregnant. I dated her father for a long time but when I became pregnant, he had no intention of being a family. So, I took on the challenge alone. I was afraid but I knew that love existed for us out there.

Being a mom changed my perspective about love and about life itself. It brought me closer to God and gave me a sense of purpose. I finished college while working and raising a baby, and when I began to seriously date, I was looking for something entirely different than what I had considered before. I was looking for a good man who had strong morals and principles. I wanted someone who was ready to commit to God and to building a family. I was dating to find deep commitment, someone who would be the rock of our family.

Beforehand, I was led by “feelings” but now, I had a clear sense of who I was and what I wanted. I signed up for, I began to look for someone who I could grow with for the rest of my life. I was searching for strong principles, an unweaving character and someone I could see as the role model for my kids. I was looking for someone who could mold me into a better person each day. I thought about Proverbs 27 where it talks about iron sharpening iron. When I started talking to Matthew. He was everything I wanted and more! We married just over a year after meeting and I am passionately in love with my amazing husband.

He is my rock and he is the rock of my family. He has adopted and adores my little girl as his daughter in every way. He shows me strength in everything he does. Now, heavily pregnant with our second child on high-risk bed rest, I’m watching him function essentially as a single dad: working, cooking, cleaning, parenting, and nursing me.

I truly believe that the issue with Millennials and marriage is that they have a “hook-up” mentality that lacks commitment. Commitment is what helps a relationships survive the trials of parenthood, unemployment, or long-term disability..etc. It wasn’t until my external circumstances made me reconsider what was important in a spouse that I realized what I genuinely needed something more than just a feeling to sustain me. While my journey has not always been easy, I am so thankful God changed by heart and sent me the perfect husband and father for my little family.

10 Things That We’ve Learned In 10 Years Of Marriage.

By Shane & Kasi Pruitt

Ten years ago, on September 18th, 2004 before God and our assembled witnesses of friends and family, two people named Shane and Kasi made a covenant with each other to love, cherish, and honor one another ‘till death do us part, and were joined together as one.

It’s amazing that we ever got married at all, considering the fact that I (Shane) proposed to Kasi in a barbecue restaurant. Yes, I’m publicly admitting to that. There’s nothing quite like dodging sauce on the ground as you get down on one knee for perhaps the most important moment in your life up to then. Fortunately, my skills have grown somewhat in the last ten years. So, we celebrated our anniversary by repeating our marriage vows on the beach in Destin, FL.

Marriage has been by far the most challenging and most rewarding adventure of our lives. Recently, after putting our three children under the age of eight to bed (2 biological & 1 adopted) through weary and bloodshot eyes, we decided to jot down ten things that we have learned during this time from Jesus and each other.

Here is what we came up with:

1. Almost all of the time being married is NOT a fairy tale.

Marriage is neither a Disney movie, nor an episode of The Bachelor with dates in helicopters on remote jungle islands. Sometimes it’s hard, it’s exhausting, and it takes a lot of work. However, words fail us in trying to describe the benefits from such hard work!

2. Have fun, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Often, as Christian couples, we can make things overly-complicated or too spiritual. It’s good to have fun! Be silly. Do things to make each other laugh! It’s okay to have a good time, without having to explain it away with religious jargon.

3. Your spouse shouldn’t “complete you”.

We know, we know, Jerry Maguire would vehemently disagree with us. If we’re depending on our spouse to fulfill us, we’re setting them up for failure. Only God can truly satisfy and fulfill the soul; the more we’re completed in Christ, the better spouse we’ll be to each other.

4. The kids cannot become the center of your home.

It’s unfair to our children for them to become our lives. That is way too much pressure for an eight-year-old to handle. According to the Bible, I have “become one” with my spouse. It doesn’t say that about our kids; we’re simply to be good stewards of them. We plan on being married until we’re old and grey, and hopefully one day our children will move out. We don’t want our home to crumble when the kids leave, so because of that, they’ll never be the most important thing in our home.

5. “Mommy and Daddy time” gets better the longer you’re married.

