When courtship doesn't work
BRIDGEPORT, MA -- After three months of marriage, Anne and Joe Toepe recently concluded that courtship is a failed experiment.
"We went through all seven principles of courtship," said Anne. "After we met at an ATI function, Joe began to sense God's leading toward marriage. He spent months in prayer and fasting. After seeking his parents' counsel, he called my father. They corresponded for a year, with my father giving him projects for spiritual growth."
Joe agreed. "Anne's father was committed to protecting his daughter, which impressed me all the more. I knew she was a pearl of great price."
"My father and mother eventually told me there was a young man interested in me," Anne continued. "They asked me to pray for God's direction before they told me who the young man was. I decided if my parents approved of him, God's blessing was on it."
Joe traveled from IBLP Headquarters to spend time with Anne and her family. Her parents and siblings were impressed with his character, and enthusiastically gave their approval.
Joe and Anne were married a few months later. Their wedding was a God-honoring ceremony, and a testimony to the effectiveness of courtship. Several couples who attended the wedding pledged to trade dating for courtship in their relationships. Joe and Anne touched for the first time when the pastor declared, "You may kiss the bride."
Now that Joe and Anne are married, they were shocked to discover that the courtship principles did not adequately prepare them for marriage! "We're constantly discovering new areas we'd never talked about before marriage," said Joe. "I just assumed with God and our parents' blessing that marriage would be easier."
"We disagree on things frequently," says Anne. "We fight more than Brad and Angelina in Mr. and Mrs. Smith."
Joe and Anne contacted IBLP to discuss their relationship. The ATI coordinator was grieved to hear their story, and encouraged them that the principles of courtship could be used to strengthen their marriage. "They told us to review the courtship booklet -- that maybe we did something wrong during the courtship phase," said Joe.
At this point, Joe and Anne became fed up with ATI. "We decided to trade courtship for dating." They are now happily dating.