The following are quotes from various resources to help those of you who are not married, and may not even be dating anyone at this point. And yet you want to explore being prepared for marriage in case that special someone comes your way. We pray these quotes will help you with that mission:
• Does God really care about who I marry? Is my waiting period part of His plan or just a side-effect of a culture confused about marriage? Is marriage a standard-issue arrangement ordained by God or is He interested in my specific choice? My theology on this will deeply affect the way I view my Heavenly Father and His involvement in my life. It will impact how I go about relationships. It will affect the way I live while I’m waiting.
One foundational truth about my singleness is God sees my need. Moments after creation, God takes a personal interest in Adam’s lonely state. “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). God did not create humans to live in isolation. He designed us to long for and experience companionship and love. And if He had compassion toward Adam’s loneliness, I can trust that He sees and understands mine. (Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, from Boundless.org article, “Trusting God with Relationships, Part 1“)
• God is not punishing you with singleness. God loves you (John 3:16). For some women [this advice applies to men as well], God’s best for them is to be married earlier, so that they can learn important lessons about God through marriage. For other women, God’s best for them is keeping them single for a time, so they can learn those same lessons through singleness. Singleness is not a problem to be fixed! Singleness is a season of life where we can focus solely on God. The Bible says that it is God’s will that everyone be single for a time and some be single forever —and those are blessed! (1 Corinthians 7:32-35) You can choose to be obedient and single for as long as God wants or you can disobey and date/marry the next cute lost guy who walks across your path. Who will it be? God’s Mr. Right or the world’s Mr. Right-in-front-of-you? (Gabrielle Pickle, Girlsgonewise.com article, “Mr Right or Mr Right in Front of You?”)
• Whether married or single, living for Christ is the goal. Marriage should not be the ultimate goal of the Christian life. …We’re not going to stand before Christ someday as Mrs. or Mr. So and So. We’re going to stand before Him alone. And we’ll be accountable for the kind of person we are here on earth, whether single or married. If you are single, you’re not of lesser value as a person. God’s plan will take each of us down different paths, paths to be celebrated.
The key is to submit your will to the Lord’s, because living a life that is glorifying to God isn’t about getting what you want. It’s about conforming to what God wants. And that’s where praying —and I mean really praying —about and discerning God’s will for your life regarding marriage becomes critical. If you do feel called to marriage, shouldn’t we see God as big enough to make it happen? It may not be your timetable, but if He put that desire in your heart, is He not worthy of your trust? (Kara Scwab, from the Boundless.org article “Believing in the Dream of Marriage”)
• Our desire for marriage is similar to our need for food. It’s part of our design. Obsessing is never a good thing in relationships or food. But saying you’ll never eat again can lead to anorexia and saying you’ll never think about marriage (and by default, potential marriage partners) can lead to irresistible temptation.If you lack a vision for marriage, you’re setting yourself up for lax sexual standards, relationships without momentum, and heartache. If you don’t have a deliberate goal in mind —either single service or Christian marriage between two chaste believers —it’s pretty easy to fall prey to sexual temptation. And many are falling. …Maybe the answer isn’t to stop thinking about marriage, but to think about it differently. (Candice Watters, from Boundless.org article “Thinking About Marriage”)
• The first thing that should happen if it has not happened during the initiation of the relationship is that intentions should be established. Whatever that conversation looks like, intentions should be clear and it should be the man making them so. Guys, tell her why you have initiated or are initiating with her, tell her that you intend to pursue the relationship to determine if marriage to her is the right choice before God.
In my view, this establishing of intentions should be done near the beginning of any exclusive or romantic time spent together —preferably within the first two or three “dates” during a deliberate conversation on the subject. (Scott Croft, from: “Biblical Dating: Navigating the Early Stages of a Relationship“)
• “If you are not content single you will not be content married.” It looks so heartless in type, doesn’t it? And something within us balks at such a hard-and-fast statement. …Contentment is a lesson we all must confront again and again. Even the Apostle Paul had to ‘learn contentment’. But the principle holds, no matter how many disclaimers and provisos are propped up alongside it. Because, let me tell you, the waiting does not end once you are married. Ask any woman who has dealt with infertility. Or a military wife who doesn’t know where she’ll be living from one year to the next. Or a couple pouring their very soul’s energy into a church that seems indifferent, hoping and yearning for God’s Spirit to move —or move them. Somewhere along the way I think this idea has been twisted into the notion that real contentment means we have lost all longing for the desire that made us unhappy in the first place. That’s hogwash, for lack of a better word. (Lanier, from ylcf.org article, “Preparing for Marriage, Part Two“)
• Dance with God, He’ll let the right person cut in. (Unknown)
• Overcome Passivity. I often notice people becoming uptight when we begin discussing the issue of trusting God with relationships. This is because they equate trust in God with passivity. But since when did “trusting God” mean “do nothing?” We’re all rather attached to eating, right? But do we sit at home waiting for meals to come to us? No, we work to purchase food. Similarly, if you want the job, you apply for the job. If you want to get involved in your church, you show up at the small group. And if you want to get married, you take initiative with members of the opposite sex by building healthy relationships with them and either pursuing or being open to pursuit. (Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, from Boundless.org article, “Trusting God with Relationships –Part 2“)
• I read a book entitled When God Writes Your Love Story, by Eric and Leslie Ludy and yet another truth that I had never considered was revealed to me. Your family is your training ground for marriage. They share, you must train yourself to model Christ now to those most familiar and close to so you will be great at it when you get married. This was really a shocker for me, but the more I thought about it, it really makes sense. We can’t treat our family poorly and then assume once we say “I do” we will all of a sudden know how to treat our spouse. Tip: You’re only as holy as you are at home. (From Christian Single Woman.com article “Christian Marriage Preparation”)
• Both single men and single women should be encouraged not to look at dating as an individualistic exercise. The entire process —from finding compatible people to date, to dating, to preparing for marriage —should be more of a community affair. Singles’ parents (even older singles’ parents!), pastors, church elders, and friends should all take some responsibility here. The fact is that arranged marriages were the norm until only recently. Where are the older married men and women in our churches who have the courage to become actively involved in the lives of single young adults? It’s easy to make fun of “matchmaking” —but this can be done sensitively and in a way that still leaves the final decision up to the couple.
