We’re doing a series on dating and relationships. Join the conversation! Are there any specific topics you’d like us to write about? (This article was originally written in July of 2015 for Project Inspired, a website that encourages Christian teenage girls all over the world. Thank you for reading!)

When my now-husband and I were in the beginning stages of dating, we made great decisions and unfortunate mistakes that have helped us to be where we are now. I’m always up for an opportunity to share a window into that timeline to explain what worked for us and what we should have avoided as we tried to keep God at the center of our relationship. We took courtship seriously, and once we had the title of “boyfriend and girlfriend” it was after we knew marriage was our end goal.

Any attraction comes with temptation, and our journey was no different. It’s important to be on the same page with someone you think might be your future spouse so that you can be in agreement on how to tackle the trial and error of falling in love. Whether or not you have a storybook romance, God is there to help you navigate through the confusion to eventually create your happy ending.

So how do you keep God at the center of all that you do while building up to becoming one with your partner? Here are some thoughts you can meditate on that may help you to make sure you’re dating in a way that God designed.

  • Group dating is not just a thing of the past. Some people would call this extreme, but having chaperones around—or even just other humans around—can really help to stave off the temptations to do something you may regret later. The phrase “one thing led to another” is more likely to be repeated during the times you two are alone.
  • Set boundaries. Believe me, you will have strong desires to be intimate with the person you are dating. Hopefully you are actually attracted to them, but that makes it all the more difficult to keep your hands to yourself. Setting boundaries like “only kissing on the cheek, quick hugs and hand-holding” can help you avoid going too far. This is important for every couple to decide for themselves. Kissing may not lead to anything for one couple, while just the thought of hugging may send another couple into a tailspin. (I’m joking but serious at the same time.)
  • “A family that prays together stays together….” This is a common quote, but it is so true. My beau and I were in a long-distance relationship right up until we were married. When we talked on the phone, we would always end in prayer. To this day, we still pray every night before bed in order to make sure God is always invited into our family on a daily basis.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20)

  • Dive into the Word. You will learn so much about your partner’s understanding of the Word when you’re studying it together. It’s important that your spiritual growth doesn’t become stagnant once you fall head over heels for Mr. Wonderful. You both will have a lot to learn from each other as you strengthen your intimacy with the Lord.
  • Accountability. It’s imperative to have people praying over your union. If you are struggling with temptation or being overcome with distractions, the group you set in place can offer suggestions and keep you lifted up so that you can recoup and get back on track.
  • Worship together. Even as an individual, it’s so important to have a church that you attend to get inspired and learn more about God. How much more true is it for you and the one you’re dating? This is also a great time to discuss which church you eventually see you both going to if you currently go to separate churches.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Do you have any additional advice for keeping God at the center of your relationship?

In Love,

-Kytia L’amour