Tracy K. Lorenz / The 'Doc'


Chicken Dinner

A funny thing happened at the Michigan State basketball game last Thursday, I won $6,905.00. Okay, that’s not so much “funny” as “lucky” but either way I’ve got seven G’s in my pocket I didn’t have before.  I won the 50/50 drawing at the basketball game.

The thing is I win a lot, waaaaaay past the law of averages or common sense. My win to enter ratio defies explanation.

Last year they drew my name at Muskegon Catholic Central’s Rainbow Auction, I bought one ticket and won an all expense paid trip to Maui for ten days. Air, car, food, condo on the beach, the works. I’m not much of a vacationer though, so I cashed it in and used the money to pay my son’s tuition.

The weirdest win was probably at Woodland Mall, they had a contest where every time you bought something you got a ticket to fill out and put in a giant spinning drum. So for two months EVERY PURCHASE at that giant mall went into that drum. I just happened to be there the day they had the drawing so I bought, if I’m not mistaken, a pack of Juicy Fruit gum just so I could get an entry ticket. I filled the ticket out, put it in the cement-mixer-sized bin, and walked around for an hour.

When they announced they were having the drawing I went over to the stage, and, as usual, the guy reaches in and pulls out my name.

That’s where it got a little sticky.

I said, “That’s me,” and the guy who did the drawing looked at me like “Shut up kid, you’re not funny,” and I can’t blame him.  There were tens of thousands of cards in that bin and about five people watching the drawing. What are the odds that the winner was not only in the mall, but standing five feet away?

I again said, “That’s me,” and he, again, ignored me. I was a senior in high school and a guy, I’m sure he read “Tracy” and thought “girl.”

So he got off the stage and started walking towards his office, and I was hot on his heels. I showed him my license and everything and he wasn’t buying it. I actually had to have my dad call and threaten litigation before I got my prize, which was a bunch of money in “Mall Bucks,” meaning I had to spend them at Woodland Mall.  I don’t remember what the dollar amount was but I’m guessing about $3,000 in today’s funds. I bought a stereo for my future dorm room, a bunch of clothes, and pretty much set myself up for campus life.

Then there was the time I was in Vegas and got a Royal Flush on a progressive Video Poker Machine; that was a five-figure win.  The odds of getting a Royal Flush on a video poker machine are 649,740 to 1. It’s not a contest but it kinda is.

My first win was a set of warming dishes I won for my mom when I was in second grade because warming dishes are just what a second grader needs. There’ve been other wins (skis, boots, bindings, poles from Cook’s Sporting Goods, a record package from Disc and Tapes, etc., all the way down to winning a Light Saber from  the ice cream counter at Meijer.)

Oh, and three years ago my friend Mike McClure won an all-expense, and I mean ALL EXPENSE, paid trip to the Final Four. I didn’t win it but he picked me to go with so I’m counting it.

Anyway, this isn’t so much a “humble brag” as a “What the heck?” It’s not like I enter a lot of contests, it’s just that when I do enter I’m luckier than statistics would suggest.  I’ve tried to figure out how or why it happens but when it comes to an answer I always ... draw a blank.

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The Effects of Cohabitation on CHILDREN (the stability of instability)

As a counselor, I hold something dearly in common with you; I have a very deep interest, investment, and concern for your CHILDREN. My last column on this subject was an overview of the effects of cohabitation that could impact your children for generations to come.

Since more and more couples are postponing or avoiding marriage, it would be nice to have a public forum to hold a civil discussion pertaining to the impact of cohabitation on children. Do you agree? Good, then let us proceed. You are welcome to email me with your questions which I would be glad to address in this public forum.

We will address six specific areas: 1. Instability of Cohabitation; 2. Concerns, Conflicts and Children’s Health; 3.  What about Statistics?; 4. The Impact on My Children’s Education; 5. The Higher Possibility of Child Abuse; 6. Poverty Risk: Are Two Incomes Really Better than One?

Let us begin with the subject of “Instability of Cohabitation.” 

There are a few things of which we must be cognizant prior to exploring this, but I will point out only one: language. 

There are words that hinder, cause us to stumble or get in the way of seeing the real issue(s) – words like racism, religion, judging, conservative, liberal, progressive invite emotions that open us up or close us down, which keeps us from hearing each other. Regardless common positions, similarities, or differences, there is one undeniable common truth our futures hold, our CHILDREN.

