Friendship and Beyond, Adult Relationships that Lead to Marriage

This past week I spent the whole week with my extended family.  Every year we get together for a week.  This is a huge gathering of people coming and going all week.  I have sixteen siblings, so you can imagine when we all get together with our children, and their children it is a large gathering.  It is a lot of fun and fellowship.

I take after my mother and I love to just sit and watch.  Watch my parents, watch my siblings, watch my children, watch my grandchildren, watch those who just got married into the family, watch those who are dating, and so on.  It is so fun to watch.

As I watched my nieces, nephews, young siblings with their boyfriends, girlfriends, new spouses, etc.  I just loved seeing the new relationships blossoming, and their interacted with one another.

In our family we discourage dating for the sake of dating.  We prefer our children not get into a one to one relationship with someone of the opposite sex until they are ready to consider marriage and all that is required to be a good spouse.  We actually do not let our young children even joke about “boyfriends” and “girlfriends” because it can lead to a wrong idea of how to treat one another.  When are children are small, we tell them everyone, male or female, is a good person to make a friendship with.

But what about when we do get to place where we want to be more intentional about a long term, possibly marriage relationship with someone.  How do we get to know someone and see if indeed they are a potential future mate?

In this post I want to discuss how I think someone should go about an honoring way of getting to know someone they are interesting in a more meaningful and possibly life long relationship with.

First, pray about the relationship.  Ask God to lead and give you clarity about what He has for your future.  Pray for your attitude towards the person, and their attitude towards you.  Pray and ask God if you are mature enough to begin an intentional relationship that may lead to marriage.  Make sure your heart and mind is set on Christ first.

Second, I think if you are beginning to see someone as a possible future spouse and having feelings towards them you should discuss your thoughts and feelings with your parents.  Your parents love you and want to be a part of your relationship.  They don’t need to know all the details as your relationship grows and becomes more intimate, but they do want to support and encourage you in making good decisions in your relationship.

Third, let the person you are interested in know in a clear conversation.  Don’t just flirt and suggest, speak clearly.  Say, “Hey, long time friend, I am interested in spending more time with you and getting to know you more.  I really like you and wonder if we could be more than just friends. What do you think?”  Then listen to their response, and if they seem caught off guard, give them time to respond.  If they are interested in spending more time together, then together let both sets of parents know that you are going to be intentionally spending time together to get to know each other better.  It is polite to even ask the parents if they are ok with that.

Once you begin spending more time together, have fun and go on double dates, with friends that you trust to keep you accountable to purity.  Go to one another’s homes, if there are others there.  If either of you lives alone, or in a place that others are often not home, make arrangements to hang out at friends or families home together.  Go to fellowship/church together.  Allow others to ask you both questions together about yourselves and your hopes and dreams.

Go for walks, talk, and even text or call one another with meaningful conversations.

What are important conversations you should have with a potential spouse?

Discuss your religious beliefs.

Make sure that your core beliefs are in alignment.

If you are a whole Bible believer, ask the other person what that means to them, and if they too are a whole Bible believer?

If you believe in Biblical Marriage, tell the other what that means to you, and ask them what it means to them?

Discuss family planning/parenting.

If you want children, ask if they want children?  If you believe in a quiver full mindset, then discuss that, and ask if they also believe in that?

If you plan to homeschool your future children you need to discuss that.

Discuss views on parenting and discipline.

Talk about your childhood, your family, the good and the bad.

Discuss financial planning.

Discuss your views on money and debt, budgets.

Discuss your political views.

Discuss your Dreams and Goals.

Talk about your fears, hopes, dreams, and insecurities, and your gifts and talents.  Ask lots of questions, and really get to know each other.

Discuss your health.

Ask about each others health, physical, mental, and emotional.

Ask about sexual activity, porn, etc.  issues.

Discuss you views on tobacco, marajuana, and alcohol use.

Discuss it everything.

After you have begun to really get to know each other, you will be drawn even more to one another, or you will know it is not meant to be.  If you realize that things are not meant to be, then be honest and quick to let the other person know that you are happy to remain as good friends.  Do not feel guilty or ashamed that you need to step back from the relationship.  It is better to end things quickly than to continue until someone is hurt.  The worst thing you could do is force yourself to be in a relationship that is not a fit, because once you say, “I do” you are indeed now committed.

If as you get to know each other, you find yourself feeling so strongly connected to one another that you need to establish clear accountability rules so that you can indeed remain in a pure relationship until your marriage begins, than do so. In our home, with our daughters, we ask them to ask the young man who is interested in potentially getting engaged to them, but not yet to that point, to come ask their dad to be in a courtship.  At that stage, we share with them our dating, engagement, and marriage experiences and struggles, and our suggestion of courtship rules.  We then ask them to keep our rules through courtship and know that we will be keeping them accountable to them.

We encourage our children to keep all physical contact to short hugs, and occasional hand holding, and to save all kissing and beyond to marriage.  We have found from the many couples we counsel that those who have made that commitment and kept it have a more meaningful and trustful sexual relationship in marriage.

When the you  begin to discuss the plans of married life together, it is now time talk to parents about engagement and wedding dates.  We encourage our children to not have a long engagement in order to keep temptation of premarital sex at bay.

As parents of adult children, especially adult children that move out of our home, we need to make sure we discuss the proper way to interact with others, especially sexually.  We need to be sure they know what sex is and what leads to sex.  I will discuss this topic more in my next blog post.

For now I hope this post is helpful to both parents and young people looking forward to married life.

Shalom

 

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