Christian courtship is a period before wedding/marriage where a Christian brother and sister agree about many issues and evaluate whether they both share the same vision, hope, and aspirations about marriage. Christian courtship involves two people that have agreed to walk together, in the direction of marriage (Amos 3:3). Courtship is very important and necessary for the intending couple to observe if they want to enjoy their marriage. It is during the courtship that proper biblical foundation must be laid down in order to have a happy married life. It is a period to get to know each other intimately apart from carnal knowledge and illicit romance. Before you venture into wedding plans, both of you must agree on a lot of things like what you both want for your marriage. Know each other’s strength and weaknesses, likes and dislikes and parents. Both of you must realize that marriage means till death do us part! Courtship is a time to plan for the wedding and the marriage. One vital issue that must be addressed during this period is to obtain the consent of both parents (Genesis 24:54-59). It is a period to undertake marriage counseling lessons. After proposing to a lady and she has agreed to marry you, the next thing to do is to obey the Biblical injunction to prove all things – 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (Excerpt from The Sunday School Manual of the Redeemed Christian Church of God).
In the tradition of scriptures and most African societies, it has been ordained for men to pursue the women of their dreams. Abraham sent his servant to look for a wife for his son. Jacob found Rachel and fell in love with her at first sight. There was only one instance in the Bible where the woman pursued the man via the advice of her mother-in-law (the marriage between Ruth and Boaz). However, Ruth’s case was a special and isolated case which was done with utmost decency and within the cautious sphere of Jewish tradition.
I have often suggested that when a Christian brother is interested in a sister and he perceives her to be his wife, he should not immediately rush to propose marriage to her. Rather he should prayerfully continue to observe her; especially if he is privileged to be around her often (e.g. where the sister worships in the same church with him or where she lives in his neighbourhood). This incubation period prior to his outpouring of emotions would place him in a better position of objectively evaluating the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Unfortunately, in many instances, many a brother get so carried away by the treacherous waves of emotion which “drown” them into throwing anchor where they should never have done so in the first place.
Brothers often explain away their “rush” for certain reasons. Firstly, the brother may feel that his delay at proposing to the woman in issue may be tantamount to an eventual denial of his heart’s desires as another man may be earlier in time and obtain a “yes” from the sister. Secondly, the brother may believe that the sister has shown sufficient interest in him by her body language and if he doesn’t make a move at that time, he may, later on, get a refusal from a bitter vengeful woman. Thirdly, the brother may be so passionate about this sister that he may feel like he would lose his mind if he does not open up to her.
Sadly, though, when a marriage proposal is rushed and courtship with a “stranger” commences, both parties may later realise that they had just embarked on a voyage of unpleasant discovery. For the brother, he may come to the realisation that the woman he once thought was his soulmate is actually not ready to marry him after all. For such brothers, here are a dozen omens that may provide hints that your courtship is heading for the rocks.
# 1 She Doesn’t Believe in Your Vision: In Genesis 2:15, the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden as its gardener, to tend and care for it. The man was given a vision and assignment before the woman was introduced. In fact, when God introduced the woman in verse 18 of the same Chapter 2, he described her as a “companion” and a “helper suited for the man’s needs.” Psychology has shown time and time again that men draw inspiration and a sense of self-worth from their accomplishments. Christian men are no different. They have goals, dreams, and visions. Pastor Myles Munroe advises that Christian men should find their visions before searching for their spouses. When the vision is found, the woman who naturally gravitates towards the vision is most probably the one you’ve been waiting for. Men should avoid placing so much emphasis on physical appearances. So if during courtship, the woman supposed to be your helper taunts your vision, it may also be probable that you proposed to the wrong woman.
Now devaluing or doubting your vision is different from seeking growth and enhancement of same. Your fiancée may suggest that your modus operandi of fulfilling your vision has certain inherent defects and flaws, while pointing out to you better strategies to catapult you to your dreams. Alternatively, she may point out other facets or ancillary of the same vision that will be enhanced by areas of your natural strengths. Don’t equate that with disbelief for your vision.
#2 She Doesn’t Respect You: Everyone wants to be respected. Respect is often an outflow of your reputation and conscious efforts to be respectful. God ordained the authority of husbands and fathers and He put a deep desire in every man to desire respect. A man might be the least in his workplace but when he gets home, he wants to be treated like a king. When your fiancée involuntarily dishonours your authority and belittles you during courtship, you can probably be certain that you’re about to head down the aisle with the wrong woman and it would be best to let her walk away, no matter how emotionally turbulent this would be for you. The tendency is that if she doesn’t respect you, she will not even marry you in the first place. In Ephesians 5: 22-24, the Living Bible states as follows:
“You wives must submit to your husband’s leadership in the same way you submit to the Lord.
For a husband is in charge of his wife in the same way Christ is in charge of his body the church. (He gave his very life to take care of it and be its Saviour!)
So you wives must be willing to obey your husbands in everything, just as the church obeys Christ.”
