Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Best Friends For Life: A Review

I was invited to Pastor Andrew and Daphne Swanson’s home recently for the day. It was good times with sweet fellowship and a lot of time in Pastor Andrew’s library. If there is anything that you should know about me by now it is that I love me a good library. I like old books, new books, books in tatters, books that are yet to be broken, books that have been broken, books with former owner’s notes in them… I think you get the picture. In this regard there are very few libraries like Pastor Swanson, in fact I am convinced the gravity of a library has just as much to do with the owner of it as it does with the quality and quantity of the books therein. As I was perusing through his collection of books my eyes strayed to this nice paperback titled ‘Best Friends For Life’. I picked it up and the journey begun.

It looked like a fairly new book but also seemed out of place because it was in the library of a couple who have been married for a very long time, they have a son who has been married for twenty years ergo they have been married a very long time. I figured the book must be a decent read for that reason alone and as I read the Introduction I was not disappointed. I will get into my review of the book soon but I first have to say that, I had a massive disinterest for all topics related to relationships. This is because I am tired of the preoccupation of my peers with it. Every conference and seminar needs to have something or other on it and I found that grating on the nerves but to say the least I have had a change of heart and this, as well as the proceeding blog post, should shed more light on this.

Down to the book. The thing that fascinated me the most about the book and led me to read more and more of it on that first day was that it focussed more on the friendship between the guy and the girl rather than the romance. This theory blew my mind. Isn’t a relationship about romance and attraction? With a lot of talk in this day and age about ‘The Friend Zone’, which is basically the guy or the girl treating the person on the other end as nothing more than a friend then doesn’t that and this amount to the same thing? What is a relationship between a male and a female without the romance?

The book tackles this by laying down a couple of assumptions. These are firstly that a relationship between a man and a woman should be started with marriage as the end product. Secondly that the friendship and knowledge are the proper basis of such a relationship. Thirdly that the excessive diluting of friendship and knowledge with Romance produces a skewed view of the other person in the relationship that after the mist of the romantic high fades leaves each person wondering what they signed up for. Fourthly that not all relationships that begin with romance as the basis fail but in terms of numbers a relationship based off friendship lasts longer and tends to be more stable.

A good father would want to know well the man to whom he gives his daughter

I will not lay down the whole book but I will lay down three sections or phases of the relationship process and these may seem extreme to begin with but are grounded in proper truth and make good sense if thought upon. The first being the courtship phase. During this phase the man who is interested in pursuing a woman approaches the father first about seeking a relationship with his daughter. It is at this point that the father will take time to get to know the young man, over a series of conversations, to ascertain as it were the calibre/character of the man. If the father is sufficiently impressed he allows the young man to begin courting his daughter.

This courting involves a non-romantic relation to the woman and her father. The father of the woman is heavily involved in the whole process and it is his job to get to know the man just as much if not more, initially, than the woman. There are strong elements of trust involved here as the woman trusts her father to look into the character of the man to see if he is of good character as he will see things through the experienced and realistic lenses. This stage involves the man relating to the woman in a group environment more than one on one as this shows more of the character of each individual in relation to others than a one on one would, it has less pretense.

The second phase, if the first is successful, would be the engagement. This is when the father feels the man is responsible and worthy and of his daughters hand and some level of premarital counselling as well as life counselling begins. This is all done as the man and his parents relate to the woman and her parents, I will explain the significance of this as they do in the next part. This part involves the man getting his life in order to take on the responsibility of a wife and this is helped along through the guidance of the father of the woman. The woman would also be receiving guidance from the parents of the man.

A lot of the process is requires a submission by the young man

I will immediately jump into phase three because there is an extent of overlap between stages two and three. Stage three involves apprenticeship. This is when the man spends a year, give or take ‘a few’ months, in the home of the parents of the woman and vice versa. During this time the man lives with them as well as works with or for the father. It is during this time that a lot of the discipleship happens as the man gets to see another example of a functioning marriage in action as well as being observed by the parents of the wife to be.

One can pretend to be something he is not over frequent meetings but in such close quarters over a good period of time the real nature of the man and woman is brought to light. Things like temperament, laziness levels, relation to others etc. are easily visible and can be worked or exposed before they become a bigger problem. It also gives the man and the woman a chance to view the parents of the other in close proximity. We echo similarities with our parents and even though we do not turn into carbon copies of them there are things that can be seen. Traits that will help the man or woman understand the person they hope to hitched to till death.

At this point I must say that the full point of the book cannot be gotten by a review and I do encourage all who can to read it as it is a very good book. There are a couple issues that arise and I will mention two that impress me about all this as hope to press upon you the interest in the book.

What happens when the lovey-dovey-ness is low and there is no
friendship foundation

The first, is that I see a lot of relationships these days are based on either the glossy eyed affection or the fun new toy kind of affection. The first one leaves you without a proper understanding of who the person next to you really is and results in you doubting the relationship when the persons true character starts to show and the second is all about what other people think of the person next to you and not the actual person. It is very important after everyone is gone and no one is looking to be able to talk to the person next to you, I think that is great! If a relationship is based off of mutual appreciation of the individual as well as the romance then physical trauma will not diminish love but grow it.

Secondly, as radical and impractical as these ideas may sound a proper reading of the book in full will give a proper understanding of the idea in private thought and meditation as you work through what has been read you will be able to try to put things in place with the paradigm in which you are placed. If at all love is for the benefit of the other person then wouldn’t you want the other person to know the real you so they don’t get shocked in future. Wouldn’t you want the person to have as much a knowledge of you as possible? Would you not be willing to submit to the authority of another for a period of time to show some seriousness as well as grow under their guidance?

This book is nice if not just for the discussion that it brings about. There are dozens of reason why this book should be read but I’m yet to think of one reason why it shouldn’t

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