In Old Fashioned, Clay Walsh is a man with many noble theories on love and romance… but it’s been years since he’s even had a date so it’s no wonder even his closest friends give him a hard time:
Why don’t you just crawl back under that antique shop and make-up some more theories you never test-out at the grown up table anymore.
When the captivating, wild child that is Amber Hewson shows up out of nowhere and rents the apartment above that antique shop, Clay is confronted with someone new who not only wants to actually know more about his theories but also truly inspires him to dust them off and indeed “test-out” those theories in the real world.
So what are these theories of Clay’s and where did I—as the writer—ever come up with some of them?
Well, the theories of Clay are legion and could probably fill 30 blogs, easy. I’ve written about some of them before. His theory about never being alone with any woman that’s not his wife here; and a little background on some interviews I did that helped shape another of his theories about how our culture trains us to be good dates (but not necessarily good mates) here.
For this post, I’ll pick another one:
Nothing magical happens when you walk down the aisle… like it or not, what we do when we single is what we’ll do when we’re married.
Now, I can’t really point to a specific moment in my own life or a book I’ve read or a sermon I’ve heard that put that idea in my head, but as I sat down to write Old Fashioned and was reflecting on my own romantic choices and some of the marriages I’d already seen unravel… I started thinking… connecting the dots.
And ultimately, I realized that a lot of it just comes down to basic common sense.
No analogy is perfect—especially one tied to sports—but I beseech thee, kind readers, allow me this one indulgence…
It’s a common anecdote in coaching to teach your athletes that you can only play in the game as hard as you practice. If you don’t push and stretch yourself during your prep, most of the time you’re not magically going to play amazingly on game day. That’s not how it works. And, as someone who used to be a competitive long-distance runner, I know this to be true first hand.
But when it comes love and marriage, it seems like we have a disconnect. Like this reality simply doesn’t apply.
If you live your life as a careless single person, flirting and sleeping around and/or playing fast and loose with the hearts of others… and never even attempt to discipline yourself to live with intention or consider the fact that how you’re “practicing” while single may indeed affect how you “play” once married, well, in my mind, that’s simply foolish.
And you could apply this to finances or volunteerism or health and personal development as well. Even your relationship with God. Most singles would benefit to reflect on this for at least a moment… considering themselves and also in regard to discerning what it is that most attracts them to the person they’re currently dating (or hoping to) and comparing that with what qualities the genuinely want in a spouse.
Of course we all continue to grow and change throughout life. And yes, some people do take a huge step toward maturity after marriage and develop new patterns.
But sometimes they don’t. And I’ve seen the wreckage.
So… when shaping the character of Clay—and his commitment (admittedly to a fault) to live his life with intention and thoughtfulness—I thought that this was a theory worth including.
Bottom line, the idea is that it’s not about being consumed with thoughts of what marriage is going to provide for you… but doing all you can, well in advance, to train and practice and strive to bring the very best of yourself into marriage. For the sake of the other.
If a sporting event is worth that kind of effort, certainly a marriage is.
That’s Clay’s theory, anyway.
And personally, I think he might be onto something…