What comes between friendship and marriage?
You met a girl. A very interesting girl. Someone introduced you to each other. You were previously heartbroken but her smile and her optimism about life slowly fan the ember of admiration in your heart. The more you know about her, fondness and curiosity develop. She fascinates you.
You recently met a guy through a common friend. There is something about him. That aura of mystery you simply cannot pinpoint. He rarely talks, rarely shares about himself. He simply enjoys being in the background, silently observing people’s interactions around him.
After months of straightforward banters, daily conversations about anything and everything under the sun, the guy tells all. The girl prayed about it and she accepted that love professed under the moonlight introspection. Love is in the air.
When boy meets girl, how do you find the answer to your contemplation? Should we go forward together into marriage? How do you discern if God really ordained the two of you together? How can you know when you are ready for marriage? And once you’re ready, what should you do?
Rediscovering Courtship… An Intentional Romance
How do you get close enough to someone to make a decision about marriage without stealing the privileges of marriage? How do you find the love of your life without leaving a trail of broken hearts and broken promises behind you on the way to the altar?
The answer can readily be found in courtship. It is a relationship between man and woman who are actively and intentionally together to consider marriage. It is a purposeful relationship. It’s romance chaperoned with wisdom. A relationship where two people deliberately explore or pursue if God would have them marry.
Yet, courtship may seem old-fashioned in today’s modern times. In the world where the use of technology is an everyday occurrence, where borders are crossed online and distance is reached by the use of your fingertips, is courtship’s message still relevant?
Some people may think that using the term courtship or even just mentioning the possibility of marriage feels like too much pressure, too soon. However, one may notice that even though courtship has a serious intent, it can also be low-pressure and casual when it begins. It is simply answering the couple’s “What’s the point?” question about the relationship in the outset. It is a promise not to play games with another person’s heart.
When someone you know is in the courtship stage, you don’t say, “Congratulations!” as if they got engaged. That is not what the initial stages of courtship are about. It is just the time for the couple to get to know each other without outside pressure or overly high expectations.
Why you need more than just intense feelings?
It is that feeling of passion, excitement and urgency to get to know someone more than skin deep, that desire to know everything about the other, their past hurts, their present situation, their future plans, what made them tick. It’s that eagerness to share everything with someone who seemed to speak deep into your soul. That mysterious and powerful urge to seek another person’s affection.
We are all familiar with the feeling. The world is brighter. Spring in our steps. Added energy to do the usual humdrum of life. Love must be in the air.
And guess what? Falling in love was God’s idea. He made us capable of experiencing romantic feelings. He gave us the ability to appreciate beauty and experience attraction.
Romance is a very good thing. But just because it’s good doesn’t mean that we can enjoy it whenever and however we please. Like all the other good gifts God has made, romantic love can be misused. In fact, it may seem to be the most misused gift nowadays. Hearing all the songs about heartbreaks, broken relationships, broken families, even broken lives, parts and parcel of the consequences of giving romantic love free rein.
Romance to be fully enjoyed, the way God intended it to be, should be coupled with wisdom. It’s not enough to simply have romantic feelings. For love to last, it will need practical, common-sense wit that knows when to let the wind of feelings carry you higher and when to pull back. When to express your emotions and when to keep quiet. When to open our hearts and when to rein them in. Believe me, this is not a simple feat. You will need all the help you can get.
“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”
– Songs of Solomon 8:4
Are you ready for courtship?
If romantic feelings are never the basis of diving headfirst into that thing called a love relationship, how do we know it’s the right time for courtship? The basic answer would be you’re ready to start a courtship when you can match romance with wisdom. So with that, let’s examine our own readiness for courtship.
Based on Joshua Harris’ book “Boy Meets Girl”, he lists down three guidelines in discerning if one is ultimately ready for entering a courtship.
- Are you able to be patient? It is never wrong to desire marriage, but what is your greatest motive for starting a new relationship? Is it the boldness of your faith that you’re ready for marriage and that God has brought someone godly into your life? Or is it impatience? Are you identified by peace or worry? Refrain from starting courtship until you can sincerely proceed patiently. If not, that will be a sure way ticket to another heartbreak.
- Can you set a clear path for the relationship? You can’t have an intentional relationship when marriage is so far off in your mind. If you are not willing for a relationship to succeed and progress to engagement and marriage in a reasonable amount of time, you probably shouldn’t be starting it.
- Are your emotions based in reality? Our emotions are the result of our value and perception. Do you have the right values about relationships? Remember to not rush into relationships too quickly. Ensure that you know what God says about what matters in a partner and what makes a marriage healthy. Don’t just follow your feelings until you’ve tested them.
Remember, to experience the season of courtship, the way God ordained it to be, wait until romance can be guided by wisdom. Wait for the right time and the right pace with a clear purpose and a clear head. Let us experience romance at its best.
“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere.”
– James 3:17