FFC Youth Group
ROMANCE: HANDLE WITH CARE !
for Christian Courtship
by Carmen Marcoux
(author of Catholic Novel, Arms of Love)
Have you ever thought of your life as a love-story just waiting to
be written? What will that story be like? Who will you include in
your story? Will it be the kind of story you will want to share with
your children someday, or one that leaves you filled with regrets?
Most young people will say that they are hoping to
someday get married. Yet finding lasting love in
the life-long commitment of marriage is something that
many young people fear they will never find. With divorce
rates at over 50% in our culture, is it really still possible to
beat the odds?
J eremiah says this:
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the
Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.”
Do you trust God is capable of
delivering on this promise?
I believe it is possible to beat the odds. If God is calling
you to marriage, He is ready and willing to supply you
with all the graces and virtues you will need to make it work!
But we are not likely to get there by playing all the
defective “dating games” that the world presents to us in the
name of romance. I heard a wise man once say, “If you want
to have that one-in-a-million kind of love in your life, you
have to be willing to be a one-in-a-million kind of person!”
Are you ready to meet that challenge? Is it worth it to you
to be able to write the kind of love-story that God has in
store for you?
It is my hope that the following 20 Tips for Christian
Courtship will help to inspire young men and women
to holy romance when that time in life comes, according to
God's call. I invite you to consider making courtship your
game-plan to live out purity in your life, to discover holy,
God-glorifying romance, and to pave your way to lasting
love in marriage.
1 Wait to Date:
Only consider courtship at a time in your life when you are ready to consider marriage.
Many of us are in love with “love” itself! We are so caught up in society's pressures to date that we
don't consider the real purpose of dating or courtship. It is to help us find a spouse, if we are called
to marriage. So, if you are not ready to consider marriage, you are not ready for dating or courtship!
Until that time, foster the virtue of friendship and hold off the romance until you are really ready for
it. Then you will be able to get the most out of it and, more importantly, put your best into it!
“I want you to promise me . . . not to
awaken love until it is ready.”
(Song of Songs 8:4)
2 Set Your Standards High:
Only enter into a courtship with a person with whom you would consider marriage.
You might consider “just” dating someone to whom you are attracted, with no sense of long-term
commitment. The problem arises when you've grown attached to each other after a period of time.
You may end up marrying someone whom you otherwise would not have. The relationship has just
become habit: good or bad, you just can't break it off. Set the stakes higher: only court with someone
whom you'd consider marrying. Begin creating an inventory now of the characteristics and traits
you are looking for in your future spouse. If you are called to marriage, it is only going to be with
one person. You can't afford not to be choosy!
3 Learn to Discern:
Enter a courtship to discern whether or not you are called to marriage with a certain
person. Courtship is dating with a purpose. If you know that you would not consider marriage with
this person, or you are not ready to consider marriage yet, then don't enter into a courtship. Stay
friends or acquaintances for the time being. Courtship is about prayerful discernment, which means
you will decide either that God is calling you to marriage with this person or that He is not. Both
outcomes are valid in a courtship!
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more
and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you
may be able to discern what is best and may be
pure and blameless until the day of Christ.”
4 Place Christ First:
You can not know God's will without prayer. You need to foster prayer in your lives
individually and as a couple, if you are to discern God's will. Keep your relationship with Christ alive
during your courtship! Keep Christ-centered and Christ-focused and you will carry this pattern into
your marriage to help you during good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, even until death!
5 Take Your Courtship Home:
Base your courtship in the family. Do not allow your courtship relationship to cut you
off from the support of family and friends. Instead, as much as possible, spend time with each
other's families. This is so important for, if you do end up married, you'll want to be able to get along
with family. Family is an invaluable resource and such an integral part of who we all are. You will
learn much about each other by seeing how each other relates to family members. And your
family, in turn, can give you much insight about the person with whom you are courting (and that
person's family, about you!) Family sees things we don't always see. Love can be blind at times.
Family, and friends, can really help to correct our vision. If you are far from family, make every effort
to get home and spend time with them. And in the meantime, adopt a family (friends from Church,
for example) to provide for you all the benefits of a family-based courtship.
Items 6-15 deal with setting guidelines for yourselves from the very beginning of your courtship. If
you're starting over–changing from a dating relationship to a courtship model–then begin now
with guidelines. The following points will cover areas you should consider in those guidelines.
6 Emotional Intimacy:
Guard your hearts and do not dive emotionally into a courtship relationship head first.
