At the end of every month, I share my favorite comments from that month's posts, and you're invited to do the same and link up below!
I tackled a lot of big topics in September, and you all rose to the challenge of responding thoughtfully and graciously. It was incredibly hard to narrow it down, and this may be longer than usual. Definitely go back and check out the full discussion threads on these posts!
First up, I gave 10 Tips for Wedding Gifts (Buying and Receiving) and got more tips in comments!
Emily had a tip for buying off-registry:
I LOVE these! As someone who often says "I go to weddings like it's my job! I should get paid for this!" I'm always looking for creative and also practical wedding gift ideas. Usually I go to the registry first. 1) If there is something they actually want and would use that I can afford and would like to give to them, that's the best option. 2) Even if you end up buying something that isn't on the registry, you have an idea of what they want, what they already have, and their tastes.
There have been several times I've bought gifts that weren't on the registry. One summer I had three weddings in a row for some very close friends. So I made each couple a small scrapbook of photos of them through their relationship. They loved it! I also will buy other things that aren't on their registry, but still go with their tastes and what they want and will use. One example would be that I had one friend who had a lot of butterflies and flowers on the decor for their registry. There wasn't anything on the registry itself that I could see myself giving them, so I ended up buying them some small vases that had butterflies on them. The bride said they were her favorite gift.
So if you go off of the registry- still look at it! Don't replicate what they already requested and want or already have, but still get inspiration for their tastes and needs.
Cathi just got married and shared her favorite gift:
I agree with all of these tips as far as "giving a tangible gift" goes. But as you said, people have different tastes and opinions, and I wanted to give a shout out to the "no seriously, cash/checks are REALLY, REALLY okay! Probably preferred, actually."
I know it's taboo and sounds selfish and boorish, but the gifts that made the biggest impact on our "new life together" were the cash gifts. The tangible gifts gave us the most delight ("eee look what so and so got us! This is so cool!") and the off-registry ones were the most touching (a pair of walking sticks carved by one of his friends--so awesome), but money is what we needed most. We already had nice dishes and matching towels. We paid for the wedding ourselves, and while it wasn't necessarily a burden on our finances, recouping some of what we spent has put us significantly closer to our goals, like paying off student loans asap, still having a safety net, and saving up for a house down payment.
Fire Fairy had another suggestion for a unique registry item:
We actually didn't get many of the gifts we had listed on our registry, which I have to admit was a little annoying. We got quite a lot of money instead which we really appreciated, and we used it all to buy important things that guests hadn't bought, but also things we hadn't asked for like the washing machine. We also got gift vouchers, the majority of which weren't for the stores listed, but again we still found useful things to buy with them. We got some beautiful handmade and personal gifts from close friends, but some relatives gave us really cheesy presents that we hadn't asked for and have no use for - the worst is an embroidered Mr & Mrs cushion - it's sitting in the basement with a pile of junk because we really have no use for it and it's... hideous. I wish they'd just bought us a frying pan, or if they wanted to get us something fun we had plenty of quirky alternative items listed!
The other thing that we did that went down really well was asking for donations towards a safe house for boys in Brazil where I did some mission work. People really took to that idea as an alternative to physical gifts, especially those who knew about my time there. If couples can afford to have charity giving as an option i.e. they don't mind missing a few gifts, then I would recommend it.
The post about What (Not) to Say to a Friend Going Through a Tough Time hit home for a number of you.
This is a really good list. I recently had surgery and so I have a lot of diet restrictions, and there have been so many times people have tried to "help" and it came across as trying to solve my problem, like "oh, you can't eat this, so here's something stupid that you don't like instead" and I felt like I had to offer a point-by-point rebuttal to convince them there just IS NO SOLUTION. And that's not a point I'm happy to argue for. :(
And Rabbit added:
Late to the party but AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMEN to all of this. As you know, I've experienced my husband being laid off twice--oh the comments from people! It's funny, the closer they were to me, the more off-putting the things were. Why is it that because you're my friend from HS or my aunt you feel you can say such things? Conversely, when I broke my hand two years ago, I got the most random comments from strangers (and lots of touching, I have NO idea as to why).
I often wonder if we gain a certain insight when we go through bad times that helps us to help others in the future...whereas people who say the off-putting things, perhaps they've never been through anything as bad as what I'm experiencing, so they simply don't know? I don't think it's just that, because there are some very tactful people in the world and they all couldn't have gained that much wisdom through external factors. I think some of us are born (or learn early) to be wiser than others. Some people are ignorant or are raised ignorant. Maybe through more exposure to people dealing with difficulties can awareness be spread?
