Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Courting vs. Dating: Isn't it Romantic?

I'm up late because I can't sleep--dreading the surgery I guess. And when I can't sleep I read. So I grabbed "The Duggars: 20 and Counting" looking for some inspiration and I got as far as reading about their first date. I almost teared up when Michelle stood on her front porch praying that if Jim Bob isn't what G-d wants for her, she can't imagine what G-d does want--where Jim Bob stood a year previous asking the same thing about her. How can that not bring a tear to your eye?

Approaching how you're going to find your mate is a leap of faith, and in the Duggars case faith really is the key word. Josh really did take faith literally and left it up to G-d to help him find his future partner and so did Anna and G-d led them to one another. Both Jim Bob and Michelle have taught their kids that there is a person out there for them, waiting, and they just need to be patient. Patience isn't always easy to be and that's what some people forget to be in this day and age. Without being judgemental or stepping on toes (I'll admit to a slutty period between my 2nd divorce and 3rd marriage so hey, I'm not being holier than thou here) I think what the Duggars are trying to point out is that if you do try to wait, you can really find Mr. or Mrs. Right without going through a bunch of Mr. and Mrs. Wrongs.

I won't slam dating. Dating does have its benefits to a degree. I think that there are ways boys and girls can get to know one another and at least see if they are compatible enough to consider if a next step is even necessary without official "dating." That can happen in group dates--those are safe and harmless with chaperones. I think the Duggars do that as families and they probably do that with the girls and boys and friends from their church. It probably happened with the Bates were visiting. Things like broomball, ice-skating, picnics, trips to that arcade/bumpercar palace, etc. Your heart is still "protected" as Michelle would say, but you can still see what's out there and find what G-d has planned for you. There is also the ATI conference where Josh met Anna.

I will say that the Duggars have brought courting into the new century. I don't think they've won over a lot of fans, but I don't think it's that bad of an idea either. I do think that with some combination courting/dating, some conservative families might be able to work out some compromises with their kids. While I thought the "first kiss" was sweet for the TV show, it was, ok I'll say it, lame. I'm sorry, but the hand-holding they were doing was so over-the-top sexual, it was far more intimate than any wedding kiss I've seen. It was a sweet gesture, but misguided considering the petting that was going on.

I also think that courting is fine as long as the choice of the mate is up to the courter and courtee. Choosing your child's mate is a little too old-fashioned for me and a little too old-world. Of course some people still do it and that's fine--I actually have a Hindi friend in the UK who went that route and is perfectly happy with the bride his mom chose--but again--he CHOSE to have his mom choose. I'm told that in the Chassidic world the parents choose a few different mates and then the boys/girls choose from the pool, or something like that. I guess they have to approve of the family first.

I still like love being involved. I'm tired of the constant chatter on blogs that Jim Bob is just waiting to choose his daughters' husbands--I just don't buy that at all. Afterall, Jim Bob and Michelle were a definate love match and their kids deserve nothing less.


  1. I respect courting and do find it to be very romantic. It is difficult because it is not a practice that is widespread anymore, but I do think it is very respectable.

    That being said, I never really dated, neither did my husband. We met in high school, hung out with friends, and ended up falling for each other. We have been married two years and have shared our first everything with each other, so I guess you could say we somewhat courted. We didn't have a wedding though, he's in the military so planning one was just too much work (and so expensive lol.)!

    I'd encourage my kids to do something similar, just because it is a very special feeling, and I've seen many friends have their hearts broken too many times too often while doing what is considered "dating". It's hard to say, but I do think parents know best sometimes, they would never intentionally choose a loser for their child, you know?

  2. Yes, Michelle and JB were a love match, but that, in an of itself, does not mean they want one (above all other criteria) for their children.
    Note that JB and Michelle both attended actual schools, Michelle was a cheerleader (oh, the horror - short skirts and lustful boys), and they dated, not courted. They don't want any of those activities for their children.
    Therefore, I think they do want to choose their children's mates, especially the girls. They will want someone of the same faith, same conservative beliefs over and above that faith, someone living close so that the girls can help out during the day until they have to many children to do so. Yes, I think they want the kids to LIKE their spouses, but they don't care about the love part. How can you love someone you haven't had private conversations with... because that is when you find out ther innermost thoughts. This is just my opinion.

