A healthy dating relationship has to have a clear direction.
And its objective must only be one thing:
Yes! M-a-r-r-i-a-g-e! Nothing more, nothing less!
Dating for fun, giggles (kilig-kilig), for bragging rights and mere “experience” is just unfair for the ladies and therefore is unhealthy, even destructive.
And as the man in this relationship journey, you should know where to take it step by step, little by little, stage by stage as you walk with the woman you believe you should marry.
But take note that not every dating relationship ends up in marriage. Some end in the early stages (which is way healthier and better for the both of you) and some in the latter stages ending up even to be dis-engaged (which is really sad and painful but still better than having to have “tied the knot”). That is why even before entering a dating journey with her, you must have had done “your manly home work” first (you must have known who she is from a distance, who she is in group settings especially how she is with her family. You must have had enough conversations alone with her finding about how she thinks, does her work and values things etc.)
This post is a way of helping you do your homework. It’s just an overview and a little explanation of each stage. ( If this blog post works, I could do a little more elaboration on each stage every Tuesday Nights so stay put and lets see how this online conversation would go, so join in the conversation :))
Stage 1: The “Laying-Down-of-Intentions” Stage
In this stage, your goal as the man is to be clear about your feelings for her and what you intend or hope to do next.
This stage is not a laying down of emotions but a laying down of intentions! So you must have had wrestled with “the idea of you and her” and have gone through some counseling and advices from trusted credible people first before approaching her and getting to this 1st stage. (Tip: Don’t open up your feelings to every person you know and esp “to her girl friends” to the point that she’s the is the only one who doesn’t know! Married people can be very reliable than your single friends who just have lots of concepts and untested ideas :))
Note that she does not have to answer right away so GIVE HER SOME TIME to pray and think about it. Do this in a way that’s humble and patient not cocky and assuming. (a day or a week might be a good time, a month or a year looks bad, bro :))
Now, if she says yes to you and is “allowing you” to court her, she is in a way telling you “sure, now pursue me!” (Note that it’s going to be stressful for you if your desire for her is very shallow, it would be a great joy of a challenge for you if your love is way much deeper!)
So again if she says yes to your intentions then go ahead and “run” for her! This is why you really need to be ready with your next moves.
The other scenario is that she would turn you down with “I don’t really see us taking this route together” or “I just see you only as a brother”, it’s up to you to discern whether you’ll push it further and give it another shot or whether its a good sign to just walk away and learn from it. (This could be another test of how deep your love for her really is)
Stage 2: The Exclusive Relationship Stage
The lady at this point must have challenged you enough to see if you are really serious about an honorable & decent relationship with her. As the man, you would know by a gut feel whether its time to follow through by asking if you could take it to the next level and be in an exclusive relationship dating with you already. The goal of this stage is for you to broaden your understanding of her, her friends and her family. And no matter what, within you must be a growing conviction that she really must be your life time partner!
This is a time when you should be establishing regular date days to just be yourselves and converse about the things that matters most for the both of you in life – your dreams and aspirations, your hopes and life goals, your faith and beliefs, and family vision and life mission.
Take note that at this stage, you also must have established boundaries at this point especially when it comes to physical intimacy. Because the higher you go in the dating stages, the higher the sexual temptation becomes. And so getting accountability and being wise as to the times and places you meet would be very helpful. As followers of Jesus, we are commanded by Him to honor the marriage bed and so we must do every possible thing we could to stay sexually abstinent which is very possible by the enabling grace of God.
Stage 3: The Proposal Stage
Now, since you’ve been in an exclusive relationship for “enough time”, you must have had gone through some up and downs esp through a number of conflicts and have learned how to resolve the those together. As the man, you must have learned how to love and lead her despite of the weaknesses you might have discovered along the way. And if there’s just no other reason to call it off, you should be getting ready to bring it to the next level, by popping the big question “Will you Marry Me?”.
(Tip: since you’ve known her personality and preferences, your proposal game plan must never be driven by whats popular or trending but what you believe she would greatly appreciate and love. Some do it with firework effects and complete video coverage while some do it during a simple date. Some do it in a big setting publicly with her love ones there, while some in a not so big setting. Do what you think be appreciated by her, and very memorable for the both of you) Personally talking with her parents and asking for their blessing would be an honorable thing to do. But in principle, know the best time and way to do it.
Remember this, your goal after the proposal stage must none the less be wedding preparations. You would have to learn to work together towards this with joy and great patience. And this phase should not take you years! Most relationship counsellors would recommend 6 months to a maximum of 2 years to prepare for wedding. Beyond that is not encouraged because of the temptations of sexual intimacy and the hopes that might be put on uncertainties, that would be unwise already.
Stage 4: The Exchanging of “I Do’s” Stage
This one is the fourth and the final stage of dating. This is definitely the win and a joy not just for you but for your family and friends!
The exchanging of your personal vows and being in your very own wedding ceremony is just one of the most memorable moments you’ll have in your whole life! Imagine your bride walking down the altar towards you and all the hardships you’ve been through together are nothing but a memory of the past. The minister then pronounces you as man and wife and then says “You may now kiss your bride!”
Marriage is an entirely different season and deserves an entirely different blog series (4 Stages of a Healthy Marriage maybe?:)) But until then, the first few months and years you have from this point is foundational for a memorable, enjoyable and meaningful marriage years ahead of you.
If you are reading this and you are in a currently in a relationship, try to ask yourself now: where are we in our journey with my lady? And then ask yourself personally “Where do you I think our relationship should go next?
Now, if you are not yet in a relationship, I hope that this would be of help for you before you even engage in one. 🙂