Characteristics of courtship As Niehuis, Huston, and Rosenband recommended, in order to understand the effect courtship length has on marital outcomes, it is prudent to consider the many variables involved in the development of courtship leading to marriage. Limerence Ascribing to an evolutionary psychology perspective, Hansen describes limerence as a primary function of the biological imperative to reproduce.

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When an individual meets a physically attractive potential mate, Hansen says that a chemical reaction takes place in the brain producing phenylethylamine, or PEA, a naturally occurring amphetamine: In light of this information, is it any wonder that limerence often causes people to behave in irrational ways? Combined with the effect of sexual attraction, individuals who find themselves in a state of limerence are likely to feel as though they are being influenced by an overwhelming power beyond their conscious control Hansen, Practically every waking moment is spent thinking about the limerent object.

Each time the object reciprocates with a sign of mutual limerence, the drug-like effect is reinforced and the cycle continues. Similar to the effects of synthetic amphetamines, over time individuals develop a tolerance to the effects of PEA, no longer feeling its euphoric effects Walsh, , as cited in Hansen, Thus Hansen contends that the dissolution of limerence, or "falling out of love" p.

This limerent plateau tends to occur after approximately two to four years of relationship Hansen. Fascinatingly, Hansen observed that this plateau period corresponds with statistics on the peak period of divorce during the second year of marriage in the U. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, the heightened limerent period also roughly corresponds with the amount of time it takes to conceive a child and raise it through infancy Hansen, Miller and Perlman point out that men tend to be more attracted to women who are younger, physically attractive, and sexually available, while women are drawn to men who are mature and financially stable — qualities that are thought to have evolutionary roots.

In order to ensure the survival of the human species, our male ancestors may have been driven by a biological imperative to reproduce with as many promising partners as possible, while our female ancestors sought men who could adequately protect and provide for them and their offspring. Hansen theorizes that the peak divorce rate of years after marriage may have its roots in this evolutionary tendency, as childless couples have a statistically higher probability of divorce, while the divorce rate declines with each child that is born.

Not all researchers agree with the focus on limerence as a purely biological mechanism. For example, although Hazelden does not dispute the science surrounding the effects of PHA, she warns against this biological characterization of limerence in popular psychology self- help books. How does all this talk about evolutionary biological imperatives and the intoxicating effects of limerence measure up in comparison with a Biblical perspective?

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The practice of extramarital sex for nonmarried persons fornication or married persons adultery is forbidden throughout Scripture, with punishments ranging from paying a fine, to forced marriage, to execution depending on the nature and circumstances of the offense e. However, in Old Testament times polygamy was common and permitted by God, although in Deuteronomy This cultural practice affirms the concept of a biological imperative for men to desire reproduction with multiple partners, while women were biologically programmed to desire monogamy.

Despite the permissibility of polygamy in the Old Testament, it is generally presumed in modern Christian teaching that a shift towards an emphasis on monogamy occurred by the time of Jesus. This also refutes the concept of serial monogamy as an acceptable practice.


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The Apostle Paul states in 1 Timothy 3 NASB that men who aspire to be overseers and deacons in the church must each have only one wife and be faithful to her. Although this command is issued to male church leaders, it is generally presumed to be prudent for all men. In order to find examples of limerence in Scripture, one needs to look no further than the book of Song of Solomon.

Thoughts on quick dating/courting to marriage relationships?

Each lover refers to the intoxicating effects of the other partner's love as being "better than wine" Song of Solomon 1: Love Peele , as cited in Hansen, contends that romantic love is distinctly different than limerence. Peele describes a mutually beneficial relationship which allows both partners room for growth and mutually shared interests beyond obsession with one another Hansen.

One might speculate that the limerence experienced in the early months and years of a long-term relationship is eros, while the more subdued affection that occurs in satisfying marriages after limerence fades is philia.


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Perhaps in less satisfying marriages storge develops rather than philia — i. When discord arises in marriage, as it inevitably does, agape becomes necessary. This begs the philosophical question: Is it possible for partners in the height of eros to know whether or not they are capable of developing the storge, philia, and agape needed to sustain a long-term marriage?

To what extent does the answer depend on the chemistry or compatibility between partners, versus the individual character traits each partner brings into the relationship? Of these four Greek words for love, only phileo the verb variant of philia and agape appear in the New Testament Strong, Despite the fact that eros appears to be the basis for modern romantic relationships, this term is curiously omitted from Scripture. However, this type of love is clearly depicted in the Old Testament book Song of Solomon, as discussed earlier.

