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Chiugo Akaolisa: How Long is too Long for a Courtship?

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My parents were introduced by a mutual friend and a couple months later, they were married. My mother had no insight into my father’s character only that he had good genes and a calm demeanour. My father liked that she was the smartest girl in her school, light skinned and hailed from a good home. With nothing else to go by, they took the leap of faith. They have been happily married for over thirty years and counting.

Back then, there was no point in dragging out a courtship. Whatever needed to be known about the couple was discovered in the marriage itself. There was no pressure to have it all. The good and the bad were accepted without complaints because they had “forever” to work through things.

In this generation, there is a growing need to get to know one’s partner before committing completely. The “not-so-rosy” marriages of the older generation have made this very necessary. The benefit is that it helps couple identify potential problems in their relationship and see if they are worth taking on.

I guess the burning question then becomes:  what is the ideal length of a courtship before it starts looking like a bondage situation?

I have no clear idea!

The truth is, there is yet to be any proof that the length of a courtship plays any tangible role in the success of a marriage. There is a tendency for people to hide their true nature before marriage only to reveal it when it is too late to back out. If that is the case, why spend years getting to know someone if we are not going to be completely honest?

One major reason for long-term courtship is financial security. Men and some women put off marriage until they attain a good degree of stability.  While this is very important, nobody can’t predict the future. A person’s financial standing may get better or worse as time passes.

In my opinion, a hasty courtship is not advisable. Just because a couple knows early on that all the pieces fit does not mean that they should rush into the complication that is marriage. Rushing into a commitment does not allow proper time to notice potential problems. On the other hand, a long-term courtship can be more difficult, because the couple, having determined that they are compatible, may grow frustrated with the wait.

Can we ever truly know if a marriage is going to work? Probably not. But we know they exact moment when we are absolutely and positively sure about someone, that we accept them, faults and all. We make plans for the future and share all hopes and dreams with our partner with the promise to stick it out even when things get tough. In my opinion, that is what marriage is all about. This is the case with people who date their partners for years, break it off and marry someone in a few months.

When you know, you know.

It doesn’t make sense to keep a courtship going on indefinitely until all the elements to make a stable marriage becomes available. If two people do not see themselves taking to the next step after a year, it is best to step back and re-evaluate. This allows both parties to move on with less baggage. A properly done courtship should allow a couple to break up if things don’t work out, without regrets.

Getting married is described as a leap of faith for a reason. You cannot have every aspect sorted out. The degree of uncertainty and the faith that it will all work out is the beauty of taking the next step.

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”― Lemony Snicket

Goodluck!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Michael Zhang

Chiugo Veronica Akaolisa is a graduate from the University of Alberta, Canada. She is a God-lover and a recluse. Her every spare time is spent writing and developing her business. She is an entrepreneur and a budding novelist. Her true passion is Poetry and Relationship Tips. She has a minor in Psychology. Twitter: Verachi | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cakaolisa | Instagram: missverachi |

57 Comments

  1. usdollar

    July 2, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Nice one!!!

  2. TA

    July 2, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    For me anything more than 2 years is too long and pointless. Courtship is supposed to be to find out if we’re compatible isn’t it? So why the 5,7,11 years courtship that people do? You want to find out if he/she will find the cure for AIDs before you commit? Ain’t nobody got time for that long ish. E mi oraye serenren..

    • Cynical

      July 2, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      @TA,”…..”……..ROTFL.,na real cure for AIDs.

    • MC

      July 3, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      Most that are in 2 year+ relationships already do know! They are not still trying to find out if they are compatable.
      Some already feel married (but without the wedding). So are in no rush to “put it on a piece of paper).
      Some are saving for a wedding but it is not their priority. Continuing with daily life is.
      Some meet when young, and court for 10 years before getting married.
      Some have other things in life that takes priority- education, career, housing.
      Some people don’t get into relationships with marriage in mind.
      AND some believe they have found the one and see no rush for a wedding seeing as they will be spending forever together anyway and have already started that journey.

  3. brown-ice

    July 2, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Definitely not 12 years. Courtesy tokstarr

  4. Loveaddict

    July 2, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Nicely written! Our generation has taken this ‘courtship’ thing too far. Inside courtship person go finish school, get money, born pikin and even get grand children. It is not that serious. I support taking the next step after 6 months. Shikenah!

  5. Bunmi

    July 2, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Ok. So how much is sufficient?

  6. kwo kwo

    July 2, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    i think it depends on financial security most times as the cost of a wedding ceremony is high this days. It may also depend on the stage of live of the parties ; whether they are still in school or trying to achieve somethings in career.

