Biblical Counseling for Today’s Christian Family
by Rev. Judith T. Lester, B.Min., M.Th.
This month represents the conclusion of the two-part series focusing on single adults and the dating process/relationship. With the population of single adults growing in most churches around the country, inauguration of a Single Adult Ministry is becoming increasingly essential for churches. New Covenant M.B.C.’s Single Adult Ministry is active. All lessons taught are in harmony with Pastor Crouther’s heart, philosophies and vision and openly discusses issues that singles struggle with. Bringing these single adults together helps them to see that they often are struggling with the same issues and concerns. As the facilitator, after issues are voiced, we let them know what the Word of God has to say. The Single Adult Ministry’s primary purpose is to lead the singles spiritually and provide opportunities for fellowship and growth. You are invited to share with us every 3rd Friday at 7:00 p.m. New Covenant’s Single Adult Ministry is on break the months of July and August.
In the conclusion of the two-part series, the following are the final two stages of the dating relationship compliments of an article by the Single Adult Ministries of the Assemblies of God. If you missed last month’s article, please feel free to contact the Milwaukee Community Journal.
Stage 4: Evaluation. This is the stage of serious evaluation, when one begins to actively evaluate the differences and determine if the relationship is worth the differences you both recognize. One or both gradually evaluate and decide if they can live with this person whose manners, habits, perspectives, and attitudes are somewhat different than theirs. You must ask yourself: Can you live with his/her differences? Can you live with him/her and not expect him/her to change to be more like you? If you choose to change your opinion or attitude to become more compatible with his/hers, will you be able to sustain that change permanently, or will you grow to resent the feeling that you were “forced” to try to change? This stage could last 2-4 months.
Stage 5: Maturation. The final stage is when a couple settles into the relationship and begins resolving conflicts for the long haul. This is a time of decisional love, not just emotional, romantic love. The romantic, infatuation type of love has evolved throughout the previous stages into the mature, steady, forgiving, serving love. Each person is now intent on what they can bring to the relationship and give to the other, not what they can receive from the relationship and get from the other. This is the acceptable, ideal time for an engagement to occur. The decision to love, even through times of anger, disappointment, extreme personal differences, and possible feeling that the other person does not care about the other’s perspective, sustains the relationship. Listening, discussion, and acceptance of each other allows for differences. This stage could last 3-4 months before marriage, and then continues throughout life. Intentional and dedicated involvement through all five stages helps to prepare people for one of the largest, most consequential decisions anyone could make!
So how long should a couple date prior to the engagement? It is wise to allow a relationship to develop at least 12 months before engagement. Going through the 4 seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) allows a couple to observe and evaluate each other through many different situations, circumstances, emotional challenges and hopefully, absences from each other. If the relationship is rushed and it does not advance through all five stages before making a commitment to marry, both individuals may be disillusioned and extremely challenged in the early years of marriage.
The writer does not assume responsibility or liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred in any way for readers’ efforts to apply, rely or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles. Rather, the objective is strictly informative and educational. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.