Q: I've connected with a young woman from another state on the Internet. We've talked a lot on the phone and are interested in exploring our relationship further, but so far we've never met in person. Do you have any advice as to how we should proceed?
Jim: I'd encourage you to set up a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible. Bring a list of questions for each other and maximize your time together by making an intentional effort to get to know each other better. This may seem a bit strained and awkward -- operating in "agenda mode." But it's really the best way to get from where you are to where you want to be. Whatever you do, avoid muddling around in cyberspace.
Why do we say this? Because while online dating can be a useful tool for initiating contact with another person, the Internet is not the place to develop meaningful and lasting relationships. For that, you need lots of time and plenty of face-to-face interaction.
In view of this, I'd recommend allowing at least a year to develop and deepen your relationship should you both decide to pursue things further. You may be tempted to believe that technology will enable you to cut corners, but it simply isn't true. Insist on reality and accept no substitutes.
A word about trust and trustworthiness as you embark upon this journey: In the beginning, it's important to guard your heart and resist the temptation to trust the other person too easily. Instead, work on becoming trustworthy yourself. Rather than "selling" yourself, make up your mind to be a man of integrity -- honest, upright and forthcoming in all your dealings with people. If you can do this, you'll be laying a solid foundation for the kind of love that can last a lifetime.
Q: What are some reasonable financial goals for newlyweds? My husband is already talking about buying a house and new car. Meanwhile, I'm concerned about paying rent and buying groceries.
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Finances are an important part of the marriage relationship, and working together to establish healthy financial goals and attitudes before the wedding is a wise move. Equally critical, however, is the need to concentrate on getting to know each other and strengthening the bonds of intimacy.
This being the case, I'd encourage you to not get ahead of, and overextend, yourselves financially. It's easy for young couples to assume that getting married means diving into the "adult world" as they've observed it at home, complete with all the possessions and pleasures of their parents' current lifestyle. But this is a serious mistake. For one thing, it's unrealistic. For another, it's a dangerous diversion from more important priorities.
Here are a few tips that can help you get started on the road to financial security and marital intimacy.
-- Think in terms of "we," not "me." This means abandoning selfish attitudes and sharing all of your resources, whether spiritual, emotional or material.
-- Live within your means and practice self-discipline. If you can't afford something, don't buy it.
-- Be intentional about creating a workable financial plan, giving generously and strategically building your financial resources step by step.
-- Don't make major financial decisions without talking them over thoroughly.
-- Sit down together at least once a month and create a spending plan. This will enhance your communication and encourage healthy decision-making in all aspects of your marriage.
If finances are becoming a bone of contention, I invite you to call us at 855-771-4357 for a referral to a trained counselor who can help you examine your relationship and determine which areas need to be shored up.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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