So, as someone who has spent many years dating traditionally and occasionally wondering if I was doing something wrong, the premise of Thomas Umstattd Jr.’s book, Courtship in Crisis: The Case for Traditional Dating intrigued me.
Once a proponent of courtship as promoted by the conservative Christian homeschool community, Umstattd learned the hard way that courting is not the best method for finding a spouse—though he admits courtship has worked for some.
The restrictive nature of courtship, designed to protect the hearts and minds of its adherents, has unintended consequences, and many godly young people are actually not finding spouses.
For example, young men often have to work up the courage to ask permission of what Umstattd calls “dragon fathers” in order to enter into courtships with young ladies. Many young men don’t want to subject themselves to scrutiny that may involve submitting financial documents and résumés to the fathers. The result? Godly young women are ending up alone.
Humbled by a failed courtship and dragon-father encounter, Umstattd turned to his grandmother for advice about how her generation had dated. What he learned about her generation’s common-sense approach to finding a spouse became the basis of this book in which he makes a case for Traditional Dating.
Umstattd does a nice job of defining terminology. First, he describes Modern Courtship and its origins that were a reaction to the rampant promiscuity found in Modern Dating. He explains why both Modern Courtship and Modern Dating are fundamentally flawed, and he presents an argument for Traditional Dating that is rooted in common sense and simple rules.
Another interesting aspect of the book was when Umstattd described the history of courtship, and this was one of the chapters I enjoyed most.
I’m not the book’s target audience because Umstattd is mainly speaking to people who believe as he once did. I already believe Traditional Dating is best, yet the book held my attention, and I read it quickly.
Truthfully, no system is perfect and neither Traditional Dating nor Modern Courtship will guarantee a happy marriage. But if Modern Courtship isn’t working for you, then I highly recommend you read this well-reasoned book and seriously consider the merits of Traditional Dating.
I think you’ll be glad you did.