Does this really need explanation? Come on. Just like any thing else, you get better with experience and repetition. We have gone through great seasons together, rough seasons, celebrations, and battles. Love has made us get through, and therefore, we know how to make love!

6. The goal of a good argument is not to win, but to learn.

Arguments aren’t always bad; sometimes a good argument is needed to clear the air. It can actually be extremely constructive if you seek to learn something about each other, and how to move forward. However, it can be very selfish, destructive, and hurtful if we’re only trying to win the argument.

7. You have to fight really hard to not become roommates.

It’s so easy to fall into a routine of doing daily tasks together. Laundry, yard work, the grocery store, daily chores, honey-does, help the kids with homework, paying the bills, and watching our favorite television shows. Wow, look at us, we’re a great team! We get a lot done, yet we have completely stopped “wooing” each other. How sad. Remember, if you’re coasting, that means you’re going downhill. Date each other, pursue each other, be husband and wife.

8. She deeply needs love; he deeply needs respect.

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). This verse says it perfectly: The greatest desire of a wife is to have a husband that loves her, and a husband desperately desires that his wife respect him. (Interestingly, these are two sides of the same coin. You don’t respect someone you don’t love, and you don’t love someone you don’t respect.)

9. Everything boils down to good communication and clear expectations.

99.9% of arguments and conflicts come down to a communication issue and unmet expectations. Issues over money, children, sex, schedules, they almost all boil down to clearly, lovingly, and selflessly communicating expectations.

10. We are in this marriage for a lifetime, so we can either choose to be joyful or to be miserable.

We made a covenant with each other that included some very important statements, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part.” That means that neither one of us are going anywhere, no matter how bad it gets. It is going to be difficult, so daily we must work at being joyful. The only other option is to be miserable, and no one willfully chooses that!

Marriage is not about us as individuals or even as a couple, but it is actually about something much bigger than us. According to Ephesians 5, marriage is the visual illustration God has given the world to show Christ’s relationship to his bride (the Church). “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31 – 32). Our marriage is actually preaching a Gospel message to the world; that truth alone makes marriage eternally important. It’s necessary for us to ask ourselves this question often, “What kind of message is our marriage preaching to our children, our church, our family, our friends, and a watching world?”

Three ways the church can approach marriage.

By: Dr. Jenn Murff

So, you want to know why I am so passionate about Millennials and marriage? Well, I will tell you! I did not come from the fairy tale story. I have seen my share of pain, disappointment and dysfunction. I am a Millennial who is part of that 24-38% who come from a divorced home. I too feared marriage and when I finally met “the one”, I remember praying to God,” Please help me not I screw it up”. Just like you, I grew up hearing many fights, seeing lots of pain and catching a lot of tears. Marriage in my home was not pretty but despite all of that, I knew that it was God’s best. So, I made the plunge and got married and in all honesty, I have never had a regret. Fortunately, Justin and I had family and mentors in our life who let us sit back and see covenantal marriage lived out. They set great examples of marriage and how it should reflect the very heart of God. The church really has an opportunity to meet a generation right where they are and BE the church.

Here are three approaches that pastors and church leaders can take that could help change the perception of marriage among the Millennial generation:

  1. Approach Marriage Holistically: Changing Millennials perception of marriage starts with healing from the inside out. Think about it, 50% of Millennials come from divorced homes, which causes many to be simply repelled and fearful of the institution. Churches today can create a safe community that models Godly marriages and relationships that bring healing where there is brokenness. The church should begin working with young couples as soon as love blooms while they are dating or engaged. Millennials value mentorship making it a great opportunity for the leaders to guide, support and equip these couples for successful marriages. We have seen religion fail to keep marriages together, but when there is a community of support and open communication, marriage and Godly relationships can thrive.
  1. Approach Marriage Authentically: Did you know that church leaders are in the modeling business? Your role is to model a Godly (not perfect) marriage in an authentic way that changes the negative perception that Millennials have towards marriage. This means that you must make YOUR marriage a priority by investing in your spouse. Take your spouse on dates, romance the heart, leave sweet notes, clean the kitchen (we call that Chore-play in our house) and keep falling in love and pursuing your spouse.
  1. Approach Marriage Intimately: Another way to approach marriage that can help change Millennials perception is by having genuine conversations about sex and sexuality that embodies grace and truth. Sex has been perverted in the world and ignored in the church. The church needs to talk about sex! God designed sex to be holy, pure and intimate not perverted, dirty and disingenuous. If the church does not lead in the conversation about sex than the world will.

