The portion of our lives when we are dating is a difficult one – and the way that dating is done in modern society makes it even harder on us who are wondering how to navigate its murky waters correctly. While being jeered at by their worldly peers—or even when looking around at the failing standards and mistakes of their Christian friends—many Christians have wondered if it is even possible to make it through dating and still maintain their purity.
I know that this time can be on you look back on with either regret or happiness—what makes the difference is how you approach dating. Is this going to be a time of purity and preparation or a time where you care about only what is fun and makes you feel good now?
5 THINGS I’M GLAD WE DID WHILE WE WERE DATING
- We only ever dated in public.
…and I mean all the time. We lived in a town where neither of our parents were too, so this meant eating out all the time. People thought we were weird. It was completely inconvenient. It was even pretty expensive.
It’s unconventional, but I believe it works, and so does my husband. While at first even he was shocked at my request—it’s something we are now both so glad we did, despite the inconvenience at the time, and we tell every other young couple who will listen to all the wisdom of this step.
Here’s the thing: You always date in public, you’re going to be more restrained physically, and you’re very probably not going to lose your virginity.
I no longer believe in asking, “How far is too far?” in regards to touching and intimacy before marriage. There is so much in between nothing and sex. I believe in asking, “What causes me to lust and how can I avoid that?” It’s going to be different for everyone. If I could do it over again, I wouldn’t kiss before marriage because, if I were honest with myself, I would have admitted that when we were kissing it was too tempting to take it too far and have lustful thoughts. But that’s me. You have to work out boundaries for yourself. However, I believe that for every couple a good first step is never putting you in a position where you can take it all the way.
- We did research.
Not only was this a lot of fun, but it was also a great preparation for marriage. We read a lot of books on marriage and discussed them together. “His Needs, Her Needs,“ ”The Five Love Languages,” “You’re Singing My Song,” and “The Book of Romance“ were our favorites. These books all let us learn each other and prepare for marriage in a structured way. They helped us to bring up subjects we may not have thought of otherwise and also helped us to be able to communicate in a way that we would both understand—because the books gave us a common language to refer to. We still refer to the books that we read, seven years on, and are so thankful that we took the time back then to prepare ourselves for this chapter of our lives.
- We built a culture of open communication.
You will often hear that “Communication is key”—and (although it’s completely cliché) when it comes to marriage it really couldn’t be truer. So, since dating is the arena where we were preparing for marriage, we encouraged each other to talk about everything: our struggles, joys, fears, and dreams. This culture of communication helped us when we got married to work things out quickly and made sure we were on the right page when it came to our goals and thoughts.
- We talked about hypotheticals. A lot.
Whenever we saw or thought of something happening, we would ask each other what we would do or like to happen in that situation. “How do you want to school our kids?” “How many kids do you want?” “How are we going to discipline?” “What will happen if something happens to one of us?” “What do you expect of me once we are married?” and so on. This saved us what could have been many disappointment and unrealistic expectations.
- We took dating very seriously.
We decided while we were dating that we were looking at each other as potential, life-long marriage partners—not a way to fulfill our own selfish desires. We decided back then that we would never say the “D” word (divorce). We knew that the best time to divorce each other was now—and so took our learning of each other seriously. I know, this all sounds very serious and not at all “fun” like dating “should” be—but let me tell you, the more seriously you take dating, the more fun your marriage will be. You do not want to make a mistake in the man you marry. Look at this man and ask yourself these questions:
- Can I submit to him?
- Will he honor and cherish me?
- Will he provide?
- Does he handle conflict well?
- Can he control his anger?
- Do others see him in a good light?
- Has he proven that he is trustworthy and hard working?
- Is he active in the church?
- Does he treat this relationship with respect?
- Does he bounce his eyes away from women dressed immodestly?
- Does he love God more than he loves me?”
Make it your mission to discover the true answers to these questions (not just how you feel about him when things are great). If you can say “yes” to these questions without reservation, then chances are very high that you will have an amazing marriage. This is a fun time, but make sure it’s not just fun.
By Chantelle Swayne
Chantelle is an Australian, married to an American and recently moved to Alaska from Singapore in the middle of winter. She has a sweet boy named Ezekiel. She loves to write, lift weights, drink coffee, eat, engage in deep conversation, eat, watch TV series with her hubby, drink coffee, draw, and sing.