The current crisis in dating ought to shake all of us up so that we rethink the process of how singles move into marriage today. All previous assumptions should be open to question. As we seek to build stronger marriages in a culture riddled with infidelity and divorce, we need to see that changes must occur long before the wedding day. For how single Christians date and prepare for marriage will strongly influence what kind of marriages they build.” (Kevin Offner, from Touchstonemag.com article “Courtship for Christians“)
• It always strikes me as odd that singles believe the time to begin preparing for marriage is once they get engaged. Although we may not actually believe it, our actions seem to suggest that we will somehow automatically know how to build a successful marriage the moment we say “I do.” While I haven’t done any formal studies on this, I think one of the reasons the divorce rate is so high is because many people spend more time preparing for their wedding (an event that lasts a few hours) than for their marriage (a covenant that is designed to last a lifetime).
Marriage preparation should begin now. I’m not referring to purchasing a wedding dress or the ring, while that’s fine to determine how you will be able to cover such large expenses, but I’m referring to changing your mindset. Determine why you want to be married, what the Bible says about marriage, what is your role in marriage, etc. Find joyfully married Christian couples and spend time with them to learn what it takes to build a solid foundation for a strong Christian marriage. Learn about the true realities of marriage, rather than what you’ve envisioned it to be. Praying to be married without preparing for marriage is like praying for rain without grabbing an umbrella. We must prepare to receive the blessing. Now I don’t proclaim to have all the answers, so ask God what you need to do to prepare for the blessing of marriage. (Lisa Powell, from article “What to Do During Your Season of Singleness“)
• The best time to deal with a spiritual mismatch is before you say “I do.” In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul writes, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” This verse plays out in a few different ways. First, a follower of Jesus Christ should not marry a non-believer. This is very clear. Second, it plays out with two believers who are in very different places spiritually. Maybe one of them is fully devoted in their love for the Lord while the other is lukewarm in their faith. While they might spend eternity together, they’re worlds apart in their marriage. Our views on Jesus and what it means to follow Him affect everything in our lives: how we spend our money and time, how we parent, how we do our jobs, and just about everything else. (Scott Kedersha, from his article, “What are 4 Concerns I Consistently See in Marriages?”)
• Instead of seeing the single years as a sanctioned flight from fiscal responsibility, they should be viewed as a formative time. A time to progress spiritually, emotionally and financially. It’s amazing just how much those three aspects of your development can end up affecting each other. If you’re a single guy, you have a unique chance to bless your future wife right now. Setting aside just a little money every month will enable you to provide some much-needed security at the outset of your marriage (Drew Dyck, from article “Saving It for Marriage“).
• If you are not currently in a relationship, now is the perfect time to determine the traits and characteristics that are necessary in order for you to be happy being married. When you are not involved with someone, you can be more objective about your true assessment. Taking a cue from the old “Ben Franklin approach,” be honest with yourself and develop two lists —one that inventories all the attributes, values and qualities that are a “must” for you —things you can’t live without. …Bear in mind, this is YOUR list, so do some serious soul-searching to compose a personal, meaningful, and descriptive analysis.
On the other list, put everything that you cannot live with, perhaps jealousy, infidelity, controlling personality, doesn’t want kids/dogs, or negative thinker, etc. Take the time to really examine what has worked and what has not worked in your previous relationships, and WHY. Be sure to periodically refine and update these lists as new thoughts come to you. And be as comprehensive as possible—remember you are seeking to define the traits that you will have to live with, day in and day out, year after year after year! And make sure that these are character traits, not superficial features. (Deborah Thompson, from the Crosswalk.com article “How to Plan for a Successful Marriage”)
• Fall in love with someone who deserves your heart, not someone who plays with it. (Unknown)
• Between the Cinderella weddings on A Wedding Story, to crazy brides on Bridezilla, this whole culture’s idea of weddings is driving me insane. Now don’t get me wrong –I’m not against marriage. I’m not being a bitter, scorned woman here, or even saying marriage is pointless. I believe in marriage, and hope that I will marry someday. But the whole business of elaborate weddings baffles me. One friend of mine told me about a bridal shower that was supposed to have 200 guests —at the shower, not even the wedding! Aren’t these people missing the point? Maybe every little girl dreams of her wedding, but I don’t. The only thing I dream about is being with someone I love, not showing off for 300 of our “closest” relatives and friends. I’d rather be that cute little old couple 60 years from now than divorced just because I jumped too quick, being all excited about diamonds and dresses. (Jillian J. Stankewich, from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle article, “A Good Marriage More Important Than a Flashy, Expensive Wedding”)
• When you have arrived at maturity you have come to the time when you may seriously consider marriage. Here also are a few things to be borne in mind: – A continual prayer for divine guidance and confidential relationship with your parents are two essentials for safety and best results. – Be sure that you know your intended before you put to her the momentous question. Therefore be not hasty in your proposals. – Never consider marriage with any one where you would have to violate Scripture to do so. Better remain single all your days than to lightly esteem God’s Word and wisdom on a question so vital as this one. (Daniel Kauffman, from Singleness.org article, “Getting Married“)
• We must each decide when, holding on is mere stubbornness, when holding on is mere refusal to accept what is painfully obvious. We must each wrestle with the facts at hand and decide whether it is wise to press on or wiser to turn back. Not every relationship that starts must end in marriage. In fact, most do not and should not. I realize that whatever wisdom these words may hold they are small comfort to the longing heart —but they are true.