#3 She’s Worried About Your Ethnicity: Imagine this scenario which is commonplace. As a Christian brother, you fall in love with this Christian woman who hails from an ethnic group different from yours. Nevertheless, you propose marriage to her. After all, are all of you not from Zion? The sister in issue loves you too – but wait a minute – there’s a snag! After accepting your proposal, she persistently and perennially wishes you came from her own ethnic group as the last criterion for a perfect marital bliss. Her family is not keen on you either, for the sole reason of your origins, regardless of the fact that all of you claim to be born of the same Spirit. As far as they are concerned, their daughter should only have only accepted a Christian man who speaks their vernacular. The Scripture Romans 12:5 (NIV) which states that “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others,” has no relevance here. As far as they are concerned, it is a scripture that does not stretch to marriage. If your fiancée persistently sounds worried about your ethnicity and cannot accept your origins, you can be certain that your courtship may not metamorphose into marriage. Even where it does, the marriage may end prematurely. Who says Pentecostals and evangelicals don’t divorce?
#4 She Feels That You Don’t Earn Enough: Where your courtship commences with your fiancée conducting an audit of your earnings and scoring your income per capita poor or even average, you can be certain that it will take God’s intervention for her to finally and eventually say, “I do.” Women gravitate towards security, especially material security. Don’t fool yourself to imagine that sisters in the church are immune from these yearnings. Possession of the good things of life like a car, good job and a decent two bedroom apartment (at the minimum) will accelerate your ability to pin down the woman of your dreams. This point may sound carnal but it’s the truth! A brother shared of how he proposed to a sister in his university fellowship. She accepted his marriage proposal but as soon as she accompanied him to his hometown a few months later and saw poverty in his nuclear family, she immediately called off the engagement as if it had been the biggest mistake of her life. All the while, she had been judging him by the fine suits he wore during church services and the fact that he held a leadership post in their fellowship.
After all, the Bible says that money answereth all things (Ecclesiastes 10:19) and that anyone who cannot provide for his household has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8).
#5 She Senses that You’re Insecure: Whatever you do while courting, don’t sound like an insecure frightful child before your woman. Women are drawn to confident men, much as they claim they loathe arrogance. Anyway, in fairness to them, self-worth is not another synonym for arrogance. There is a charisma about a confident man because God has designed women to be led (forget about all the women liberation stuff!) As the courtship commences, the truth is that she’s watching and evaluating you to decide whether you’re going to be that dependable life compass modelled after her father or pastor (whichever of them has influence over her life). The standards she expects from you will be higher where her father was/is a successful husband and father. She expects and hopes that you exude confidence no matter what happens around you. When she observes that you are continuously an emotional baggage who needs to be directed, the chances are that she will be wondering why she ever said “yes” to you.
#6 She Complains that You Unsupportive: Women have their dreams and goals too and Christian women are no exception. A woman passionate about music and who has the aspiration of being the next Cece Winans or Darlene Zschech, may suddenly realise that you’re musically deaf and that if she eventually marries you, her musical aspirations will die within the marriage. Your utterances many also determine if she’s going linger longer. A woman who has the drive to succeed in her workplace wants a supportive man who will not feel threatened by her career pursuits. On the whole, your fiancée wants to think that you’re going to be a supportive husband even if you don’t share her talents and passion. Brother, if you’re incensed by her goals and aspirations, it may be an omen that this woman may eventually walk away. Two cannot walk together unless they agree (Amos 3:3).
#7 She’s Attached to Her Church: If your fiancée is deeply attached to her church or denomination (of which you’re not a member) to the extent that denominational pride has crept into her head, you will do yourself a world of good by quitting your own church and joining hers, if you ever plan that the courtship will blossom into marriage. Omens of denominational pride are easy to decipher. Most of her conversations will revolve around her anointed pastor, brethren therein, doctrine cum teachings thereof. As far as she’s concerned, her church is seated in heavenly places far beyond yours. Her belief in her church is only secondary to its founders and board of trustees. Further proof of her being steeped in her denomination will erupt when you suggest that you can’t wait after the wedding ceremony to take her your church. Her response will either be silence or an outright rejection of your proposition. At this point brother, it’s time to make a choice between your loyalty to your church and your love for your woman. You can also reach a compromise. A brother shared with me how he reached a compromise with his wife. He said he agreed with her that they will attend mid-week programmes in her church while Sunday services would be in his own church. The problem with this kind of arrangement is that by the time the kids come, you will be hearing phrases like, “Mummy’s church,” and “Daddy’s church.” And if there is conflict in doctrine, which teaching overrules the other?
#8 She Thinks That You Are Boring or Obsolete: Brother, if your fiancée concludes that you’re boring, your courtship may never make it to the altar unless you take the initiative to reverse her perception. For many sisters, some Christian men have never learnt how to relax, especially in the presence of their heartthrobs. If your fiancée thinks that you have no taste, style or that you possess a nerdy attitude, she may be more inclined to end the engagement. A sister once complained that her fiancé was not fun to be with and that every moment they shared was more like a Bible study class or prayer session. She said she found nothing special about him after five months of courtship. He remained the introvert brother she had always known him to be before he proposed to her. In her words:
“He’s hiding behind the façade of the gospel. I thought our courtship was a time of getting to know ourselves intimately but it turned out to be a most boring experience. I wanted him to share his life with me and recount his childhood, parentage … his hopes and even fears, but he told me about Jesus every time we sat together as if I didn’t know my savior and master. I had to ask him if he was following me up or courting me.”
