The Value of Courtship and Engagement
We believe that a distinction needs to be made between Dating and Courtship! Obviously, Dating can end up becoming Courtship; but, we believe that the one should lead into the other. You may date several people before you have found someone that you really are interested in as a life's mate. Once you have found that person, you narrow your dating to one person and strive to win him or her as a life's mate.
Courtship will not only involve dating this person, but an effort is made to limit dating to only that person. There will be limited acts of affection offered to the other, telephone calls, note writing, and flirtatious gestures (winking, prolonged smiling, frequent glances, gestures with hands, etc.). The prize in the courtship is the girl. She is pursued and the man is the pursuer. The man pursues her until she catches him! It is a time where the two should be strongly evaluating the character and attitudes of the other person. For this reason, romance should be de-emphasized and friendship accentuated. It is a time to discover the attributes, traits, and major life's interests and values of the other person. It is a time to get to know one another's families because you not only marry the person, but their family as well. It needs to be thoroughly understood that reform after marriage is almost impossible. So be sure you like the person!
When the courtship has been successful to the point where the man is ready to "pop the question," and she says "yes!"--then, it is the time to become Engaged. An engagement ring is appropriate, along with a public announcement of the intentions of the couple to be married in the future. Following are some good reasons and value of an Engagement period:
1. It is a time to begin serious planning of their lives together. Such questions need to be asked as to job or jobs for one or both in order to have sufficient to live on; where they will live; and possibly even talk about long-time future plans. The question of whether to have children, when to have children, and how they will care for them.
2. It is a final testing time before the couple is actually married. Remember, you are not only married the person, but her friends and family goes along with her too in most instances.
3. It is a time to more seriously learn to get along with each other. You need to talk about a lot of things. May we recommend that you go through the latter part of this study book (entitled Predicting Marital Success) together! This material is purposefully designed to help you in your getting to know one another more intimately, as well as, in an over-all area of each other's lives. You need to know how you still feel about the other person when you disagree on some basic issues of life. It probably would help if you got in an argument to see how you would deal with strong disagreement.
4. It is a time to see one another more as they really are. Usually in dating there is an effort to put on your best "airs!" (Your best self!). You need to see your potential marriage partner "behind the scene" (down to earthâ€”the real person). Many have married too quick before they really knew the person and found out to their sorrow that they hadmarried the wrong person. Try to plan situations where the real person will come out so that you can evaluate whether you want to live with the person the rest of your life. This can be a real important issue for the girl, because she is to be in a submissive role in the home.
5. It is a time to get better acquainted with family and friends. Yes, it is great to be with that person that you feel that you love dearly, but you also need to be around his or her friends and family. Make plans where this will happen often. Evaluate each other's friends and family by asking question:(1) Do I like their lifestyle? (2) Do I feel comfortable around them? (3) Do they accept me readily? (4) Do I like them just like I like my own friends and family? (5) etc.?????
6. It is important to realize that caution is necessary so as not to cause shame or regret. During this period of time, conduct yourselves well, do not take chances of being alone too much or too often that allows strong temptations. A mistake in judgment can be forgiven, but it will require greater effort to regain the trustâ€”not only from your future mate, but from friends and family also.
7. It is also a time, if one or both realize it is a mistake, it can be called off. The engagement period is a testing period! You are not married! You should not act and conduct your associations as though you are married! If after sufficient time elapses, one or both feel it is a mistakeâ€”there is no shame in calling off the wedding plans! The seriousness of what we call the engagement period is illustrated in the life of Mary and Joseph in the following passage:
Matt. 1:18-20... Luke 1:26-27...
However, their engagement concept was about the same as our marriage ceremonyâ€”they seem to have had a short period before they began to live together as husband and wife. Our engagement is not that strong, but it is a serious time for strong and needed evaluations of each other. We will be looking at "Marrying a Non-Christian." This is one of the critical issues that needs to be strongly evaluated before committing to marriage. We urge you to study through this next lesson before you make your final decision about marriage.