What are your best tips for someone about to enter into a courtship?
Wow, what a good question! Sigh . . . as I’ve said before, I’m only half of the courtship equation here, and who knows, maybe one day The Dash and I can write a post together that will be immensely more helpful and enlightening than anything I can write on my own! The Dash is my better half here . . . which means you all are missing out on my better half . . . for which I apologize . . .
But in the meantime, these are things I personally feel someone about to enter into a courtship should be prepared to do:
1. Make time for daily prayer together. Pick a patron saint (or multiple patron saints), and pray to them that God’s Will is done in your relationship. It sets the tone, right from the beginning. Pray for specific graces; obviously for chastity and purity, but also for graces to be truthful and wise, and to be able to seek the other person’s good as you discern your compatibility as potential spouses.
2. Make sure your intentions are clear and mutually expressed. It’s a simple thing, but courtship is fundamentally about discerning marriage with a specific person. The pacing of the relationship is up to prudence and God’s timing, but that presence of mutual interest and the solid intention of discerning whether or not to marry one another should definitely be clear and mutually expressed, because it gives direction, purpose, and exclusivity to the relationship. These elements are just, and should absolutely be present. If it seems too much to enter into something so serious, then the couple should really consider extending their friendship and waiting on courtship until they both are ready.
3. Take it slow when advancing in romance/emotional intimacy. I realize this can sound like advice straight from Johnny Raincloud . . . but it’s so important! Whether the courtship is going to last three months or eighteen months, it doesn’t need to start off heavy on the emotions; it honestly needs to be the opposite to ensure that you’re thinking clearly while discerning your compatibility. Every couple’s journey is different, but The Dash and I’s courtship lasted 3-4 months before we started using endearments or telling one another “I love you;” that was the pacing that seemed appropriate for us and how our relationship was progressing.
But with that being said, trust me when I speak from experience as the (sanguine, emotional) girl in this courtship . . . a little goes a long way! You will be so happy even if things are emotionally low-key to begin with. Having experienced both sides of the fence (rapid and slow emotional progressions in two different courtships), I can truly say that a slow, discerned progression of emotional intimacy is so much healthier and brings much more peace and long-term stability for both the man and woman. And it’s still fun and exciting! You’re still a couple and you’re growing together!
The very fact that a good man is exclusively pursuing you with the thought of marriage brings so much happiness and excitement already. The better you get to know one another, something so small as a little compliment, a smile, or a shared joke enriches the bond you’re forming more than you might guess at first. When the time is right and more significant amounts of romance and emotional intimacy start emerging in their proper order, they will be infinitely worth the wait.
4. Talk about important things as well as small things. Try to be intentional in keeping conversations well-rounded early on; make sure that you’re investing time to get to know one another’s thoughts and convictions on anything that could potentially impact you as a married couple . . . finances, children, child-raising, homeschooling/public schooling, family backgrounds, family mindsets, family differences, liturgy, healthcare, balancing work and home life, technology in the home, etc. etc. The list goes ever on and on. These should take front-seat early on in the courtship (because otherwise, to be frank, what’s the point?) while still leaving time for laid-back conversations about little things that still help you to get to know one another better.
There are lots of other things I could expound upon (such as spending time with one another’s families, etc.), but I feel those are the most important things to start out knowing.
Did you ever have a list of necessary requirements for/in a future spouse?
Oh . . . you bet I did! 😉 Often I wrote them in conjunction with Lena and we had endless conversations about our lists . . .
While I can’t remember every detail from every list I made, I do remember recurring elements like Catholic (naturally), mature, has a hard work ethic, humble, chivalrous, manly, intelligent, good with kids, someone I find attractive, someone who makes me laugh, someone I can be myself around, someone virtuous who upholds and respects the Faith, and who is open to life, homeschooling and the traditional lifestyle. Things like that 🙂
If only I knew who I would be getting! ❤ Do I need to mention The Dash checks every box? Plus he cooks and dances . . .
However, a pitfall I sometimes fell into with these lists was overthinking personalities and temperaments and making some sweeping generalizations for myself that just weren’t necessary. Of course, you’re not going to have chemistry with every person. But for a while, I assumed that I would not be inclined to be in a relationship with anyone quieter than I. (Insane. How would we function??) This came from a profound lack of self-knowledge of just how chatty I am. Sigh.
So while I would certainly encourage others to make lists of requirements for a potential future spouse, I would also encourage open-mindedness when it comes to the potential temperament or personality of their future spouse. This isn’t to say that you are just as likely to get along well with two wildly different people. But rather, it’s just to be open to the possibility that all the necessary qualities and virtues you’ve listed can be present inside a temperament you would never have guessed you would find so attractive; one that enchants and completes you in a way you didn’t think was possible. Ask me how I know.
Do you have a “true love waits” (or similar) ring?
Yes! I received one for my 16th birthday from my dad, so I’ve had one for six years now. In fact, Lena and I both do. The funny thing is, we switched our rings a few years ago, because due to a fluke of nature, we discovered each other’s rings fit our hand better than the one we had 😀 Mine says, “True Love Waits” and I’ve usually worn it on the fourth finger of my right hand. It’s been blessed as well.
Ironically, it’s reminded me just as much of the necessity of overall patience as well as chastity in our courtship! “True love patiently waits until it’s the right time to get engaged . . . true love patiently waits until I get to see The Dash again . . . true love patiently waits until we get to talk on the phone in approximately four hours . . .” Yeah.
Do you have a favorite future spouse prayer?
St. Raphael to the rescue!!!
Dear St. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead me by the hand towards those I am waiting for, and those who are waiting for me. May all my movements, all their movements be guided by thy light and transfigured by thy joy. Angel guide of Tobias, lay the request I now address to thee at the feet of Him on Whose unveiled Face thou art privileged to gaze. (Mention your request.) Lonely and weary, deeply grieved by the separation and sorrows of earth, I feel the need of calling out to thee and of pleading for the protection of thy wings so that we may not be as strangers in the province of joy.
Remember the weak, thou who art strong, whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.
And . . .
St. Raphael, loving patron of those seeking a spouse, assist me in this supreme decision of my life. Find for me as a helpmate in life the man whose character reflects many of the traits of Jesus and Mary. May he be upright, loyal, pure, sincere and noble, so that with united efforts and with chaste and unselfish love, we both may strive to perfect ourselves in soul and body, as well as the children entrusted to our care.
St. Raphael, angel of chaste courtship, bless our friendship and our love that sin may have no part in it. May our mutual love bind us so closely that our future home may ever be most like the home of the holy family of Nazareth. Offer thy prayers to God for the both of us, and obtain the blessing of God upon our marriage, as thou wert the herald of blessing for the marriage of Tobais and Sara.
St. Raphael, friend of the young, be a friend to me, for I shall always be thine. I desire ever to invoke thee in my needs. To thy special care I entrust the decision I am to make as to my future husband. Direct me to the man with whom I can best cooperate in doing God’s holy will; with whom I can live in peace, charity and fidelity in this life, and attain to eternal joy in the next. Amen.
These prayers brought me so much consolation back when I was wanting so much to meet my future spouse. And through them, St. Raphael brought me The Dash. The timing was inarguable and beyond wonderful.