Love Notes, Marriage and the Back Burner Person

Love Notes, Marriage and the Back Burner Person

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I was going to blog on “Marriage Isn’t For You,” the newest article taking Facebook by storm. It’s a good read. (And this follow-up is a very good read.) The original post is written by a Mormon and has been criticized for not going far enough. Yes, it's a good thing to be self-sacrificing for your spouse; however, that is not the ultimate point of marriage. The ultimate point is to reveal God and bring Him glory. Good stuff.

But I’m not blogging on that. (Although you are free to post your thoughts on it here.) Sometimes you just need something simple and sweet and revealing of human nature ... from a kid's perspective.

My dad sent me this article about a young boy's "love” note to a classmate. The boy’s note is one of those, “Will you be my girlfriend? Circle yes, no or maybe” types. Remember those? (Oh, if only dating stayed that simple.) The girl circled no, but added this disclaimer:

I’m sorry I alredy have a boyfriend Kyle but when we break up, your my next choice. [original spelling retained]

Then she adds:

P.S. That will probaby be a month or two.

So he has a chance! My dad told me this entertaining post brought back memories: 

Your dad was a party to a few of those notes back in the day. One time, in sixth grade, I was listed as boyfriend #3 on this one girl’s list. I gave her a gift—two packs of gum—and went to #1 for a few weeks. SWEET!”

I think this is a humorous example of how we like to keep our options open when it comes to dating. One of my guy friends used to describe it this way: “You have your main dish. And then you have your back burner person.” The main dish is the person (or type of person) you would ideally like to end up with. The “back burner person” is, well, your fallback plan. Seems Ashley (the recipient of the note) was locking in her back burner person. 

OK, so maybe I should have blogged on “Marriage Isn’t For You.” It really isn’t. And as I told one friend, sometimes making your marriage (or relationship) about God feels very much like making your marriage about the other person. Had the author taken his thesis a step further to talk about why we love the other person (because it's an example of Christ and the church), I would have been on board. That said, probably the biggest practical way in which you glorify God in your marriage is by laying yourself down for the other person (something that goes against human nature and takes effort). That is what honors Him and makes the marriage an example of His love for us. 

As far as the “back burner person,” although it may be tempting to keep that person in pocket, it’s not really a productive practice. Either make them the “main dish” or leave them alone. No one wants to be your “next choice.” 

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  • --The kid's only mistake with the letter is when he gave his options to circle.  He should've just had "Yes" and "Maybe"

  • --"No one wants to be your 'next choice' "

    And yet we all play that game all the time; it's going to naturally happen anytime we are presented with a choice.  In real life dating ("I'll ask out Cherie first but if she turns me down I'll ask Julie next") or online ("I'll respond to Joe's e-mail but will wait a bit just in case Tim sends me one first.  Or I'll answer both and correspond with both.  In case things don't work out with Tim I still have Joe").  Whoever is asked out first (or desired to do the asking) is by definition the "main dish".  Anyone subsequent person you would ask is the "back burner" if you knew that person existed at the time you asked the "main dish" (which is almost always the case).

    Honestly, I don't know why we should get too worked up over it.  If most people are honest with themselves they probably realize they were not someone's "first choice" in a relationship.  For that to occur you would need a guy who went for the girl most attractive to him in the group right at the start and succeed in dating her, and that same girl to think he was the most attractive guy in that group and accepting.  That doesn't happen very often, considering how many guys get shot down for dates or ladies who hurt not being asked out by their top candidate.  Maybe I'm just naive though.

    What matters most is that you find someone who does love and care for you.  Maybe you were just a "back burner" initially, but now you are a "main dish".  

    Caveat: This only tends to work in monogamous relationships.  When Jacob married Leah and Rachel it was pretty obvious who was the "main dish" and who the "back burner" was.  Yeah, let's put the ugly one on the front line to face the hostile party while the pretty one is safely in the back with me.

  • --I am wary of articles like Smith's. I agree 100% that marriage requires selflessness and persevering through the hard times. But it is easy for Christians to take the "It's not about you or your feelings" message too far. Some people never tell their spouse when anything big or small bothers them. so little things keep piling up until they explode. Or if the spouse is gambling away all the money, drowning in addiction, or cheating, faking a smile and letting them do whatever makes them happy is not love. If the spouse insists on having their way all the time, and never listens to your input, that is not love.

    Healthy marriages have boundaries and open communication. Isn't it interesting that the second greatest command is to love our neighbor as ourselves? I know Smith probably believes these things, but I wish the Christian culture was clearer on these matters.    

  • --Not being someone's first choice only likely becomes a serious issue when it comes to divorce.  If you're someone's second, third, fourth, etc husband/wife that means you're dealing with someone that you may potentially be committing adultery with if they haven't divorced on biblical grounds, not to mention the baggage and drama of exes, children from other relationships/marriages and so on.  While I think it's unreasonably to be someone's first ever boyfriend or girlfriend, it is very reasonable to want to be someone's first husband or wife.  Beyond that and you are dealing with a world of trouble and drama that could derail and even ruin your entire life.

  • --Isn't it reasonable to assume that marriage serves several purposes?  Giving glory to God is not the only purpose.

    I'm very worried that too many Christians are buying into the teachings of CS Lewis that marriage only exists to glorify God.  You need to remember that CS Lewis didn't even get married until he was 58 and was only married four years because his wife died of cancer.  Why do so many Christians trust someone with such little marital experience to define what they believe about one of the  most important parts of thier life?

  • --I have a friend who also commmented on the article "Marriage Isn't For You"  I really enjoyed his input and also like his ability to use words to create a beautiful vision of his meaning.

  • --loved this article which is so true in so many ways, thanks

    Kateshellybo19 for sharing this with us.

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