March 27, 2012

Dating, Courtship, and Our Story: Part 7

Ok finally, the last post for this segment! So far Skyler and I have shared with you our thoughts on dating and courtship as well as our experiences with both.   Earlier this past month I had been looking at all of Skyler and I's old facebook messages (this was the first time I realized I could even do that!).  Many of these messages were from my sophomore year and his junior year in college.  Prior to looking at these messages, I had always thought of that time in our relationship as being rather insignificant.  However, looking back at them really caused me to see the mighty hand of God at work!  Seriously!  We were having these amazing conversations as casual friends long before there was ever any romantic interest from either of us!  Not only this, but I could also see how God was protecting us from moving too fast too soon.  This discovery of these facebook messages inspired me to start writing in a memory book my sister in law gave us nearly 3 years ago for our wedding.  I had intended on writing our story, memories, etc.  much sooner than now, but for some reason the motivation hadn't been there.  With little Kyria on the way, I thought now seemed like the perfect time!  So I started writing our story . . . it's still a work in progress.  This new project, along with these posts on courtship and dating have gotten Skyler and I thinking about what we plan to teach our children about courtship, and how we will go about helping them set standards and expectations for their future relationships. So one night Skyler and I had a great conversation about this very thing, and this is what we are thinking:

1) Although it is very difficult, we will try to refrain from joking around about our children having boyfriends/girlfriends.  I say this is difficult, because as our friends have cute little kids of their own it is hard not to joke about "hookin' up our kiddos!" However, we really want our children to view the opposite sex as a brother/sister in Christ and as friends - NOT as a potential love interest!  I am sure most of this joking is harmless, but I can't help but wonder if it doesn't have a bigger impact on our children than we realize.

2) Prior to being 16 years old our daughter will not be pursued, nor will our son be allowed to pursue a courtship relationship.  We say this, because up until that point the kids really aren't in a position to get married, therefore why enter into a serious relationship?  Although, we will not allow them to pursue this type of relationship, we will encourage getting to know our children's friends and their family.  If Kyria becomes good friends with a boy, we would gladly invite him and his parents over for dinner so we could all hang out! 

3) Once our children are at least 16 years old, we feel this COULD be an age where they would be allowed to be pursued/pursue a courtship relationship.  By that we mean that a boy could make his intentions known that, having been friends with the girl for quite some time, he would like to become better friends with the intention that this is who he/she would like to marry someday in the future.  Of course, 16 isn't the magic number when we think a relationship like this needs to come about.  It is simply the earliest age we feel it would be a possibility.  At this point, our son/daughter would be able to hang out with family and friends as a couple, but we would put strict limitations on their time alone together.  If a boy was pursuing Kyria, Skyler said he would like to have numerous conversations with him as they work outside together, or fix up a car in the garage.  He would ask him intentional questions to get to know his heart, but also to get the guy thinking.    As the courtship relationship progressed, and our children had our blessing, the couple would gradually have more opportunities to spend time alone together.  

4)  Having struggled with this ourselves, I asked my husband what advice he would give to our children about the physical aspect of their relationship.  We decided that if our children had proven themselves to be seeking to glorify God, they knew they were with the person they would marry, and they were at an age where this was an actually possibility (maybe 18 at the earliest) . . . then in that case we would trust that we had trained them up in the way they should go. We would ask fairly specific questions often to keep them accountable, but we would also let them know that it was between them and the Lord.  Whereas one couple might feel convicted to wait until marriage to hold hands or kiss, another couple may find that these things are completely appropriate prior to marriage.  As the parents, we will offer the best advice we can on the beauty of keeping the marriage bed pure, however, we will also trust that our children will seek the Lord, and make their own decisions regarding their future spouse and marriage. 

A few words of wisdom for our daughter would be:  Never forget that you were created to be his helper!  Help him grow spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and yes, even physically.  Spur on your man!  However, keep in mind that just as you hold the power to be the greatest blessing to him, you also have the power to be a great curse!  Seek the Lord with all your heart, and strive to bring out more of the fruits of the Spirit in yourself and in your man!  Also, follow his lead and trust him!  If he has proven himself to be a man of God then respect his decisions, and know that God will take care of you even as you submit.