  7. Tosin

    July 2, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Very nice writing.
    maybe dumping the whole marriage idea. it seems too complicated.

    • Kehinde

      July 3, 2015 at 12:17 am

      It is not too complicated. I thought it was until I realize everything is to be done with fait. Compatibility is also key

  8. PurpleiciousBabe

    July 2, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I am sorry we have misused’courtship’ to replace relationship.
    Relationships/dating isn’t something that happened alot during our forefathers days but became rampant during our parent days even then you had to be careful /avoid dating etc in order not to be called names etc.
    Point is: In this generation, more and more people are getting into relationships at a young age for fun or for whatever reason, eventually emotions get attached and things drag on for years and years. Some now think they can call it ‘courtship’.

    Courtship is with the prospect of marriage. Relationships is with the prospect of’ ‘we are feeling each other, lets see how it goes….

    In our parents days, getting into courtship was important. It was a get to know me time, work on each other and prep for marriage hence the short ‘courtship’.In addition, men quickly proposed in order to ‘snatch’ the babe of the market o lol. But now things are not the same……………

    • PurpleiciousBabe

      July 2, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      off*

  9. Agatha

    July 2, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Lovely write up…..nicely explained/described @ PurpleiciousBabe

  10. shobie

    July 2, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Anything beyond two years is looking for trouble. Men get bored easily. Their eyes rove and girls are more readily available nowadays (Can’t believe l just typed that) The temptation to want to play the field is huge. It is for the girl to know not to allow herself to be caught in the waiting game.

    • MC

      July 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      I also can’t believe you just typed that.

  11. le coco

    July 2, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Hian.. there is no real way to know..for me 3 years is fine.. even five years. . Depending on wether or not we r ready.. if I am 18 I do not c y I shld b married in the next 2 years… my parents got married after three months… but she had known my dad for a few years… I knw of a lady hu married a pastor within 1 one month of dating… nd nw they r divorcing. . The marriage ddnt even last 5 months. After all d massive celebration tht they dd.. nd forcing ppl to BUY tickets to their wedding. . Mtchew.. because the lady ddnt get d opportunity to c the man’s abusive nature… nd I also knw of a couple that were together for a year but r also divorcing .. fact remains you just can never knw. . Bt me I cnt do anything less than a year.. no matter how old I am

  12. Joan85

    July 2, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    To be honest, I think a lot of people would go for shorter courtships if it were acceptable in the Nigerian society for young people in our generation. These days, if you aren’t together for atleast six months, people are looking at you like you are desperate or something. Meanwhile, you and your boo are the ones who know exactly what you have dealt with and resolved to handle.
    Also, some people wait longer because of church obligations. A popular pentecostal church requires its members to meet, tell their pastor first, he approves before they begin courting, then they court for at least six months, then they go back and tell the pastor, and then he approves, then they get engaged…
    As for how long, however long it takes you to decide that you are ready to do life with tjis person, be it a day, a week, a month, whatever…as long as that decision is based on the right reasons 🙂

    • MC

      July 3, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      I refuse to believe that 3 months is enough time to know whether you would want to spend the rest of your life with somebody.
      3 months……rest of my life.
      I’d rather take the “risk” and date/court for longer?…what’s the rush? Especially if you are eventually going to wed?

  13. Tina

    July 2, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Anything beyound 2yrs is ridiculous. You can court for 12yrs and still get cheated on even worse he gets somebody else pregnant. A female has to face the fact of the biological clock, so make hay while the sunshines. If you have not met the right person, that is understandable but tying yourself to one person for 12yrs and then nothing to show it. You only have yourself to blame.

  14. SA girl

    July 2, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    I really believe that marriage should not the end goal of all relationships. Marriage isn’t what will hold two people together, I would date maybe even have kids with someone with no need for marriage just a strong bond and commitment to each other.
    I get that marriage has economic and social protections and their is a strong social pressure to get into it but I find myself ambivalent to the institution.

    • le coco

      July 3, 2015 at 12:05 am

      @Sa girl… dnt you feel lyk.. having a relationship with a man hu ha notseven considered marrying you.. bt saw it fit to impregnate you a few times isnt advisable? I get wht you mean about the the social pressure.. nd obviously a marriage doesnt guarantee love.. bt neither does a relationship that is jst bf,gf n kids… btw no judgement at all jst curious.

    • MC

      July 3, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      Because one is not married does not mean it has not been considered.

    • Fashionista

      July 3, 2015 at 10:40 am

      I completely agree with you.