The truth is that our desires shape our lives far more than the truth. I mean that what we want can cloud what we see, what we hear, how we pursue and what we pursue. If we want something bad enough we may be able to convince ourselves that the warnings we hear have some other plausible explanation.
It is a very difficult thing to be hungry and to be told that what looks edible —is poison. Being hindered by God may be unpleasant, may be painful, but it is the surest sign that we are loved. God just may introduce obstacles or obstructions in the path you choose. He may look to hinder a relationship, to prevent or stymie the relationship, and He does all this in love. Ask the divorced, the abandoned, the discontent, or the hopelessly married, and they will tell you that there were signs, obstacles and hindrances they ignored. Though loneliness is not inviting, there is worse. If He hinders you, be hindered. If he places obstacles in the path of this or that relationship, HEED them. (Hudson Russell Davis, from Crosswalk.com article “On Being Hindered – Part 2“)
• For the everyday pain singles face while they’re waiting for a spouse, I am reminded of two principles for living. First, regardless of whether God blesses me in this way, I am called to trust Him. In a very painful and confusing situation, Job said: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). Second, God is all-powerful and my lack of a spouse has nothing to do with His ability to provide. Not only that, but He wants good for me. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:9: “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.'” (Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, from Boundless.org article, “Trusting God with Relationships – Part 2“)
• I’ve heard it a hundred times: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” But trusting the Lord for a mate is easier said than done. I have moments of tremendous clarity where I wonder how I could ever doubt Him, but when yet another friend gets engaged or I face rejection, again, I start leaning. One moment, I give Him permission to use me in any way He sees fit and the next I hint that the most fit way would be to deliver me a spouse, immediately (as if He needs suggestions). Trusting the Lord to provide my deepest heart’s desire requires scary faith. It’s easier to keep God out of it, and not risk the possibility that His plan for me may be a disappointment. But holding back, leaning on my own understanding, deprives me of a deep intimacy I could share with Him. (Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, from Boundless.org article, “Single While Active“)
• Pause or wait on God. Philippians 4:6 clearly states, “be anxious for nothing and pray about everything.” God knows your desire, but more importantly He knows and loves you. Know that He has not forgotten about you, He’s just working things out for you. Have you ever wanted something really bad and you prayed and prayed for it, but when you got it you realized it wasn’t all that great? Most times in these cases, we finagle our way to get the thing rather than accepting God’s no or waiting for God’s best. I implore you, don’t do that with marriage, wait on God. Who knows better how to prepare you for marriage than the One who designed marriage? (Lisa, from Christian Single Woman.com article “Christian Marriage Preparation”)
• Don’t compromise. Funny what loneliness can do. People with whom we have nothing in common —and sometimes hardly like —are suddenly attractive. We can even convince ourselves it’s unreasonable for God to make us wait for physical pleasure. But anytime we push ahead of Him, either by trying to force a dubious relationship or misplacing our moral compass, we’re like the Prodigal, sifting through slop when we could revel in riches down the road. Somewhere in the meantime, God changed my theme verse from “How long, oh Lord?” to “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19). (Carolyn MacInnes, from the Boundless.org article, “In the Meantime: What to Do While Waiting on God”)
• WOMEN —BEWARE: If a man has glaring character defects, it is likely that he is not teachable. Teachability is the number one character trait you should look for in a potential mate. I am not talking about normal struggles or mistakes, but habit pattern sins or dysfunctions that control their lives and that they are not open and contrite about. If a man is teachable, he will humbly listen to God and to his future wife when making decisions. He will be willing to work at his future marriage. (Julie Ferwerda, from Crosswalk.com article “9 Lies Women Tell Themselves About Men“)
• Your future husband should be a person who has worked as diligently on his own character as you have on yours. If you’ve read Scripture and Christian books, and eagerly pursue sermons and Bible studies, make it your aim to find a man who does the same. If a guy you’re interested in can’t find the time to read, views sermons as a chore and far less interesting than the latest podcast, and if he accepts the vices of pride, lust, slander, malice, and an easily ruffled temper without any concern or effort to leave them behind, he’s not fit to be your husband. In other words, don’t marry a man who takes his character less seriously than you take yours. If he has a strong body but a weak soul; if he can do a hundred push-ups but lacks the power to keep his eyes from undressing that waitress, he’s too weak for you where strength matters most. (Gary Thomas, from his article, “How to Know If You Should Marry”)
• A suitable husband should want you to be what Christ wants you to be and value that above all else. Here’s what Jesus desires of you: ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.‘ (Col. 3:12) Does this guy want you to be compassionate, giving your money to those in need? Does he praise you for taking the time to be kind to others or does he want you to be focused only on him? Does he value humility—that you don’t live to be noticed but to notice others, or does he want you to dress in a way that draws attention to yourself because that pleases him? Do you feel comfortable slandering people in his presence, or do you feel conviction? Does he think reaching out to the poor or socially awkward is an embarrassing waste of time and money, something that’s “beneath you,” or does he marvel at how your priorities mirror those of Jesus Christ? Is he proud that you want to share your faith, or embarrassed that your doing so might make others think less of him? (Gary Thomas, from his article, “How to Know If You Should Marry”)
• BEWARE OF THE LIE: Coincidences are a sign from God. Satan, the master liar and counterfeiter, is cooking up coincidences to get you off track, so beware! He doesn’t want you to wait for God’s best. He wants to handicap your services for the Kingdom by getting you to settle for a miserable and empty marriage. Ask for godly counsel from objective bystanders, pray hard, and stay intent upon God’s will and not your own. (Julie Ferwerda, from Crosswalk.com article “9 Lies Women Tell Themselves About Men“)