  3. I've asked this before and I'll ask again. If Josh had decided to date...would the others do the same? The girls have agreed that courtship is the way for them. Is it because Josh courted? Their parents and grandparents dated. Amy even told everyone that her grandparents kissed on the 1st date.

    I'm gonna agree with the "no kissing" as being lame. I have never held a man's hand as passionately as Anna was holding Josh's! I see nothing wrong with a kiss on the hand or cheek. Is there anyone out there who gets aroused by a kiss on the hand!? Anna and Josh aren't the only ones. I've come across a few Christian blogs where engaged couples don't hold hands at all. But, then again...there are many cultures that practice this. So it's not like they are in a league of their own.

    I have no problem with dating. I have no problem with courtships? If a person WANTS to be betrothed, I'm ok with it. I "DO" have a problem when people say one option is better than all others! There are spouses all over the world who have been happily married...and found the love of their life by using 1 of the 3 options I mentioned. Some had a courtship, some dated, and yes some had a spouse chosen for them. Everyone wants something that is "fireproof". But, sometimes things don't work out no matter which "option" you choose.

  4. I don't know that the girls were doing it because Josh did, I think at they time, they may have just been swept up in the whole idea of it--afterall, it was an episode dedicated to it--kind of being put on the spot and they were still kind of young. I think it was more of an Anna thing if anything--more than Josh, I think they saw what kind of attention Anna was getting paid and thought "wow that's kind of cool, our brother is going all gaga googly eyes over this girl, I want some guy to do that for me!" And if you think about it, what girl DOESN'T want some guy to gush all over her?

    As for Jim Bob and Michelle--they have actually said that they want their kids to find that "one person who G-d has destined for them" ...I have no doubt that they want anything less for their children then what they have with each other, especially after seeing how Josh and Anna are together. If that wasn't true, they'd have the girls married off already to any old person and the same for John-David and it wouldn't matter. The fact that they are waiting and not rushing is a bit of proof that the girls and boys do have a say in who THEY choose...and they all looked into the camera and said that courtship was a choice not a requirement.

    I'm in an arranged marriage myself--one I chose to be in. My husband and I used a matchmaker and it was the smartest thing I've ever done. Very old-school Jewish and yes, it took time, but I'm head over heels in love with my husband and it happened on our honeymoon.

  5. Oh and as for the hand holding...I remember some serious in the dark handholding at summer camp that was over the top ...behind the couselor's back...before I'd even had my first "french" funny is that? But as conservative as I am about somethings...when it came to choosing my 3rd husband...i did actually sleep with him before marrying him, because after 2 husbands...there was NO WAY i was going to marry someone I wasn't sexually compatible with...sounds silly, but even though i refused to live with him...we weren't "virgins" on our wedding night :) ...sorry if that's too much info hahaha but i've talked to a few people that did save themselves and found that one or the other just wasn't what they bargained for in the bedroom and no matter how much you love each other, sexual compatibility does matter in a marriage...i don't think they should have "done it"...but for couples that are on marriage #2 or #3...i don't think it's too far out of line...but hey, i'm no expert hahaha...afterall, i received my first french kiss at church camp!

  6. As someone who had innocence and some 'first time' moments taken away from her, I did not have the option of saving myself. For my husband-to-be it was a good deal of first experiences. I know how special that was and how sad I was that I didn't get to have that too.
    I think both courting and dating have pro's and con's. More important though is that you both are of the same mind...
    I think the idea of courtship is romantic but that chaperoning can be taken too far. I would expect that at the end of the day if you are at the stage of being engaged and it is your choice that you don't touch/kiss/sleep together then you are accountable to yourselves for keeping that conviction.
    I think choice is the key and being able to explain choices at an early age so that these first moments aren't thrown away and then regretted.
    I do believe that taking it seriously and having parents on your side and involved with your heart is important. Being able to discuss how you are feeling with your parents and being able to listen to their thoughts is desirable - if you have the type of relationship with your children the Jim Bob and Michelle do.
    Whether the Duggar children will be able to marry whoever they like is something we can only form opinions about. But consider that Josh met someone who he then talked to his parents about. Not the other way around. Sure it was in a setting that his parents had considered suitable for their children to socialise in - but it wasn't a meeting that his parents set up.

