Monday, January 26, 2009
Courtship and marriage
English is not my first language. And I became fluent in English mostly through reading historical fiction and medieval roleplay. It's no wonder that my language may have a little 'antique finish' to it. Sometimes I am aware of this, but I chose to use the words anyhow, because modern language often seems empoverished compared to the richness I find in expressions that have long fallen by the wayside in every day use. Sometimes I use a word that has long gone out of style with many people without realizing it. My beloved husband pointed out that 'courtship' is a word like that. And that there are a lot of misunderstandings about it.
Courtship used to be the period in which a young man singled a young woman out for special, romantic attention. The end goal was marriage and though no commitment was made in courtship itsself 'stringing somone along' just for the fun of it was frowned upon.
Several people with a more conservative mindset use the word courtship nowadays to describe their ideas on the path to marriage and romance, and my view is only one of them. I admit that I stumbled on the path of courtship more or less by accident. I didn't go out at an early life but that was not really by a religious design and more due to a complicated home life.
Of course I missed romance in my life, and I wanted to have 'my share'. In hindsight, I think I am grateful for what others might considers missed chances. But hindsight is perfect and at the time I sat at home, envying girls who were having dates and young men interested in giving lots of romantic attention to them. How much more wonderful would life be, I thought if I had someone special at my side all the time. I didn't realise then how true it was that someone at your side does make life more wonderful, but that these early relationships are often not serious, that they are aimed at the idea of romance alone and not at the idea of 'ever after' with it's less romantic moments as well.
When I met my husband, both of us were looking 'for real'. At the age of 28, we were both looking for forever so neither of us wanted to waste time on any relationship that was not aimed at marriage. I believe that courtship is the period in which you get to know someone you are romantically interested better than before to see if marriage will be the outcome. Before courtship, there is a simple getting to know phase in which you find out if you are at all compatible. If I want children and a man does not want them, we can still persue a friendship, but it is no use to go on a path that would lead to lifelong expectations. Is there also that extra spark? Something in the other that makes you think: this person is someone I would love to wake up next to every single day for the rest of my life. This person is someone I would love to have children with, I could feel an intimate heat for this person as well as a daily warmth.
If you feel all that, and you also feel that you are compatible in your ideas on what you want for marriage, there is room for courtship. The both of you are seriously on the path to marriage. You are looking now if there are any impediments. You are getting to know eachother better and making sure that both of you will be happy and ready for a lifelong comitment. Only if you reach this stage, I believe, should you allow your romantic feelings to be truely part of your relationship.
Once you are ready for that and ready for marriage, the engagement is the next step. Here you commit yourself to that marriage and the remaining time is mostly needed for practical preparations. In our case, in between paperwork to leave for another country permanently, leaving a job, and planning an international wedding, it took us six months.
I enjoyed planning my wedding and I enjoyed my wedding day. But it was not some 'magical, once in a life time oportunity to be a princess' which is what some bridal shows make it to be. From that day on, I was a queen on every day for my husband. And every day he has made me feel that way, with tender care and simple love. Has he sometimes left his socks laying around in the living room? Certainly! Has he once forgotten to come home early when I needed to go to an appointment. Absolutely. But what do these things count amongst the constant cherishing that after three years still surrounds me? I have some bad habits too.
While not expecting my husband to be perfect and being aware that I am not perfect either(none of us are) we did manage to make a strong marriage between us. I am certain time will test us more. And I hope that we will weather each single storm with grace and Gods help. But we know that at least the foundation we have is strong and that the love we have for eachother encompasses romance, but goes beyond it. And that is a blessing beyond any words I can use here.