I responded to a judgmental article in The Wrong Way to Talk about Abstinence and Marriage.
Queen of Carrots commented:
I saw that article and I thought, "Wow, how unspeakably obnoxious. Way to cut yourself off from anyone listening to you."
I did wait, and I think it's the right thing to do. (Which doesn't mean I believe everyone who does or thinks differently is somehow worse than me or ruining their life--I do wrong things all day long, every day, and most of them, thank God, don't ruin my life.) I don't think anyone who thinks differently is going to be convinced by this article.
The myth of amazing honeymoon sex is, I think, a cousin to the "soulmate" myth and many other romantic myths that run at all parts of our culture: the idea that if you just get everything "right" (by whatever standard that is), you will have a magical, amazing, trouble-free relationship. It does make a difference marrying someone who is a good match, but all skills and relationships need time and opportunity to grow. And the dark underside of these myths is that if you run into trouble, you start thinking you must be with the wrong person.
Great post- I agree SO MUCH! You hit on a lot of really good points- like the idea that there are 2 types of people: sluts who have meaningless sex all the time with everyone and live a horrible sad life, and perfect people who "wait" and get rewarded with a perfect relationship and wonderful sex.
I think a lot of the "reasons" traditionally given to not have sex are messed-up- the thinking is "if you do everything right, then God will definitely reward you with a perfect relationship." And the idea that honeymoon sex is awesome and will make all that "waiting" totally worth it. I never even thought to question that until very recently. Hmm, maybe the first time is not so great because you don't have a clue what you're doing. If so, that doesn't take anything away from the argument that it's good to "wait" until marriage- it just means you learn it with someone who's totally committed to you- which sounds like the ideal situation to me.
And Rach added:
I found your blog via From Two To One, and I love this post. That article was posted and reposted time and time again by Facebook friends, and it was incredibly grating for all the reasons you mentioned.
I was really offended for my friends who had not decided to wait till marriage for sex (newsflash: don't assume even your Bible college peers waited). First of all, what if they made (what they felt) was a mistake by having sex before marriage? There is NO redemption or grace for them anywhere in that article. What if they were victims of rape or sexual assault? Well, if they're not virgins, no hope for their marriage. What if they didn't wait and are super happy with that decision *gasp*?
That article is appalling, and should especially be so for Christians who claim grace as one of our strongest values.
Finally, on Being Pro-NFP Doesn't Require Being Anti-Everything Else, everyone should read these points from 'Becca:
Excellent points!!Whew! One big one I didn't even include was What I Learned from Joshua Harris, which sparked some excellent conversations even though I didn't have a specific favorite comment.
I'd like to hear more people talk about how NFP/FAM helps you understand what your body is doing and how this can be helpful for nonsexual daily life, for trying TO conceive, and in parallel with artificial contraception.
What I mean about daily life is that knowing when to expect your period ensures that you're prepared hygienically, and if you have any problem with disabling cramps or anything like that, you can plan other activities around it instead of cancelling at the last minute.
What I mean about contraception is that people using barrier methods (condoms, diaphragm, etc.) should understand that there are 3 levels of effectiveness:
1. Using the barrier only when you think you're fertile, but continuing to have intercourse during that time
2. Using the barrier all the time, paying no attention to fertility
3. Using the barrier every time you have intercourse, and also abstaining from intercourse when you're fertile.
The higher the number, the more effective. Unfortunately, #1 has been advocated by many FAM (non-Catholic) teachers as an option if you don't feel like abstaining--it IS a safer choice than not using the barrier, of course, but the odds of barrier method failure when you use the method only at FERTILE times are HIGHER than the published statistics for the method--because if it lets sperm through, you have an egg waiting. The effectiveness of condoms already is lower than most people think (about 1 in 7 couples using condoms as their only method of pregnancy prevention will conceive within 1 year) so it's really best to combine them with another method. I'd like to see that idea better publicized.
FAM/NFP can be useful even for women using contraceptives that are supposed to suppress ovulation, because if you know the symptoms of ovulation, you can notice if your contraceptive has stopped working.
(I think I've written about this in your comment box before...but I try to say it whenever I get the opportunity!)
I say it every month, but it's especially been true this month, that everyone who takes the time to comment encourages me to keep blogging and tackling tough topics. I learn so much from all of you! Also, a shout-out to everyone who took the time to share posts on social media -- there was a lot more sharing than in previous months, and I really appreciate it! You all rock my socks off.
See you in October for even more fantastic discussions!