So this post is for all my "in betweeners" Those who aren't quite single, but have yet to say I do!
What a fun, awkward, exciting, slightly frustrating and magical time! It's a time to really cherish, because marriage is altogether different.
In this lovely time when you are on an emotional high(if you did it right and followed my single lady advice). Mr. Right can do no wrong, and you almost feel like you could live in this sense of "bliss" forever.
Sadly, we get so caught up in "bliss" we forget the point of this "in betweener stage". So what is the point of the pre-court, courting and engagement?
When my time came to court I had matured...a bit...and had come to realize every relationship is different. Courting isn't a cookie cutter situation for everyone. But there are some things in courtship that are non-negotiable.
1) The point is to make sure you want to marry this person, not assume that since he asked you to court that's whom you will marry.
2) To stay pure and blameless. You want to end up at the alter with a clean slate, and if you keep your purity and it didn't work out, you have nothing to be ashamed of.
3) To Have Fun( I believe this should be a really really fun time, not stressful)
The guy should be sweeping you off your feet. If he's a jerk during courtship...honey he'll be a jerk married to you. Most men do simmer down on the feet sweeping once they marry you, but if he never does anything period...Lord help you once you say I do. Please keep your eyes open for "deal breakers". Everyone has their own set of deal breakers but these are mine, and I think should apply for all women.
1)Guys Christianity is weak. Though people do backslide and become luke warm after marriage, it can happen, so I am not saying just because he is a strong christian he will stay a strong christian, but don't be so foolish to marry a weak christian man. It's easier to cool off than heat up.
Now let's define what a "strong" christian man looks like. He's a prayer warrior. He puts the things of God first(doesn't have lame excuses for missing church or church events) A Giver & Sacrificial. This man gives of his time and finances, and even sometimes to the point he may not have much. A man who is always calculating all his money for worldly things and doesn't invest the same in the things and people of God I would be very wary of. When my husband became a pastor is meant he would make less money, he was willing to make that sacrifice...I like that and we have always been blessed. You can trust a man who trusts in God.
2)Warnings from friends & family. Oh if there was ever a deal breaker...THIS IS IT! If the guys friends, family, your friends, Pastor have cautioned you about him...DON"T DO IT!! I get so mad when I hear girls justify, 'oh well it's because he's your friend, he's your family member'. Uhh could you get a clue and think maybe they know homeboy better than you do? If multiple people have warned your or asked you "why are you doing this?", I would seriously re-consider. If you don't trust their opinions than ask your pastor. But please refer to the single ladies post on "the proper way to ask"
3) Unstable. If the guy can't keep a job, a car. Pay his phone bill on time. Consistently attend church, be on time for work? Nope, nope, nope. If he has liked every Tina, Chic and Mary. Nope, nope, nope. You want a stable man in all areas of his life. From how he deals with family, to how he deals with people. To his work life. This is the rest of your life we are talking about. You can't afford to make stupid decisions. Yes anything can happen in the future, but don't let it be an avoidable happenstance. That everyone saw coming but you. I know of couples that I thought "Mmmh, I don't know about those two"...and low and behold give it a couple years...didn't work out so hot. What is unfortunate about these couples is that everyone around them knew it would be a disaster! Yes some of these people things can eventually work out for, but I am sure they will tell you getting to that point was no fun!!
When you are courting don't be sold out for the guy. Make sure he crosses his T's and dots his 'I's. You will pay for it later if you didn't do your home work!
During this stage it is ESPECIALLY important to stay pure. Thoughts like "well I am going to marry him anyway" will plague your mind. While it may be true, don't rob yourself of the precious "first time" experience on your wedding night. Don't taint a special union with immorality and lust. It is still lust even if you are engaged. As a lady it's easy to fantasize about your lives together, but it is WISE not to. Because that fantasy ain't gonna happen anyhow. Just focus on now. Planning your wedding, serving God, keeping pure. Engagement should be a time of confirming everything you feel and the "rightness" of the relationship. There should be no doubts or lurking dark feelings. If there are...someone wasn't paying attention during courtship. This is why it's so important to do these stages RIGHT!! I do think we all can get a bit of cold feet right before the wedding day, but if your whole engagement is a bag of mixed emotions, I would get some advice as to why. It's still not too late to say I DON'T.
Well hope this shed a little light on these three "relationship" stages. I do want to say, no one knows the future. So although you can follow everything to a tee an look for warnings and yada yada yada...bad things can still happen. Just in my experience and the experience I have gleaned from those who have observed this sort of thing longer than I, you always want to have a good starting point. If you start the race with a disadvantage...you are most likely not going to win!!