What did we do to build a strong relationship while dating?
- We consulted with mature people, mentors, parents, elders of our church. We wanted people to speak into our lives. Some couples may feel that their relationship is their private matter. Neither true nor wise. People we loved prayed for us and with us. We invited them into the discussion about a possible future together. Marriage was a new thing–we needed help.
- We talked about how we would express the physical side of our relationship. We didn’t let it take over the relationship and derail it. It had a place. We walked in accountability with people we respected. We did not arouse love until its time—marriage. In that way we built trust that continues to this day. Worth building during the dating period. Trust compromised is sometimes difficult to rebuild. We talked honestly about what we would and would not do. And we walked in the light with mentors. (Guys, if you struggle with porn, expose it. Don’t carry it into marriage).
- We did not spend a lot of time together. We limited ourselves to two times a week. We were looking to our future in which we would be together the rest of our lives. We didn’t need to be together every night to prove our love. That can put pressure on the proper growth of a relationship. We both lived in community, and we honored our household commitments. The purpose of engagement is to agree together that you will meet each other at the altar and live together “until death parts us.” It does not and should not mean that you double the amount of time you spend together. You may need to double your time at work, or with your mentor, or getting a house ready.
- We did not spend any time together late at night. We did not put ourselves in situations where it would be easy to compromise our guidelines, like alone in an apartment. Familiarity breeds intimacy. That is for marriage. When we kissed, our feet didn’t leave the floor and our hands didn’t wander. It was not easy to hold to these commitments, but because we had asked for the help of others, we knew that we would be sharing with them if we stepped over the line. Walking in the light does not mean walking in perfection. It means exposing the darkness so you don’t live there.
- One month of our short engagement (two months and two weeks) was spent away from each other. It is a good way to develop creativity in love’s expression. Couples who must be apart don’t need to panic. Historically, the man was gone the whole engagement period getting the house ready. Remember–Jesus the Bridegroom left to prepare a place for us.
- We prayed for each other and with each other, but not until we knew we were in love and were heading to the altar. People who get overly spiritual too soon can also get physical too soon.
- Neither Karen nor I put all our marbles as single people in the marriage basket. Of course, we wanted to get married. But we managed as single people to find our joy in God. We knew that He was the center. Try not to make marriage the answer to your misery, or you might put pressure on your spouse.. May you find your life in Christ more than sufficient. As St. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.”