    Marybeth... sexual compatibility is something that changes so much don't you think? I totally respect where you were coming from and you go girl.But for me at the beginning of my relationship 15 years ago and me now, 2 kids later.... ha ha ha ha ha not the same at all :D

  7. Chris, as always, you find the great points and nail them! They put their son in the arena, but he found the girl--actually i think she found him--she and a group of other girls and he singled HER out of the pack, is how the story went....but it's great advice for any adult, if you want to find someone with similar interests, look for someone in places of similar interests.

    And yes, me at 35 vs. me at 23--I knew exactly what to look for and as I look at our 3 yr old I do have pangs wishing we had met 20 yrs ago and had the opportunity to raise 10 kids and live the Chassidic lifestyle :) The Jewish Duggars! hehehe

  8. "The Jewish Duggars! hehehe"

    I'd seriously watch! I'd be very interested.

    Mrs P

  9. Ha Ha! MaryBeth your "serious hand holding" was in the dark. Josh and Anna must have forgotten they were on TV! Well, LOVE can do that to ya. In fact love can be SO tricky. You said, if you want to find someone with similar interests, look for someone in places of similar interests. This is true, but some fall for people who are similar and totally different at the same time.

    Are ALL the people who attend the ATI conference Fundamentalist Christians? Please understand that I mean no harm. I'm just asking. There are so MANY types of Christians. I only grew up around Baptists and Methodists.

  10. I seem to remember some girls at the ATI conference that was filmed in one of the 1 hour specials who had Mennonite headcoverings I'm guessing that all types of Christians go there. ATI has been described in the show as a home-schooling conference, so I think it's for Christians that home-school, regardless...anyone with more info want to jump in?

  11. There are some ATI members whose girls wear pants, etc.
    and contrary to popular belief, there are people who have adopted and/or are adopting in ATI. I know one family for sure that adopted a sibling group and they certainly didn't 'ask permission' as so many online have claimed they have to and they are members in good standing.

    Like any group, my understanding, from the many different families I know online that are involved in ATI, is that there are all 'ranges' here, from those who are more 'liberal' (liberal being a relative term, LOL, b/c I do think that all ATI people would be conservative to most people. Let's call them 'liberal conservatives' ;) ) to those who are super strict and rigid.

    From those I've talked to Bill Gotthard is an extremely humble man who is downright horrified to hear that there are those who practically 'worship' him and follow his words like they are from God.

    Mrs P

  12. Thanks Mrs P for the info. :) I guess I was going by the few glimpses of people on camera when the Duggars attend the conference.

    I think the Botkin Family might have a stronger following than Bill Gothard.

  13. My husband and I have had conversations about the dating/courtship thing. The girls are young so we have time but we both seem to be fond of courtship. Then again, he and I met on the internet and you know how that worked out (married 10 years now!).

    So yeah, guess we'll have to see what the future holds as we get think though, our oldest is 8, it's seriously not that far away...

  14. It wasn't the Duggars who gave courting a comeback to modern awareness. It was actually a wonderful book called "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Josh Harris.
    I suspect the Duggars must have read it as they seem to qoute it sometimes.

  15. I looked up the website about courting that Josh recommended and was really quite impressed. I think the kids pick out the prospective mates and the guys ask the Dad for permission to court. The father then screens the guy for things like ability or potential ability to support his daughter and a family, and for character traits. One of the most prominent things he screens is the possible attraction and use of porn and the author of the book is very open about this. Knowing how addicting this habit can become and how widespread it is I think any girl would be lucky to have her potential mate screened in this area. How many marriages have been ruined by this "secret sin". As a nurse and a psychology professional I have first hand experience to back up this thought and the statistics are certainly out there for anyone who wants to look. After the screening, the girl still has the ability to say yes or no but she is now forewarned. The father in the patriarchal system has protected his daughters purity as well as her physical and emotional health; she as well as her brothers are the culmination of a life's work and he doesn't want that work to be wasted on a "scoundrel" to use an old fashioned term. This is the old fashioned attitude which is still prevalent in the South and in conservative circles. In my opinion this is how God intended it to be.