Another sister complained that her fiancé had hygiene issues. She wondered why he never bothered to use a deodorant and perfume. Yet, another sister complained that her fiancé wasn’t trendy. He didn’t have an idea about cultural, technological or social trends and would be lost in any conversation outside theology and his career. For this sister, the man she was supposed to spend the rest of her earthly life with was too obsolete for her liking.
#9 She Thinks Your Family is Toxic: If your fiancée infers that her future in-laws don’t like her and are bent on destructively dictating the emotional atmosphere whenever she’s in their presence, then be clear: she may just end up sacrificing the relationship in order to get rid of your family. As far as she’s concerned if she deletes toxic people from her environment it becomes a lot easier for her to breathe. Brother, if you’re certain that this is the girl you want to spend the rest of your life with, you have a lot of work to do. You must be proactive in building bridges between the stranger you’re bringing home and your family members. Embark on a domestic campaign and enlighten your folks on why your choice is best for your life. Alternatively, you may cut off from your family until their anger is doused over the choice of your marriage partner. The problem with this option is that it wouldn’t be tidy on the wedding day to see you standing there all alone like an orphan.
#10 There’s Another Brother Lurking in the Backdrop: Before you proposed to your fiancée and she accepted you, it is very probable that she had other male friends, either in the church environment, school or the workplace. Most of these friendships were supposedly platonic by her description. And the tendency is that you would agree with her, else why would she have said yes to you if she cared about them? However, among these platonic friends may be a brother who is quite close to her. He may even secretly be in love with her but circumstances have not permitted their bond beyond the so-called platonic friendship. While your courtship is in session, she’s involuntarily comparing and contrasting you with her so called platonic friends, particularly that one who is closer to her than a brother. The platonic brother on the hand watches his desired woman gradually drifting away from his life into the life of another man who is labelled as her fiancé. The platonic friend envies your position and wishes he could wrest her back from you. Brother, this is a delicate position to be in. Slip and your woman is gone for good because there is a man lurking in the backdrop and waiting to welcome her into his warm embrace! If fortune smiles on the platonic friend of your fiancée (like a change of monetary fortunes), do not also rule out the fact that your fiancée may wake and inform you that she didn’t hear from God when she accepted your proposal.
A brother engaged to a sister shared of how he lost his fiancée. He wasn’t doing well at his job. So in tandem with his fiancée, he began to apply for other jobs. A new job came but it was in a different town. After a lengthy deliberation with his fiancée, he reluctantly decided to relocate to the new town that offered the job. The agreement they had was that as soon as he settled down in the new town, this brother would return home and formalize their relationship. However, by the second year, there was a communication strain between this brother and his fiancée. In the meantime, however, this brother was diligently saving up 70% of his salary for the wedding ceremony and startup of his new home. By the third year, just as he was planning to return to his former station, one of his friends called him to inform him that his erstwhile fiancée had married another man whom this brother had known all along as her platonic friend.
#11 She’s From a Broken Home: Children from broken homes and divorced parents have a tendency to view marriage through the prism of fear and suspicion. This includes the girl child even when she’s grown into a woman. It is made worse if she believes that her father unjustly treated her mother whom she grew up with. The challenge is that even when she’s born again and old thing ought to have passed away; her soul and mind will need a lot of intense and continuous purification from the word of God. Often, a brother will have little or no knowledge about her background until courtship begins. He just saw a pretty and devoted face in church and concluded that he had found his wife. When the courtship begins, he’s in for surprises. His fiancée gets very edgy and critical anytime he talks about the leadership role of the man in the home. She gets very sensitive and angry about any issues concerning the ill-treatment of women in marriage almost to the point of agitation and tears. Brother, you’ve got to be cautious here because your woman is bent on resisting any attempt by you to clone her father’s nasty attributes. She has sworn to remain single rather than allow any man trample on her; the way her father did to her mother! However, with the constant reassurance of your love and your willingness to allow her to have her say, you may eventually save your engagement. If she walks away, her reason for flight will be more out of the fear of the marriage institution itself than your perceived ills.
#12 She Concludes That You Never Loved Her: Women crave love more than anything else. A woman’s greatest fear is the fear of being abandoned or replaced. Perhaps that is why the Bible instructed men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and died for her. A Christian husband should be willing to die for his wife. That is what the Bible instructs! So when your fiancée eventually discovers that you proposed marriage to her for any reason, other than love, don’t be surprised if she suddenly wakes up and walks away from the relationship. Men have been known to pursue women on account of wealth; women from rich homes, women with good jobs or daughters of prominent personalities who could enhance the men’s careers/lives. If your wife eventually finds out that you married her for any of these selfish reasons, you can be sure she’ll never look at you the same way again – even if she eventually marries you. And she may only marry you if she’s aging and worried that another husband may not be forthcoming.