Give yourselves time to learn about each other. Do not open up all your intimate secrets, desires and
longings to each other immediately–just because you are courting. Allow your relationship to grow
naturally. Keep the mystery alive by not revealing everything all at once. The problem with
“dumping” on each other emotionally early on in a relationship is that if you later discern that you
are not called to marriage you could have many regrets over having shared those intimate thoughts
and secrets with someone who will not be your husband or wife. You need to be honest with each
other, but that does not mean you have to reveal everything right away. As the relationship grows,
you will discover a natural pace for sharing those emotional intimacies.
“Above all else, guard your heart.”
7 Physical Intimacy:
Decide what your limits will be and write them down. Remember that as you store up
your treasures of physical intimacy before marriage–every sacrifice that you make to stay pure
becomes a jewel for you to share with each other in marriage. At that time you will be able to
delight in the beauty of giving yourselves to each other freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. Your
pleasure in marriage will be magnified by your time of waiting.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
8 To Kiss or Not To Kiss:
Are you going to allow for kissing or not? Kissing is NOT a sin. It is not bad. It does
not mean that a couple is less virtuous in courting if they allow for kissing. It is a decision you make
as you set your guidelines. So think through the reasons why you would choose to allow for it or not!
9 Save that First Kiss:
Many couples decide to leave kissing out of their relationship–as kissing has the
power to ignite their passions. They choose to wait until the altar for their first kiss. You might be
coming out of past relationships, where you have struggled to keep control over your passions. You
might be coming from a position of never having been kissed before, and now that you've waited
this long–you want to go all the way with it! There are a variety of reasons why you, as a couple,
would choose this path.
10 Save that “Next” Kiss:
Other couples, who have allowed for kissing in their relationship, sometimes decide to
cut it out and wait to have their “next” kiss at the altar–which could be quite a wait! They've seen
how kissing is stirring up passions that are making it harder for them to stick to their goal of
staying pure in their relationship and they don't want to derail their intentions of purity! Perhaps
you are in this position and can relate. You may want to choose this option as a way of preserving
the integrity of your relationship and getting the most out of your time of courtship.
11 Kiss, but With Limitations:
Some couples allow for kissing but they limit how and when and where. This is a wise
decision if they want to keep it from stirring those passions that can be so easily ignited. Setting
boundaries ahead of time makes it easier to stick to our goals, rather than waiting until we are in a
compromising situation and then falling prey to our weaknesses.
12 Hug Chastely:
Are you allowing for hugging and in what context? Hugging is a completely
acceptable and beautiful expression of affection, support and love. However, prolonged
hugging–while all alone and at times when you might be feeling weak, like late at night–can
stir passions. Just be careful that you are guarding the context well so that it doesn't begin to
undermine your good intentions. Learn to hug each other in a chaste manner so that you are not
allowing this expression of intimacy to take you where you should not go!
13 How, Where and When You Spend Time Alone:
During courtship you obviously will want and need to spend time alone together. But
how and where are important questions. If you are spending time alone late at night or in
complete isolation, you may just find that your resistance to temptation is weakened. It's best to
find time alone together while doing something–going for a walk, cycling, canoeing, playing
sports, taking in a show or going out to a restaurant, etc. By doing this you will also discover how
much you have in common with each other (or not) and it will help you in your discerning process.
14 Avoid the Near Occasion of Sin:
This is not to say that a couple who is courting will only stick to their goal of purity if
they are NEVER alone together . . . as if to say the only reason they resisted temptation is because
they never went near temptation. But there is a Christian principle that exhorts us to “avoid the near
occasion of sin”. We should not deliberately put ourselves in temptation's way. Hopefully, any couple
who makes these resolutions–even if they were given the opportunity to break them–wouldn't
break them, because they are persons of integrity! But we are all weak at times. All it takes is
one moment of weakness (and be sure Satan will be watching for it) for you to make a mistake that
you could regret for a lifetime. Remember, “Pride cometh before the fall!” (Proverbs 16:18) And
don't ever think that you are too insignificant for Satan to bother with you: he'll take every soul to
hell with him that he can!
15 Don't Give Rise to Scandal:
But what if we really are not being tempted to physical impurity? Why wouldn't it be
alright to be off alone, in isolation together: for example, staying late together over at one or the
other's apartment? This is where we get into the whole issue of giving rise to scandal. The
problem a couple faces here–even if they are strong enough to resist temptation–is the impression
they are giving to others. “So what?” You may ask. “Let them gossip! What do we care? We know
we're not doing anything wrong!” When others perceive you to be leading an impure life, it gives
them permission to not embrace purity in their own relationships. They'll be thinking, “After all, we
see this couple doing it and they're a nice Christian couple. Obviously it doesn't make any
difference if we do or don't.” Even though you had been embracing purity, you still misled others to
believe you weren't. In this way you would not be helping to build the Body of Christ by your good
example. Rather, through the scandal you would have given rise to, you would have
inadvertently led others to sin. It is our sense of responsibility in the Body of Christ that leads us to
make the necessary sacrifices for the sake of others when we decide not to give rise to scandal.
“Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an
example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
(1 Timothy 4:12)
We all are more responsible when we are held accountable for our actions. Make a
list together of your resolutions and guidelines for your courtship and give that list to some mentoring
couples and accountability partners. These could be your parents, other married couples
from Church, friends, roommates, family members. Basically you are looking for people who you
trust and respect to be able to talk with openly about your relationship. They should be able to ask
you at any time how you are doing–if you are keeping your resolutions–and you need to be able to
answer them honestly.
Along with the idea of accountability is the need for having mentoring couples.
Ideally that would be your parents, but it is not limited to parents. These couples should be
well-versed in the Church's teachings on marriage and the sacraments. They should be couples who
can advise you on all kinds of issues related to marriage: finances (especially tithing), family
networking, Natural Family Planning and the gift of human sexuality, balancing work and family life
and so on. Plan to meet with your mentoring couples on a regular basis. The relationship that you
will form with your parents (and your other mentors) during this time of courtship will also be a
source of life-long blessings to your marriage someday.
18 Time to Pray and Time to Play:
Obviously prayer time is important for a couple who is courting–as they are trying to
discern God's will for their relationship. But a couple should never neglect to be sure to allow for
play time! Have fun. This season of life should be fun and filled with excitement and adventure. As
you find a variety of wholesome activities to do together, you will have the opportunity to see each
other in different settings and how you both respond to various situations. Time spent this way will
not only be fun, but it will be very helpful to you in determining whether or not you are being called
to marriage. So, don't forget to make time to play. The memories of your time of courtship will be
treasured for a lifetime.
19 Keep the Romance Alive:
Remember that courtship is a time of romance. Don't cheat yourselves out of that.
Enjoy dynamic, exciting, God-glorifying romance by seeking ways to give of yourselves to each
other, to serve each other and to show your love for each other in simple ways. Romance–true
romance–is about blessing the other by giving of self . . . and that's what true love is about, too. So
you see, the two go hand in hand. Couples who engage in an intensely physical relationship often
lose out on this very point–because physical pleasure has become the focus of their relationship. By
converse, couples who do not distract themselves with physical intimacy have more time on their
hands to spend creatively doing romantic things for each other and together, blessing each other
with their loving deeds and gestures as often as they can. This pattern will also follow you into marriage
and bless you to remain romantic and exciting throughout your life together!
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you
the desires of your heart.”
20 Be Active in Your Faith Community:
Courtship is a great time to grow in faith together, and to spend time together in your
faith community. In this way your relationship is supported by like-minded people who will
become for you that community that celebrates with you in times of joy, consoles you in times of
grieving, and that lifts you up you in times of hardship. We cannot live in isolation. We need that
community to be there for us, which means, we need to be there for them as well. Be involved, have fun
taking in events and activities together, volunteer service time together, and join in prayer groups and
Bible studies together. Again, these opportunities to spend time together, in a larger group setting,
help you to learn much about each other by seeing how each other deals with a variety of situations
and other persons . . . and are great opportunities to dedicate your time and talents to the Lord.
There is a great deal that can be said about courtship. Each family needs to establish
their own model–sometimes a different model for the varying circumstances of each
child. What is important is that you discuss these things in the family and when the
time comes in your life for courtship you will be prepared with an excellent game
plan! Then, with God's help, will you be able to write a love-story that will become a heritage for
you to pass down to your children and to your children's children: a heritage of God-glorifying, holy
romance that will stand the test of time!
The information on this brochure is copyrighted by Carmen Marcoux,_2006.
Published by One Way Publishing House, Saskatoon, Canada.
Can courtship work today?
Absolutely. Highly acclaimed novel,
Arms of Love, puts it all into perspective.
A compelling story about courtship
and chastity, with a fresh,
modern-day appeal, imbued with
traditional, solid, Catholic values:
it captures readers of all ages
and backgrounds, men and women alike,
and inspires them with its hope-filled
message of purity.
BULK DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE
for both Arms of Love and
the “Twenty Tips on Courtship”.
For more information on these excellent
chastity resources, or to book Carmen for a
speaking engagement, please call 1-800-705-7396
or visit us at www.courtshipnow.com
cover photo courtesy of Leah Mann • brochure design: Shawna Kunz, Lime Design, 2006
You may copy this information and distribute it, provided it is kept in its entirety and is not used for resale.
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