While we continuously are told to always date your spouse to keep the marriage fresh, courtship might even be better. Normally we consider courtship as what happens between a man and woman while they are deciding whether to marry or not. But does that mean courtship should end at the engagement or wedding ceremony.
Dating is important to continue to develop a marriage that will last as well. Let’s take a look at the definitions of the two words
1. the wooing of one person by another.
2. the period during which such wooing takes place.
3. Ethology . behavior in animals that occurs before and during mating, often including elaborate displays.
Date- 1.a. Time stated in terms of the day, month, and year.
b. A statement of calendar time, as on a document.
2 a. An engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest.
b. One’s companion on such an outing.
3. The time during which something lasts; duration.
Of course there are more to each of these definitions, but these seem to be the most intriguing ones for the purpose of showing how courtship can really help a marriage last. As the definition says, courtship is wooing. Wooing is displaying affection to another person, in this case a spouse, in order to gain attention from the other person. Most times this is used to make the person being wooed feel special about themselves. It also states, it is the period of time with which the wooing takes place. So does this mean that courtship has to ever end? I think it should never end.
Now dating states that it is a period of time, an outing, time during which something lasts. So here it looks like a date is scheduled and agreed to between the couple. As put earlier these events of dating are necessary for a marriage so that the couple can spend special time together in or to grow over time. But again these are time sensitive due to planning, and making the time happen.
We already know we have a problem with marriages ending in divorce and cohabitation. Teaching that courtship could be a great way to gain trust and grow feelings for a lifetime. The part of the definition that states the behavior of animals during mating that includes elaborate displays helps in this explanation. What elaborate displays as humans can we due as elaborate displays? How well do we know our spouse that we know how to grab their attention?
Elaborate displays doesn’t necessarily mean going out to buy gifts such as diamonds, candy, flowers. These displays can be simple in our eyes, but seem HUGE in the eye of our spouse. Some examples are: Cleaning the kitchen, washing their car, reading to the children, and walking the dog. These seem silly, but these types of displays when done to please our spouse mean a lot to them. It means we didn’t wait to be asked to take care of things.
Another act that can be elaborate is the reading of Scripture to each other. The reading of God’s Word is powerful in and of itself, but is very wooing when done together. Honestly, is there anything sexier then reading the Bible one to another. This act shows a commitment to God and one to another. God loves relationships, and marriage is the ultimate relationship he desires for us between a man and a woman. He talks about Christians being the bride of Christ.
Christ showed the best act of courtship that nobody could ever duplicate in His sacrifice for us on the cross. He died for us so we could spend everlasting life with Him. That is courtship in it’s entirety. Paul writes that we are to love our wife as Christ loves the church. So all men need to willing to die for their wife, and a wife shall honor that willingness of her husband to make that sacrifice.
So if we can help couples know these simple truths, and engage in a marriage full of courtship, with dating mixed in, marriages can thrive for generations. What we teach now will roll over and over. I pray that courtship can become a new tool that is used in the work done with couples.
Michael Gage, BCACLC