• WOMEN —BEWARE OF THE LIE: When I find a man and get married, I will finally feel happy and complete. If that’s true, why are so many women getting divorced (or wishing they were)? Why do Hollywood stars ditch beauties for someone else? The truth is, you will only feel happy and complete when you let God be your first love. No man —especially one who is not God’s best for you —will even come close. When the excitement wears off (and it will), you will feel more alone than when you were single. By telling ourselves the truth, we have every chance to find the very best man that God wants to give us. (Julie Ferwerda, from Crosswalk.com article “9 Lies Women Tell Themselves About Men“)
• MEN — BEWARE OF THE LIE: She’s clingy, but I like to be needed. She’ll settle down once we’re married. Truth: According to studies, men thrive on being needed, but this can backfire because many women out there are desperate to get married for the wrong reasons. A woman with “emotional gaps” will put expectations on you that you’ll never live up to, no matter how much time, love, or words of encouragement you give her, because she has mistaken you as the answer to her longings. After the wedding, you’ll disappoint her because you can’t do or be enough, and she may turn to other things for comfort —food, other men, alcohol, or shopping, to name a few. Depending on you occasionally for emotional support, or to help with certain things (like changing her oil or mowing her lawn) are great, but when it comes to emotional neediness, it’s a red flag and it’s not going to get better until she gets help. (Julie Ferwerda, from Crosswalk.com article “9 Lies Men Tell Themselves About Women“)
• A person may be perfect on paper, but no one marries paper —at least no one should. That person may be perfect in dreams but life is not lived in dreams. They may have desirable qualities but nothing is sure until you walk down the aisle and say, “I do.” Until then, do not ignore the various ways in which God offers advice —the many ways in which he hinders. (Hudson Russell Davis, from Crosswalk.com article “On Being Hindered – Part 1“)
• The truth is that our desires shape our lives far more than the truth. I mean that what we want can cloud what we see, what we hear, how we pursue and what we pursue. If we want something bad enough we may be able to convince ourselves that the warnings we hear have some other plausible explanation. It is a very difficult thing to be hungry and to be told that what looks edible —is poison. Being hindered by God may be unpleasant, may be painful, but it is the surest sign that we are loved. God just may introduce obstacles or obstructions in the path you choose. He may look to hinder a relationship, to prevent or stymie the relationship, and He does all this in love.
Ask the divorced, the abandoned, the discontent, or the hopelessly married, and they will tell you that there were signs, obstacles and hindrances they ignored. Though loneliness is not inviting, there is worse. If He hinders you, be hindered. If he places obstacles in the path of this or that relationship, HEED them. (Hudson Russell Davis, from Crosswalk.com article “On Being Hindered – Part 2“)
• Take an HONEST Look. Marriage is not a sit-com; it is not a movie or a novel or a pop song. It involves real life and real people. If you are considering marriage to a person who is clearly not mature, that is exhibiting childish traits that create uproar and concern, please don’t look the other way! Simply being “in love” and having a great time together is not a sufficient resume for marriage. Marriage is a serious step, a lifetime commitment under God and cannot be entered into lightly. Don’t rush. Take a good, hard, honest look at your own readiness and the readiness of your potential mate before making a final decision. (Byron and Carla Weathersbee)
• Too many couples fall in love, but they don’t realize that falling in love and getting married are two different steps. It’s not too difficult to fall in love with someone. But that doesn’t mean that you should spend the rest of your lives married to each other. You may have “loved” each other through a certain season of your lives, but this relationship may not be one that would last through the rest of the seasons of your lives. Marriage is something you commit to because you’re both equally committed to each other and to the Lord who wants to bless your union, helping it to be one that reflects God’s agape love.
If either of you don’t feel like you can commit to living together for the rest of your lives in commitment to your marital union, doing things God’s way —then it would be best to either put the wedding on hold until you’re both committed to do so, or let the relationship go and move on with your lives apart from each other. The time to do this is BEFORE the wedding –NOT afterward. (Cindy Wright)
• Someone who lives to reflect, worship and enjoy Christ will want most of all to marry someone who has the same goals, aim and desires. Character, faith and priorities matter far more than appearance, income, and emotions. So, find a man or woman who works as diligently on their character as you do yours (even above physical fitness, appearance, and finances); who is a friend to your virtues (encouraging your growth instead of sabotaging it); and whose example of a Christ-like life is so inspiring, you never want to be without it. (Gary Thomas, from his article, “How to Know If You Should Marry”)
• Would you marry you? If you need to get your act together, do it before you get engaged. You will be better off, and one day, if you end up getting married, your marriage will reap the benefit of the relational health you bring into it. (David Gudgel, from the book, “Before You Get Engaged”)
• Psychologist Neil Warren has said that couples who marry around age 20 have an 80 to 85 percent chance of divorcing. He believes the correlation an older age and fewer divorces is connected to a person’s identity development. He writes (in the book, “Finding the Love of Your Life”):
“The theory goes like this: Young people can’t select a marriage partner very effectively if they don’t know themselves well. In this society, where adolescence often lasts until the middle 20s, identify formation is incomplete until individuals have emotionally separated from their parents and discovered the details of their own uniqueness. Prior to their mid-20s, young adults haven’t defined their goals and needs. They aren’t in a good position to know the kind of person with whom they could form a meaningful lifetime attachment. They simply need more life experience.”
