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Friday, October 7, 2011

Stages in a Relationship

Years ago a couple came to my office for premarital counseling. Their minds were made up that they were right for each other. The attraction between them seemed to be very strong. They had been dating for only a short time. I began to see warning signals in their relationship. They asked for a date on the calendar to be married in our chapel. As they left my office, I had a serious question about them. Will this marriage take place?

His mother called me three weeks later and told me that the wedding had been canceled. I was not really surprised. In their relationship, they had jumped from strong attraction to engagement. There are three more important stages between those two which help insure a lasting relationship.

Points to Consider

There are five stages in courtship. Each one is important in predicting the future as far as marriage. These include attraction, exclusiveness, intimacy, doubt and engagement.

Attraction alone will not make for a happy and healthy relationship in marriage. Of course, attraction is necessary to begin a relationship. A man is attracted by her appearance. A woman is often attracted by his personality, confidence and understanding.

A relationship built on initial attraction alone is destined to fail. It may last as long as 18 months to two years. In the case I discussed, it didn't last nearly that long.

Exclusiveness and intimacy which is mental and emotional, leads to a more sustained relationship. The couple begin to know each other at a more transparent level. A bond between the two is being formed.

All healthy relationships go through a doubt stage. Better to experience this stage before marriage than after. Is this really the person for me? That question must be answered in the doubt stage.

The engagement stage is for the couple and the families to adjust to each other, foreseeing the couple as husband and wife. Relationships with future in-laws begin to develop.

If this is the right person to marry, God's providence is confirming the relationship along the way, until the minister says, "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Special thanks to:
Dr. Richard Trader
Graduate - Samford University, Birmingham, AL; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY; Southern Baptist pastor more than forty years.

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