FFC Youth Group





20 Tips

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.

(Jeremiah 29:11)

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.”

(Philippians 1:9-10)


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.





Setting Guidelines:

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.”

(Proverbs 4:23)


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.”

(Matthew 5:8)


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)


16 Accountability:

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.


17 Mentoring:

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.”

(Psalm 37:4)


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.



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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