Courting - to try to gain the love or affections of, especially to seek to marry; to seek someone's love; to woo.
Dating - an engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest.
Wow - we never knew what we were getting into!!
I don't say this because we regret the decision, but because sometimes, just sometimes, you get really tired of swimming against the current(s) - all of them. When we first thought about this, years ago, it was more of a nebulous idea. We knew that we didn't like the "normal" routine of dating. People tend to get tossed around in a sea of emotional ups and downs, going from first one person and then the next with no real purpose other than some vague thought of eventually getting married someday - maybe. We didn't want that for our girls. We didn't feel that was a Godly approach to marriage. But, too be honest, we didn't think long and hard on it until shortly before Superman asked about Ri. Some friends of hers had asked her what we thought courting was, so I looked into it with more detail. In retrospect, I think God was using that to prepare us for what was coming.
This is what we came up with, with regard to courting:
Courting should be a time for the couple to get to know one another, WELL. Ideally one should be able to see the other person in a variety of different situations to see how well they handle things, people, stresses, etc.
It should be a time for the couple to discuss ideas and situations that will come up in marriage; ie, what are the roles of the husband and wife (Is he the sole breadwinner? Does she stay at home right from the start or only after having children? Who handles the finances?), how many children, how to educate them, what type of church do you want to attend (important if the young man and young woman attend different churches), etc.
They also need a chance to discuss doctrinal issues. We once knew a couple who got to the wedding planning stage before they realized there was a doctrinal issue that they could not agree on. Both were devastated at the break-up.
It should be a time of great input by the parents (both sets if possible), in order to keep the couple on track; to hold them accountable for discussing these issues, and to encourage them to guard their hearts until they are more certain of their compatability.
For us, courting encompassed a desire to maintain both physical and emotional purity.
So, here's the "gotcha" - not only is courting not "normal" (ya'll know I hate that word, right?), so you'll get criticism from every Tom, Dick, and Harry you meet, not to mention all those family members who FINALLY stopped harassing you about homeschooling, BUT you'll also get a lot of questions (BTW-I don't mind genuine questions-just sarcastic ones), criticisms, etc. from other families who do practice courting because there are so many different approaches to it. There are those who use the term courting, but to look at it you can't tell the difference between what they do and dating; then you have those that do require chaperones for the couple, but the chaperones can be anyone, from a parent, to another couple, or even a younger sibling; and then you have the really strict, they can't even breathe in one another's general direction until the vows have been spoken, it was basically an arranged marriage put together by the parents type of courtship. I guess we fall somewhere in between the last two.
I have to admit that this courtship hasn't looked exactly like we would have imagined it in those earlier, nebulous days, but I think things are going well, and I'll explain more about how this has ended up working out for us in the next post.