A few words of wisdom for our son would be:  Never forget that you are to love this woman as Christ loves the Church and you are to give yourself "up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to [yourself] as a radiant church , without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish."  Also, keep in mind that you will be held accountable/responsible for your future family.  Fear the Lord, and seek him with every one of the decisions you make!     

So there you have it . . . our plans for courtship in the lives of our future children! LOL I guess you can say we are jumping the gun a little here . . .  well Skyler and I always seem to be preparing for the next phase!  Obviously based on the four simple point above, this is not a comprehensive nor detailed explanation of courtship and how we will go about teaching our children.  It is merely a few thoughts on the subject we want to remember for the future.

Honestly, the reason we started writing these posts had little to do with discussing how we would teach our kids about courtship.  Really, it was triggered by the fact that we know several couples that are college age and above who are stumbling their way through the whole dating process!  It's not too difficult to talk about how courtship should look for a junior high/high school age student still living at home.  However, when you start talking about courtship with college age and above it gets a little tricky . . . 

So if you find yourself in this position of wanting to go about relationships differently, but aren't sure how that will look for you as an adult who no longer lives with your parents . . . here are a few of the things we feel are MOST IMPORTANT based off of our own experience.  (NOTE:  Of course every relationship will look differently . . . these are simply a few of the things we feel every courtship should consist of despite age or personality).

1) Stop trying to make it happen!  Instead of looking at the opposite sex as a potential mate, see them as a brother/sister in Christ.  Quit trying to scope out the room for an attractive possibility, and let God bring the right one to you!  Enjoy being single, and use this time to grow closer to the Lord - this is one of the best things you can do for your future spouse.

2) Develop meaningful friendships.   Take plenty of time to develop these friendships.  Just because you've hung out with someone once or twice and they seem like a great person gives you no right to start thinking about them as your future spouse!  Take time to get to know them as a friend.  Hang out together in groups. See how he/she interacts with others. Try not to go out (or stay in) together alone.  Surround yourself with friends and family (of course this doesn't mean you cannot talk on the phone, write letters/emails etc.) Talk about where God is leading each of you individually.  Encourage one another to follow God prompting, and go where He is leading - despite what that might mean for a potential relationship between the two of you!

3)  Give no false sense of commitment.  Be sure that you are protecting the other person(s) heart/feelings, as well as saving your heart for your future spouse.  If you have developed a meaningful friendship, and see the other person as a potential marriage partner make sure not to rush things!  Communicate with one another, but refrain from anything more than a growing friendship until you know for sure this is the one you want to be with the for rest of your life!  If you aren't 100% sure of this, the status of your relationship should remain "friends" until you do. 

4) Accountability.  Find someone who will be honest with you, and who shares in your enthusiasm for going about this whole relationship stuff differently.  Maybe it's your parents, a friend, a pastor, or college minister.  Find someone, and let them know you really want them to be honest with you as well as vice versa.  This is also important once you are in the relationship.  Have someone you can talk to who will keep you accountable with the progress of your relationship spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  If you would be embarrassed to tell them some of the stuff going on or you wonder if they would "approve" . . . maybe you're moving too fast too soon!
5)  If you ask for accountability/advice, be willing to take it seriously.  If you have strategically chosen someone you admire to help you out with this, be sure to include them in your relationship.  A person who has no interaction with you and the other person will have a difficult time giving you advice, and you will more than likely not respect his/her opinion.  Once you have chosen someone who has your best interest in mind (as a girl, this might be a father, older brother, mother, older sister, etc.), take serious caution with the relationship if he/she expresses concern or an uneasiness.

All that being said, I most definitely do not claim to be an expert on courtship.  These are just a few things that I have found to be true based off my own experiences, and God's Word.  I offer these words humbly, and with the recognition that I do not have all the answers.  If any of you have experience with courtship in your family, we would love to hear your thoughts!

Part 1 - thoughts on dating
Part 2 - Skyler's experience with dating
Part 3 - Megan's experience with dating
Part 4 - what is different about courtship
Part 5 - Skyler's version of Our Courtship
Part 6 -Megan's version of Our Courtship

 

1 comment:

  1. I'm so grateful that you are a good parents to your children and you really guide them to the right path because you put God above all. For without Him we are nothing.

    I do agree with all the very informative insights you mentioned above and if your children will follow that one they will surely live a fruitful lives because they have God.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for your comments!

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. ~ Col. 4:6 :)