    Personally, I did not go through courtship and my parents had no active part in me choosing my spouse, but we did meet at a Church function and attended conferences similar to ATI conventions although not related to home schooling. We were both educated in public schools, but our own children were educated in private "church" schools.

    None of our children chose mates from their church peer group and the three girls had four unhappy marriage among them. One got a divorce and remarried and her current husband has joined her church but is still struggling to overcome addictions, another is now a widow after 10 years of living/ being married to a man addicted to drugs, the third has a husband who has also joined her church and all have now come back to the faith of their childhood. We cannot choose for our children but we can place them where the choices might be better. Our three daughters have all regretted not doing so but are making the best of the commitment they made. Only one seems to be truly happy in her marriage. I'm sorry if this is TMI but it is just to illustrate that I don't find the Duggars way of doing things all that bad.

  16. Yes, a father can do everything in his power to protect his daughter. Sadly a father is still just a "man". Even dads can be fooled.

    Placing children "where the choices might be better", is a great idea. Too bad it doesn't work that way for everyone. Courtship is not as "fireproof" all the time and I know that's not what you're saying.

    I've been volunteering at a battered women's shelter for 9 years. Over half of the ladies there come from many "Christian" backgrounds. Some dated their spouse before the abuse...some courted before the abuse. I mean(no holding hands, no kissing, no hugging) type of courtship. Some don't want to return to their parent's home because they are embarrassed while others aren't allowed back home...because dad says they're married and should "work out" their issues. Please understand that I have NO issues with courtship or dating. I just don't feel comfortable with others saying one is the better option.

    I DO hope that once a woman finds herself in an abusive marriage she will seek help and not just pray about it or hope it will stop.

    Sorry for getting off topic. I feel in my heart that JB and Michelle would let their daughter come home if she was being abused. Is just that the WHOLE world knows them now...and guys can portray themselves as "Christian". This might be the reason they are sticking to a their tight knit circle of friends. Then again...I've seen that go bad as well.

    Not trying to be negative, just trying to help others be aware. :)

  17. Anonymous - Josh Harris actually retracted a bunch of things he wrote in i kissed dating goodbye when he wrote the second book, boy meets girl . i own i kissed dating goodbye, but i much prefer WHEN GOD WRITE YOUR LOVE STORY by eric and leslie ludy, they had personal reasons why they chose the life they chose to court etc. josh, if i remember correctly, had never really dated when he wrote his book and a lot of what he said wasn't really true and like i said, he took it back

    i perosnally have dates a lot.... i wish i hadnt. there are times i wish i knew that i could tell my fiance he was the only one i had ever been with and vie versa. but i also know we would not have met had we not been lead down the paths we were lead. and he is the most wonderful adn supportive man i have ever met.

    i believe that some instances of courting can be a bit... extreme. i love the idea of not kissing until the altar, but i also recognize that for josh and anna... it was a little... intense. i will say that their hand holding got somewhat intense, but when you love someone, and you want to be near them all the time, its kind of understandable. i know my fiance are constantly cuddled up and holding hands and hugging and kissing. and we live together so we see each other EVERYDAY!! i think its just the way certain people love. we can't say one way of loving another is better or worse. its all persoanlity. jon and kate with their 8, never kissed or anything in front of cameras. they never even seemed to show interest in one another. look how that turned out? yet ive seen other couples that behave similarly and are still married and actually HAPPY together. just dont always show it and dont feel a need to show it.

    dating can breka hearts. i know mine has been torn out and stomped on a few times. it heals, but you are a bit scarred after. i think being friends is a great way to start, as long as things dont get too intimate (even conversations can be intimate) without both sides being on the same page. unrequited love can be just as bad as someone breaking up with you etc.