My cousin Amanda, from Home Husband Hounds shared her thoughts on some things she and her husband have been told since they’ve been married. Her post mentions comments from people who were shocked that they were married at a young age (21 and 22). She’s also written a post on reasons she’s glad they were married young.
Her post got me to thinking about my situation before and after I got married. You can read part one with what people used to say to me when I was single. Here is part two with what people said to us when we were courting/dating and then part three will be about what people say now, or since we’ve been married (almost two years).
“How did you meet?”
We live in Australia. My accent is decidedly not Australian. My husband’s is. I open my mouth and people know we have to have some sort of story for how we met.
Through friends. A family that “adopted me” in Sydney introduced me to his family. It wasn’t a set up at all. We both admired each other from a distance until Steven made his move and asked me to go on an outing with him. I knew our relationship was from the Lord, because it was the first time I’d been friends with a guy and I had no “designs on him” or wrong motivation when I was around him. I wasn’t trying to show off, or purposefully be near him. I had become friends with his mum and had genuinely desired to spend time with her, so I would visit the family. Steven was a bonus, and he was always happy to see me, but I didn’t make trips to their home because of him. (Some people argue with me on that one, but that’s really how it started.)
Once he made his move however, I made an effort to visit him. His mum and I still enjoy our time together when we can. 🙂
“You need a wife to take care of you.”
I asked my husband if he had people say anything to him when he was single. The only thing he could remember was a co-worker told Steven when he was sick one time that he needed to get married so someone could take care of him.
“Courtship, what’s that?”
I won’t do into all the definitions and arguments of courtship versus dating. We used them a bit interchangeably. At first, I didn’t like the term boyfriend/girlfriend. Just because there are many worldly elements to those names. But soon it became very real to me that we were serious, and it did simplify things to say “my boyfriend” rather than try to define Steven in another way. I did use the term “my significant other” sometimes.
My dad and our “courtship” mentors advised us to be careful about how emotionally attached we become early on in our relationship. I could write a lot here about how many people gave us wise advice during our months of courting. It was good advice. We took it quite seriously as we slowly (every few days) called and emailed each other.
A friend told my dad that he thought it would take a train wreck to change the direction our (Steven and mine) relationship was going. That was probably about a month after we began courting. Around that same time we had our first outing. A month after that we were talking everyday, and within two months Steven was driving the three-hours up to Sydney every week-end so we could see each other. We began courting in May, by August we knew. It was right.
Steven went on a family trip to the US and Canada so while he was away communication was hard, but we wrote in journals to document our thoughts. We also used Facebook Messenger and Skype. A lot. We talked about a lot of things and tried to be as genuine as we could with each other. There were no surprises when we got married. Well, none that I remember being a problem.
We “went slow” as we could. But we were 27 years old and found someone we understood and we were “hooked”. We were engaged within six months. That’s not right for everyone, but that’s how it worked for us.
“Are you going to live together?”
When we started talking about engagement, a few of my students asked me if we’d live together before we got married. I was a bit shocked at the question, and I hope I didn’t show my thoughts by my expression. I responded that people who live together do things (like sex) and I believe that is wrong to do before marriage. Also, de facto relationships don’t provide the stability or commitment that marriage provides.
So no, it was out of the question for us.
In our courtship we set up guidelines, a list of expectations we had for the relationship as we prayerfully considered whether we thought God would have us marry. Those guidelines even set up barriers such as no touching and limiting our daily communication.
My students watched us during those months and it became a funny thing to them that we didn’t touch. My girls especially would draw pictures of Steven and me, then point to the empty space between us and write “not touching” in a speech bubble. I hope that it showed not a legalistic list of rules that prevented us from having fun, but it provided a protective arena for us to get to know each other without the physical aspects to a relationship. I had many sets of eyes watching me and I took it seriously that those young people would be needing biblical examples for dating.
The guidelines shifted as our relationship progressed, but things such as fondling, being alone in a house or private place and a few others were non-negotiable in our commitment to wait until marriage.
“He’s a good man.”
I only knew what I could see and what he told me. I had heard about Steven from friends, and he seemed to be a down-to-earth, hardworking, intelligent and godly man. So when several people told me, in different ways, that Steven was a man of rare caliber, a good example, a man of character. That meant a lot to me.