That being said, let us approach a socially acceptable cultural phenomenon as cohabitation in view of the instability it weighs on OUR children.
According to research by Dr. Susan Brown, “The greater depression characterizing cohabitors is primarily due to their higher relationship instability relative to marrieds.”

Stability is not determined by two people giving their word to each other that they will be true to each other. The cumulative substance of commitment is emotionally, spiritually, and practically legitimized in an official declaration made publicly before God, not in a private agreement.

One may ask, “Is not the court marriage just as legal as a wedding before God?” From a purely legal perspective, “Yes.”  However, the legal perspective that brings a man and woman together is the same system that helps you divorce. At the same time, our focus here is not marriage, but cohabitation and the impact on our children.

Let us return to this matter by checking in with Dr. Brown, who takes this a step further, writing “Additionally, cohabitors’ depression scores are exacerbated by the presence of biological and step children.”

Cohabitation seems to be driven by immediate financial, emotional, and self-preservation needs. The simplicity of this reality within itself deems that children are not the primary factor for such decisions, though children are factored in. During the developmental years, children cannot articulate their sense of instability. For the person raised and accustomed to instability, their instability is accepted as stability to them. Unless addressed, instability will often recreate instability in generational relations. This is the reason why cohabitation has become the norm regardless of its destructive social implications.

Can you imagine what our society would be like if we could purchase a house, car, or life insurance based on a verbal agreement without any consequences for reneging other than going your separate ways from the agent with whom you made the agreement?  In business, we do not make vows; we make contracts, written binding agreements between two parties. 

In relationships, we, too, make contracts; they are called vows before God, and documents signed validating the words we shared in our vows. The weighing difference between vows made in a court and vows made in a church is one is made before humans and the other before God. This is the delineating difference between a contract and a vow. However, there are many people who go to the church to make a contract because of the ambience.

Have you ever heard someone giving expression that legitimizes cohabitating in the following statement, “Hey, I just want to test the car before I purchase it.” In the absence of their partner, you may hear, “Who wants to purchase a car they may not keep?”   

Stability cannot be established in “Maybes” or “Ifs,” which create unacceptable instability.

There are three areas of concern in response to such modern-day thinking. First, to compare a human to a car is a severe depreciation of value. Secondly, when you drive the car around the block, at least the car is fully insured. There is no insurance when you get into bed. Thirdly, if you decide not to return the car, there are consequences like a visit from your local police or a night in jail. Going separate ways after the “bed affairs” only holds emotional consequences of acceptable instability for you and your children.

And, for those who test-drive and do not purchase after the test, here is a little bit of inside information for you.  Research has found that if you do not marry right after the baby is born, future changes in marriage status are greatly decreased. In other words, the test will remain a test while s/he is waiting for another test drive or purchase.

Here are a few additional things to think about:

I. Every unhealthy relationship is focused on self-preservation and temporary security.  It is not possible to have a permanent commitment to a temporary relationship.  The words temporary and instability are kissing cousins. Temporary commitments produce insecurity, which is like a migraine: though  located in one area, it impacts your whole person.

People do not cohabitate to create insecurity; however, what they are looking for cannot be in what they have found. A history professor once shared something I will never forget. He said the one common evidence in every great nation that has fallen is the presence of broken or deteriorated family structures. So there is no misunderstanding, a family structure is produced by two persons who can potentially recreate offspring, naturally.

Healthy relations always have a purpose. A couple’s purpose is always bigger than the two of them. One sign of a healthy relationship is a serious consideration, preparation, and focus on the CHILDREN.

II. An unhealthy and unstable relationship can be emotionally, spiritually, and socially detrimental to our children. And, when they are a burden, you will not have to tell them, it will show up in their behavior at home, schools and at their jobs.

Too often, public misbehavior and children’s emotional turmoil is not evaluated outside of effective counseling. There is no such thing as a child born bad, evil, or mean. These are all learned behaviors.

My focus here is to address things that are not addressed by institutions and those who profit from the brokenness of our children.  As a Christian Family Therapist, I am fully invested in our children, and I invite other Christian counselors to send me information so that I can add you to my list of counselors invested in strong marriages and healthy families.
Dr. Abiade is Founder and President of Abiade And Abiade Associates, a marriage and family Christian counseling business. We offer marriage seminars for religious communities and are available for private and online counseling. We offer 6-12 public sessions at a low cost as our focus is to support and help create healthy families. Call  231-747-2793  or email to make an appointment.

Note: references for this article are available; email or call 231-670-6059.


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