A couple keep company when they begin to wander if they could make a success of marriage together. However a boy should not consider marriage possible before he is twenty-one, but in the case of a university student, even this age would, in many cases, be too young. For the girls eighteen years of age seems about the youngest, though even this would be too young in circumstances where marriage is not possible for some years.
The time of courtship is one of the happiest times in life, because it is the very real advantage of enabling couples to get to know each other better and fostering mutual love and understanding.
Due to the lax moral attitudes that prevail in our society with regard to engaged couples, a warning note must here be sounded. The essence of love is unselfishness and respect for one another’s personality. An engaged couple have no more “rights” than other unmarried people. Because of their affection for each other they must guard their passions and keep themselves pure in other to be worthy of the great sacrament that will soon unite them spiritually and physically. Remember those who keep chaste before marriage can trust each other after marriage.
When a couple begin to keep company seriously, it is usually the girl who sets the standard. If her standard is high, she can be an inspiration to her man. But it should be known that, towards the end of an engagement, it is the girl who sometimes weakens. If this happens, it is up to the boy to take over and be responsible for the courtship (by not staying too late, or not being too long alone with her etc).
For many reasons, long engagements are unwise. In normal circumstances, from six to twelve months is a reasonable length of time for an engagement to last. A very beautiful custom is for the couple to approach the priest before the engagement and ask to have the ceremony of giving the ring carried out before Our Lady’s altar. This practice has great spiritual appeal for a sincere couple.
“Religious views should further be discussed during this time, and definite agreement on the engagement period should be reached. Each should be aware of the standards and ideals of the other in regard to their present conduct and their hopes for the future”.