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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marriage is not a group activity, why spending time alone is wise before you tie the knot

So-called "Biblical Dating" or "Courtship" models of premarital relationships are intended to maintain the sexual purity of a couple. If you aren't familiar with it, the general idea is:
  1. Guy observes girl in group setting and decides he wants to marry her.
  2. Guy decides to court girl by asking permission from parents.
  3. Guy and girl continue to interact in groups and with family. 
  4. Guy and girl attend biblical premarital counseling where they discuss spirtuality and headship of the man, and attend church together (of course).
  5. Guy and girl do not hug, kiss, or even go out to coffee together.
  6. Guy and girl marry.
  7. Guy and girl are suddenly spending time together alone and can't relate to each other. Misery ensues.
I get it.  You get it.  The whole idea is to avoid sexual immorality and keep the marriage bed pure.  The trouble is that no one gets to know each other on a deep enough level to truly relate.

One of the main reasons men have for pursuing a relationship in this type of situation is that men are restricted from relating to women unless they follow this model.  Moving straight to marriage is considered the only legitimate option for a serious relationship.  I'm guessing that this comes from people having been hurt by go nowhere relationships in the past and hope to avoid that kind of hurt for their children and for themselves.

The truth is, it is just not possible to avoid hurt in life.  If you've ever been "just friends" with someone who you would much rather be kissing, you've been hurt.  You might develop an emotional attachment to someone whether you lock lips with them or not.  Someone across the room in a Bible study might look sweet, respectful, and awesome yet have a double life.  People often behave differently in groups than in a one-on-one situation.

Sometimes a person's interest may be a well-placed infatuation for someone who is not quite right for them.  Compatibility is based on more than just spirituality. 

In a group setting, possible sources of conflict might be smoothed over.  It might seem like you have a great deal in common with someone who you attend Bible study together and attend other church functions; after all, the church makes sprituality paramount.  But other than that, do you like each other? 

I have an aquaintance who did not follow this model exactly, however was influenced somewhat by it.  She says she loves her husband but didn't realize how obsessed with sports he was until after they married when their Saturdays became all about sports.  And I don't mean ONE game, I mean TWO games in a day.  And then there are other sports to watch.  I mean there's ESPN, ESPN-2 and so on.  As a married couple, they no longer go to the young adult group.

From what I know of marriage, a great deal of it is spent just two people managing a home together and sleeping in the same bad.  And in order to do that, you have to talk to each other. 
  • Do you like each other?
  • Do you enjoy each other? 
  • Do you admire each other? 
  • Is this someone who you would be friends with if you weren't romantically linked?
  • Do you want to hear each others' opnions on various topics?  (Do you listen to each other?)
  • Do you make each other laugh?  Do you want to?  (I think my boyfriend's puns are hilarious.  Not everybody would appreciate that kind of humor.) 
  • Do you feel comfortable with the amount of affection you get from each other?  (Do you really want to hold hands or cuddle and not just go straight to sex?  Some people are comfortable with the courtship model because they don't like to touch and can hide behind it.)
  • Are you attracted to each other?  Yes, it can grow over time, but it's important for marriage to be attracted to each other.  You don't have to be 10s to have attraction or be perfect looking.  Well-groomed and well-dressed often add points in this department.

Alone time before you marry is key to determining these kinds of things.  Marriage isn't just about avoiding sexual sin.  If all you can think about when you're with your partner is sexual sin, maybe you aren't ready to have a mature relationship.

Marriage isn't just about sprirituality, and discussing what Jesus did.  It's so much more than that.  It should be about two people creating a place for love in an imperfect world.  If you don't like each other, and don't enjoy spending time alone together, you might not be with the right person.

Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment! (Thanks also for lurking. I don't allow anonymous comments. SavvySingleChristian@yahoo.com)


Kevin said...

I think you have made some good points here.

First and foremost, I don't think we can call all of the Boundless guidelines "Biblical Dating," especially since dating as we now know it did not even exist in ancient times.

We should follow principles of sexual purity and should and date with marriage in mind. But the insistence on group dating is misguided in my opinion.

Robin said...

Excellent post. This is why I don't agree with the idea of "courting" either. It is important to have that time alone to see someone as they really are - not the person that they are around parents and social groups.

Now, I am not saying that everyone is secretly naughty, or that the polite image they show around others is always fake. But everyone has those little quirks and funny stories that they don't show/announce in front of groups.

And it's a great feeling when you finally gather the courage to reveal one of those quirks/stories...and then discover that your date is actually the first person who really understands it. :)

SavvyD said...

It's not even about secret naughtiness or weird quirks. Yes, some peope have them, but this is more about being about to actually relate to your partner one on one.

It's definitely nice to share quirks!! My boyfriend and I enjoy foreign films. We started talking about Monsoon Wedding and he said I was the only person who he had ever talked to who had actually seen it.

SavvyD said...

Hello KuyaKevin - glad to see you have dropped in. :)