Authors Adonis and Heather Lenzy initially approached their relationship with extreme caution. The husband and wife duo say they had no physical contact whatsoever for the first several months of their courtship -- a decision that might seem unthinkable to some, but one they felt was entirely necessary.
This boundary, the Lenzys claim, was intentionally made to help them differentiate from past relationships and to build a strong foundation.
But they don’t claim everyone needs to refrain from physical contact or follow every single detail of their personal dating blue print.
“You know you. You know where you’re going to fail and that’s where you need to put those boundaries in place,” Heather added.
They detail this experience, among others, and offer advice to those struggling in the dating world in their new book, "Dating in Black and White."
Adonis, associate pastor of Oasis Church in Nashville, Tenn., and Heather, a forensic scientist, are hoping that by sharing their own experiences and blunders they'll be able to help others navigate oft-times complicated love lives.
Overcoming the Past
When they met, Heather and Adonis were in their 30s and had already been through numerous relationships; Heather, in fact, had been married and divorced. So, the couple decided to approach their relationship more cautiously.
“We knew that we wanted to have a different outcome than what we’ve experienced in the past and our previous relationships and so, number one, we asked, 'Okay God, we need help,'” Adonis told TheBaze.
Both Adonis and Heather felt they had to break certain strongholds so that they could both be parties in a healthy relationship.
For instance, Adonis witnessed his parents struggle through their marriage as a young man. He recalled his father once telling him in the midst of anger, "Don’t ever get married and don’t have children.”
Without even realizing it, Adonis said he ended up adopting his father’s mindset.
“For some overwhelming reason I just started living life just thinking I didn't want to get married, I don’t ever want to end up in that place my dad was in,” Adonis said.
But that changed when Adonis met Heather. Though things were going well, he still found himself hesitant to move forward. Adonis soon began questioning why he felt this way and that’s when he believes God showed him that his evasion of marriage was a stronghold that needed to be broken.
"In that moment I prayed and God broke that off of me,” he said.
But the stronghold Heather dealt with was a little different.
When she was growing up, she said her mom told her that if she had sex to make sure it was with someone whom she loves. Heather ended up interpreting her advice to mean, "It’s okay to have premarital sex."
As a result, she says she had a string of bad relationships where she would date someone and it would be “all about the excitement and that feeling.”
“It would be like my relationship would start out so strong and over time it would fizzle and I ended up in this pattern where I would be with someone for two years," she said. "And then I’d be single and then I’d meet someone else and I’d be with them for two years."
While she wanted to commit, she either got bored or the relationship was no longer making her happy and she would break up. Then, in her 20s she met the man she thought was the “perfect guy.” The two got married, but her relationship pattern continued and two years later they divorced.
That's when Heather realized that she wanted to change, so she started going to church and found herself asking God to show her what, exactly, she did wrong in her past relationships.
"Not Dating Alone"
Adonis and Heather had worked through their personal issues, but they knew they needed to take some extra steps to maintain a healthy relationship with one another.
So, prior to marrying, they put some other precautionary measures in place in addition to refraining from physical contact, such as seeking council from their pastors and other couples, a tactic they call "not dating alone."
“Our idea of not dating alone is inviting other people to be on the lookout for you, to be a sounding board, other people who can come in and help guide you in the process who had a great marriage,” Adonis explained.
And the results paid off, helping them build and maintain a successful relationship.
That success led them to write the book, "Dating in Black and White," which offers a "moral and biblical approach, mixed with very practical steps" to help relationships get and stay on track. The book was released Valentine's Day weekend in honor of the couple's 6th wedding anniversary.
In this unusual dating book targeted toward single, divorced and even married women and men over the age of 20, the Lenzys open up about their past experiences and offer advice by discussing the key steps they took to succeed in their relationship.
The Lenzys got the idea for "Dating in Black and White" when friends and members of their church began coming to them and asking about their relationship. With such an influx of people asking for help, they decided to launch a small class about relationships.
They prepared for no more than 12 people to attend, but that evening, to their surprise, 60 people showed up. And over the eight-week duration of the course, 100-120 people came through the classroom.
“We realized that we had something to share that people probably haven’t heard before,” Heather said. “We wanted to get it out and share it and have a resource for people that were wanting more.”
The couple said that their dating book is different from many others like it, because it applies to Christians and non-Christians alike. It combines the spiritual aspect of Christian dating books with the practical aspect of secular dating books, they said.
"One of the things I always say is there is a future beyond your failures," Adonis said of those who have had relationship troubles. "There is a way that you can date and find the right person to spend your life with. So don’t ever give up.”