Stay tuned for the Dating Game

One of the rewards of marriage, in my humble male opinion, is that the dating process is behind you.

As a teenager, dating was difficult. Oh, I liked girls a lot. I enjoyed being around the young ladies of my acquaintance and could talk with them easily.

Asking a young lady for a date, however, left me at a loss for words. While brash and loud in a mixed group, I was initially bashful when alone with a girl!

Nonetheless, I am determined and dated several lovely young women before I met the one who would become my wife.

While “date nights” are healthy for a marriage it is a relief to put behind you the complexities of the dating scene. You know, the “getting to know you, getting to like you, getting to break up with you” stuff.

I understood the dating scene in the 1960s but in the ensuing years things changed. Now gals ask guys out. Some of the movies these days make men blush. Automobile back seats are pass.

A number of times over the years I told my wife I was glad we were married and didn’t have to go through the dating game again. She agreed.

Then I lost her, suddenly and unexpectedly. In the weeks and months that followed, loneliness joined the pain of loss. I missed our Saturday night dinner dates. I missed conversations over supper. I missed shopping together. I missed going to church with her.

Two good friends who had lost their wives took me under their wings and guided me through this valley called Widowerhood. Both had remarried women they met online. Both advised me on the pluses and the perils of middle-aged dating, including online dating.

I was scared. The timidity of my teens returned. Though I did not sign-up for any of the online dating sites I explored a few. I nearly choked when I saw on one site the photo of a woman nude from the waist up and an explanation that she was not looking for marriage but for what we country boys call a romp in the hay. I realized then that the 1964 question of whether you kiss a girl on a first date had been lost in the dust of time.

This website was an exception ? one of the “free-to-browse” variety. There are a number of reputable and principled online dating sites but I remained apprehensive about signing up.

On my way home ? alone ? from a Saturday night family dinner at my brother’s house 70 miles away, I drove past a familiar town where a widow of my acquaintance lived. Hmmm, I wondered, would she consider having dinner with me sometime?

During the remaining hour of the trip I considered calling her but by the time I reached home I had talked myself out of doing so. Gas was nearly four-bucks a gallon, you know!

More than two weeks later, after being unable to get her out of my mind, I telephoned her. I can tell you that asking for a date in your 60s is just as difficult as in your teens. Thank heavens she said, “Yes,” and the next Saturday night we enjoyed dinner together at a nice restaurant in Ames.

We “clicked,” as they say, and 15 months later we were married.

Courtship and marriage are different the second time around. For one thing, in middle age the “bubblegum” thinking of youth is (or should be) behind you. You understand how precious it is to love and to be loved in a committed relationship.

You understand the joys and pitfalls of marriage and you enter it in a more thoughtful and rational way. And you realize that heavy breathing in middle age is more likely to result from walking up the stairs.

In a few months Julie and I will celebrate our second wedding anniversary. It’s going well. Very well. We both understand we will not experience a Golden Anniversary celebration so we’re making the best of the time we have together.

In the field of courtship and matrimony, God has blessed me four times ? twice He has given me a beautiful wife and twice He helped me survive the dating game.