That period during which a couple develops a romantic relationship before getting married is termed as courtship, and it is said to be very crucial for any relationship and marriage. This is the time when a couple gets to know each other and decides if they are fit to build a life together. Whereas some couples are lucky to build happy marriages even after knowing each other for a very short period of time, it is always recommended to take enough time, at least a year, before marrying your partner. Majorine Karangwa married her husband after three years of courtship. Though both of them were financially and mentally ready for marriage, they planned to give each other enough time to study and understand who they really are. Karangwa says this time gave them enough space to test their compatibility and decide on whether they were both willing to withstand each other’s weaknesses. She says, though time cannot be the only denoting factor when preparing for marriage, it makes a very big difference when couples take their time to commit to each for a lifetime promise. Often, individuals will meet, perhaps through friends or at a social setting, and they may find that they are attracted to one another. They may go on a few dates and start calling each other “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”. Often, their attraction and initial chemistry is a good enough reason to move in. The rush of cohabitation will propel the relationship forward very quickly, and it will get increasingly harder to end the relationship as it grows, writes Jon Negroni. They will begin a relationship that is built on a shallow intimacy, which is intimacy that only employs the pleasant aspects of a relationship. It’s fun to live with someone, share a bed and have a sexual relationship. It’s commitment without the commitment. The problem is that it’s still commitment, especially when children come into the mix. He highlights that with this, couples find out too late that they’re not compatible and may end up resenting each other, but the effects of commitment is still there. We end up with broken homes. Single mothers and fathers end up struggling both financially and emotionally as they try to make sense of what went wrong. Worse, many children may be brought up without a model for a healthy, successful relationship, and the cycle may be repeated. That is why courtship is necessary Courtship is the slow, systematic process of pursuing the other person. It’s the romance of long and intimate conversations (as well as time) spent with a person before you decide to let them in. It’s the idea of being intimate friends with someone before becoming an intimate lover, Negroni explains. “Some might say this is the same concept of “talking” with a person before becoming exclusive. The difference, however, is that courtship relies on more factors than dating. It filters attraction in favour of being in sync with someone’s worldview, personality and life trajectory.” What does real courtship look like? As opposed to the typical idea of dating which is in most cases, partying and socialising with others, according to contemporary society, courtship should instead have the couple be the focal point, says Shanon Umutesi, a programme specialist at a women’s foundation. “This period should be more about talking and getting to know each other. Talk about yourselves; your present, your past. Be open and share those intimate parts of you with your significant other. Share your past lives with each other such that when you get married, it’s more like a fresh start for the both of you,” she adds. William Kanobana, who has been married for almost two years now, says courtship is a very significant aspect when planning for marriage as a couple. “Courtship is very important if you want a happy marriage. Be yourself and show your real personality, this may be hard since most people want to impress by only showing their best selves. However, don’t try hard to please your partner. It is very risky to hide the real you, your partner has to know the real person they are to spend the rest of their lives with before they make that commitment,” he says. Much as marriage is not about perfect people being matched together, getting to know each is still relevant. The courtship period, hence, requires practicality and honesty above all other factors. It should be a time for couples to set the right foundation for their future union.