[MAKE SURE TO READ THIS LINK FIRST IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME VISITING ENGLISH MANIF.]
I can give you lots of general rules, but I figured my advice on dating might be best if I just tell you about some dating choices that my wife and I made during our courtship, that really made us fall in love. In the video below, I discuss:
The trip to California
My wife was really out of my league when we met. I was definitely aiming high. There were several other men who were lingering around, interested in her. The classiest way to get rid of the competition, I thought, would be to take a huge risk and take her on a trip out of state. So that's what I did.
I dipped into my savings and bought us two tickets to Los Angeles. In January 2000, we came to L.A. and spent five days together there. We had our first fight on the highway. But we had so many magical moments that made us fall madly in love. We took the rides at Universal Studios and Disneyland. We went to Venice Beach and rode a tandem bike to Santa Monica. And so much more.
While it posed huge risks to me, the trip to California played a key role in bringing us together. After we returned to New York from California in January 2000, I asked my wife to go to a restaurant called Mother's, on Virginia Street. I asked her to marry me over dinner, and she said yes. I had closed the deal.
The concert at Kleinhan's Music Hall
One date that left such a huge impression on me was when we went to hear an opera singer perform at Kleinhan's Music Hall. It felt so exciting to pick her up for the night's event, and seeing her come out all dressed up for the occasion. She looked so radiant in her evening gown and jewelry, it stunned me that this was actually happening and I was going to bring this beautiful woman to a concert at Kleinhan's.
The only way I can describe it is this way: My wife outshines everything else in a room when she gets all dressed up. She is always beautiful, but something about her when she decides to put on her most elegant outfit and arrange her long black hair nicely--it makes her stand out. Nature was kind to her, because she has a naturally fast metabolism and keeps a lovely figure without having to diet or exercise. Women tend to express a slight undercurrent of hostility toward her about her sleek silhouette, which I notice. Other women make side remarks about her size or compliment her, but in a way that sounds slightly bitter. Part of my less angelic side finds this very exciting, I must admit.
I remember coming into Kleinhan's and feeling aware that she was the most beautiful woman in the entire room. As we made our way to our seats, I felt as though I lived out a dream that I'd dreamed after watching old movies from the 1940s. As the lights dimmed and the opera singer performed, I recall holding her hand, and feeling our fingers squeeze each other. With all our clothes on and doing nothing at all vulgar, it was the most sensual experience I could possibly imagine.
Note: In the video below, I recall the concert singer as Renee Fleming but I am not sure it was her; I think we may have gone to see Fleming after we were married. Honestly I remember my wife much more than I remember the singer!
The Getty Museum
When we were in Los Angeles in January 2000, I went with her to the Getty Museum between the LA Basin and the Valley. I first learned, at this moment, that she adored museums and galleries. Watching her admire art felt like a deep bonding experience, because the art seemed to come alive on her face. During our 19 years together, we have gone to countless museums and galleries, and honestly I remember almost none of the art. I remember, mostly, how tranquil and thoughtful she looked. I usually watched her watching art.
Some of the strongest bonding experiences we had during our courtship did not cost me anything. Sometimes she would invite me to her house and cook for me. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I have to say, this holds true in our case. There was something about the special care she took in preparing meals and arranging them in visually pleasing arrangements on platters that really caused me to see the depth of love and excellence inside her. Eating her food meant far more to me than just tasting a good meal. It always filled me with desire for her and made me want to get closer to her. It also saddened me that one thing I never mastered was cooking, so I could never return the favor to her!
Other key dating moments
There were some others that I mention briefly in the video. The main thing I want to convey to you is that Phase 4, I believe, really does not succeed or fail based on a big overarching framework. It depends on these little moments that spark your interest. Often the little moments break the rules you have set for yourself; they happen when you are not cautious or conscientious; they hit you by surprise; they occur when you are taking things too quickly or going too slowly. But these are moments God sets down beyond our power, I think.
Good luck in your dating phase! I hope these little stories help.