Answering questions about engagement

A commenter has written in about some questions pertaining to his engagement. I answered them, but if any of the married men commenting have experience with these questions feel free to offer advice as well.

“For us, we’re at the stage where, it’s hard to keep our hands from each other … physically — hugging and kissing”

Well, I’m no physical affection Nazi, but it is good to draw some boundaries.  There is hugging and kissing in our relationship, but the main boundaries that are drawn in the sand are: no hands under clothes, nothing horizontal or lying down (if you get my drift), although [more upright] cuddling I’m alright with, alone time should be limited especially if you lack self control, etc.

If something starts getting heated then call it off. Obviously, boundaries can be broken but legalism isn’t the answer either. I always know what I am getting myself into, so if I sin then I have to repent of it and reaffirm the truth. If there are habits of continually breaking boundaries then you need to be more vigilant and accountable about it [especially to other people].

(a) What should, I, a Christian man do (as the leader-in-waiting) in leading the both of us to marriage?

This depends a lot on your leadership style and how you want to run the relationship. What I do may not necessarily fit what you do and vice versa. However, I personally like Bible studies and I’m OK prayer time with each other. I will not be conned into people saying that I should do those things though… my girl’s friends were asking if we prayed together and the answer was not much, so I had to educate her that there is nothing about praying together in the Bible. Although it is good, it is not a spiritual requirement for marriage. This is freedom in Christ that we can choose how to behave in our relationships, although the end goal is unity.

The main thing I think you should go through is each other’s expectation of each other in marriage. Libido is a good one. You can go through talking about what you are like… so for example I would ask her what her libido is like. Then I would say that I want sex 1-3x per day in marriage. Most girls eyes pop out at this, and then I ask them about their response to my expectations there.

Comparing expectations and seeing if they match on sex, financials, relationships, and other important areas of life is probably one of the most important things you can do because it ensures that one person wont be feel conned into accepting a marriage to things they didn’t agree to later on.

(b) How should I lead my fiancee in preparation to be my wife? (her father is not a Christian)

A more difficult question. I’d still ask him for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

I think generally as more fathers get “relegated” to just walking their daughters down the aisle it’s best to keep him in the loop and treat him with respect. Respect is a universal language regardless of Christians and non-Christians and treating people right goes a long way to friendly interaction and may even bring him to Christ.

For men this would constitute something like the following: Since he knows her better than you do, I would even enter sort of a “mentor” relationship asking his advice about treating his daughter correctly and things to look out for. This treats him as the sort of benevolent authority figure there and allows him to interact with you on a “help you out” type of basis, and given the Ben Franklin effect where doing something good for a person makes you like them better you will easily be on his good side. Most fathers aren’t so far in pedestaling their daughters that they can’t see their flaws and what to look out for, and they can always help you out with what she likes. Even better if you can have some camaraderie with him about her flaws and tease her about them.

(c) What advice would you have for me?

1. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Study the Scriptures many times on what it says about marriage. Go over and over and over them again. That’s one of the reasons why I know myself so strongly is that I know exactly what is required of me and exactly what is required of her, and I don’t compromise. Make sure you are OK with your roles and responsibilities, and making it known what hers as well. This is a good discussion topic.

2. Keep walking with eyes wide open and don’t let infatuation blind you. Don’t be afraid to be playful and fun, but know when you need to call out bad behavior both from yourself and from her. Don’t tolerate disrespect and make it known that you will tell her when she is being disrespectful in situations.

3. Make sure you have a Christian male mentor (preferably married and knows about the nature of women) to help advise you. [Many mentors is good too if you know many men who can be good mentors].

4. Keep up relationships with family and friends. It’s easy to get caught up in just the two of you, but there is more to life than just the two of you as well. Family is an important calling but it’s not the only calling.

5. Have the “politically incorrect” discussions now. They will be worse if you have to bring them up in marriage. For example, If my girl is getting fat I will straight up tell her (as kindly as possible) that she’s getting overweight and my attraction for her will decline because of it.

If a woman can’t handle the truth now what makes you think she will do better in marriage? You need to know she values the truth over feelings.

(d) In your opinion, how important is pre-marital counselling (conducted by the church we’re attending)?

This depends on the quality of the pre-marital counseling. Hard to tell without looking at most material, but if it’s anything like most Christian counselors expect it to be mediocre cause everything is supposedly solved through “communication”

Personally, my girl and I are extremely prepared for marriage because we have already discussed and made boundaries about what we expect from each other in daily life (housework, cooking, cleaning, division of labor, etc.) and we have discussed what God expects of us, what we expect of each other, and many other things. We have also gone through April’s list on her expectations about marriage.

I’ve also had the discussion with her that she is still responsible for herself and her emotions. She must maintain her relationship between her and God, and not to foist things that need to be taken to God on me. This is another extremely important thing to look like because a wife that idolizes her husband can be as much of a pain in the butt as a wife that is not a Christian. She becomes overly dependent on you is not a good thing.

(e) How long should it (the pre-marital counselling) take? Is one year sufficient or too long?

To be honest that’s long for my tastes. I only want a 3-6 month engagement at most before marriage. The majority of vetting I have already done, and I think should be done prior to engagement. If you have already talked about marriage expectations and know how to communicate with difficult situations then that’s what most of the hard work is.

Of course, not every relationship will have a man who is proactive about his own pre-marital counseling and discussing the issues without an intermediary. Thus, it may be useful to go through a directed program. However, since they are offering the service I would ask about their statistics:

  1. How many couples have gone through
  2. How many successful marriages and divorces. If a Church doesn’t keep track of their divorces of those who went through the program and had counseling this is a yellow flag. Tracking divorces means they are willing to identify problem areas with their counseling that they can work on.
  3. Close to that is to ask what they have improved on in their counseling and what they have learned counseling. No program is perfect and if they can tell you straight up you know they are committed and invested in improving it.

