Most of what I have read recently on the issue of relationships emphasizes the need for family involvement and accountability. As a senior in college I live over 500 miles away from my family and over 60 miles from my girlfriend's family. Because of the distances involved I have not even met her father or mother. How, in the current era of moving around so far, can a person stay accountable to family?
The principle is not just accountability and respect for
parental authority, but also mentorship, guidance, community
and even blessing. These are the things that help give a
relationship context, and they serve to tie a couple to something
larger than just isolated couple-hood.
Parents serve as that first line of context, and when they are
not physically present (due to distance, as in your case, or
maybe because they've passed away, as in the case of a single
friend of mine) then you must be creative in finding ways to
fulfill the role they would usually play. You need to "adopt" some
local parents who will fulfill that role (my wife and I serve in that
role for one of our young female friends, who is in her 30s and
both parents have passed away).
Take great care in choosing who that will be in your life
— you want people who have a strong, solid track record
of authentic faith, a vibrant marriage and family life, and who
will take their role as "local parent" seriously. Additionally, your
relationship needs a faith community context, so find a local
body of believers that will be your extended family and get
plugged in and involved in the body life. This, by the way, is the
same advice I'd give to the single person who's not in a
Finally, 60 miles is one hour's drive. I used to have a longer
commute to work than that. Load up the car soon and go meet
Copyright 2006 John Thomas. All rights reserved.