From Friendship to Marriage – 6 Steps to a Wedding

Marriage | Personal Growth | Single life

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.

Image: Friendship to Marriage; 6 steps to a wedding

Why Foundations

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.

My husband and I are Kenyans but currently live in United States

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

The- girl-meets-boy-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.

IMage: From friendship to marriage - 6 steps to a wedding

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.

5. Engagement

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.

Image: 6 Steps to a wedding

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!

Linking with Titus 2sday, Messy Marriage, we are That family, Wifey wednesday, Fellowship Fridays

27 Comments

  1. Thanks so much Ngina! My wedding is in a few weeks. I really like the idea of mentors pre and post the wedding. Will talk to my partner about it. It seems like a really great idea.

    1. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, Nyasha! Hope you find mentors for the journey. They are a marriage-saver 😉

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  4. Dave Arnold says:

    Great stuff, Ngina! Love the quote from your husband. My wife and I technically courted too because we were in different states. I like how you distributed going on a date vs. dating. And having a mentor is huge! Thanks Ngina.

    1. I married a smart man! 🙂

      I’ve found that many here in the states struggle with a no-dating idea. It’s good to have that clarification. basically if you are not looking to settle down sometime sooner than later, don’t go exclusive 🙂

  5. I think sharpening your focus to young marrieds is a smart move, Ngina. I’ve seen your heartbeat for newlyweds and mentoring blossom here lately and I love it! I totally agree that mentoring, especially in the early stages of courtship and marriage, is crucial to a couple’s health and sets them on the right path. My husband and I had premarital counseling that was rather extensive, but we really didn’t have a couple that mentored us. I think this would have helped our rocky start–averting some of the messes we made early on. Great thoughts, sweet friend. You have such wisdom beyond your six short years! God has richly blessed you and in turn you bless us!

    1. I agree with you Beth, being mentored by a couple has a lot of value, i wish every couple had a mentor couple. I think God designed us to learn as we do life – the same way kids “catch” things as instead of being “taught”.

      We are five years old in marriage…but began our 6th in Aug! (my husband tells me I should fast-forward my age the same way i do our marriage ..ha!)
      thank you visiting.

  6. Dear Ngina
    I am a South African and I know that African weddings is really a long beautiful affair. We have a saying in my native tongue, Afrikaans, that I am going to translate as is; we always say that getting married is not like buying a horse. Friendship is one of the anchors of a good marriage.
    Blessings XX
    Mia

    1. oh you get this Mia! 🙂 Aren’t they beautiful? It’s one of the things i miss about home – spending a beautiful day enjoying, celebrating and rejoicing with the couple and friends and family. Love that saying, says it plainly!

  7. Linda@Creekside says:

    I love the inclusion of mentors in this list, Ngina. Including others with more wisdom and life experience in something as huge as a lifetime commitment is something that most young couples don’t consider. Great insight!

    1. Thanks Linda, i think when we are young (and not necessarily in years) it’s easy to think that we have some things figured out. It takes a humble heart to seek and learn from others. The same way it is in marriage, takes a humble heart to continue learning, to seek help when it’s needed.

  8. Very interesting to read your story, especially the no dating part. That is rare in the US but it does happen. My wife and I did date before marriage but our marriage was also sort of arranged by my dad, we had a weird mix. Either way my parents and her parents played a hugely important role.

    1. I remember your story it was so very interesting and humorous, you do have a great dad.
      People do go out on dates but it’s always very intentional, basically if you are not ready to settle down in marriage, don’t go fishing! 🙂

  9. This is great Ngina especially attending other weddings after you both were already married. Its does keep things into perspective and make you remember the day you joined together as one. I must say its refreshing to see this. I will forward this blog to my sister that is engaged as we speak. Awesome stuff.. The only thing is she does not like or want mentorship from anyone, so maybe she can get it from reading your blog.

    1. It does Lincoln, we can get so lost in the “daily grind” and forget where it all began – and how it should stay – a wedding day can refocuses and re-fresh.
      Thank you for forwarding the blog to her, i pray it helps her because we need all the help and encouragement , esp as we start out.

  10. Really great post…..that is exactly how a born-again’s path to marriage should look like. I really like the last point…never really thought about that but I guess you are right!:D

    Visiting from 2sday linkup.

    Iris @The Blue Birdhouse

    1. Thanks Iris, I am glad you enjoyed the post, thanks so much for visiting via TWW

  11. It’s wonderful to hear how God is making known His purpose in your life and that you are narrowing down to reach a target audience. So proud of you for listening to God. I wish I’d had someone like you to listen to while I was dating- it would have saved some heartache.

    Thankfully, God protected and blessed me with a wonderful husband.

    by the way, your “share this” buttons aren’t working.

    1. Thank you TC, to God be the glory. The change wasn’t easy, you know how we get when we settle – it’s hard to move, all kinds of questions and worries. But it’s always so freeing to follow God. thanks for your encouraging word.

      it seems like the clicktotweet had a problem and I’ve removed them. thanks for letting me know, i didn’t know 🙂 Be blessed!

  12. This is such a healthy foundation for marriage, Ngina. I love your traditions. My tradition growing up was quite different and quite unhealthy! My two kids who are in college right now are doing it the same way you guys did it (except for the dowry) and I love it. Most of their Christian friends at college do relationships the same way. I have great hope for this younger generation when I look at them.

    1. I was just thinking this morning how as Christians we are called to preach Jesus, not culture. It doesn’t matter where we live, His principles always transcend culture. I am glad your kids are laying such a great foundation..points back to the good work you’ve done as parents. And His grace.

  13. I think that tradition is a sound one that the church would be well advised to follow. What struck me was the humility and respect that seem to be lacking from many of us here, even in the church. Listening to the advice of the wise makes the person wise beyond their years… explains a lot about your wisdom at your young age. Great advice.

    1. this was one of my culture shocks here Floyd – the independent way younger people live their lives, and a general lack of “learning” attitude. It’s hard to receive without respect and humility, you can’t learn from whom you disdain.

  14. Thank you for explaining the dowry. I always considered it a price paid as for chattel! What a relief! 🙂

    I believe intentional relationships of American Christians have a lot to learn from your Kenyan traditions. While some young couples fervently seek mentors and have a dating focus, societal trends have invaded.

    We need a bit more “solid” tradition, rather than floating on waves of popular cultural themes. For floating causes drift … and as you have often mentioned, no one drifts to the top of a mountain!

    1. 🙂 ha that’s what many consider it to be Amy! And to be honest there are people who do that but that was the original thought behind it..that and appreciating the girls parents 🙂
      appreciate your comment.

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