The church must seize the moment to prepare, equip and encourage the next generation of couples for strong marriages because families matter, marriage matters, and the church can lead the way.


Love is not Complicated.

By Sarah Smith

Love is not complicated.  Most of the people in today’s world just don’t have the confidence or courage to find or keep it.

Love is simple.  It’s sweet.  It’s a standard of care shown to those who mean the most to us.  I recall telling my childhood best friend that I didn’t think I would marry until I was at least 35 years old.  Sitting indian style on my bed, homework smeared all over my sheets, we even made it a bet.  Growing up I didn’t have many boyfriends.  Boys were never a huge priority in my life.  After high school, my career took precedence.  I had no interest in being a mother.  Like most girls, I have fantasized about my wedding day since I was old enough to remember.  My mother and I kept a folder in her desk drawer labeled “wedding.”   It was filled with torn magazine pages: pictures of bridesmaid dresses, bouquets, etc.  My dream dress was one modeled in an Estée Lauder perfume ad.  It was a princess gown complete with the tulle, droopy off-the-shoulder sleeves and too many flowers.  My taste has changed much since then.  I only needed the groom…I still need him.

Witnessing my parents’ marriage struggle was difficult.  I believe it had a significant impact on my relationships with men.  Why I choose the men I date.  It wasn’t until after my sons’ father moved out of our house did I truly begin to understand and appreciate the sanctity of marriage. My sons were born out of wedlock.  When I discovered I was pregnant I even said to their father, “I don’t want you to marry me because I’m pregnant.  I want you to marry me because you love me.”   I don’t necessarily regret that statement, but I think about it often.  Within a month after the break up, I began cultivating a relationship and a love with Jesus that has forever changed me.  The Lord will change your heart and your mind. Despite what most of my family and friends advised, I prayed for the reconciliation of my family.  Nothing seemed more clear to me than God’s gift of love, marriage and family.  Family has always been such an important part of my life.  My parents both come from large families; my dad with 7 siblings and mom with 5.  Holidays, summer cook outs, birthdays were always abundant with relatives.  Marriage is a unity.  It’s a public declaration of love and friendship.  Whether you’re religious or not, it is still the most recognizable manner in which to honor the one you love.

Honor!  It seems that the idea of marriage isn’t “cool” anymore.  More and more I meet couples who will never marry, but they confess their love and plans to share the rest of their lives together.  Living together and premarital sex is the norm today.  I did it.  Most of my friends have done it.  What I fear is that this lack of public & legal form of commitment in our society is having more of an effect on our children than we realize.  How are our children going to understand and respect loyalty?  The concept of marriage promises loyalty.  It becomes a status – So much that there are titles given to those who partake in the ritual: Man & Wife.  Connotations are associated with the titles.  Boyfriend/girlfriend, partners, significant others simply don’t carry the same notability.  My dear friend Jenn Murff mentioned something during a conversation that has really resonated with me.  For decades the homosexual community fought for equal rights to marry their significant other.  Meanwhile, to the heterosexual demographic, the practice is no longer idealistic & the permanence of the federation isn’t realistic.  Imagine a society 50 years from now where children rarely have the same last names as both of their parents.  It may seem trivial, but where will the pride be of a family name?