Storge also does not appear in the New Testament, although familial love is clearly depicted in the relationships of families throughout Scripture. Curiously, it is also used to describe a prideful love of sin Matthew 6: Agape is the term used in 1 Corinthians 13 Strong, , the famous chapter describing the ideal characteristics of love, often quoted in Christian wedding ceremonies. The derivative agapate is the word used in Ephesians 5: Ironically, this is also the term used numerous times by Jesus in commanding people to love their enemies. This is not to imply that spouses are enemies although at times this may seem to be the case!

Based on the omission of eros and storge from Scripture, and the abundant use of agape and its derivatives, one would surmise that eros is not a sound basis for marriage. Rather, agape is the ideal. Can agape be developed in a short-term premarital relationship? If the love we are commanded by Scripture to show our spouses is the same love we are to show our enemies, then this true love is no longer a matter of biological imperatives or romantic intoxication.

Scriptural love is a matter of choice. Is it possible for partners to make such a life-altering choice after only a brief period of courtship? Absolutely, just as it is possible for couples to experience a long-term courtship and eventually separate. Whether or not it is probable depends largely on the spiritual maturity and tenacity of the partners as individuals and as a dyad. If only one partner is willing to show unconditional love, the couple may have a stable marriage, but are not likely to experience mutual satisfaction. The likelihood of a young couple caught up in a flood of limerence having this extent of spiritual maturity and tenacity is probably small.

Otherwise, far fewer Christian marriages would end in divorce as compared to the general population.

(Closed) Thoughts on quick dating/courting to marriage relationships?

Similarly, whether or not short-term premarital relationships are advisable is certainly debatable. By strict Biblical standards, if agape is the ideal, marriage is a lifelong commitment, and divorce is only permissible in cases of sexual unfaithfulness Matthew Age, education level, and length of courtship in relation to marital satisfaction Master's thesis.

Love as a metaphor. A Review of General Semantics, 68 2 , Retrieved December 10, , from http: Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 39 4 , Courtship duration as a correlate of marital satisfaction and stability Doctoral dissertation. Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

The pathology of love in contemporary relationship manuals. The Sociological Review, 52 2 , Intimate relationships 5th ed. New York, New York: From courtship into marriage: A new developmental model and methodological critique.

The Journal of Family Communication, 6 1 , But since they lived in different states, they had to fly to see each other. After the third time in two months, the couple decided it would be easier to just make it official. So Amanda moved to Colorado and they hosted a backyard barbecue where a few surprised friends witnessed their nuptials.

Sarbin says it's all about overlooking small faults and keeping the playfulness in the relationship. Barbara Jacobs How we met: When Target manager Barbara met K-Mart stocker Jim, their retail rivalry didn't get in the way of love. Their first date was a July 4th party—by September 4 they were husband and wife. Jen Embry How we met: Push-ups and rucksack runs don't typically inspire visions of romance, but when Jen met a handsome fellow recruit in bootcamp it was love at first sight.

The two dated for a month then eloped. But not all of love-at-first-sight stories end happily ever—the two divorced after four years. Still, Jen says she learned a lot about herself and love from the experience. Marriage isn't going anywhere and while there are numerous lovely stories about runaway romance, most relationships don't end that way. More than half of all marriages end in divorce, and it's so much harder if you don't really know each other first. Jane Meronuck How we met: Jane's and Chris's friends knew the two were a perfect match and had been trying to set them for months.

When they finally met at a party, they realized their friends had been right all along. Must have been some party! They were engaged within two weeks. Neither of us were really looking for a life partner when we met, but we were both a little freaked out by how right it felt.

When you know, you know. Valerie Lancaster How we met: Valerie and Nate first met singing in a choir for their LDS Mormon church, but they didn't have time to get to know each other—Nate was leaving to serve a two-year religious mission. But the spark was still there when he returned, and they were wed three months after they officially got together. Four kids and 11 years later, they're still singing together. If you are both striving to fulfill that, you will both be happy.

Mandy Herbet How we met: Mandy and Lee had grown up in the same South African town and even gone to the same school for three years, but had never actually met—until they found each other on an online dating site. She was living in Canada and he was in New Zealand at the time, so things stayed long-distance. But after just five intermittent weeks together, Mandy took a leap and moved to New Zealand, where they were married. There was no question.