Also, If my church had something like this I would ask for the quicker version, but that’s up to you if you want to try to negotiate this depending on your own preparedness.

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6 Responses to Answering questions about engagement

  1. Pingback: Answering questions about engagement |

  2. Looking Glass says:

    I don’t have time to respond to all of it, but I can address the first point pretty easily.

    ““For us, we’re at the stage where, it’s hard to keep our hands from each other … physically — hugging and kissing””

    1) Don’t be alone in a non-public place. 2) And don’t be alone together past about 10 pm. 3) Set boundaries for basic contact areas.

    That’ll cover that bit. Your own sense of prudence will use the first to prevent most problems (and, as a Christian, you should be even more cognizant of your surroundings). The time period is due to the natural daily hormonal cycle and exhaustion. Temptation hits harder when you’re horny & tired. The last is just a part of your leadership role. Set boundaries, set rules and enforce them, even when isn’t so fun. (God didn’t give us rules because he likes to kill the fun.)

  3. KingProphetPriest says:

    My wife and I were technically virgins when we married. Hands went places they should not have during our dating. She has a harder time dealing with guilt than I do. I ask for forgiveness and move on. For her, however, the guilt over our “failures” before marriage affected stuff after marriage and made some things more difficult. Yes, your being strong now can pay dividends later.

    On the “asking the father,” bit: if you’re going to ask, you damn well better be ready to abide by his decision. To marry the girl without her father’s approval after you asked for his approval is a slap in the face. I freaking hate that “Marry Her Anyway” song that plays everywhere I go because this is exactly that situation.

  4. dvdivx says:

    If you want my advice none of it matters as far as future sexual activity. I lived with my wife before I was married and the first few years after marriage were great. Slowly I just let myself go, gained weight and the frequency fell off to reproductive sex only. Later I developed a heart problem and was informed by her that she was done having sex at all. Ended up loosing the weight and gaining muscle mass back until I’m camping at 12% now but it took about 4-5 years with various injuries, She only told me once she’d be open to having sex again after 4 years of no sex (0 times per year) and I told her that I would be open to having sex but only if I was divorced and it was another woman. I know she realizes now she nuked the marriage from orbit but neither of us can leave due to finances

    . The sad thing is you can not depend on your wife to do anything other than to stab you in the back. Even after marriage make it a point not to treat her too well and look like you are keeping your options open. I wouldn’t spend too much on the wedding or ring either. I doubt premarital counselling would help either. Her own mother warned her what would happen if sex was cut off and she chose to ignore her so ignoring a stranger would be that much easier. You can’t negotiate desire or good behavior in women. The real damage is to the kids who never have seen any affection between me and my wife but maybe it will halp them learn what marriage is really like not the happily ever after crap.

  5. Stryker says:

    1) just reiterate, never be alone with your fiancé unless in a public place.

    My wife and I briefly messed up twice before our wedding day, no sex but hands briefly went where they should not. Like said before, my wife handled the guilt worse than I (she was a virgin, I was not, and have had to seek forgiveness for these types of son before, unlike her). I think it helped that her father did not tell her cut things off with me after we messed up. Yes she did tell him about it, seeking advice.

    Set clear boundaries. We even stopped kissing for several months before/during the engagement, I would only kiss her forehead.

    2) ask her father or whoever is the father figure for her hand. You and her father should be allies. He knows her best. Learn his standards as to how he raised her (modesty, etc) and if you have differences make sure your fiancé knows them prior.

    learn what she thinks of divorce. If she believes there is any excuse for divorce other than abandonment or possibly adultery, I would consider a red flag. Especially if she believes abuse is an excuse for divorce. Resolve this before proceeding.

    —make sure the word “obey” is in her wedding vows—
    If she has a problem with this you need to focus on discussing what biblical marriage is.

    Together, build a list of daily/weekly chores that will need to be completed when you live together. Make sure to take the traditionally masculine chores, like yard work, bill paying, etc. However, do not over burden your foance in this aspect of she wI’ll be working outside the home.
    If she will work outside the home, come up with a plan for the future that will result in her being a housewife. If it can’t happen as soon as a child arrives have a plan for it to happen. Women were not created to be workers outside the home like our culture tells us. Allowing your wife to be a stay at home wife and mother is one of the greatest gifts you can give. It doesn’t give free license for her to be lazy tho.

    3) you can gain more biblical marriage advice in the Christian manosphere than from most pastors or elders in America. If you do have traditional marriage counseling, go with an elder/deacon in your church that clearly demonstrates a strong marriage and is bluntly honest. I would not want more than 4-5 meetings in total. Engagements themselves should not be long, 3-5 months or so at longest. If you ask a girl to marry and she says yes, gets tried as soon as possible.

  6. @ dvdivx

    I would suggest that:

    1. Acknowledge the truth that your wife is the weaker vessel in some respect. — 1 Peter 3. This will allow you to get over what she has done to you.

    2. Likewise, acknowledge to the Lord in prayer that you need to get over your bitterness toward her. — 1 Colossians 3

    3. Be ready and willing to forgive and let it go. If we don’t forgive others then God won’t forgive us. It doesn’t erase the hurt and the damage, but it releases the grudges and bitterness to God to allow your heart to start healing. –

    4. Finally, acknowledge to God that you can’t love her on your own. You need His help to love her because you cannot do it anymore on your own. You don’t know how to cherish her or nourish her. But He does. He can give you the strength if you are willing. – Eph 5

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