Posts Tagged ‘ relationship ’

5 Ways to Navigate The Land Between…in Dating

Have you ever been in that spot with a girl and you aren’t quite ready to ask her out yet, but you definitely like her.  You know that spot… you guys really connect.  She’s easy to talk to.  You enjoy being with her.  The fact that she’s pretty hot doesn’t hurt anything.  But you’re not sure if you’re ready to make the big leap and full on ask her out.  You’re not sure if you like her that much?  Then my friend, you are in the Land Between.

Check out this picture.  What’s going on here?  Are they dating?  Maybe not…they aren’t exactly “next to” each other.  But he definitely looks like he could be “in to” her.  Maybe she’s still figuring it out.  But she’s not making an excuse to leave.  So what’s going on here?  Are they in the Land Between?

Last week I wrote a post about what to do when its time to tell her that you love her.  It was something a good friend of mine was going through and it got me to thinking about when that time came for me and Penny.  Well…this week I was working on a project with a different friend and he was telling me about some time he had recently spent one on one with a girl that he’s been into for a while.  It wasn’t a “date” per-say, but it felt very date-ish.  He’s still not quite ready to ask her out, but he’s definitely interested.  And he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  And I remember that time really well for Penny and I as well.

It really is a sort of Land Between.  What it doesn’t mean is that it’s time for the big “What is this” discussion.  I know it may seem like a good idea to have that Define-The-Relationship discussion at that point, afterall, its a good thing to be on the same page, isn’t it.  Sure it is.  In fact, I’d say that’s exactly what you want- to be on the same page.  To have everything above board and on the table.

We all know the pain of unspoken attraction and the confusion of an ambiguous relationship.  But the problem with those sort of discussions, with these DTR’s at this point, is that it goes beyond getting on the same page and forces both individuals to be in the same place.  And if they aren’t- then awkwardness ensues.

But how does that work.  I mean, look at the progress of relationships, it goes from attraction to dating…right?  Perhaps not.  Let me toss out a step in between, (thus The Land Between) that I think will help out everybody a lot!  It’s a stage that I think naturally exists, but some people want to skip over it all together.  That’s no good.  That stage exists for a reason.  And you want to take full advantage of each stage.  Don’t rush through the stage your on (I’d also say don’t linger either, but that’s another post).

This stage is what I call BEING INTENTIONAL.  So what does Being Intentional look like?  Well, it starts when you find yourself in this stage of- I think I like her, but I’m not sure I’m ready to full on ask her out just yet.  I just want to get to know her better.  It’s a time when you aren’t exclusively dating, but you do hang out a lot, especially in groups of people.  Maybe you’re hanging out with a group of people you wouldn’t otherwise hang out with.  You are really just getting to know each other.  When you go out with a group, you are intentionally in the same car.  You sit near her at the restaurant.  From time to time, you may even go out on a date, but for the most part, its not dating by yourselves.  The whole point is to get to know her to see if she’s someone you want to date.  It’s such a great stage to be on.

And like I said with How to Tell Her I Love You, you need to freakin’ tell her that’s where you are.  Ambiguity in a relationship never serves it well.  But you also want to make it ok for her to not be there at the same time.  That is a rule that will serve you well all throughout your relationship with her.

What does that talk look like with her?  It’s simple- but not easy-

1) Pick neutral ground to tell her. You don’t want her feeling trapped in your territory or feeling like her territory has been invaded.  It needs to be a safe place for her.  Keep it a public place.  You definitely want a place where the two of you can talk by yourselves, but not a place where your cloistered in a small room or car.  For me, it was in the auditorium at church after most people had cleared out but some people were still milling around.

2) Tell her what you like about her. This is a good way to start the conversation.  Is she easy to talk to?  Does she share similar interests?  I remember when my friends asked me what was the biggest attraction factor I had for Penny, my answer was that she was almost as big of a smart a** as I was.  She kept up with me and all my antics.  It was so much fun.  What is it for you?  Tell her specifically.

3) Let her know that you’re interested. Don’t skip this step.  This is the clarifying statement and the whole reason for having this talk in the first place.  Be really clear.  You like hanging out.  You see that there is some attraction and it could possibly one day be something more.  That’s what you’re interested in finding out. You can end this with, “I’d like to be intentional about getting to know you better.”