“As a general rule, marriage and family counselors have found that the older you are, the more likely you are to have developed healthy traits that will build a healthy marriage. That’s why what we already talked about in chapter one is so important. Be the right person before you start thinking about marrying the right person. (David Gudgel, from the book, “Before You Get Engaged”)
• Get yourself healthy before you get yourself married. Too often we bring our unexamined selves into our marriage relationship. Also, have a cultivating commitment to have a quality relationship with each other in your marriage. (Neil Clark Warren)
• You’ll never know everything about the person you’ve chosen to marry. But the more information you have before entering into this commitment, the less chance you will be confronted with unfulfillable expectations. (From the book, “Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook… How to really get to know the person you’re going to marry” – by Jerry Hardin and Dianne Sloan)
• Before you get engaged, I’d strongly suggest you consult with those who know you and your dating relationship best. Usually this means your family and friends. Find an appropriate time to sit down with them and share what you’re thinking. Open up your heart and say something like, “Katie and I are at a place in our relationship where we are thinking about getting engaged. Since you know us best, I’d like to know what you think. From what you know about us and our relationship, do you think we should get married?” I think asking your family or friends a question like that is one of the wisest things you can do. (David Gudgel, from the book, “Before You Get Engaged”)
• Keep the following two biblical principles in mind. First, you need others’ input. Those who don’t get wise input aren’t as wise as they think they are. As Isaiah said, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” Humble yourself, restrain your pride, and open your heart and ears to what the significant others in your life are saying and thinking.
Second, you need to carefully weigh others’ input before you act. What you hear may or may not be right for you. Remember these words: “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” Before you jump in, hook, line, and sinker, carefully check out the validity of what you’ve been told. (David Gudgel, from the book “Before You Get Engaged”)
• If you’re single, and you want to know who to marry, run as hard and as fast toward Jesus as you can and if, out of the corner of your eye, you see somebody running in the same direction, take a second look. (Pastor Tommy Nelson)
• Q: I’m a young woman and I met a young man recently where I work. He asked me out and he’s proposing a relationship. I like him a lot but when I ask him about his faith, he told me that though he is a Christian, he does not bring his faith into the relationship. I decided I couldn’t have a relationship with such person. Am I too hasty in my decision?
A: I believe you have made a wise choice. While it’s good to ask someone “Are you a Christian?” before you begin dating, it’s better to ask, “Are you a follower of Jesus?” They may sound the same, but there’s a huge difference. Someone may say they’re a Christian because they were confirmed when they were 12 or grew up in a Christian home. When you ask if they’re a follower of Jesus, then you’re asking whether or not they read their Bible, pray regularly and are growing in their relationship with God.
If a person just says they’re a Christian, you can make a lot of assumptions that may or may not be true. Before you begin dating, find out about the persons character. Remember that character will also manifest itself in self-control. How does the person respond to frustration and disappointment? Does the person treat you with respect—verbally, spiritually and physically? Do they know their own boundaries? All of this is linked to one’s faith. You don’t want to date someone who claims Christianity, but has no desire to grow in their relationship with the Lord. That is a road you don’t want to go down. (Gary Smalley: Question of the Week)
• Just because a man calls himself a Christian doesn’t mean a thing about his spiritual condition. Hitler probably professed to be a nice guy. What really shows a man’s faith is action —not trying to get you into bed until you are both wearing a ring; initiating his own personal relationship with God and encouraging yours as well; and especially holding his feelings back in the relationship to allow God to lead. God’s choice of a mate for you is going to be a godly man, and if you listen, God will tell you through an active prayer life and the counsel of other godly influences whether this is the one He has picked out for you. (Julie Ferwerda, from Crosswalk.com article “9 Lies Women Tell Themselves About Men“)
• Many will instruct you just to “follow your heart.” This advice can lead to a heartbreaking situation. One emotional student was heard to exclaim, “I know I’ve met the right girl … I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, and I’m flunking all my tests!” Sounds like a case of the flu to me. Let me suggest, instead of asking, “Am I in love?” ask, “Is my love mature enough to produce a fulfilled love, marriage, and sex relationship?” I prefer to evaluate love in terms of maturity because I believe we are always “in love.” Puppy love is a kind of love, but it differs greatly in degree and intensity from mature love. The problem with puppy love is that if you stick with it, you’ll end up leading a dog’s life. Puppy love is certainly real, and it deserves the same respect given to the other feelings people may have throughout their lives.
When a child comes home and declares, “I’m in love,” he or she shouldn’t be ridiculed. Adolescent feelings of love are equally genuine and wonderful. They are very real to the young person feeling them and they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Thus, again, the issue isn’t whether or not you are in love. The real question remains, “Is my love mature enough to lead to a commitment and a lasting relationship? (Josh McDowell, “The Secret of Loving,”)
• Regardless of your level of compatibility, conflict in marriage is inevitable. One of the most important things you need to know is whether your partner can stand the heat. Will s/he be willing to get help when the going gets tough? Is s/he willing to take a marriage education class to learn the necessary skills to get and keep your marriage on track or back on track? Would s/he be willing to go to a qualified marriage counselor or speak to your pastor or rabbi? And if you’re going to talk, talk about the taboo, x-rated subjects.
Discuss infidelity, infertility, aging parents, job layoffs, unexpected illnesses or deaths. Talk about the hard stuff. Does your partner know that over two thirds of what couples argue about in marriage is unresolvable? Does s/he know the predictable transitional stages that ALL marriages go through regardless of how much couples love each other? Does your mate know that while marriage is still one of the greatest institutions on earth, it’s not for the faint of heart? In fact, it’s [extremely] hard work!
And since it only takes one person to end a marriage, you might want to ask your partner, “Under what circumstances would you feel that our marriage would be over?” I know this question isn’t pretty or romantic, far from it, but since most divorces are unilateral decisions, it might help to know what might prompt your spouse to call it quits. It could be a deal breaker.
