Intentionally growing in love.

Dating: Chris and Mariah

Welcome to Part 2 of our series on dating. Every relationship begins with the fun, exciting and loved up dating season before they walk down the aisle and it’s often the biggest learning rollercoaster as you discover how compatible you are for marriage. We’ve interviewed a range of quality couples who are currently in this stage of life and asked them to share their insights as they prepare to say “I do!”


I was 23 and Chris was 25 when we met. We were both living and working in NYC. Chris sat next to me at a packed out Christian event. He started chatting to me after the event, but I had to rush off bc my uber arrived. Since we hadn’t exchanged last names or numbers, we thought we would probably never see each other again because it’s such a big city, but two weeks later, our paths crossed again when he came to my church! I wasn’t there but recognised him in a friends snapchat story, then contacted him and we started chatting and getting to know each other – and the rest is history! Shortly after we started dating, Chris had to move back to Australia so we decided to do long distance. When I came and visited for the first time, Chris asked me if I would consider moving to Aus at the end of the year, to which I said YES! We did long distance for 11 months before I made the big move. He proposed back in March and we are getting married in October this year!

How do you make communication and spending quality time together a priority given you don’t live together yet?

Communication is one of the most important things in our relationship. We’ve been able to learn how we process things over the last 2 years and we try to always be open about how we’re feeling and be sure to communicate that in a healthy way to each other. It’s a learning process, especially if you have different personalities (internal processor vs. external processor), but if you genuinely work on it together, you will see that problems rarely ever get the chance to blow up into something bigger. We also make sure any argument gets dealt with straight away by talking it out. We don’t walk out of the room or go home angry which can be hard and uncomfortable at times, but so worth it in the long run! Quality time is also a big priority for us, especially because that is my primary love language. We make sure we set aside time for at least 1 date night every week where we turn off any distractions and just focus on being together!

How did you work to build solid foundations whilst also doing long distance for a long period of time?

As hard as it was doing long distance for so long, especially with the drastic time difference being across the world from each other, we both agree that it really helped solidify a strong foundation in our relationship. The thing about long distance is that when you take the physical aspect out of it, all you really have left is chemistry in personalities and the ability to build a deep friendship. The only thing you can do is talk on the phone for long periods of time, and I think that very easily helps determine how well you actually do or don’t connect with each other.

That small amount of time every morning and every night to talk on the phone became so special to us in getting to know each other. It’s hard because you miss them so much it hurts most days, especially when you were used to seeing them almost every day, and then that changes, it is definitely an adjustment.We tried to fly back and forth every 2-3 months to see each other, even if it was for a week or two. The biggest thing I would say that helped sustain our LD relationship was that we started with a goal in mind that we knew we were working towards. Before Chris moved, he asked if I would ever consider moving to Australia one day if it came to it, and it just so happened that it was something I had wanted to do for years! So the whole time we were working towards the goal of me possibly moving there sometime in the near future. You also might get a lot of negativity from friends/family making jokes and saying it will probably not last, but you can’t listen to what anyone else thinks if you know this is something you want to commit to.

Have you found any resources to be particularly helpful while navigating the dating/engaged stage together?

M: The best book you could ever read to help with ANY relationship, but especially your marriage, is “Keep Your Love On” by Danny Silk. It has key principles on healthy relationships that will enrich every relationship you’re in. We have also done pre-marriage counselling with our pastors and we would recommend it 10000%. Even if you think you have the perfect relationship, it STILL is worth it. It helps you realise how you communicate, foresee any potential problems that could come up later down the road with expectations you may subconsciously have on each other and how to handle conflict together, as well as many more other important things. I think our pre-marriage counselling has also brought out our compatibility and improved our relationship even more than it already was!

What has been the most difficult part of your dating/engagement season?

I think we could both agree– abstinence. As beautiful as it is and SO worth it, choosing to wait is not easy by ANY means, but it’s just one of the many things that we believe will make our marriage so special.

The long distance part of our relationship was also very difficult for both of us, especially because it felt like forever. But then it was also hard to have to say goodbye to my family and start a whole new life in a completely different country. Even in the obvious struggles that came with that, Chris was so supportive throughout the whole process and did everything he could to make sure I settled into life here.

The engagement season has been fun, but I’ve found it difficult to just live in the moment and enjoy this season! I have to constantly remind myself not be impatient waiting for the next (married) season to begin. Especially in these last few weeks, we are just so ready to FINALLY live together and share in all of the amazing joys of being married.

What might be one intentional habit you’re hoping to begin together once you are married to keep growing your love?

To be sure to always prioritise time together and not get overwhelmed with life’s tasks and responsibilities. To commit to continue working on our friendship and keeping our relationship exciting and spontaneous.

Chris and Mariah Farace 

(These love birds are actually MARRIED now – we were so thrilled to watch them become husband and wife at the end of last year, so we can’t help but share a few stunning pics from their special day!!)