4) Tell her how you want to Be Intentional.  Tell her what “Being Intentional” looks like to you.  This is where you’ll dispel all doubt about your intentions.  Tell her you want to be intentional about hanging out around her.  Going to the groups she goes to.  Sitting near her.  Being intentional about talking with her.  In other words- taking the actual steps to get to know her better.  Not stalking her, just getting to know her.

5) Get her permission. Now this may sound cheesy, but there may be a boyfriend she hasn’t told you about.  The words are simple- “Is that ok with you?”  She’ll let you know one way or the other.  No harm no foul here, you just didn’t know and never-the-less, you guys still clicked, that’s why you needed to have this conversation.  Maybe she just got out of a relationship.  Or maybe that’s exactly where she is.  This is the part where its really ok for her to NOT be there yet.

So what do you do if she’s not there yet- reassure her that its really ok.  You just wanted to let her know where you were.  You can tell her that you are indeed still interested, and when she is ready, then she can let you know.

The great thing about this is that its a win-win.  Cause if she says that its all good, then great.  This actually begins your pursuit of her.  If not, then you have clarified some things.  If she is flirting with you and shouldn’t be, then this will let her know.  You also haven’t gone to any weird places yet, so you really still can be friends.  And if she does eventually get there, then she’ll know its safe to come back and let you know.

The Land Between- Being Intentional- call it whatever you may, but its a great stage to be in.

Looking Forward to a Second Year

Do anyone know what today is?  No, it’s not George Washington’s Birthday.  Or MLK Jr Day.  Today marks the first day of the final month of the first year of Penny’s and my marriage.  We are standing on the brim of end of our first year together as husband and wife.  And as I look out this time in our lives, as we look forward to Year 2, I am very excited to what this new year will bring us!  And I’m struck with several thoughts:

1) I am more in love with my wife now than I was on the day I married her.  I suppose that’s kinda the way it should be.  But it’s true.

2) We are communicating better and being more real with each other than ever before.  It’s an odd concept that more I am open, the more I let her see my own brokenness, the more it propels our intimacy- the more we know each other.

3) Our best years are really still in front of us.  I feel really sorry for whoever said the first year of marriage was the best.  Seriously, if I got to the end of this year and thought it was the best it was ever going to be, I might be done with the whole thing.  Thankfully, I am superexcited for what’s still to come.

4) I’ve never had an anniversary before…looking forward to it.  I got to plan out where we are going last night- I can’t wait.

5) We are set up great for a second year.  We have a cloud of witnesses around us that are in this with us.  They are really rooting for us…not just to stay together, but to thrive!

As I write this, I realize something- all of these things are also true in my relationship with my first love- the Saviour of my Soul- Jesus.  I love him more than ever before, and I feel his love more.  We are communicating better…I am hearing his voice clearer and sharper than ever before.  The best years are still in front of us.  The anniversary is really a special time- June 24.  And there is cloud of witness around me of people who have gone before me that are spurring me on.

6 Steps to Kick Off Dating in the New Year

It seems that it’s been a while since any activity has happened here on  These past holidays were nuts around the Mulberry House, relatives and travel and parties and cleaning and doing it all over again…unfortunately, it seems that Penny and I haven’t really had much time for dating.  And what do I think of that?  It was no excuse.  We still haven’t mastered the make-up date just yet, but that’s ok…we’re still learning.

You see, its bound to happen…you have a plan, and set DateNight, and things come up every so often that knock you off schedule.  But that’s no excuse not to date.  Not to connect.  And what Penny and I have gotten to practice over these last 3 or 4 weeks is how to connect and keep our own relationship strong in the midst of a lot of busy-ness and family time.  Sometimes we did well, sometimes we didn’t.   It’s part of our growth.  And part of my own growth as the one entrusted to lead this marriage.  It was tricky trying to discern the times when it ok that we fore-go’ed? (fore-went?) our time together for time with the family, and when we really needed to steal away and just have time together.  It’s not really something I have ever had to do before.  But I was fully aware of it the entire time.

All that aside- here we are- back home, back on a regular schedule, and its time to get back to Dating!  We are definitely ready for another season of Dating and learning how to grow in and through relationships.  Today I want to share a thought on Dating in the New Year.