    • cocoberry

      July 3, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      I really believe that marriage should not the end goal of all relationships. !!!!! really though ?? what then are you in it for

  15. cindy

    July 2, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    To me, it is easier to move on if sex is not involved.

  16. Yebo

    July 2, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    I think there’s no one size fits all.
    Some people meet and marry within 2-4 months of knowing each other. I won’t advise it, of course, because even though long courtships don’t necessarily mean a marriage will stand the test of time, extremely short courtships are also risky, but if the parties are willing to take the risk, it’s their life

  17. Fummy

    July 2, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Very well written. Pls tell my bf to propose oh. 3 years, we are both very stable but he is still dulling. Anyway sha, I’m leaving him at the end of this month.

    • Miss

      July 3, 2015 at 11:49 am

      maybe he’s planning to propose next month ……lol

    • MC

      July 3, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      Because he hasn’t proposed?
      Do you know his take on marriage? His take on marrying you?
      In 3 years this must have been discussed, no?
      Were you only with him because he is a man and you want marriage? Or because you wanted to be with him? You love him and see yourself spending the rest of your life with him?

    • natu

      July 4, 2015 at 7:02 am

      @MC these questions. I hope y’all are taking notes.

  18. Gifty

    July 2, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    Wow nice write up,God bless u

  19. Mabel

    July 3, 2015 at 12:06 am

    Are we speaking of dating or engagement? I don’t believe in long engagements, but the dating can be longer.

  20. yemi

    July 3, 2015 at 12:40 am

    I feel like there is never a time limit because people place time frames in relationships, which is wrong. When you feel comfortable enough with a person and secure then the both of you should have the conversation.

  21. iya niyen

    July 3, 2015 at 1:45 am

    I met my husband at 17, dated/were together for about 8 years. Married for 3 years and divorced. You never fully know….

    • Won

      July 3, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      Iyen le ooo, Iya niyen

  22. Kiki

    July 3, 2015 at 6:50 am

    I think there is no one size fits all. I have friends that fell in love in uni and dated throughout uni until they both found a job saved for wedding, house etc… before they got married. This took 8 years for one couple and then 10 years for another couple. Mean while I had been friends or would I say an Aquitance with my husband for 5years but once we got closer and started talking it took us less that 6months to decide and plan our wedding and I can truly say that I am happily married after 5 years. Although my husband was already someworth financially stable. My friends are also happy. So it depends on your circumstance. If it drags out but you are already planing your life actively together and have a common goal- fine anything can happen. But if you are just sleeping together or dating waiting for the boyfriend or girlfriend to decide if you are the ‘one’ 1 year is too long.

    • MC

      July 3, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      Perfectly put!

  23. Ololade

    July 3, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Great write up..No time frame for courtship. .The most important thing is for both of you to state the purpose from the beginning…Courtship is not marriage and it can be broken..Why stay in a courtship with someone that isn’t going anywhere?

  24. Liam Chukwu

    July 3, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Hello Bn fam! Pls I need you guys help. I’m dating this South African girl and I really like her but my friend’s feel she’s not good for me without them giving me a good reason why she’s not good for me. Pls guys, I know you peeps got a lot of ideas on relationship, how would one know if he’s with the wrong girl. What are the signs? I haven’t been in a relationship for over 5yrs so everything seems strange to me now….Thanx guys (pretend like you didn’t see that typo)

    • sussy

      July 3, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      Well I like your name, ask your friend the reasons behind their statement, what are the “not so good reasons”, and also try study her, time reveals things, but give her a fighting chance, don’t have two minds about her until she has given you a reason to.

    • le coco

      July 3, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      Well unfortunately Sa girls r synonymous for nt being of good morals.. most ppl thing they r only good.enuf for a cheap hookup. .
      I think tht is what your friends r thinking. . But the thing is.. dont judge a book by its cover.. not all sa girls r loose just like not all naija guys are drug dealers. .. take your time to know the girl.. for one.. find out what she does for a living. .. nd hw she makes her money… is she intelligent? What kind of conversations do you have? If 80 percent of your convo centres around hw she likes tht you r nigerian nd tht nigerian guys like to spend for their girls.. then she is probably not genuine. .. also.. does she ask for.money? Does she like being spoilt or .does she like the finer things in life without wanting to even work hard for them? Then.. you shld b careful Because she is probably jst one of those lazy girls tht dont bother with education or work but think nigerian men r the answer to their prayers…

  25. Bruness

    July 3, 2015 at 9:13 am

    SA girl, Iya niyen and Kiki summed up…

  26. Chi!

    July 3, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Nice write up n good idea to write on dis Chiugo!i think 1 year is too long to be in a courtship.6 months is d best.in 6 months one shd be able to know if d guy wants to marry u if not, break off d relationship n move on. guys always want oshofree! pls don’t stay afta 6 months n don’t even give in to sex in dat 6 months. if he wants to marry u, he will, sex or no sex, but when u giv in, u loose both ways.

