Courtship is very important and necessary for any intending couple to observe, if they want to enjoy their marriage. When I listen to some couples share their problems, I sometimes wonder if they really courted. Courtship enables you to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes; it enables you affirm your decision to marry the person or confirm your need to run far away from them.
However more often than not, couples spend their courtship preparing for the wedding rather than getting to know each other. I recently had a conversation with a young protegee of mine who is preparing for her wedding. While discussing, I asked her fiance’s preference on some issues concerning the wedding.
She replied, ‘I don’t know ma”.
“How come you don’t know? Didn’t you both discuss it?” I asked.
“No, we didn’t ma”, she answered.
“Well you should have discussed it so both of you are on the same page”, I told her.
I asked a few more questions about her fiancé and she would either reply with, “He hasn’t told me” or “I don’t know” or “We haven’t discussed it”.
So after a while I asked her, “what have you discussed?” To my surprise, they haven’t covered many things I considered essential yet they will be getting married in a few weeks.
I think there is a gap here. Usually, there are classes for couples who are engaged and preparing for their wedding but singles are hardly taught what to do during courtship.
How can two walk together unless they agree? How can they agree if they do not discuss?
This piece is for #Singles. Although this is not an exhaustive list, I trust it covers the most important things you need to discuss and agree on during courtship.
#1.Compatibility in Faith: If Christ is the foundation of your marriage you need to ensure that you both have the same foundation. Discuss your salvation experience, faith experience and testimonies, level of commitment, acceptance of the Bible as final authority. Do we pray together, study the word together, etc in marriage?
#2. The concept of Headship and submission: Often after couples marry, they realize that their concept of headship and submission is at variance. The man wants a woman who never argues with him, while the woman sees herself as a partner and must have a say. Combine them and wahala begins! Having this discussion again and again helps a couple agree on what their roles are.
#3. Money: Money is a major source of conflict in marriage. There is a need to discuss who will do what and share expectations of each other. Will the man be the sole breadwinner? Or will it be a proportional sharing of expenses. Will you share a bank account? Keep individual accounts? Both? How money will be sourced and managed must to be ironed out.
#4. Life in Marriage: A couple needs to be upfront with each other about what they would like to alter or change in marriage. If you would prefer a housewife or would rather your wife not work, it should be discussed and agreed on during courtship. Springing such surprises on your spouse can lead to distrust. If you are planning to leave the country or change your career etc, you need to discuss it. Also talk about how tasks will be shared in the home: cleaning, cooking, washing dishes, yard work, car repairs, shopping for food, and household stuff.
#5. Relatives and in-laws: This is another trouble spot for many marriages and you need to observe this area. Discuss their role in the marriage (if any), visitation rights and duration, financial obligation to both parents, how you would interact with them. Ladies should do well to find out how other wives (where applicable) are treated. Do you present a united front to them and deal with them as a couple or do you deal with them individually (not advised). Share your culture on expected roles.
#6. Mode & Place of Worship: This is particularly important where the couple attend different denominations. A decision needs to be reached on where they would worship as a family or if a new place of worship will be chosen, where the children will go as well as the doctrines they will imbibe.
#7. Health History and Genetics: This goes without saying and should be cleared up before getting engaged. If there is any trouble, even if you have received your healing, you need to disclose it so your partner makes an informed decision. Previous health challenges, surgeries, etc
#8. Children: Number of children, projected spacing between children and possibly, their names should be decided. What are the standards of behavior? What are the appropriate ways to discipline them?
#9. Goals & Life Ambitions: A lot of people complain that their partners are laid back and have no ambition, its important to know what your partners ambition is and the level of the ambition. Some are too driven and would do anything to get where they are while some are laid back and are no talk. So don’t just take his/her word for it, search for actions to corroborate. Pursuit is the evidence of desire.
#10. How to Quarrel: This is the last but not the least. I read a book before getting married and learnt that there is a need to agree on how to fight. As a couple you will disagree many times so it’s good to have a guideline to clean, healthy and godly disagreements. For example you can agree on: No name calling, no sleeping on separate beds no matter what, no refusal to cook/eat when angry, and always settling matters before bed. It can also be a code word for the other party to know when to stop talking, no verbal or physical abuse (very important). It’s a time to learn how to disagree on issues and still avoid hurting the personality of your partner. How you fight is important because a lot couples damage their emotional connection when they quarrel over small issues.
The purpose of these discussions is to get to know the other party better and know whom you are marrying as well as what to expect from the marriage. Sometimes, after these discussions, some couples go their separate ways; it is better than to divorce after 2 years. Still, most couples are able to work it out and agree on what is best for them thereby creating a win-win situation.
Are there issues you feel couples should discuss during courtship or are there areas you think need more emphasis. Please share with us!