Lee & Julie’s courtship story—our daughter!
How did you honor parents and spiritual authorities in your life as you worked out your relationship?
We honored our parents in two different ways. We were open and honest both individually and together with our parents about our desires, frustrations, and feelings. We set guidelines for each stage of our relationship as it progressed. We honored our parents by letting them be a part of the whole process. They have so much wisdom from past experiences, mistakes, and twenty-five and thirty years of marriage, that it would of been stupid of us to not get their input in our relationship. We respected their advice, and they in turn trusted our personal hearing from the Lord. They knew we both had a strong relationship with the Lord, and they allowed us the freedom to seek the Lord for ourselves. We were able to follow what God wanted us to do for our courtship, because the courtship process is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. It is unique and different for every couple, just like every one of us is unique and different.
How did you learn to communicate with each other and what tools did you use?
Lee and I had a very long, long-distance relationship. Most of it was spent with Lee living in Germany or North Carolina, while I was studying fashion design in Seattle. Before our courtship even officially started, we started by writing letters for a year-and-a-half. Lee was pursuing me through writing letters, with my dad’s permission, as a way of us getting to know each other on a friend basis only. We were pretty much courting all along the way, but I was uncomfortable to call it that in the beginning.
The long distance and time differences (9 hours difference when he was in Germany) were challenging, but in the amidst all the hardship of separation, short phone calls, conversations getting cut short, and missing each others calls, we really gained something valuable that we will have the rest of our life--we learned how to communicate. That was all we had. We didn’t get to see each other on a regular basis, or go out for coffee, or hangout on the weekend. We didn’t get to do any of the normal life things two people do when they are trying to get to know each other. All we could do was talk. And talk we did! We talked about life, dreams, fears, goals, family, past, future, friends, strengths, weaknesses, love languages, communication, personalities, food, down to our smallest “likes and dislikes”.
I can honestly say we truly knew each other when we got married. There have been no post-marriage surprises where shocking truths came out, or where the person we pledged to spend forever with wasn’t the person we thought they were. We took the time before-hand and made communication a priority, and I speak for both of us when I say it was so worth it
I (Lee) was not allowed to talk about things that would pull on Julie’s emotions during this entire season. We could speak as friends, and we could get to know each other, but not be romantic in any way. This was difficult for me, a romantic and expressive guy, because I desired to express my deep feelings for her. However, Jim assured me it was best for us both to not let our feelings loose before it was time. I was able to die to those desires everyday. This protective strategy allowed us to really learn about each other. Jim assured me during the entire process that we would be blessed by this. He was totally right! We are so blessed! Now I can tell her everything I want and buy her flowers anytime I want. Now she gets all the romance, knowing that it is real and with a life-long commitment.
What resources were especially helpful to you in getting to know each other and work through issues?
My parents directed us to some amazing resources that helped us work through things and talk about important things we didn’t know were important to talk about. We read: Telling Each Other the Truth (by Bachus), The Five Love Languages (by Smalley), Love and Respect (by Eggerichs), and The Act of Marriage (by LaHaye). We also worked through personality tests, strength and weakness tests, and talked through a list of questions that progressed from simple “get to know you questions” to deeper, more intimate topic areas as our relationship progressed. We would both admit that at times these resources seemed silly to us when they were first presented. However, by the time we had completed each book or test, we were very grateful for how they had aided us in getting to know each other and deal with life issues.
In the beginning of my pursuit of Julie’s friendship, I (Lee) read the books Jim and Lisa had written. They helped me know the family better and also opened my eyes to know more truth about women and family. Jim and Lisa also gave me a courtship manual that I used through out the relationship. This manual gave me direction for my leadership and understanding throughout the courtship. It also gave me questions to talk about with Julie that I would never had thought for us to talk about. In fact, most people never do talk about a lot of important areas before marriage. These questions and topics were important for us to really know each other. Some topics were uncomfortable to talk about because you were afraid of having differing opinions. Some were fun to talk about.
I (Julie) think one of the most helpful, eye-opening books that blessed our friendship and now our marriage is Love and Respect. As we read, we felt like we had just discovered secret keys that people don’t usually discover until they’ve been married for thirty years. We learned that women’s basic need is love and that men’s basic need is respect. It gives you the keys to understanding who God made you to be, who He made your spouse to be, shows the different ways we were created to be loved, and how to effectively show that person love.
(Lee) All of these books were each as important as the other and I think they helped us establish an amazing foundation for a very exciting marriage. It’s not that everything we read applied to our relationship, but we took all the things that did and ran with them.
What steps did you take to keep pure in your relationship?
What worked and what didn’t? We set some protective guidelines at the beginning of our relationship that really helped us remain pure and honoring towards each other throughout our courtship. We didn’t hold hands or anything at first. We focused mainly on getting to know each other and becoming friends. While we spent time alone together, we also had a lot of time with the whole family all getting to know Lee and vice versa with his family. This created a very safe atmosphere for our friendship to blossom, and I felt safe and secure with the covering of my parents over our courtship, which allowed me to slowly open my heart to Lee.