So, here’s the bottom line from the Divorce Buster. Don’t place too much weight on those compatibility quizzes. Be more impressed with your partner’s level of commitment. With the right attitude and adequate set of relationship skills, even the quirkiest of personality differences or opposing life goals can be worked through. Know your prospective partner’s willingness to stay the course even when love isn’t easy. (Michele Weiner Davis, Divorcebusting.com article, “What to Ask Before Tying the Knot”)
• WOMEN — BEWARE: If a man has glaring character defects, it is likely that he is not teachable. Teachability is the number one character trait you should look for in a potential mate. I am not talking about normal struggles or mistakes, but habit pattern sins or dysfunctions that control their lives and that they are not open and contrite about. If a man is teachable, he will humbly listen to God and to his future wife when making decisions. He will be willing to work at his future marriage. (Julie Ferwerda, from Crosswalk.com article “9 Lies Women Tell Themselves About Men“)
• MEN — [BEWARE: OF THE LIE OF THE LIE YOU CAN TELL YOURSELF]: She’s clingy, but I like to be needed. She’ll settle down once we’re married. Truth: According to studies, men thrive on being needed, but this can backfire because many women out there are desperate to get married for the wrong reasons. A woman with “emotional gaps” will put expectations on you that you’ll never live up to, no matter how much time, love, or words of encouragement you give her, because she has mistaken you as the answer to her longings. After the wedding, you’ll disappoint her because you can’t do or be enough, and she may turn to other things for comfort —food, other men, alcohol, or shopping, to name a few. Depending on you occasionally for emotional support, or to help with certain things (like changing her oil or mowing her lawn) are great, but when it comes to emotional neediness, it’s a red flag and it’s not going to get better until she gets help. (Julie Ferwerda, from Crosswalk.com article “9 Lies Men Tell Themselves About Women“)
• There’s an old saying, “Marriage is a school in which the pupil learns too late.” If we aren’t ready for marriage or if we choose a poor marriage partner, this can be very true. Yet for most people, it doesn’t have to be. To be sure that it isn’t, we need to do three things. First, we need to be prepared to be a reasonably mature, emotionally healthy, and spiritually committed spouse. Second, we need to select a mate who is ready to be a reasonably mature, emotionally healthy, and spiritually committed spouse. And third, we need to be willing to face our needs to grow and become better people and well-adjusted marriage partners. (Dr. Clyde Narramore, from the article: A Pre-Marriage Checklist)
• There were some details about living with an unbeliever that seemed insignificant to me at first but gained importance as my own faith grew. Of all the things I miss out on with my husband at a spiritual level, his prayers for me are what I miss the most. Here is the person who knows me best, who knows my likes, dislikes, dreams, desires, failings and struggles, and he isn’t praying for me. This puts me in the position of having to tell others my personal prayer needs and, in some cases, I may not even realize I have a need. My husband may know something isn’t right, yet …he isn’t praying for me. This is certainly something to consider carefully as you choose a spouse. Will he pray for you? (Testimony of an annonymous homemaker who has the web site Child of Light.org)
• One of the chief reasons so many marriages fail is that the functions of a date and mate differ radically: that of a date is to be charming; that of a mate is to be responsible; and, unfortunately, the most charming individuals are not necessarily the most responsible, while the most responsible are just as often deficient in charm. (Sydney Harris)
• I came up with a basic question that is helping me figure out whether I’m really finished with looking for someone better: When I see a woman I am physically or emotionally attracted to, what do I do? Do I entertain the thought of being with her, or do I react as if my heart is already taken?
It gets harder when I take into account that once I’m married, I am supposed to answer this question the same way, even when things are rocky. Even when things haven’t been going well or we’re just not clicking that week. Am I willing to say that even then it won’t matter if the girl at the coffee shop looks like a better option? There will be no other option. By choosing to get married, I am choosing to stop looking. (Brent Gudgel, from the book, “Before You Get Engaged”)
• Do opposites attract? Yes, they do. The problem with that is, is that opposites ATTRACT. What will drive you crazy about your mate are the things that attracted you to them at the outset, and you have been careful of that. I’ll make this statement: to the degree that you and your future mate are socially opposite, you had better balance it out with an equal amount of flexibility and holiness. Couples that are real, real close in everything that they like, if they don’t watch it, they can get bored in life because it’s easy just to go together.
If you’re really at a disparity, that’s okay. But if you’ve got 30 pounds of difference, there had better be 30 pounds of flexibility. If you’ve got 100 pounds of difference with you and your mate, there had better be 100 pounds of holiness and godliness with each other. You’ve got to be able to enjoy the same things. (Tommy Nelson, from Family Life Today broadcast: Unity – Part 2 of 2)
• If a couple finds out before marriage how flimsy the basis of their love is, they are fortunate. (Sylvanus Duvall, Before You Marry)
• When couples fall in love they typically experience great passion for one another. This initial “Infatuation Stage” leads most couples into believing they have found their true soul mates. But once old behaviors and patterns show up with time, many couples lose the excitement and connection that once fueled their passion. Unfortunately many couples mistake that early infatuation with true love and give up on the relationship. (Pat Love, who defines this stage in her book, The Truth about Love)
• All relationships go through predictable patterns —the four up-and-down stages of love: Infatuation, Post-Rapture, Discovery, and Connection. Physiological changes account for some of the intense feelings brought on by initial attraction. Phenylethylamine, Dopamine, and Norpinephrine, for example, combine to create the natural high new lovers feel that helps them bond. This heady infatuation stage, glorious as it may be, is not what love is really about. (Pat Love, The Truth About Love)
• Reasons to slow things down when you’re still in the infatuation stage of love: When attraction, or romantic passion, occurs, we often lose our ability to think rationally. We may be oblivious to flaws our partner might possess. In this stage, couples spend many hours getting to know each other. If this attraction remains strong and is felt by both, the people usually enter the third stage of love: attachment. Attachment, or commitment, has to be strong enough to withstand problems and distractions. Again, chemicals are involved: Playing a key role in the attachment stage of love are oxytocin, vasopressin and endorphins.
