Sunday, December 03, 2006

Our Turbulent Engagement, Supplemental 2

Ok, this is just a short little snippet with bits of my side of the story and a few details that weren't mentioned earlier.

After JM had gone to speak with his family in August 2005, he came back saying we needed to wait to get married. I *might* have been able to get used to that and to get my life wrapped around that direction for our lives, but the fact was that my family and friends were in a completely different place on the issue-- and they were having none of this "wait and do what his parents say" thing.

Many of my friends had gotten married while they were still in college, and even more of them were married right out of college. In fact, out of all my friends who were in a relationship in college, I was the only one who was *not* engaged or married at my graduation. On top of all of this, it had also been tradition in our church culture for couples to be engaged and married within three years of beginning their relationship. This was not a rule set in stone, but rather a general pattern that was followed in an attempt by the couples to avoid falling into sin.

Because of all of this, it was naturally assumed by all of my family and friends that JM and I would be married any day now. I was hearing comments weekly from some person or other about "when is he going to get his act together and propose?" or "oh, I thought you were married already" (with a pointed look on their face). When I told my friends about JM's conversation with his parents and about Korean culture, the response was almost always along the lines of, "So dump him! Find someone who will actually stand up for you!"

It was even more difficult with my parents. You see, JM had been to talk to my parents about proposing to me in April 2005. They gave their wholehearted consent. So when he came back in August saying that the wedding plans would have to wait six more years..... I distinctly remember my dad saying that it seemed like JM was taking me for granted, and that he ought to be able to be more his own man. My mom told me that he shouldn't be treating me like this and that it seemed he was leading me on. They both felt that we should be getting engaged and making plans to be married.

One thing I don't really understand -- maybe someone wiser than I am can help me here -- is how to go about obeying parents when they are telling you to do two different things. With his parents saying "wait" and my parents saying "don't wait", it made it very difficult to decide what we really ought to do. I can tell you that many hours were spent in prayer asking God for wisdom and to show us what He wanted us to do.

Our "solution", if you will, was to ask the advice of older and wiser couples. We went to one of the elders in our congregation, one of the ministers, a Christian counselor, and many others. The vast majority of the advice was that we needed to be married. "Leave and cleave" -- that was a phrase I heard very often during that time (this of course referring to Genesis 2:24). Other advisors referred us to 1 Corinthians 7, saying that it would not be wise of us to extend our relationship that long, that we would be putting ourselves in a situation where we would be tempted to fall into sexual sin.

And yet the other side of the story... "Children obey your parents in everything." Either way we would be disappointing one set of parents. What I finally decided was that this was nothing more than a culture clash. According to the prevailing culture in my area of the world, I should have been married a year or two ago. According to JM's culture, he should ideally be about 30 years old -- which is seven years from now. It seemed there was no easy or good way to resolve it. But even to the last few minutes of making the decision, I kept holding out the hope that some miracle solution would come up that would make everyone happy. However that was not what God had planned for us. What we finally decided was to go with the bulk of the advice (which as it turns out was exactly what we *wanted* to do).

I'm sure there are people out there who think that we made a huge mistake in completely going against the wishes of his parents. I readily admit that we are not perfect, and that we certainly had a lot of incentive to make the decision we did. But we did not make the decision blindly, or without significant amounts of advice from wise and spiritual people who were not personally involved in the situation. When it came down to it, we did what we felt was best and God has continued to bless us, even through our mistakes.

Part 1
Supplemental I
Part 2
Part 3

Related Posts:

2 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Headmistress, zookeeper

    I think you're right about the culture clash. It was also a clash of differing assumptions that had been unspoken, and that's always hard. I also think it was more than two cultures clashing.
    You have his parents, you have your friends and family, and then there's some conflict because of trying to understand and live a biblical culture.
    If you hadn't been trying for that third culture, you'd not have been so conflicted about defying his parents.
    Which isn't to say that you were wrong, I just mean to say, "Wow. Y'all were in a hard and complicated place!"

    I think it's good to understand that because we live in a sinful and sin spoiled world, the right thing won't always be obvious or painless or perfect, and you two have a head start on that.;-)

    And sometimes the chain of mistakes gets so long that the BEST thing is not even possible any longer.
    I knew another couple where both parents believed in courtship. the young man aways planned on being a missionary and had a missionary church to work with already lined up in another country. The parents all knew that. They allowed those young people to court, and then, when they were somewhat intertwined, dropped this bomb- they didn't want their daughter to go to another country, so either the young man end the relationship or he had to change his plans to be a missionary.

    I know it tore him apart, but since the daughter would not defy her parents, he ended the relationship because he had known all his life that he was to be a missionary. Ugly situation, and entirely the responsibility of these parents, whom I believe defrauded both their daughter and the young man.
    There was no easy way to handle that, no one answer that was THE right response to the parents, and as painless as possible a response of the young people. I think she should have left her parents and joined the man they had already blessed.

    It sounds like you both did the best you could under the circumstances, and I pray that things will continue to improve for all of you. It's hard for parents to let go sometimes, and it's got to be hard to still be discovering, this late, how much changing your country changes your future expectations.

  • pivotpivot

    It's great to get your side of the story as well. Those verses are the verses that I've been hearing as well. I've never understood the passage, "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword... father will turn against son, mother against daughter..." until now. We are trying to do what is righteous in the eyes of God, but at the same time having to choose between God's will and our parents' will. At the moment we're in the eye of the storm. We've told our parents that we're going through with the marriage. His mother is very supportive, but my parents unfortunately are not.