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Having Fun

In James Madison University's student newspaper, The Breeze, Katie King reported:

Though Valentine's Day tends to be embraced more by those in relationships, freshman Nicole Carter is currently single and not sweating it.

"I think that there is someone out there for everyone, you just have to wait until you find that person or until they find you," Carter said. "I know a lot of people who are in relationships and I also know a lot who are single. I don't really think it's a big issue though because college isn't necessarily about finding your husband or significant other, it's about having fun."

I think it's great a freshman isn't yet looking for her life partner, but her expectations alarm me. I've heard them from lots of folks her age. I even shared them back when I was in college.

Marriage can be fun, lots more fun than a party or a one-night stand. It offers a safe base from which to pursue big dreams, a partner for adventures, an appreciative audience for our greatest talents. It offers greater wealth, a much easier way to raise children, and more frequent sex.

Those of us who grew up as witness to an unhappy marriage or no marriage at all have no way of knowing this. So, intead of preparing ourselves for marriage, we spend our college years bracing ourselves for it, getting in as much fun as we can before we take the risk of marrying.

We also fall for the myth there's someone out there for us, and all will be well if we just manage to meet. Then we fail to repair the marriage problems keeping us from having fun, because we've convinced ourselves any problems mean we married the wrong person.

As the number of divorces has grown, so have the fears. And the hooking up. Katie's article reports on early findings from JMU faculty member Aimee Brickner's study of college dating. Now "some students are opting for casual sex as a way to avoid the responsibilities and time commitments that come with relationships or dating."

Sex is definitely not the best we can hope for from another person. And love is not a crap shoot. It doesn't depend on finding our perfect mate. It depends on learning something about how to give and receive love.

Still single? Really want to have fun? Check into marriage education courses, especially if you're not investing your time in the trial-and-error education of dating and relationships.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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