I had to go through a few initiations before I was approved to be his future wife. Some of his friends quizzed me on a lot of things, then Steven had asked a few questions before he took the plunge to ask me out. I also had an elderly preacher ask some questions of me before he told us to go ahead.
Steven had to talk to my dad before I agreed to be courted, also he asked my dad for permission to marry me before he proposed. I appreciate his willingness to respect my father.
“Enjoy the seasons”
Very soon into our courtship, one of my co-workers encouraged me that there are different seasons in life, and that once we were married, we’d never be able to go back to the courting/dating stage.
She told me to enjoy it while we were going through it and not try to rush past the getting-to-know-you level to the engaged-married level.
She also emphasized that it was good that we were avoiding touching. She said it was good to have the mental/relational part understood and make those decisions to keep going with our courtship before bringing in touching and physical elements to the mix.
Her wise counsel helped me see that I wasn’t missing out, that it was a very special time.
We didn’t have it easy, there were misunderstandings, confused decisions and a few hiccups, but they only endeared us to each other more.
It was a time for flowers (occasionally), special dates (Maccas/ MacDonald’s) for early breakfasts so Steven could get back to his church on Sundays in time to play the piano, special picnics or walks around where I lived. We ate at a buffet place occasionally, but more often we ate at KFC and other little food joints in order to keep costs down.
We had daily texts, phone calls and emails.
We had friends who were willing to host us, but we did a lot of walking and talking in public parks since I lived in a share house with other ladies. We didn’t consider it “proper” to have him come to my home.
When I visited his parents, his family was so good to help us keep to our guidelines. Someone would be around the house so we could be there, or we would go on drives around the city or walks.
Reflection on our courtship:
I’m sure there were more comments, but these are the ones that stand out in my memory as helpful, or significant to our relationship and a couple.
Steven stepped out of his comfort zone, asked me on a date, then asked if he could court me. He was the gentleman at all times, and I felt honoured that he would ask me. In his making the first step, I think I started to love him because of that. He’s my hero and I’m very thankful for him.
Our lives haven’t been all smooth sailing once we started courting. There were some dramas that came up we had to learn to deal with, but we did our best, together. About ten months before our original wedding date, I had to stop teaching due to chronic fatigue. I went through a long period self-doubt and struggles of feeling like a failure. I still do in some ways. But Steven kept pointing me back to thinking God’s thoughts. That God is Good and that He is in Control. There is a reason for this. His parents generously took me into their home while I slept and slept and did pretty much nothing for days and weeks. I had reaching a breaking point where I couldn’t function to teach. Blurry vision, dizziness, aching head, neck, back and arms and I felt exhausted.
Steven went and lived (slept) at his grandmother’s home during that time, and so we did our best to keep our guidelines and avoid the appearance of evil. I stayed in his family’s home for three months, then returned home to my parents for another three months. We moved up our wedding date since the reason we were waiting was for me to finish my teaching commitment.
We made it work. It was such a blessing to be close to my family for a few months before our wedding and that three months brought us closer together. I’m also very thankful for the internet that allowed us to communicate. It was probably a very good things we had an ocean between us, it helped temper our passions that needed to wait until marriage.
Our first kiss was on our wedding day, after our vows. It was very special.
Resources we used:
Like I did while I was single, I read a lot of books about courtship and relationships. Some of the same books that helped me in singleness helped in courtship. I’ve listed those in the part one post. Here are a few more that helped in our preparation for marriage.
Boy Meets Girl — Joshua Harris
Preparing for Marriage God’s way — Wayne A. Mack
We did the Mack book as our pre-marital counselling book with our pastor. The Harris book is where got most of the ideas for how we structured our courtship. We didn’t follow everything, but it was a good place to start for how we talked and shared expectations.
There were a few intimacy books we read just before the wedding, and have read many since, but I won’t list those here.
During our mistakes and struggles, we learned to lean on God more and on each other. I appreciate my husband more and more each day. We don’t have a perfect relationship or marriage, but we like to say it’s perfect for us.
Every blessing to you all,