Choosing to marry someone is potentially the most important decision you can make in your life, next to the decision to commit your life to Christ. It is such an important decision with far-reaching consequences that you need to proactively seek as much information as possible to be able to make the right decision. Often the only question we think to ask ourselves when assessing a potential mate is ‘Am I in love?’ That’s obviously a very important question but it is by no means the most important question. Marriage is not just about feelings; it is also about outcomes and how your life will turn out if you marry this person.
In this post, we explore three of the less obvious questions which you might not think to ask in the midst of the heady emotions of falling in love, but which will significantly affect the quality of your marriage.
Where Are They Heading?
Life is a journey and one is the greatest blessings of that journey is to have someone to walk with. Someone with whom you can share the sights and sounds, twists and turns, triumphs and challenges, of the journey. Many people fear walking the journey of life alone. Without someone to share life with, undoubtedly it can get lonely at times. Nevertheless, regardless of how unsatisfactory a solitary walk might seem to you, there is something much more difficult than walking solo and that is attempting to walk with someone who has a different destination in mind. Amos 3:3 asks a rhetorical question. ‘Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?’ Knowing where your companion is going and whether their chosen destination agrees with yours is crucial to you completing your journey on schedule and in peace. Couples who compromise on this principle usually pay a high price in marital disharmony and it takes skilful counselling to diffuse the resultant tensions and get them on track and in agreement.
If you are considering someone for marriage, don’t relate superficially with the aim to impress. Invest time and intentional effort in getting to know how they think and where they see their life heading. What understanding do they have about the purpose of their life and where do they see themselves in 10 or 20 years? Can you fit into that picture and can they fit into yours? There is nothing more effective at derailing your life purpose than marrying someone who does not believe in it. When you choose to marry someone, you are not just inviting them to share your life; you are making a statement of common purpose. It’s amazing how few couples actually discuss things that matter during courtship. Some couples arrive at the altar without having discussed issues as fundamental as what type of vocation they will pursue, where they will live, how many children they plan to have and when, where they will worship as a family and so on. Consequently, they begin to fight over these issues within the first few months of marriage because they based their union on assumptions. Don’t leave anything to chance; ask, discuss and agree. Prior agreement before marriage is a major key to peace in the first years of marriage. If agreement is impossible, better to walk away than to hitch yourself to someone who is walking a different journey from yours.
Whose Voice Do They Respect?
Among the most profound influences in our lives are the people we respect. These are the voices we turn to when we need counsel or want to make a decision. The company we choose to keep and the voices we respect are a strong indicator of our level of thinking. The people we allow to speak into our lives can be a force for good to guide us towards God’s purpose or they can actually distract us from what is best for us. Be aware that when you’re having an argument with someone, you’re not just arguing with them; you’re arguing with the influences in their life. You don’t just marry the person; you marry the influences speaking into their lives. Thinking of marrying someone? Do you know which voices they are listening to? Whose voice do they trust and respect? Who is speaking into their life?
For a friendship to thrive there must be common ground. It is a fair assumption that a person who associates closely with people who place little value on marriage probably places little value on marriage. A person who is sold out to God will not build his or her inner circle out of lukewarm Christians or people who disdain God. A rebellious person will enjoy the company of other rebels. This is why it is so crucial to meet the friends and key influencers in the life of anyone you are planning to get married to. Our close associations tell the story of our state of mind and heart and where we will end up in life. Proverbs 13:20 makes a clear statement on the impact of associations. ‘Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.’ Before you marry someone, observe who they hang out with and who they feel relaxed around. More than anything they tell you, their associations are an accurate reflection of their true spiritual state.
Do We Have Similar Values?
Everyone was created to care deeply about something and what you care about may mean nothing to someone else. We all live by a set of guiding values, consciously or unconsciously, and we live out those values daily. Our values influence our behaviour and attitudes and predetermine how we will respond in a particular set of circumstances. They not only determine how we view life; they also define how we want to do life. Our priorities flow out of our values. Think about the following words – integrity, healthy living, accomplishment, education, creativity, generosity, adventure, service, compassion, sacrifice. Each of those words probably conjures an image in your mind of one person for which it is a core value. People identify us by our values because they are so integral to who we are. Do you know what your core values are? What are the things you cannot compromise on if you are to stay true to yourself? Do those values match the values of the person whom you are considering marrying? If not, you might be storing up unnecessary conflict for the future. To expect that you will have shared values with someone simply because you are in love with them is a dangerous assumption.
It is more than likely that you will marry someone with a different personality from you and those differences can be advantageous. However, marrying someone with radically different core values means that one of you will be forced to compromise on some core ideals in order for the relationship to work. Picture, for example, the potential conflicts that would play out between a man who values adventure and wants to travel to and live in distant parts of the worlds and a woman who values security and likes the comfort of familiar surroundings and wants to live close to her extended family. That is clearly a conflict waiting to erupt. Neither of those values is wrong in itself but the lack of congruence will demand a level of compromise if the two are to be happy together. Marrying someone who shares similar values with you, or can empathise and adjust to your values, is fundamental to achieving a harmonious union together.
What other questions do you think are important before saying ‘I do’?
Supported by Tomitalks
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