I actually have cried thinking that my last name will never match my sons’.When my parents divorced (they since remarried each other!), I was in second grade.  There was only one other student in my class with divorced parents.  According to the US the percentage of children under 18 living with two parents has decreased from approximately 85% in 1968 to approximately 69% in 2014.  These statistics accompany the parallel increase in childhood obesity, depression, drug use in children growing up in a single-parent home. I want to break the cycle!  I want to help bring the sexy and cool back to marriage.  Why?   Because I want to set an example of how my sons should treat women.  I want more than anything for my sons to grow to be honest, devoted men of God. There was a time when I didn’t want children and I didn’t care about getting married.  I now know that it was fear.  A fear of rejection and responsibility.  It was selfishness. Today, I ache for the opportunity to honor a man as my husband.  I dream of the day a man will love me the way God desires.  I pray, that if its God’s will, that my husband and I will be blessed with the gift of more children. What is marriage to me?  It is a conscious decision to SHOW love to one person for the rest of your lives on Earth.  It would be a privilege for me to be given the chance to share life with someone in marriage. Yes!  I am a single mother of the most beautiful twin boys on the planet!  I am a woman who wants to be a wife!

“You are the one I choose!”

By Sarah Duron

With a previous marriage, two beautiful little girls biological to me, chosen by Denny, and only two years into this new reality, we are in the thick of what I like to call real life. It is beautiful, messy, and adventurous. Throw in school for all four of us, on top of jobs and newly added multiple sclerosis, and it makes for a pretty interesting conundrum. More like the most wonderful adventure of all time. And, here’s chapter one of our story.

It all began when we were kids. While we may have grown up in the same town, the same school, and the same church, we are certainly not from the same side of the tracks. My mom was single when I was young, and worked around the clock to make ends meet. I remember being drawn to the healthy, happy, crowded home of the Durons. I often visited Denny’s older sister, Destiny. Even then, they made an impression on my heart. They epitomized what I wanted in a family. Who would have known, who could have painted such a beautiful story that one day they would be mine?!

The circumstances that drew me back to my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana as an adult were that of derailment and brokenness. I had long moved off, gotten married, and walked through a painful season that included betrayal and divorce. I recall crying the whole way home, feeling that I had been chewed up and spit out by the world. During that time, I heard Dez Duron’s single from The Voice, Sara Smile, for the first time. This very song facilitated a powerful healing moment for me. I wept bitterly as I sensed God telling me by name, literally, to smile.

With my two precious girls in tow, I had no idea what future awaited us. I had always sworn that my kids wouldn’t go through what I had been through with divorce. Yet, here we were. I remember thinking, “Who could ever want a divorced, single mom?” I felt I was donning the “Scarlet D.” My sudden isolation in the world left me feeling my way through the darkness of pain. All the while, God had such a beautiful plan.

Denny and DeAnza Duron did not hesitate to take me under their wing again. One providential day when we were hanging out, they decided to pick up Denny Rodney. I will never forget the very moment we drove up to his house and he walked up to our vehicle. The sight of him literally took my breath away. We connected so instantly, and I recall praying in the back of my mind, “He is way too good for me, but God, if you could just give me someone like him, that would be awesome!”

I drove home that night with a full-on crush. I totally sensed God, and sensed something significant, but determined not to be that creepy older divorced girl, so I tucked the feelings away. A year later, Denny’s dad hired me at the church. On my first day I was told, “Oh, by the way, you’ll share an office with Denny Rodney.”

Denny and I became great friends. After a year of lunches and time together sharing a workspace, he finally shared his heart with me. He confessed that he has had a crush on me pretty much his entire life. As one typically idolizes that older high-schooler growing up, he had always named me as his ‘ultimate’ girl. Ha! So, since he broke the ice, I finally admitted my feelings, too.

Skipping ahead through the greatest season of my life so far, he proposes! I’m smitten on a ridiculous level, and we had the crazy idea to do a surprise wedding. We threw a black-tie, Gatsby-themed engagement party. The party was complete with a roaring 20’s vibe, live jazz music, and Dez even sang his song, Sara Smile. By the way, I never told anyone about my moment with that song! At that point, I snuck away to change into a wedding dress.