Here’s my big thought- Be Freakin’ Intentional this year.  Be intentional about having regularly scheduled DateNights.  What that doesn’t mean is being laxidasical and waiting until the day of the date to think about what you’re going to do.  When you wait till the last minute, its a recipe for the M word: MONOTONY.  Monotony is the biggest killer of a dating life.  Mostly because it takes all the fun out of it.  But how do you avoid it?  How do you avoid the Rut?  The best way I have found to plan out what you’re going to do is simple.  It’s an old school method. Create a Calendar.

Create a schedule for DateNights.  This was our DateNight schedule from last fall.  Its simple Excel-type spreadsheet.  And below are 6 steps to creating an excellent season of Dating here at the start of 2011.

1) Get a night of the week that will generally be a scheduled night for the two of you.  For Penny and I, it’s Friday nights.  For a lot of my friends, it’s Monday nights.  Maybe its a rotating night.  However it works for you, get a night when you will intend to go out.  Keep in mind, it won’t work every week- things will come up.  But at least it gives you something to shoot for.

2) Go ahead and block out the times when you know things will interfere.  What are the big weeks you know are coming up that will disrupt your dating schedule.  For me, I color code those times.  Orange represents times when I know that Friday Night will not work.  Yellow represents weeks where Friday may work, but other things could creep in and we may have to be flexible (like the Friday after Thanksgiving).  Doing this will allow you to have a heads up and create a back up plan- a make up date night.

3) Plan an activity for each DateNight. This is where the real work and fun comes into planning these things.  You’ll see the times when the same ole thing keeps coming up- and it will allow you to move them around.  Penny and I will often go to Cincinnati or Louisville for our Dates, so for me, this lets me see when we are going out of town several weeks in a row- then lets me adjust it so we aren’t leaving all the time.  This will also allow for you to check the local theaters- what plays or sporting events or concerts are coming that you need to go ahead an get tickets for (and gives you time to get good seats 🙂 )  The key here is variety.  Revisit the old favorites, and get some new things going on as well.  One final tip: Try not to schedule too many movies over the season.  If there are some big movies coming out that you both want to see, then by all means, but otherwise- keep it changed up.

4) Schedule Food for each DateNight. Sharing a meal together is a time-honored tradition, but more than that, it gives you great time to talk.  Scheduling the food will allow you to keep a variety of restaurants on tap.  If you’re like me, you’ll see a restaurant as you’re driving around town…and think, “We should try going there sometime.” But then you never go back… sound familiar?  The Calendar will help make that happen.  And what I think you’ll find is that pairing your restaurant selection with your activity is a bit like pairing a fine wine with just the right cheese.

5) Think through the added bonus. In other words, what makes this DateNight special?  What is something that you’ll both get out of this night that doesn’t happen on too many other nights.  It could be many things: a long drive with lots of talk time.  Homemade meal.  A special surprise or gift.  Time with another couple or loved one.

6) Take Good Notes. This was a lesson I learned after making these calendars our a few times.  Let’s face it– sometimes a well planned DateNight just turns out to be a stinker.  Sometimes its really great.  Sometimes you’ll hear her say something that you want to remember.  Sometimes you’ll want to remember if you two liked a particular restaurant or if there was a lesson learned from a certain experience.  This helps you to grow and get better at creating memorable DateNights.

So go for it!  Kick off 2011 the right way- with a strong season of Dating.  Get it planned out.  I suggest start small- if you’ve never done this before, try from January through March.  As for Penny and I, my calendar this time is planned through the end of May.  We’ll move into Summer after that.

When you do it, come back and leave a message, let us know how your schedule is working out.

Are You For Your Wife?

Here’s a cool thought that is more than just a thought, it’s a truth.  It’s a thought that I think I most tend to forget in the midst of the day-to-day.  My spouse is always for me.  She really is.  She is always on my side.  No matter what.  For me, its easy to lose sight of.  Especially when I’m in the midst of thinking about myself and Penny isn’t fulfilling my every wanton desire, especially the ones that I never even tell her about.  That’s when I tend to get down and feel like she just isn’t paying attention to me.  That’s when I’m not at my best.  But the truth is, She is always for me.  She isn’t out to get me or make me suffer, in fact, quite the opposite.  She wants to see me thrive and enjoy life and our marriage.  These things I know.

