Unity of mind: that deeply peaceful place where two people hold the same virtues as necessary, the same principles as foundational for living, the same Faith as the only truth.
It doesn’t mean they agree on absolutely everything (whether the Christian chick flick I watched last week has any value whatsoever; whether film soundtrack tunes can double for exercise music . . .); but they agree on every absolute.
If there were one thing I could pick as being that one thing I hold most highly in our courtship, it would be unity of mind.
Courtship is a journey
In certain sense, courtship is, at first, precisely a journey to discover if you have solid unity of mind with another person. If you can’t find enough of it, then it’s inestimably better that you move on.
You can have everything else: mutual love and attraction, happiness with one another . . . but if you aren’t continually discovering (or able to healthily achieve) a natural unity of mind, then there’s no lasting foundation, and this lack of foundation will only hurt both people later on.
If and once you discover this unity of mind, though, then courtship transforms into a journey of deepening and developing it: filling it with your complementary but usually very different perspectives and experiences, and strengthening it through the willingness to have constructive conversations through disagreement, and, in the words of Jordan Peterson, to “assume the person you’re talking to knows something you don’t.” It’s a challenging but beautiful journey, and so very rewarding!
Answering a few questions . . .
Sometimes I get the question of how The Dash and I hold one another accountable in our courtship, or how we work on differences in communication skills. There are so many miniature answers and all sorts of details we could both expound on. The main answer to both, however, could possibly boil down to We act in our unity of mind, or we seek to strengthen it in some way.
Unity in accountability
Take accountability, for example. If this kind of question is focused on things such as our physical boundaries, I usually have to pause and think… Accountable?
Of course, because of concupiscence, purity and chastity are a struggle for every human being to some extent. So I would never deny that I have my own temptations to struggle against and pray for grace to overcome in relation to our courtship!
However, one of the very first things The Dash and I established together in our courtship were our physical boundaries–so, really, these boundaries are one of our oldest expressions of unity of mind as a courting couple. We set them, not trying to please others, but simply trying to do the right thing. We mentally and heartfeltly agreed that it was so.
Later on, our understanding of what we’d chosen would be buoyed by Fr. Ripperger, but our unity of mind concerning our physical boundaries has been there from the beginning. Our mutual choice for chaperones (who help us to not be too intimately alone together without some kind of accountability) also arose from our unity of mind. But even regardless of our chaperones, more than anything else, that’s what holds us accountable to our boundaries: our belief that they’re right; our unity of mind.
After all, the alternative is just for me to go to The Dash and say, “I’m so tired of this! Why can’t we just go ahead and [hold hands, or something similar]?” (Which, naturally, I don’t plan on doing! 🙂 ) To which he would probably ask something like, “Well, how can that potential change still align with our principle?”
At this point, neither of us can find a good rational and moral reason to alter our physical boundaries; we possess unity of mind in them. Neither of us drags our heels against what we’ve decided to do. The necessity of a stronger presence of accountability measures between us would probably indicate that we weren’t so unified in mind.
Unity in communication
And in terms of working on our ever-present differences in communication skills, what helps is that we have (you guessed it!) unity of mind in that we should listen, be honest, and ensure our communication is always a means to the end of better harmony of mind and of good decision-making. It’s often a challenge, but we both know an imperfect try is far better than no try at all!
Whether one of us is really wanting to have some set-aside time to talk about heavier stuff, or one of us is tired and doesn’t feel equipped to talk a bunch; whether we’re having a day that keeps us laughing, or one/both of us are feeling low and are trying to figure out how to talk about something potentially confrontational or disappointing . . . every day is different, but it is such a help to have unity of mind in that we need to be honest with each other, we need to talk about the hard stuff if it’s there, and we need to pray together and try and find joy in things. That is our mutual expectation with one another in trying to communicate, and I think it helps more than anything.
Why is unity of mind so important in courtship?
Well, courtship is hopeful discernment and early preparation for marriage. Marriage is one of the most beautiful and holy mysteries of unity Our Lord ordained for mankind. To intentionally focus on seeking out and, God-willing, growing in unity of mind as you walk down the path of courtship towards betrothal and marriage–well, it brings peace, order, life and joy to your relationship, and surely prepares you better for marriage than the opposite would!
How do you discover whether or not you have unity of mind? Now, needless to say, this discovery should certainly begin in friendship, before courtship comes into the mix (in other words, you should have some solid reasons to be hopeful about the person you’re wanting to court!!), but courtship, by its very nature, puts a much stronger focus on exploring and developing unity of mind. How to do this? A sanguine’s response: Talk! Talk about the important topics and issues of marriage and family life, and of life in general. Read or listen to related materials; share your honest opinions on them. Be honest and open; listen. Observe one another and see if your spoken beliefs translates into your actions.
A while back, I posted a “topic list” that The Dash and I hit during the first month or two of our courtship . . . it’s in no particular order and isn’t exhaustive, but it was very helpful and laid out an initial path for us to explore where we were unified.
- Handling finances
- Openness to life
- Marriage/healthy family structure/traditional spousal roles
- Homeschooling styles
- Healthcare views
- The spiritual life
- Corporal punishment/raising children
- Our past experiences of family/relationships
- Our temperaments and how we react to things
- What makes us angry
- What makes us happy
- Family traditions
- Our interests
- Communication skills and weaknesses
Praise God, we had good results 😉
In closing, don’t underestimate the beauty and necessity of an ever-growing unity of mind during courtship . . . it’s the surest way to obtaining unity of heart, and it brings a particular peace, strength and joy that no other aspect of one’s relationship can provide.
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity. Like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, Which ran down to the skirt of his garment: As the dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon mount Sion. For there the Lord hath commandeth blessing, and life for evermore.