Marcia Naomi Berger Talks Dating For Marriage

Women's Dating

Clarity, Commitment, & Honesty: Everything You Need to Know About Dating for Marriage

Chloë Hylkema

Written by: Chloë Hylkema

Chloë Hylkema

Chloë Hylkema uses her writing skills to create useful and up-to-date content for DatingAdvice.com. Chloë is an Emory University grad who is familiar with what it means to date in the modern age, and she works to write material that is engaging, truthful, and as helpful as possible. Being on the front lines of the dating scene, Chloë is committed to staying engaged with the ever-changing world of dating to provide the most useful content to readers.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Discuss This! Discuss This!

The Short Version: Your dating journey will look different depending on what you’re seeking. Therapist and author Marcia Naomi Berger addresses marriage-minded dating, from the initial stages of dating to marriage preparation and the highs and lows of long-term partnerships.

Dating changes depending on the expectations you bring into it. Looking for a casual fling? Dating is going to look and feel a lot different than it would if you were in search of serious commitment.

Knowing what you’re looking for out of a dating experience is important. If you’ve decided you’re looking for something serious and long-term, you should have the knowledge and resources to simplify marriage-minded dating.

Dating for marriage is a serious undertaking. But it should still be an enlightening, empowering, and fun experience.

Marcia Naomi Berger is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and the author of several books about dating, marriage, and everything that happens in between. 

marcia naomi berger
Marcia is an author, LCSW, and psychotherapist.

Her professional and personal experiences have cultivated Marcia’s expertise in marriage. Throughout her 30-year career as a mental health professional, Marcia has helped individuals experiencing transitions, addiction, depression, and anxiety.

Marcia helps couples create and nurture long-lasting, emotionally fulfilling marriages. She believes in loving and supportive marriages that foster both partners’ spiritual and emotional growth.

Marcia talked to us about what it means to date for marriage and what singles can do to make the most of the experience. She said people who enter marriage-minded dating with clarity, commitment, and authenticity tend to have the best experiences and outcomes.

“Ask yourself: Are you dating recreationally or dating toward commitment?” Marcia said. “Get on the same page with your person about why you’re spending time together.”

Step Into Dating With Clear Desires

Singles will approach commitment-minded dating differently, but all approaches should include reflection before entering dating. You should ensure you’re in a place where you can authentically connect with another person with the intention of a committed partnership.

Marcia’s book, “Marriage Minded: An A to Z Dating Guide for Lasting Love,” is a guide for anyone looking for a dating experience centered around emotional intimacy. High-quality, supportive resources bolster a positive commitment-minded dating experience.

“The book covers the whole alphabet, and there are about 150 entries,” Marcia said. “For example, A is for awesome. Remember that you are awesome. You can feel insecure while dating, and that makes it hard to relax and have fun.”

Dating toward marriage doesn’t mean getting serious with every person you date. Usually, it’s the opposite. Commitment-minded dating encourages singles to give connection time to develop and focus on the indicators of long-term compatibility

These indicators can take a second to manifest. “One of the entries is for fun,” Marcia said. “You shouldn’t get super serious until you know that person really well. Be relaxed, loosen up, and also focus on fun while dating.”

be yourself while dating
Marcia encouraged singles to show up to dating authentically.

In Marcia’s book, each letter of the alphabet has several different entries. The entries address the positive and challenging aspects of marriage-minded dating.

“Another entry with A is ambivalence,” Marcia told us. “Many people are anxious about whether they want to get married because of high divorce rates. They have mixed feelings about marriage.”

Before and throughout a commitment-minded dating experience, individuals and couples should focus on preparing themselves for a successful marriage. They need high-quality and trusted resources to prepare for the process and the marriage itself.

“My goal is to prepare people because they’re more likely to have a great marriage if they’re going in with the right kind of useful information,” Marcia said. “There are so many different elements of marriage-minded dating.”

Marcia said one of the most important elements is being who you are. Some daters may feel they need to show up a certain way to attract others. But the right kind of person– the person you want to spend your life with– is going to be attracted to the real you.

“Everybody’s heard this more than once, but be yourself while you’re dating,” Marcia said. “You don’t want to put on some kind of act to try to fit into the picture the person may have of you or their ideal partner.”

Tackle the Big Conversations When the Time is Right

The beginning stages of dating should be lighthearted, even for serious daters. You should focus on getting to know the person you’re dating while balancing them with other aspects of your life you enjoy. A compatible life partner will complement your life.

Once things begin to get more serious and milestones like moving in together or engagement are on the horizon, couples should begin to approach the more important conversations. 

“Not immediately in the relationship, but once you start getting serious, you want to know important things,” Marcia said. But it’s crucial to wait until the time is right.

“Some people say to bring up these things, like dealbreakers, as soon as possible,” Marcia said. Transparency and honesty are paramount, but they are also developed and earned as you get to know someone better.

serious dating
Just because you’re dating seriously doesn’t mean you need to get into the serious topics right away.

“If you bring up these things right away, you may not get to know the whole person,” Marcia said. “You want to be known as your whole, multi-faceted self so that you don’t become a stereotype about one thing about you.”

The things we carry with us that warrant conversation in serious relationships don’t have to be dealbreakers early on. Waiting to disclose personal and private information until you feel emotionally safe with someone is a good dating practice.

“When you expose things about yourself that you’re either not proud of, or you think somebody may reject you because of, it can be difficult and awkward,” Marcia said. “Even parts of your personal history that aren’t a secret may be difficult or awkward to bring up.”

As awkward or challenging as it may be, these conversations are essential once things become serious. “You need to get it out there,” Marcia told us. “Wait for the big conversations until they really know, love, and accept you.”

Setting Yourself Up for Fulfilling Life Partnership

Marcia told us one of the most important things couples can do to set themselves up for a long-lasting and happy marriage is to prepare for it. Even the best marriages come with challenges, but having the skill set needed to handle these challenges is what makes the difference.

Marcia’s book, “Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted,” gives couples a communication format they can use to foster intimacy and set the foundation for healthy conflict resolution

The book helps couples plan and outline a weekly 30-minute meeting, or a marriage meeting, where they plan for the future, reflect on pertinent challenges, and spend dedicated and uninterrupted time together.

“I advise people to start having marriage meetings once a relationship gets serious, and definitely by the time you’re engaged,” Marcia said. “That will help you prepare for all the important aspects of marriage that you can think of that people often don’t talk about ahead of time.”

marriage minded, marriage meetings
Marcia’s books are designed for marriage-minded daters and committed couples.

Marcia said these topics include money, careers, children, and other lifestyle factors. “Work and children can shift roles, expectations, and daily routines,” Marcia said. New questions about the role each person takes in the relationship will appear. 

Marcia’s book and the practice of marriage meetings give couples the time, language, and space to address these shifts. 

The wisdom in “Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love” helps couples address the parts of their past that may influence their relationship. “Talk about the things important to each of you, and talk about what your parent’s relationship looked like and what was modeled for you when you were young,” Marcia said.

She continued, “It’s not unlikely that people will repeat some of the not-so-constructive patterns of relating they’re familiar [with] once the honeymoon glow wears off.”

Commitment-minded dating has unique challenges compared to casual dating, but trusting the process is paramount. Long-term partnership and marriage are not simple endeavors, so neither is the journey to finding these kinds of relationships.