So why then did it kinda take me off guard this week when I realized something else…I am always for her.  I’m not out to control her or have her bend to my every wanton desire.  I really am her number one fan.  I am her biggest (literally and figuratively) cheerleader.  When I see her in her sweet spot doing the things that fuel her, it swells my heart like nothing else.  My number 2 priority in life is dedicated to pleasing her and making her happy.

I know that may sound sappy and idealistic, but it’s really true of us.  It’s why I put so much energy and effort into planning our date nights and keep them secret so she can be surprised (which does on occasion backfire 🙂 ).  It’s why I’ll come in a clean the house and try to get done before she gets home.  It’s why I run errands for her.

And for those of faith, this should have all kinds of parallels.  Have you ever stopped to think the Jesus is for you.  He is your number one cheerleader.  That he loves to dote upon you, his bride.  i heard a pastor once say that God doesn’t really give a flyin’ rip about your happiness, but he does want you to be joyful.  I know where he was coming from, and while I may have agreed at the time, I think I have to retract that.  I think he does care a great deal about the happiness of his kids, of the Bride of Christ.  He loves to give us good gifts…why, because it makes us happy and he loves to make us happy.  It brings so much joy to his heart.  He really is cheering you on in the ball game you just played or in that serving role you get to put your hand to that you absolutely love doing.

Back to relationships.  I have a question for you.  Are you for your partner?  Married or dating…that person you sit across the dinner table from- are you 100% for that person?  When does it get hard?  When is it easy?  When do you know that your partner is for you?  When do you forget?  Leave a comment, let us know.

The Marriage Triangle

Stop me if you’ve heard this one :: Wanna know how to get closer to your loved one?  A relationship is like a triangle:: You and your special someone are in two of the corners and God is in the other corner.  If you both focus on getting closer to God, then, by default, you will get closer to each other.  Sound familiar?  Anyone?  Bueller? Bueller?

I know I’ve heard it before, and honestly, I like..a lot.  It makes a lot of sense and is a pretty good analogy for relationships.  Unfortunately, as I learned recently, I don’t think it’s a great analogy for marriages.  But I’ll get back to this in a minute.  Let me take a slight detour into the spiritual side of things.

This past weekend at Quest Community Church was a special weekend, Vision Weekend!  Every year, in the month of July, we send our pastor off to visit other churches, meet with other pastors, find out what others are doing, and just listen to God on our behalf.  Vision weekend is the weekend he comes back and let’s us know what he’s been up to, what he’s heard, and casts vision for where we are going as a church.  Sort of a yearly course correction for the whole church.  (On a side note, I encourage you to watch it online here.  You won’t be bored, I promise.)

This year’s Vision Weekend was unlike any other we’ve ever had at Quest.  Usually Pastor Pete comes back with new directions, new initiatives, coming staff hires, etc…  But this year, what he heard was more broad for the whole church.  This year would be a year that we as a church, collectively and individually come to KNOW and TRUST our God in a new way, that our relationship with him will certainly progress.

Pete had talked about what happens when people have an experience with God or even give their lives to Him, but they never progess in getting to actually know God.  To know him personally, to know his character, to experience his love.  They just sort of stagnate.  Perhaps you know someone who fits that description, or maybe it describes you.  Either way, this was going to be a year where we get to take incredible steps forward.

Then there was me (there were a whole lot of “me”s around the room I thought) where actually, I know my God.  It hasn’t grown stagnant for me.  When I say know, I mean KNOW.  I know the rhythms of his heartbeat.  I know his voice when he speaks.  I know his discipline when it falls.  I know his character.  His generous love.  My roots are really grounded in him.  So much so, that when the storms of life come, they don’t really rock me.  I say that not out of pride, it’s just that’s really where I get to live.  Truly in a spot of…if it was just God and me, I’d be ok.  It’d kinda suck, cause we’re both people persons (is that right?), but it’d be ok.

So I began to ask God, how is it that we get to know each other better?  I don’t want to be a person that spends a couple of years getting to know him and then get satisfied with it and begin to cruise.  And no matter where you are on the spectrum, you could always get to know God better, right?  And there next to me was my wife.  In 3 days we will have been married an incredible 6 months!  Still very much newly weds, and still very much trying to figure this whole thing out.  It was then that God’s voice spoke to my heart.  “If it was just me and you, Brent, that’d be ok?  But it’s not just me and you anymore.  It me and you and her.”

