March 11, 2007
STAGES in Christian Dating/Courtship Relationship
There is a progression that should take place in building a Christian dating relationship. The following is offered as a short Christian dating guide for Christian singles to consider as they build a Christian dating relationship.
(Note: As soon as I say Christian dating guide, every single Christian reading this will think they are an exception and the timing noted does not apply to them. Yes – it does! One of the strangest phenomenons that I have observed is that singles dating behavior is more common than most of us think. I encourage you to not look for the “exception” but where you can build the type Christian dating relationship that will serve you and your partner well for years to come.)
FANTASY STAGE: 1 – 6 months
1. There is an attraction to each other and Christian singles immediately (or soon thereafter) think they have found their soul mate. Candidly, there is really little more in the Christian dating relationship during this stage than “physical attraction”.
2. There is a temptation for Christian singles to begin saying, “I love you” during this fantasy stage. What the expression really is saying is – “I am in love with the idea of being in love” AND “I really think you are the answer for ME”! It is mostly self-serving.
3. The emphasis should be upon enjoying each other’s company and building a FRIENDSHIP and refraining from going any further.
4. After 2 to 3 months of this type of dating and it is mutually agreed, the Christian dating relationship can move into an exclusive dating arrangement. This should be mutually agreed to and clearly understood by both Christian singles.
5. It is very important that each person have their own accountability group of their own gender. The progress of the Christian dating relationship should be shared so that their objectivity and accountability can be a valuable resource to the couple.
AFFIRMING STAGE: 6 – 12 months
1. Once a couple is satisfied that there is something to take to the next level, the couple should develop a plan in how they can best get to know each other in “real settings” not just in Christian dating situations. This plan will include such things as spending time around family and close friends to enable each other to see how the other person builds and sustains all relationships.
2. I do not suggest that the couple spend all their time together at this stage. It is a temptation to do so, but I suggest that it is actually unhealthy for the Christian dating relationship. Our emotions need to “grow” into this type of deep Christian dating relationship. Pushing the pace causes areas of each other’s character to not be observed. For example: Can the couple enjoy their alone time as well as their together time? If not, what is the “force” at play that is “pushing”? This often means that a healthy bonding is not taking place and the emphasis is upon self-satisfaction in this Christian dating relationship.
3. It is very important to look for CHARACTER issues in each other during this stage of Christian dating. Give yourself enough time and enough settings where character issues can surface. Why is this important? Individuals can “mask” character issues for an extended period of time – especially a few months during the fantasy period of Christian dating. But character is the foundation upon which commitment is built. Character does not change just because one gets married. You need to know “what they are really like” before you move into a marital relationship.
PRE-ENGAGEMENT STAGE: 1 to 2 years
1. The couple has spent a good deal of time building their Christian dating relationship. They mutually agree that this relationship has the great potential of moving into marriage. It is important that there be a “pre” engagement period of time. There is no set time frame for a pre-engagement period. It is more important that the process be completed than the time completed.
2. Marital inventories and temperament sorting should be taken at this stage. These are a wonderful means of finding out which areas you are really in “sync” and where you are apart. It serves as a basis for building the Christian dating relationship into as healthy a one as possible BEFORE marriage. (I highly recommend the inventories developed by Dr. David Olson that can be found at http://www.lifeinnovations.com. There are many counselors who can provide Christian singles with insights into the results found in these inventories. The Myers-Briggs temperament sorting is another excellent source of information that each person should know about themselves and each other.)
3. At least 4 sessions should be spent with a Christian counselor who is trained in pre-marital counseling. It would be especially helpful to take the inventories mentioned above to the counselor for their input.
4. It is very important that the couple receive affirmations from family and friends during this stage. If they do not (unless there is a good reason), the couple should take the time to listen to the concerns and take steps to ensure that they are embracing and working through them.
1. Once a couple arrives at the point that they “know” that they want to be married and have all the affirmations that they can receive, they can move from the Christian dating stage with confidence into the engagement stage.
2. I do not recommend a prolonged engagement once the couple decides to get married. If they have done the process in a “seasoning” manner, they should plan to marry as practical – with mutual agreement. I say this so that pre-marital sex will not be a temptation.
The couple should be able to enjoy the blessings of God as well as family and friends as they move into a marriage that has been well planned and confirmed in a healthy process. They can be assured that they have taken the steps to assure a long and satisfying marriage.
There are so many voices at play in our world today. Many of these encourage us to rush into marriage with anyone as soon as we find a strong attraction. This is not wise and God wants to mature you in your Christian dating and bonding process. It is my prayer that Christian singles will use the above to develop their own Christian dating guide for building a strong and satisfying relationship.
Source : (excerpt from the Article “Christian dating: what are the
“NORMAL” stages in dating for Christian singles?”)
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