About halfway through the song, Denny Rodney took the mic from Dez and said, “Come on out here babe. Let’s get this thing started!” He then proceeded to sing the rest of Sara Smile to me in front of everyone. That is when I was suddenly seen at the end of the aisle wearing a wedding dress with my two girls in hand. The crowd went wild!

The energy and joy of that moment were indescribable! The presence of God was so tangible! Everyone was cheering and crying. Before our very eyes the Redeemer was doing what he does. Everything about that moment symbolized the beautiful work of Jesus Christ. I’d made a mess of things, I didn’t deserve this. I had a past. Yet, there I was with my two babies in a white wedding dress that symbolized pure and new. And, there was my groom singing a song of healing over me, declaring in front of everyone, “You’re the one I choose!”

This is a picture of your reality! It doesn’t matter what is in your past. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or what mistakes you’ve made. Jesus is your Redeemer. He’s not afraid of your mess. He offers you new garments of white that were purchased by his blood on the cross. I hope that my story may in some way encourage you if you are facing a hopeless situation. Above all, it is my prayer that you are reminded of the passionate love that God has for you. I hope you can hear as he sings a song of healing over you, and declares before the world, “You are the one I choose!”

Bio: I am a graphic designer and currently a student at Southeastern University. I love my life, and even the trials that have come with it. I am richly blessed to be married to my best friend, Denny Rodney Duron, and mother to the two most remarkable, fun little girls on the planet, Kennedy and Noa Kate. I have also walked through the pain of divorce, and more recently a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. As only God can accomplish, these trials have served to fuel a fire of determination in me to live out an active faith of friendship with God and partnership Jesus Christ. In Galatians 5:6, Paul said, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” This has become my mantra and message.

5 Keys to an Incredible Marriage

By: Justin Murff

It seems like yesterday. I was a nervous 24 year old young man about to come face-to-face with my beautiful bride for the first time. The doors opened and she was stunning with her beautiful white dress on, tears streaming down her face and I all I could think about “Is she really going to be mine?”.  Twelve years later, I still look at her and stand in awe that God would give her to me as my bride.

Jenn and I have been working with our generation now for more than 13 years in ministry (one some capacity) and helping couples either prepare or salvage their marriages. In our own marriage, we have seen eleven moves in ten years, six total career changes, four kids brought into this world, one on to heaven, three graduate degrees, and have had more than our fair share of struggles and pain…but it has all been worth it.

Over the years, we have seen couples divorce, separate, and some come back together and move on towards a healthy marriage. Many Millennials, like Jenn and I, come from divorced homes where a healthy marriage was not modeled first-hand causing fear and anxiety in our hearts. When we talk with couples, the one question we get asked the most is: How do you guys do it? Here are 5 of the most important keys to a healthy marriage that we have implemented:

  1. Our Threesome Rocks! – Ok! Settle down, it’s not what you think. We realize that we could not have a healthy marriage alone. When we said “I Do”, we made a covenant before almighty God. From that day, we entered into an agreement with each other and with the Lord that we would be in it for the long haul.
  2. Choreplay helps – I try to show my love daily by small acts of kindness. Love is a word that has become far too casual in our culture today. Do I love Starbucks as much as my wife or Children? No, of course not. To love my wife is an intentional act that demands selflessness. I must put aside my own selfish desires and consider the needs and feelings of my wife first. I need to remember that despite my schedule and the craziness of daily life, I need to make sure to show my wife that I truly love her and my kids daily. We joke a lot about something we call choreplay, but when I stay up to do the dishes or make the bed in the morning, it’s a simple act that shows her that I love her. St. Paul of Tarsus wrote in a letter to the Corinthians that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV).
  3. Find the Whoopee Cushion – Laugh often and stay friends! Life is too short to not take a moment and enjoy the simple pleasures of life with your spouse. Our day usually begins with a cup of coffee and just enjoying the quiet, albeit brief moment we can have together to just laugh about something silly our girls did,  or of something that happened the day before. Laugh often!
  4. Communicate often – I am a lot of things but I am not a mind reader, neither is she. When we are hurt or offended, we communicate that right away and do not let anger or frustration breed bitterness. We talk often and seek to actively listen to each other in a way that is constructive and restorative.
  5. Foster an atmosphere of dreams – I know that my wife is always in my corner and I am in hers. Always! It doesn’t mean that I am some blind “yes man”. There have been many times where we have called each other to the mat or gave words of wisdom or caution, but we foster an atmosphere of dreams in our home that says, “I want you to fulfill all that God has for you to do in our generation and in our lifetime.” That has led to some pretty crazy times and adventures but I can say our marriage is far from boring.