A lot of chemicals surge through your brain and body when you’re in love. Estrogen and testosterone play roles in the sex drive. Without them, we might never venture into the “real love” arena. That initial giddiness that comes when we’re first falling in love includes a racing heart, flushed skin and sweaty palms. Researchers say these are caused by the dopamine and norepinephrine our bodies are releasing: • Dopamine is thought to be the “pleasure chemical,” producing a feeling of bliss. It is associated with euphoria, craving and addiction. • Norepinephrine is similar to adrenaline and produces the racing heart and excitement. It heightens attention, short-term memory, hyperactivity and sleeplessness. Together, it is believed, these chemicals produce elation, intense energy, craving, loss of appetite and focused attention.
Researchers have also discovered that people in love have lower levels of serotonin, and also that neural circuits associated with the way we assess others are suppressed —possibly explaining why those in love “obsess” about their partner. …The feelings of passionate love, however, do lose their strength over time. Studies have shown that passionate love fades quickly and is nearly gone after two or three years. This results in your being able to see your lover rationally, rather than through the blinding hormones of infatuation and passion. (St. Petersburg Times, What is this Thing Called Love)
• The Bible gives us one very specific standard for finding the right marriage partner: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Why is this so important to God? The reason is this: The believer and the unbeliever do not share the same values and future hope (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). However, Christians are to be like-minded about important issues; if two Christians are committed to their marriage and to obeying Christ, they already possess the ingredients for success. Unfortunately, the world we live in is inundated with many different kinds of professing “Christians,” so it is important to use discernment before devoting yourself to the lifelong commitment of marriage. Spend a sufficient amount of time together before discussing marriage.
We suggest experiencing all “the seasons” of life together before committing for life. Watch how your potential partner reacts to different situations, how they behave around family and friends, and the people they associate with. Discuss issues such as morality, values, children and church affiliation; are you in agreement in these areas? Study God’s Word together, especially the roles and duties of a husband and wife found in Ephesians 5:22-31; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Colossians 3:18-19; Titus 2:1-5; and 1 Peter 3:1-7; are there any red flags or major doctrinal disagreements? Finally, we recommend premarital counseling for all engaged couples. (Bill and Bridget Dunk, GTO Ministries, Marriages.net)
• Don’t stop with the question, “Is this person a Christian?” You need to ask a much deeper question than that: “Is this person I am thinking about marrying displaying the character and mind of Christ?” I would look deep into the character of the individual. Make sure he or she loves the Lord with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. And look for the “markers” that are displaying that love in their lives. (From the web site for the ministry of Dr Gary Smalley)
• Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:2-7)
• If either person isn’t 100% committed to scale every mountain that comes before you to make your relationship work then you aren’t ready to enter into it. That’s part of the reason the divorce rate is so high. People are entering into the commitment they’re making without having the strength of character, fortitude, and resolve to keep the promises they’re making to each other and also to God. God cares VERY MUCH that we keep our marital promises —He enters into the marriage with you whenever you marry so your promises aren’t only to each other but also to Him. (Cindy Wright)
• Read this with care, as it could encourage you to make the right decisions! PLEASE DO NOT MARRY IF: (1) You are unwilling to put the needs of another person above your own. (2) You are easily offended, carry grudges and are unwilling to forgive. (3) You are an abusive person (Mentally, emotionally and physically). (4) You are unwilling to commit. (5) You have an unresolved addiction problem. (6) Your career is the most important thing in your life. (7) You do not share the same beliefs, values, life priorities or vision. (8) You are unwilling to be an active partner sexually with your spouse.
(9) You are unwilling to agree on an approach for handling finances, children and life decisions. (10) You expect your spouse to change after you get married. Remember, successful marriages are not of perfection, rather of two people willing to grow closer to Christ and each other. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle with any of the above reasons, but before you get married, do yourself and your future spouse a favor by first committing to grow stronger in each area. (Dr Randy Carlson)
• “Wedding jitters” can strike even the happiest couples. Any change, even a positive one, takes some adjustment. But you need to make sure you are just nervous about the wedding and not whether you have chosen the right person to marry. Don’t let the momentum of party planning sweep you along. You must have the courage to work through differences or, if you cannot, to break off the engagement or even call off the wedding —no matter how far you have progressed with the preparations. However hard or embarrassing it might seem at that time, it is nothing compared to the pain of marrying the wrong person. (Lilo and Gerard Leeds, from the book, “Wonderful Marriage”)
• If you have doubts —don’t do it. The Bible says that if you’re thinking about doing something about which you have doubts, don’t do it. Your doubts may be God’s warning signal to protect you from making a big mistake. Back off. Take some time. Rethink what you’re about to do. A doubt may be God’s way of keeping you, or someone you care about, out of harm’s way and the inevitable hurtful consequences that could come. (David Gudgel, from the book, “”Before You Get Engaged”)
• You must have the strength to be willing to end the engagement if you do not believe that marriage is the appropriate step. There is a reason that we do not go straight from the proposal to the wedding chapel. The engagement period is not just for planning the event; it is also for thinking through what it means to be married and, specifically, what it means to be married to this individual. Now, sometimes you might have the strength to call off the marriage, but you’re worried about the fallout with your family. Please don’t be. This is one of the most important decisions in your life, and you cannot allow your worry about hurt feelings to cause you to make a terrible mistake. A few minutes or days of embarrassment and hurt feelings are far easier to handle than months or years of a troubled marriage. (Kay Coles James, What I Wish I’d Known before I Got Married)
• You will make your heaven or hell on earth by the person you decide to marry. (Ravi Zacarius)
• I wonder how many marriages would fare better today if each one in the relationship paused to consider this question: How do I really know that this person will seek my happiness above his/her own? (Todd Outcalt, Before You Say “I Do”)
• FOR THOSE CONSIDERING MARRIAGE: There has to be a theological unity. You and your future husband, you and your future wife, have to be on the same page on who God is, because He is your reference point for how you act, for how you perceive the universe, for how you perceive man, children, everything is your perception of God. They don’t simply have to be a Christian, but they have to line up on the major particulars. If you are an evangelical, and you see it in a certain way, and you marry a charismatic, you’re going to have some struggles, but major league, if you marry a non-believer, you don’t even interpret the universe the same —in marriage or morality.
