I recently narrowed my writing focus from a general marriage theme to concentrate on the early years of marriage. (check out my Facebook update here in case you missed the email)
I believe that foundations are important for the success of marriage.
I want to help wives – and couples – transition and navigate that early unintentional love to a stronger loved based on grace and intentional giving.
My husband and I had the privilege and blessing of great mentors.
They poured into our lives as singles and took us through months of formal and informal premarital counseling.
I still remember the early morning chill as we walked to meet with one of them every Tuesday morning.
We continued with our hangouts after we got married and right up until our move two years ago.
Not to say that we are now perfect as couple and have never had issues. (hint…many post-marital sessions!)
But our mentor’s input put us at a much better place to work out and navigate challenges.
And that’s my desire and focus in this new place, to help you navigate the challenges of the the years through sharing thoughts and insights that have worked in my own life.
I am only in my 6th year of marriage so it’s no head knowledge either – I am walking it out daily!
I know I have many readers and subscribers that are older in marriage. I pray that the tips and insights will refresh and refocus your journey too.
On to the topic of the day…
6 Steps to a Wedding
Since we will be talking many things “early marriage” I thought it would be good to share a bit of my background, so that you understand what influences some of my thinking on this blog.
Here’s a typical Friendship-to-Wedding journey, Kenyan-style.
A caveat; this is not a blanket cover and not all Kenyan christian singles take these steps.
Still it’s a common theme and structure for many christian singles in church.
1. We don’t “date”.
At least most born-again Christian singles don’t.
“Dating” and “going out on a date” are two different things.
Dating is something you do as a lifestyle, without any intentions, just for the fun of it.
“Going out on a date” is intentional, it has a reason and limits.
2. Most singles seek/have mentors
In Kenya most people do life together. They have a sense of responsibility for one other and thrive in community.
As such it’s not hard for singles to seek and find mentors – pastors and their wives, older couples or just more mature friends.
Courtship is rarely a solo experience, there’s always a whole bunch of eyes watching!
3. A friendship phase
You get to hang out in groups, do activities together, chat-up and observe one another in group settings.
Tommy and I were friends for two years before we started going out “officially”.
During this time we had opportunities to serve together in church and do group hangouts.
Towards the end of a two year friendship, we felt the sparks and individually made our way to our mentors.
And we got a go ahead.
Why “check in” with your mentors/pastors, you might ask.
Because you know your hormones + your heart = not always smart. : )
Seriously though, you are an adult who has intentionally put yourself under authority.
You do it because;
– Mentors know more about love than you do. Just because you feel like you are in love does not mean you are. And even if you are, you don’t know how to grow and nurture real love.
– For cover – Having a sober pair of eyes watching your every step will keep you at your best behavior. No playing around with someone else’s heart, body or mind.
– It’s good spiritual sense. God’s a family man.
4. Courtship phase
Coming right after a general friendship season, you get exclusive at this point.
You have been observing one another, hanging out in group settings, talking.
You have decided you like what you see and have received positive feedback from a mentor or very good trusted friend.
At this time intentions have been declared, you know what you are doing and why you are doing it.
Tommy and I had been hanging out with a good friend of ours but we ditched them at this point : )
We still hang out in groups but we also spent time together. He met my friends and a bit of my family.
Not all courtships end up in marriage of course.
But courtship is the process by which you learn and discover if both of you are meant to be together.
Ideally at this point, “the question” has been asked and the answer (a “yes”) given.
Weddings are huge elaborate affairs in Kenya.
The elaborateness does not begin on the wedding day itself, but long before when the groom-to-be visits the girl’s parents to declare his intentions for their girl.
And pay dowry.
The visits and dowry negotiations can be drawn out and delicate and will often involve extended family members and friends.
Tommy paid bride-price for his girl too : )
The dowry/bride-price will be set to an impossible amount and cannot actually be paid in full.
The point the girls’ folks want to make is that their girl cannot be ‘bought’, that she’s precious and priceless and should be treated thus.
6. The wedding
Most wedding ceremonies take a whole day.
After the official church ceremony, the afternoon is a time of celebration, dance, song and food!
Shortly after our wedding, we learned that attending other weddings keeps our own marriage fresh and refocuses us.
My husband says that attending weddings is like hanging out with God where it matters (Malachi 14: 2a)
So that’s how we do it in Kenya : )
Again, this is an overall “sketch” of things, not a hard and fast rule.
Your turn, what do you think about foundations? Have they played a key role in your marriage? What do you think about foundations as a single person? Would love to hear from you in Comments!