In that moment I got it.  I have known God as a single guy.  And I have known him pretty well.  I could anticipate him about as well as anyone could anticipate God.  We were tight.  But then I understood- God wants grow with me.  Its not as if I reached some sort of benchmark for knowing God and then it was ok for me to get married because I’ll always have God as my basis.  He wants my change in status to become his change in status.  In truth, my basis has changed. Apparently, there is something different about knowing God as a married guy.  (side note: I’ll bet there’s something different about knowing him as a father too!)

But how is it different?  Well… I don’t know yet. But my thoughts do turn back to the Relationship Triangle.  And it strikes me, the Marriage Triangle is quite different.  In the Relationship Triangle model, it depends on my me getting closer to God and her getting closer to God.  That’s all well and good.  But how about the fact that God actually wants to get closer to us as well.  He’s also moving, not just us.

So what if the Marriage Triangle was quite different from the Relationship Triangle?  What if it was an equilateral triangle?  What if somehow, because of this special bond of marriage, the rule works in each way.  The more Penny and I get to know God individually, the closer we grow together.  And what if the same holds true- the closer we grow together the closer we grow to God?  As Penny and God grow closer to me, she and God grow closer to each other.  As God and I each grow closer to Penny, God and I grow closer to each other.

What if in this year, God actually wanted to move closer to me.  And move closer to Penny.  And of course Penny and I move closer to each other.  And we each get closer to God.  In the end- all three are getting closer and closer.  (how many more times can I say the word closer?)

What do you think?  Leave your comments.  I’d love to hear them.


Special thanks to  for today’s graphic.  It’s a great blog, be sure to check it out.

10 Things I’ve Learned About Dating- Part Three

In case you haven’t been following, this is part 3 of series of blogs inspired by a post from Perry Noble entitled 10 Things I’ve Learned About Marriage.  Go back and catch the previous two in this series or catch what Perry said at

6) She ain’t your wife yet, son!

Penny said this to me very clearly before we even started dating, “You may lead this relationship, but you aren’t my leader.”  Basically, here it is, don’t make the mistake of applying every Biblical principle of the guy leading the family and the marriage to your dating life.  Why?  ‘Cause you ain’t married yet, chief!  There is an appropriate level of leadership that you get when you’re dating.  It changes and goes deeper when you get married.  That said, don’t treat this dating relationship like a marriage relationship.

This also extends to the inevitable time when you are talking about the future.  Hear me clearly, do talk about your future dreams and desires.  Do talk about where you see yourself going and where you’d like to live.  But don’t fall into the trap of talking about it as if its pre-determined that you are or will be together.  Don’t talk about her as if she will be your wife.  Even be careful with the comment, “If we wind up getting married…” Trust me, you don’t want that to send the wrong signal to her.  If you’re dating, and not engaged or married yet, or haven’t really both said that you’re ready to take the next step- then don’t freakin’ talk like you have.

Here’s the why behind this one :: it’s just not good for either of your hearts to go there.  And it makes things awkward.

7) Date in community.

This was probably one of the biggest challenges Penny and I had- what does it look like to date in community?

Its great and important and necessary to have just the two of you time- at dinner, on a date, etc…  But it’s absolutely unhealthy to never be in public or with friends and family when you’re together as a couple.  People should probably guess that you’re into each other before they find out on Facebook.  And once they have found out on Facebook, they shouldn’t wonder if its true or not.  So go to the store, hold each other’s hand, but don’t be making out in front of other people- be a couple, not a porn show.  PDA is ok, just don’t be obnoxious with it.

Also, find people who love you, who you would consider wiser than you, and ask them if they think it’s a good idea.  In another word- get some leadership on it.  Oh my gosh, when I think of the ways that Michael saved me from making big mistakes by saying, hey, don’t do that.  Or times when I royally screwed up, he helped me to see that and figure out how to mend the relationship.  I can only imagine what Megan did for Penny.  It was probably something along the lines of, “Don’t worry, Penny, he’s a guy, of course he’s an idiot.  But give him a day or two and see if he doesn’t straighten up.”  To this day, we are so incredibly grateful for those two in our lives, AND they are still very much a part of our lives, helping us figure out this marriage thing.  It’s safe to say that without Megan or Michael, Penny and I would be in a far worse spot today than we are, most likely not even married or talking.

…to be continued