Marriage has been a tremendous blessing for me. To know that I have the commitment and love of someone who is in this for the long haul is deeply rewarding and humbling. Looking back to that hot Texas summer day when I said “I Do” reminds me that I would do it all over again.

The Day I Found Out What True Love Really Was

By: Paige Peterson

I never knew what true love looked like until one day I experienced it first hand. I grew up watching chick flicks galore and imaging my own special someone coming in and sweeping me off my feet. Obviously I thought that “this must be what true love is.”

In the movies it shows the guy as tall and handsome and the girl would be tiny and flawless and then they would be in love forever and ever. Let’s be honest, Iwas a complete romantic. As I grew older I got very cynical. I saw many couples who didn’t like to be with each other. To add to my cynicism, I witnessed several marriages within my family end in divorce. I didn’t believe in this fairy tale of love anymore.

But then it happened. I was out shopping one rainy morning and I stopped in a floral shop because I always loved the beautiful colors and aroma. There was a tired old man looking down at some roses smiling ear to ear. I pleasantly smiled and walked past. Moments later he came up to me and told me I was a beautiful young lady and must surely have a lucky young man. I assured him I didn’t and joked that he just hadn’t found me yet.  The old man smiled and said never give up hope and that my knight would come.

He explained that he has been married for fifty years, and was so glad his wife never gave up hope in looking for him. I pointed to the rose and asked if it was for her. He responded with a warm and loving smile and said, “Oh yes, I bring her a flower every dayso she forgives me when I do something stupid and won’t go looking for a new knight.”

I left that day smiling.  As I walked down the street I thought “so what is true love?”  Is it an epic romance? Is it love at first sight? Is it can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t breathe without you type of love?  To say it simply, it is the relationship that old smiling man had with his wife.

True love is the smile he had on his face anticipating the moment he could give the rose to his wife. It is her forgiving him when he tells her “I did something stupid.” True love is spending fifty years with your best friend. It is simply choosing to love someone and working hard every day of your lives to show them you love them.

I’m sure their marriage wasn’t perfect all the time. I don’t think a perfect marriage exists, but I could tell he was committed. I mean every day he went out of his way to buy his wife a flower. He made her the most important part of his life, and it was obvious to see how much he cared for her. Anyone walking into a flower store and seeing that smile would know how much he loved her.

Since that day I haven’t been cynical. I don’t look for my prince charming, but I do believe what the old man told me.  My knight will come and I am excited because I know fifty years down the road we will have true love and each day I will be excited to show him that I was glad I didn’t stop looking for him.

But Being Single is so Fun

By Paige Peterson

As a young single woman, I think about dating and marriage almost hourly. It is the main topic of conversation that I have with all my girlfriends and even guy friends. We are constantly discussing who we are interested in, or why dating is “the worst”. Sometimes, we talk about our plans for marriage and how we desperately want to find Mr. Right. Recently, I was at a family gathering with all my siblings. I am the youngest of five and I am also the ONLY single one.They are all happily married, which is amazing. So, right now I’m just that cool aunt. At the family gathering my sister’s home, they started their regular interrogation of who I am dating and when I will get married.  They always end with telling me to enjoy being single while I can.

This got me wondering if marriage was really better than being single. I mean I can go shopping whenever I want. Right now, I literally have no commitment to anybody. I am free to travel the world and date as many guys as I want. So, I questioned whether marriage is truly the way to go. In pursuit of the answer, I set up an experiment. I was going to watch my siblings and their spouses to judge whether they were happier being married than single.  What I learned from this actually surprised me!

