Dating. What does this word mean to a Christian in Ghana? Well, in most developed countries, dating or going on a date is doing something fun with the opposite sex but in Ghana, dating is the very first step to getting acquainted with a member of the opposite sex. This is the period that a guy and a lady decide if they are right for each other. Dating may lead to courtship and later, marriage 🙂
During the dating period, a guy and lady discuss everything except marriage plans. The courtship period is when the couple is certain they want to spend the rest of their lives together and start making plans towards marriage. Also, they make their intentions known to their parents. According to renowned counselors, there are no clear-cut timelines for the various stages but to prevent pre-marital sex, it is advised the guy and lady do not court for more than two years (I know people who disagree to this).
How to build a successful relationship
So how do you even start a successful relationship? One which will lead to courtship and then to marriage? Even the Bible establishes that it is not good for a man to be alone, so how do you identify the right person especially if you are a Christian. The first character to look out for in a prospective partner is someone who shares in your faith. The Bible categorically states that believers should not be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). That peculiar feeling that you have especially at the beginning of the relationship, the butterflies in the stomach. Yes, that feeling – it fades away. It does after a few months of being with each other. How do you sustain the love if the person does not share the same faith as you?
As Christians, we base our love on 1 Corinthians 13 and not on that weird feeling at the pit of your stomach. People outside the faith have different opinions and beliefs on what love ought to be which is quite different from ours. Never compromise on that – do not allow the stomach flutter to direct you. Fall in love with someone who shares your faith and you will share your testimony with us 🙂
Watch out for other factors that account for successful relationships which lead to marriage.
I get subtly amused when I attend a wedding ceremony and the certificate is signed and presented to the couple. The words that usually accompany that is the fact that marriage is the only institution where the students are presented with a certificate before the actual course is taken. Upon serious thought, I know this comment is true. I believe there are a lot of couples out there who wish they had more information about this institution before they attended it.
Although I am not married yet, I sit down to assess ‘marriage’ and I am convinced it is a real mystery. I always wonder how two different people from different backgrounds are able to stay together all their lives. Looking back to boarding house in senior secondary school to college, there were moments I had fights with my roommates, some even good friends and in those times, what comforted me was the fact that we were going to part ways in a year’s time but in marriage, there is no way you can part ways after a year or two. Marriage is forever except for death separates the two.
To us Christians, marriage is not just a union of two people but a covenant with God where divorce is simply not an option. Men of God can only separate the couple only when alive is at stake. That is why it is important to really choose your partner with a lot of caution.
Who are you choosing?
For me, that is one of the most important decisions any person will ever make in life. The Bible does not joke when it tells us not to be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). At least if you share the same faith with your partner, the union is likely to succeed. There are other important factors that make marriage work and most of them depend on what you did during the dating and the courtship period. What are you talking about now that you are in dating or courting? Are you discussing the future when you meet or you are busily “touching?”
Marriage is not a child’s play. As my pastor correctly puts it, “it is not like going to a shop to buy items and if you do not like it, you come back to exchange it for something else.” Marriage is for a lifetime.
What are you compromising for the relationship that you find yourself in? For the women, it is important to bear in mind that your husband is going to be the head. Will you be proud to have this man lead you and the family in some years to come? Or you desperately want to get married so your family stops bothering you?
to be continued…
This is the first part of the Relationship and Marriage Series. If you have any opinions on this mystery (marriage), share them with us.