Courtship Takes Time
One of the most important aspects of the courtship process, which is unfortunately often lacking in LDS dating, is the very important need to spend ample time together. Although LDS dating online can be an opportunity to meet other singles, it is extremely important to date face-to-face for a long enough period of time. A few brief dates, followed by a whirlwind engagement and marriage, does not build a solid foundation for marriage. Such a sandy foundation will not hold firm when the storms of life come- and they always come.
Having gone through a painful divorce myself, I wish I had known and followed Elder Oaks dating and courtship advice:
"The best way to avoid divorce from an unfaithful, abusive, or unsupportive spouse is to avoid marriage to such a person. If you wish to marry well, inquire well. Associations through 'hanging out' or exchanging information on the Internet are not a sufficient basis for marriage. There should be dating, followed by careful and thoughtful and thorough courtship. There should be ample opportunities to experience the prospective spouse’s behavior in a variety of circumstances" (Dallin H. Oaks, "Divorce," Ensign, May 2007, 70–73).Don't let yourself get caught up in the moment by jumping into marriage when you're still in the stage of infatuation and attraction. Take the time necessary to allow your relationship (and knowledge of the one you're dating) to properly form into a sure foundation.
Becoming Best Friends
When you've fallen in love with someone it's easy to believe that you are the best of friends and will always feel the way you do, but falling in love is a temporary emotion, one that eventually fades. It's important when courting that you take the time to develop a strong friendship with the one you're dating.
"Bruce C. Hafen has compared relationships between men and women to a pyramid. The base of the pyramid is friendship, and the ascending layers include building blocks such as understanding, respect, and restraint. At the very top is what he terms a 'glittering little mystery called romance.' If one tries to stand the pyramid on its point, expecting romance to hold everything else up, the pyramid will fall ("The Gospel and Romantic Love," Ensign, Oct. 1982, p. 67)" (Jonn D. Claybaugh, "Dating: A Time to Become Best Friends," Ensign, Apr 1994, 19).Building a strong friendship will happen over time as you learn how to communicate together, discuss life's important issues, and have a variety of experiences together.
Choosing the Right Person
Here are some things to look for in a potential spouse. Do they:
- love God and others
- value marriage and family
- respect you
- respect themselves
- have good mental and emotional health
- maintain self-control
- honor their parents
- obey the commandments
- fulfill church callings including home/visiting teaching?
"Choose a companion you can always honor, you can always respect, one who will complement you in your own life, one to whom you can give your entire heart, your entire love, your entire allegiance, your entire loyalty" ("Life's Obligations," Ensign, Feb 1999, 2).Seeking the Perfect Person
Although it is extremely important to date those who have high standards and to observe a potential spouse's behavior, it's also important to remember that no one is perfect. Elder Richard G. Scott warns against focusing too heavily on seeking a perfect companion:
"I suggest that you not ignore many possible candidates who are still developing these attributes, seeking the one who is perfected in them. You will likely not find that perfect person, and if you did, there would certainly be no interest in you. These attributes are best polished together as husband and wife" ("Receive the Temple Blessings," Ensign, May 1999, 25).Working Towards a Temple Marriage
Dating and courtship is the time to continue to prepare for a temple marriage. Being sealed to a spouse in the temple is the greatest covenant one can make with God- and can only be achieved as a companionship. A temple wedding seals a husband and wife together for all time and eternity- meaning they will be together again after this life- and is necessary for exaltation.
Keeping the Law of Chastity
While working towards a temple marriage when dating, a couple must keep God's law of chastity, one of the basic guidelines of LDS dating. This means not engaging in premarital sex or any kind of sexual activity (which includes petting with or without clothes on). Engaging in fornication breaks one of God's most important commandments and requires repentance.
Keeping God's commandment to wait to have sexual relations until after marriage is part of remaining clean and pure. It also shows obedience to God and His commandments, as well as respect for yourself and those you date.
Relationship Founded Upon Jesus Christ
If you want to have a happy, healthy marriage then it's necessary to build a proper foundation upon the teachings of Jesus Christ. Some excellent ways to do this are to do the following together:
- Family Home Evening
- Scripture study
- Church attendance
- Temple attendance
- Share testimonies
- Church activities
- Institute classes
- Serve each other and others
Making a Decision to Marry
The time will come when you will want to know if the person you are dating is the one you should marry. The Lord taught Oliver Cowdery how to know the truth:
"But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.This means you must FIRST go through the dating and courtship process and learn for yourself if the one you are dating is right for you. Then you must make a decision and pray about it, and the Lord will answer you. (See 10 Ways to Prepare for Personal Revelation.)
"But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong," (D&C 9:8-9).