    • MC

      July 3, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      You make it sound like it is only the man that needs to decide whether he wants to marry!?
      When do you as a woman know?
      Or are you saying the moment you enter a relationship you have already decided you want to marry him and then you give him his 6 months to figure it out?
      I see comments like this all over this site and have never understood “a man should know in 6 months”.

    • natu

      July 3, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Hahaha African women are always ready for marriage. There main mission in life is to be someones wife. They so desperate and the men know it. lol

  27. PEE

    July 3, 2015 at 10:58 am

    @CHI WHEN YOU GIVE IN,YOU LOOSE BOTH WAYS…I OPPOSE THAT…WE NEED TO STOP THIS BELIEF THAT YOU LOOSE AFTER HAVING SEX WITH A GUY… WE BOTH DID IT.I WASNT FORCED..DTS WHY ,MOST OF YOU FEMALES WALK AAROUNFD WITH BROKEN HEARTS..N DEN END UP BLAMING THE GUY..

  28. Nonye

    July 3, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Fo me….. There’s no rules to it. You should know what works for you & stick to it. Whether it’s a minute or a million years, nobody knows you better than You.

  29. keke

    July 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Very well put together…

  30. cleo

    July 3, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    For me, as long long you both are comfortable with each other and you have peace in your heart concernning the person. Long courtship is a no no for me.
    One principle i believe everyone should apply in courtship is this, do not form an opinion of your spouse based on how he treats you. He/She is doing that on purpose to woo you and impress.
    Form your opinion, based on how he/she treats the waitress, mother, brothers, sisters, other road users, drivers, colleagues. And very importantly ask questions around. If you have not met anyone from his past say 15 years ago who has nothing on he/her, it is risky.
    It is not fool proof, but it is effective.

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      July 3, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      @Cleo

      You have spoken very wisely.
      I

    • dad's first daughter

      October 5, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      Nice One cleo

  31. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    July 3, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    My colleague who got married last November informed me recently that she and her husband dated for 12 years before they got married. My eyes literarily crossed at the figure. 12 what!. The busybody part of my brain drew out its apkoti, sat down, and brought out its calculator. By my estimate, they started dating shortly before she gained admission into the University for her first program.

    I take solace in the fact that God knows us all and He knows those of us that don’t have anointing for 12 years of you and me lai je marriage. To some its a show of staunch commitment, to others its a direction map to boredom and partial madness.

    I have not really considered how is long is too long for me, but I’ve always known in my bones that when the wedding bells come a ringing, its not going to be with someone with whom I have been with long.

    To each its own.

    • cocoberry

      July 3, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      12 yrs a slave lomo

  32. new bride

    July 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    If you can type ‘hu’, surely you can stretch yourself and type ‘who’, or ‘like’ or ‘but’ or ‘and’. Bellanaija has not limited the number of words you can use in the comment section, please take full advantage of it and use proper words!

  33. bee

    July 3, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Nice story. That question also depends a bit on age. Some people started their courship at 17, if they get married 10yrs later that,s ok.
    If you are past your mid twenties its a different ball game. I like the quote thu.
    “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”― Lemony Snicket

  34. ThatAbiribaBae

    July 3, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    According to me, Courtship is when a man has made intentions to marry a woman or when the two have agreed that marriage is the next phase for them.

    According to Merriam Webster dictionary, Courtship is “the activities that occur when people are developing a romantic relationship that could lead to marriage or the period of time when such activities occur”
    NOTE: Marriage has to be the end result for it to qualify as courtship!

    Anything before this topic (marriage) is raised/introduced between 2 people is called friendship/relationship. That you’re in a relationship with someone for 8 years doesn’t mean you have been in courtship with the person. And yes, its very much possible to have a “liking” for someone for 12years before marriage.

    PS – marriage is not always everybody’s top priority, it only became my cup of tea mid/late 2014. If fiancé had proposed earlier than then, I would have said NO, not because I didn’t/don’t love him; just because I wasn’t ready to be anybody’s wife. When you are ready, you are ready (don’t let no one pressurise it jare!)

  35. ibkgeorge

    July 4, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Personally I don’t believe in long courtship,which was why my first relationship was in my final year.One- long courtship promotes premarital sex. and I don’t want preassure on me.6 months i need to know where we going.No time for any time waster

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