Thank you for your question regarding courtship. Is it wrong for a woman to
propose courtship? No, it is not wrong. Some situations might very well
warrant that a woman takes the initiative in the relationship. However, I'd
like to share with you some things to consider regarding the nature of men
and women in relationships.
I believe that while it is not necessary that a man be the one to initiate a
courtship relationship, it certainly has it's benefits. My following
statements are going to be based on my personal opinions and
generalizations. I am by no means able to address any specific man or woman
or relationship, not knowing the persons involved. However, I believe there
are patterns in human behaviour which allow for certain generalizations to
First, I think that the nature of men is such that they discover their
manhood as they "rise to meet challenges". When a woman does the initiating
in an intimate relationship with a man, he has no challenge to meet. I
truly believe, that psychologically, a man will be much more sensitive to
the needs of his girlfriend and, later -- wife, when he has to work to win
her over. (Make him sweat it out a bit!) It is good for a man to have to
invest something of himself personally in the initiation of the
relationship. If it comes to him too easily, he may not appreciate the
value of it as much. He may also have a tendency to resent being"pressured" into a romantic relationship which he had not thought through
Women, on the other hand, are much more relational than man. They analyze
more then men. They want to know where things are going -- sometimes before
anything is really going anywhere. Which brings me to my next point --
women can be very impatient! Waiting for a man to make up his mind and take
the initiative in a courtship often requires a great deal of patience. It
requires that she trusts that God will meet the desires of her heart in HIS
time, not hers. It means a lot of praying that the man she is interested in
will be open and responsive to God's holy will. But it also gives the woman
time to discern for herself God's will and to be open to God's plan for her.
I believe that when women push too quickly ahead in wanting a commitment in
a relationship from a man, they often undermine the very thing they want.
I'll propose three possibilities here:
-1- A man senses he's being pressured and completely backs off! The
relationship ends or gets put on hold indefinitely. It's hard to retract a
proposal. Once it has gone out, the intentions are made known and both
persons involved have to sift through the implications. It can take some
doing to get a friendship back on track after that -- hard, but not
-2- He might go along with the proposal. But, having allowed the
woman to take the initiative, he may be happy to allow her to continue to
take the lead in the relationship. Later, in marriage, she may be lamenting
why her husband never takes the initiative or demonstrates leadership in the
-3- He might "wake-up" and realize that he hasn't been paying
attention to the relationship, appreciate the initiation from the woman and
accept without resentment. He may even, right away or over time, decide to
take his role as leader in the relationship -- and spiritual head of the
home. And everything can certainly turn out just fine in this scenario!
All this said, I come back to my opening statement. It is NOT wrong for a
woman to initiate. But I believe that our culture has confused the role of
men and women so much that it leaves many people wondering what is
appropriate anymore? Are there any standards left to uphold? And are there
any good reasons for those standards -- those sex roles anyway?
Just because society is confused about the roles of men and women, I don't
think we as Christians need to be confused. Consider the Holy Family.
Although the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary at the Annunciation, once she
had humbly accepted to do God's will the angel no longer appeared to her to
give direction to their family. All the messages after that came to St.
Joseph. He was the head of the Holy Family. He was responsible to lead
them all according to God's will. Mary, from that point on, followed her
husbands initiative and trusted that God was revealing His will for their
lives through the leadership of her husband, Joseph.
I have given this encouragement to other young women. It is a common
problem -- waiting for the guy to take the lead! I strongly encourage young
women in this situation to pray for St. Joseph's intercession for the man
she is waiting for -- that he would discern and follow God's will for their
relationship. St. Joseph is the model husband and father. He's an
important and powerful saint in heaven!
Pray and trust! Perhaps there is a reason the man is not taking the
initiative just yet. Perhaps God's will for your relationship is not
courtship. Or maybe it will be, down the line. Perhaps there is someone
else that God is leading you to. Trust God to reveal His will in His time
and pray for yourself to be open to whatever God's will is for you.
I believe that when a woman prayerfully waits on her man, there will always
be grace -- sufficient for the time, and graces -- abundant in the future!
I hope some of these ideas help. I encourage you to read up on what other
people are saying about courtship. There are some websites that I have
linked up to from my website that would be helpful resources. Also, at the
back of my book, ARMS of LOVE, is a resource section with some great
references for courtship.
Be assured that you are in my prayers.
In His Most Holy Name,