As our relationship progressed, so did our desire for one another. I remember we talked to my parents about wanted to hold hands after some time. They were fine with it, and just wanted us to pray and hear what the Lord had to say. We both felt the okay, and so we were able to do that on our next visit. We chose to not kiss until we got engaged, which I thought was great. We loved that season in our relationship. We got to experience kissing (within boundaries), but still had to be really careful in guarding our hearts and protecting one another because sometimes you just want to go further. We had to really keep ourselves open to the Lord and his leading. We never wanted to make anything harder for one another than it had to be.
(Lee) This was so hard. We guys always want to go further. Always. I felt like I physically died sometimes. I held tight to Jim’s analogy about Julie as a flower. In short, Julie is a flower, if you force a flower open before its time it will not be as beautiful as if it has the proper time to blossom. In fact a lot of flowers have been killed this way. I chose through out the whole time to prepare the ground, water the flower and serve all he needs of the flower so that she would have the opportunity to become the most beautiful flower with long life and feel pure and wonderful all her life. Now I am blessed way beyond what the devil entices us men with. A connection between two hearts, eye to eye LOVE, and she is free because of true commitment.
What kind of accountability did you have in place?
Our parents were our main accountability. Jim and Lisa were the ones who were over our courtship primarily, because where Lee’s from, courtship is a very new thing, and not a lot of people know about it. So his parents trusted my parents to help us along in the process. Lee was in communication with my Dad the whole time. Instead of Lee talking to me about something important, he would first go through my Dad. My Dad was my covering, and he was there to make sure I felt safe the whole time. And I did always feel safe, because I knew that if Lee brought something up to talk about, or whatever it was, he has already gone through my Dad and it was OK for us.
What were the goals you had in your courtship?
Our goal in the courtship process was to really find out if this was the person God made for us to marry and spend our life with, in a safe and protected way. We weren’t just playing around, wanting to have fun. We were entering into a relationship with the purpose of finding out if we were supposed to get married.
As for me (Julie), one of my desires had always been to marry my best friend. When Lee and I first started courting, we were pretty much acquaintances. We hardly knew each other. I met Lee the October of 2007. I had gone with my Dad to NC to visit my brother Luke, and met a bunch of his friends, including Lee, during that trip. I take a very long time to get to know people and really open up. So our courtship process was very slow. But I am very grateful to Lee that he let it progress at the rate I felt comfortable. He really allowed me time to open up. And I can say, I really did end up marrying my best friend.
What benefits do you see in your marriage as a result starting your relationship via courtship vs. dating?
I (Julie) have never dated anyone before in my life. Never held a boys hand, never kissed anyone until Lee came along. He was the lucky first for me, and I’m so glad it happened that way. I think there are so many benefits of courting before marriage. We really honored God, our parents and one another throughout our courtship up until the time we said ‘I do’ at the altar. When you do things God’s way, following his principles, choosing to stay pure until you are married, God is just setting you up for a very blessed marriage. I can say that God really honors you when you honor Him with your purity and follow His way, waiting for his blessing and perfect timing for his gift in marriage.
I (Lee) dated quite a bit. It’s a waste of time unless you apply courtship principals into your relationship. Which means you are basically courting. Dating is all about emotion and going with what feels good. The thing is you get so blinded by the emotions/feelings involved you never get to really know the person. You spend the entire time trying to be the person you think the other wants you to be and vice versa. These emotions lead to less and less communication as the physical part of the relationship moves faster and faster. Eventually you are left with emptiness, hurt, and guilt. I know that there are happily married couples who never knew about courtship or used its principals, but I assure you that they would now tell you that this would have been a better and wiser way for them to start. For parents: You wouldn’t let your kids touch the hot stove when they were younger. I am sure they would thank you for that today. They are still your kids, and dating can be a hot burner.
What would you say to your generation about courtship?
It’s so worth it. It’s worth honoring God and your parents and one another. It’s worth waiting to have sex until the right time, until you’ve made a commitment in marriage to one another. God’s way is always best. Courtship is such a useful tool in helping young people prepare for marriage, create strong, awesome relationships, in a protected safe environment. It’s so awesome to have the covering of pastors and/or parents leading and guiding you along in the process. It’s wonderful to have all the knowledge and advice from people who know a few things from a lot of years of experience. It’s so neat getting to really know that person, who they are, what God’ put inside of them, their dreams, their passions, their goals, to see if they fit with your own dreams God’s put in you. And the best part of all is seeing the blessing of the Lord time and time again as you honor Him with your relationship. We’ve really learned to appreciate everything in His timing. When you can’t do everything you want to all at once, you really cherish the sweetness of those things when you can. We still cherish every handheld, every kiss, every moment spent together because we didn’t have those for so long.
Courtship isn’t just a bunch of rules and don’t do’s. It’s there to help the next generation not have to live the same mistakes their parents made the generation before them. It’s there to protect men and women, help them remain pure until they meet their God ordained other half. It’s a tool used to help your relationship to your future spouse be the best and strongest it can be before you get married. And every courtship is different. So many people think it’s a shoebox mold, and everyone has to fit into it just so. But it’s really not. It’s principles carried out in a relationship that varies from couple to couple, based on their past experiences, and who they are. Everyone is different and every courtship is different. READ MORE TESTIMONIES