The developmental stages of a relationship have their variations, but when doing it God’s way there are some stages that are pivotal for laying a solid foundation for marriage. Doing it God’s way ensures that there are boundaries set in place to protect each person as they discern whether the relationship has potential for marriage. Dating because you’re bored is not the goal, but dating to marry is. Here is a brief guide based from me and my wife’s journey (from meeting as complete strangers through mutual friends on Facebook to engaged and married in 9 months!)
1. Friendship Stage
The friendship stage can range from many different scenarios, but can be defined as a healthy friendship with the opposite sex, containing no intimate commitment. The friendship stage is crucial because you shouldn’t get married if you aren’t able to be friends. The best marriages are the ones with the best friendship. The friendship stage shouldn’t include anything more but that. Our generation has really begun to play around with the world’s concept of friend’s with benefits. It is during the friendship stage you learn a person’s likes and dislikes, and spend majority of your time in groups.
2. Interest Stage
The interest stage is where you acknowledge you are interested in someone, but now need to find out if they are equally interested in you. This is the stage that most get STUCK in. You see a young lady that is very attractive to you, loves Jesus, and is single. Boom, you are interested. You are friends with a good looking guy that is committed to Christ, and he has a job! Boom, you’re interested.
The interest stage is very difficult because it is here that some guys don’t communicate to the girl that they are interested right away, and then some do. I know with my wife, I was interested in her for a few months before I contacted her for the first time. My first message was not, “hey I’m interested in you”, but more, “hey, how do I know you?” It took months before I got the courage to ask her if we could get to know one another better. Guys, don’t wait for a girl to show that she’s interested, go find out by asking her. Ladies, be patient and allow him to take the lead because it will set the tone for the duration of your relationship.
3. Pursuing Stage
The pursuing stage is where a boy becomes a man. Yes, ladies I know you want a man, but you have to be willing to be patient as God develops him from his childish ways into the man God created him to be. I was very nervous when it came time to tell Natasha I wanted to get to know her more. My pastor and two best friends had to really motivate me past fear to communicate that to her. The fear of rejection is real, and some guys just settle for games, which is why you need to wait until he gets the courage to tell you his intentions. The pursuing stage is very challenging for some men because it is the stage that requires the most communication. A man should communicate to you that he is pursuing you, or some may say, “I am very interested in you.”
Ladies if he has not communicated his intentions with you, then please keep your boundaries in order to guard your heart! The most attractive thing to a Christian man is a woman who stands her ground with boundaries. He hasn’t done anything at this stage to earn your physical touches. It is very easy to get caught up in a guy’s actions before he communicates his intentions. Once I overcame my fear of communicating my intentions to Natasha, and she responded with an equivalent interest to move forward then dauntless confidence came over me. From that moment on, I was confident as I pursued her trusting God to lead me each step of the way.
4. Courting Stage
The courting stage is where there has been an establishment of a committed relationship with the end goal of potential marriage. It is during this time that you are learning one another, in order to decide if you are suitable for marriage. Our courting stage involved some of our most supernatural events. From me meeting her family to her meeting mine. We both really enjoyed this time as we got to know one another better in a committed relationship. Prayer is essential during this stage because you want to make sure the relationship is being steered by God. Establishing boundaries is very key because now you are committed to one another, and the thoughts of getting physical will come. This stage is all about learning one another, more than touching one another. Natasha and I agreed to kiss for the first time after we got engaged. Establishing that helped us stay focused on the purpose of courting which is laying a secure foundation for marriage by learning one another.
5. Engaged Stage
He popped the question! This is where the rubber meets the road, and you are going to be having a lot of things to get done in preparation for the big day. This stage can be become overcrowded with so many agendas mainly coming from planning the wedding. Do not allow that one-day to deter you and your fiancé away from preparing for your lifetime together. Pre-marital counseling, reading marriage books, and spending quality time planning your future should be done during this stage.