I grew up believing courtship was superior to dating in terms of establishing true commitment between a man and a woman, but even as the idea of courtship was being revived during my younger years there were many different teachings floating around as to what it is.
Is it betrothal? Is it “purposeful dating”? Is a mixture of betrothal and dating?
Bethrothal is obviously the strictest of all these. The parents are deeply involved in the process to the point of nearly hand selecting a mate for their child. The word is taken from the Bible and it’s presented as being the most biblical way of finding a spouse. I knew my dad would never be interested in such a process and honestly I never agreed with it. I was the one spending my life with my spouse, not my parents. 🙂
Courtship is entering a relationship with someone with the intention of marrying them. You normally spend time getting to know each other in a family setting first, and then the young man approaches the father and asks permission to court his daughter and tells him his intentions are serious. It still involves parental permission and oversight but the daughter has more input and say in the relationship.
Sean and I went through courtship with our own unique twist. Instead of getting to know each other in a family setting, it was at a college scripture study I was attending with my sister. I was still in high school and finding a spouse at the study was not something I was planning on! Sean didn’t approach my dad; my mom finally had him come over for a little chat after we had been friends for 8 months. She told him that our relationship had reached the point where either his intentions needed to be made known or we needed to take a step back in our friendship.
After Sean went home to pray about it he came back that night for dinner and we officially started our courtship. A few weeks later I left to visit my grandparents for almost a month and before I left we both told each other we were committed to this relationship for the long haul. We didn’t need more time to know that we wanted our relationship to end in marriage. I spent most of my vacation money on pre-paid phone cards to call Sean. 🙂
Growing up I attended a lot of homeschool conventions and courtship seminars so I was familiar with many of the rules: Rejecting the word boyfriend/girlfriend and being introduced as a “friend” only. Never being allowed to sit next to each other. Writing letters that had to be approved by parents before being sent. Talking on the phone with family around. Physical contact? Nothing at all until marriage. No hand holding, no putting your arm around each other, and you didn’t even dream of kissing each other until marriage.
We didn’t follow all these rules. My mom was the main parent setting the groundwork (Sean’s parents had never heard of courtship before meeting me, and my dad wasn’t terribly interested in being involved). She told Sean she trusted him to decide when he felt it was time to hold my hand, but told him she assumed we would wait until our wedding day to kiss.
Our Wedding Day! I was 19, and Sean was 21. Yes, now I realize how young we actually looked!
We had a long courtship. It was 18 months before we were married. After six months we started holding hands and sat close to each other. Sometimes he would put his arm around me, but not often. We learned that when you are committed to marriage from the beginning, long courtships can be difficult. Physical touch is one of my love languages and I really needed some sort of physical touch in our relationship before I felt comfortable getting married so I was elated the first time he took his hand in mine.
The one rule we held absolutely firm on was no kissing until our wedding day. Sean had previously been in dating relationships and had kissed his girlfriend, but he didn’t want to have the same type of releationship with me. I had grown up dreaming of my first kiss being on my wedding day, and we were both extremely committed to waiting. While we definitely looked forward to that special moment it wasn’t a tempation that was constantly before us. We were fixed in our decision.
I’ll never forget our first kiss in front of 200 people. It was incredibly sweet, but I was so embarrassed! I wouldn’t even look at Sean for a few minutes after he kissed me! Now I look back and laugh at how silly I was, but everything was so new at the time.
13 years later…he is still my Prince Charming!
Sean and I have talked about what guidelines we want to pass on to our own children, and waiting until your wedding day for your first kiss is definitely something we will encourage but probably will not mandate. If you are committed to staying pure until marriage, waiting for that first kiss can certainly help guarantee that will happen but we see circumstances in which kissing after engagement can be appropriate.
Let’s face it though – kissing often leads to intimacy. I’ve only ever known the freedrom that comes with marriage, kissing can safely lead to intimacy, without reserve.
While I don’t appreciate legalistic rules that have emerged from ultra conservative homeschooling families, this is one guideline Sean and I have been blessed by.
*****I’d love to invite you to a Facebook party that I’m hosting for a friend Thursday, April 14th. Yes, that’s tomorrow night! It’s for Paparazzi, which is jewelry and accessories. Here is the best part, everything is just $5.00 each, and that includes many matching necklace and earring sets! They have super pretty headbands, and I have the wire flower earrings shown in the picture.
The Facebook party is this Thursday evening, but even if you are busy that night you can still catch up on everything the next morning! If you are interested, you can join the party here.
Just click through the link and click on the “going” button to join the event!
Jessica always does a fun job with her parties!! I thought some of you might be interested since it’s accessories and jewelry. She will have some fun prizes throughout the party!
Here is a necklace I have, and it even came with the matching earrings! I love it. It was only $5.00 for the set!