First, I visited my oldest sister to help watch her kids and play with them. After all, I am the favorite aunt. She was so busy cleaning, cooking and caring for the kids that she seem exhausted. She began to tell me about how late at night after the kids go to sleep, is the only time she spends with her husband, which is her favorite time. Up to this point I thought the single life looked far more appealing. Then her husband came home and I saw her smile. After the kids went to sleep we talked for a while. I couldn’t help but notice how her husband looked at her with such admiration and fondness.

Now these weren’t huge things, but they had an impact on me. It surprised me how much I thought about the way they looked at each other. Then the next day as I was in a store, I watched this middle aged married couple laughing hysterically at a birthday card they were picking out. Again, this wasn’t big, but that moment they shared together meant something. I continued shopping alone and I noticed a feeling. I felt lonely and I wanted to share that connection with someone I cared about deeply.

I was able to witness several more moments between a husband and wife similar to those shared by my sister and that random couple. So I thought about my single friends. While we have a lot of fun every weekend, I don’t really share that type of connection with any of them. Then I thought about the goals I have. While most of them are easier to reach on my own I thought about how I would much rather reach goals with someone I love. I am an independent person, so I enjoy being on my own sometimes, but I also do feel something missing. Doing everything on my own gets exhausting and makes being single look a little less appealing.

I concluded that single life is great in its own way. It seems almost like freedom, but what I noticed from this experiment is that there is a connection that brings a deeper sense of happiness in marriage. They have someone to share their joy and pain with. That’s why in the end, I concluded that while I love being single, and I may miss it when I am married, I would rather be with someone I love for the rest of my life. I want someone that I can laugh with every day, or share a smile with. I want someone to share my adventures with. Above all, I want to share those simple moments with the man I marry!

Tale as Old as Time: Beauty and the Beast Syndrome

By: Tylene Nichols

As an adolescent and young adult, I found myself naturally drawn to what may typically be described as “the bad boy.” It almost seemed like the natural kind of guy to pursue, one who was a rebel or living on the “wild side” (Don’t judge my cheesy old choice of words.) Most of these pursuits did not end up in the ideal way I imagined and I often found myself heartbroken or confused. Why had things not worked out?

            It came to me when reading an adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” In the notes from the author at the end of the book she mentions what she referred to as the “Beauty and the Beast Syndrome.” It is the phenomena of falling in love with the “bad guy,” and expecting him to fall so completely in love with you that his bad boy tendencies melt away as he turns into the model companion.

            The idea of this syndrome have been displayed in many other forms besides the traditional story. For example, the movie “A Walk to Remember.” The lead male falls in love with a girl, and changes so much of himself to better fit the kind of man that she has been looking for. Another but more modern adaptation example of this is the story of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Christian Grey, the also the lead male, changes his abusive and disturbing lifestyles to accommodate his lovely lady.

            The issue with the Beauty and the Beast Syndrome is the unrealistic expectations and distorted reality of the situations. The expectation that a man or even a woman would change themselves so drastically to fit your personal view of perfection in a partner can be extremely dangerous to possess. The hard truth is that no one will ever change for you, and that is actually entirely healthy.

            Let’s think of it in a different way: Imagine you met someone who you feel is perfect for you. They are kind, generous, understanding, and so much more. However, you are not what they are wanting. The only way that they would love you is if you were completely different in almost every way. This is far from unconditional love, and these expectations are not fair coming from either side.

            So what does this mean? Whether or not you are still in the realm of dating, or already married, it is important to realize that you personally do not have the capacity to change anyone except yourself. If there are things about yourself that you would like to change for your own reasons, by all means go ahead! Life is a journey of learning and growing and finding who it is you want to be. However, changing for someone else or expecting someone to change for you would be an unrealistic hope and damaging to the overall relationship.

            I love fairy tale romances but they may be unrealistic at times even if there is truth to the stories. Unconditional love is the true magic in “Beauty and the Beast,” and now I am probably going to go watch it for the millionth time. Care to join me?