How long a courtship should last can cause grief in relationships, either both partners are not on the same page, regarding how long they should court; one party feels there is still need to get to know each other well, or the other wants to get married right away. And the reasons go on, from family pressure to peer pressure, but the crux of this post is, does the length of a courtship determine how strong or how long the resulting marriage will last?
Tinuke and her husband, Lanre, met at the organization they both volunteered at. They were both members of a department and in leadership positions, so they had to meet fairly regularly and that was what caused them to notice each other but nothing was done about it for the first six months after they knew each other. They were just acquaintances; two leaders who worked together for a cause they were both passionate about and that was all there was to it.
However, some months down the line, Lanre asked her to a drink after they had just finished a meeting. Being night and the fact that she still had to go far to get home, she refused. The next thing, he did was offer to give her a lift home, surprised at the offer, she accepted and got into his car. But before he drove her home, he bought her dinner. Tinuke was floored at the sudden attention he was paying her and instinctively prayed that he would not ask her out. She was in a relationship.
Well, as her intuition had told her, her fellow volunteer indeed asked her out and it was a burden for Tinuke to say no but she did and told him she was in a relationship. It was with alarming speed that he backed off and said he would never have raised the issue if he had known she was in a relationship at the time.
They went on to talk about their volunteer jobs, their work but soon, the conversation turned to how the state of her relationship fared and it was as though she had known him for years. She spilled the beans on all that had been bothering her about her relationship for the past five months. It was a relationship that was littered with distrust on both ends. It was a long distance relationship.
Even as Tinuke spoke about her relationship, it suddenly dawned on her that something was drastically wrong with her and her relationship. She was concerned that she said so much about her relationship to an acquaintance, albeit one, who had asked to date her. Obviously, she had been repressing her emotions over the state of her relationship. Right there and then, she asked Lanre if he would ask her out again, if she were to get out of her current relationship. That was a bold move for Tinuke and one she regretted.
He said no. The drive to her place ended on a solemn note, she almost beat herself up over practically asking a man out and he wondered how he could have been so wrong about the kind of person Tinuke was. Till today, Tinuke claimed the only reason she married Lanre could only have been because of God’s intervention.
Some months later, after she had broken off with her abroad-based boyfriend, Lanre asked her out again and said he was not going to take no for an answer. She said yes, because that was the only answer she wanted to give anyway.
They dated for three years, during which time, they got to know all there was to know about each other and their families. To some of their friends, they were spending too long a time on dating, when Lanre was already well able to cater for a family but Tinuke wanted to complete her Master programme before getting married.
Tinuke said the fact that they dated for three years, when there was almost nothing stopping them from getting married sooner meant their marriage was built on a solid foundation, “I know him more than he knows himself and he knows me more than I know myself, we can even predict each other’s actions, we have become one body, soul, mind and spirit, so much that we look alike, you would think we are brother and sister. I will definitely encourage my kids to court long before marriage, just as I advice my sisters and friends too, it helps a lot.”
A fairly long courtship worked for Tinuke but for Annie, it led to heartbreak. She is currently in her late 20s and had only ever been in three relationships in her life; two of which were long, lasting three and five years respectively.
For the one that last five years, she would have bet her last kobo that she was going to get married to him. He was everything she wanted in a man but unfortunately he was not ready to settle down and that often caused quarrels between them. After one of such quarrels, she just let go and did not bother going to apologize to him, as was her usual routine.
Some months later, she met another man and he proposed to her less than six months into the courtship. That was a record for her and if her marriage is anything to go by, the length of a courtship does not determine whether the marriage would last or not. Sometimes, people just date to have companions, much like a place holder for the one; which just does not do them or the person any good.
Here’s the caveat though, Annie said, for the first two years of their marriage, she courted her husband and behaved as though he was still her boyfriend, which worked wonders to cement their relationship in those early days.
Apart from her experience, Annie’s friend dated her boyfriend for eight years and in the end, he dumped her for an older lady, whom he dated for three months before getting married to her. Her friend is still unmarried, after spending most of her single days with one man, while the guy already has a child from his marriage and his marriage looks anything but shaky. Coupled with her own experience, Annie is team short term courtship all the way.
Now, when she sees a lady wasting her time with a man, she does not mind asking her what exactly she is ‘courting’ or waiting to know about the man. And if it is the man she is close to, then the guy is sure to get the sharp edge of her tongue about wasting a lady’s time.
Truthfully, having a long courtship does not translate to a healthy marriage. In fact, researchers have conflicting information regarding the effect of a courtship on marriage. In the days of arranged marriages, there were some which turned into love matches, what percentage, I don’t know but marriages lasted, even without courtship. Some things matter though, like how compatible the couples are. Do the personalities of the partners complement each other and how willing they are to work on their relationship to make it better.
Age is an issue that can determine if a courtship will be long, short or will not happen. No lady in her late 20s will be looking for a long courtship, it is either you are ready or not for marriage. If you are not, then it is better to chip out and make way for the right man. However, men still have some leeway concerning the age at which they marry.
My opinion is, you can date for as long as you want, if it agrees with your age and your faith but know this, there is only so much you can learn about someone and what you do not know during courtship, the person does not want you to know anyway. You will find out in your marriage and that is the ultimate test.
Follow your heart!