…There’s not a one of you, under the heat of longing for marriage that can set aside what you know to be true and marry a non-believer. I can give you names, events, and dates where I’ve seen it happen. Being single and being alone is a struggle. …It’s tough to be single, to be lonely. I’ll tell you what’s tougher is to be married and be lonely. To be lonely in a king-size bed with a person there that you cannot relate to is a major issue. When you are single, there is light at the end of your tunnel but it’s the providence and the timing of God. (Tommy Nelson, from Family Life Today broadcast: Essentials – Part 1 of 2)
• On marrying someone who is theologically different than you: You’re not in danger of what the Scripture calls being “unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14), since that passage is clearly about a joining of “righteousness with lawlessness… light to darkness… Christ to Belial.” You are both godly people trusting in the blood of Christ and received by faith into the kingdom of God through the Holy Spirit. But, just because you can, morally, marry is no sign that you, wisely, should. (Russell Moore, Crosswalk.com article, Should We Marry If We’re Theologically Divided?)
• FOR THOSE CONSIDERING MARRIAGE: There has to be a moral unity, meaning that they can’t merely both be Christians. They both must be under the auspices of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If you have a man that takes his dictums from his flesh —even though he can recite the Gospel and give the time of his testimony, we’ve got a problem. There has to be a moral unity, a North Star that doesn’t move. …My wife and I made a vow that we’d never spend a day out of the Bible before we got married, because we knew that what attracted us to us was character, and that character was because of the person of God and His Word. And if we got away from Him, we lost essentially what attracted us. (Tommy Nelson, from Familylife.com broadcast: Essentials -Part 1 of 2)
• Women: Some men can never be husbands until they have been brides, until they have been the bride of Christ, they can’t be your husband or any woman’s husband. Because the qualities that you want in a man are going to be qualities of love, kindness, tenderness, gentleness, and honesty —those are qualities that are in God visited upon men. If that man is superficial with God, you have no guarantee that that man is going to maintain those qualities.
And there are some men who can simply never, ever be married. They can have dogs and cats, but they can’t have a human in that house with them because when a man isn’t submitted to the Lordship of Christ, he can become irresponsible or abusive, and both of those will drive you crazy. And so you check that man for his faithfulness in church, his faithfulness in the Bible, his faithfulness to his mother and his father, his commitment to moral purity. Look for those things in him, because that’s the North Star that gives you a reasonable assurance of his character. That’s the fountain out of which will grow your affection is the continuity of that character.
Men: Watch that girl. If that girl has a problem with her authority of her parents, if she has a problem with her teachers, why do you think you’ll put [a wedding ring] on, and she’ll look to you and say, “My head and my sovereign.” Do you really think that will happen? Don’t you do it! There are some women who can never, ever be married because of that very thing. And whenever you get a man, whenever you get a woman that is resistant to Genesis, chapter 1 —who God is —you can’t have Genesis, chapter 2 —marriage. First, Adam sees God; first, Eve sees God; THEN they see each other —Amen? (Tommy Nelson, from FamilyLife.com broadcast: Essentials -Part 1 of 2)
• When you’re ready to pledge to love and serve the person you’re marrying as Christ washed the feet of His disciples, then you’re ready for marriage. The problem comes into our married lives when we marry out of “neediness.” We aren’t to marry out of neediness, but to serve one another and work to bring out the best in each other so that together you serve Christ in a manner that could never happen apart from the manner in which you complete one another in Christ. (Cindy Wright)
• People think they have to find their soulmate to have a good marriage. You’re not going to “find” your soulmate. Anyone you meet already has soulmates —their mother, their father, and their lifelong friends. You get married, and after 20 years of loving, bearing and raising kids, and meeting challenges —then you’ll have “created” your soulmate. (Diane Sollee, smartmarriages.com)
• When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you’ll be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
• You know you love each other. But is love enough? You have grown up in distinctly different families. You have your own thoughts and feelings about marriage, children, religion, sex, work and careers, and money management. Each of you has priorities and expectations about the way people should conduct themselves in marriage. But have you openly discussed and evaluated your priorities and expectations? Unexpressed expectations are the seeds of trouble and conflict. One of the first questions we ask couples in our premarital workshops is, “What do you think is the most important ingredient to have in a good marriage?” (From the book, “Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook” – by Jerry Hardin and Dianne Sloan)
• If you determine together to marry because you sense the anointing of the Lord upon your relationship (knowing you aren’t breaking God’s principles — like not marrying someone who isn’t a Believer), and you persevere with the Lord’s continual guidance, know that marriage can be very, very good. I want that for you. I want that for everyone who marries. But be cautious. The apostle Paul approached the subject of marriage the same way. He said in 1 Corinthians 7:25, “Those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.“ That is my heart also.
I LOVE being married to my husband but I caution everyone who marries to know that it won’t be easy to combine your lives together —to approach life as a marital team —no matter what it looks like now —life together will change and reshape itself. You will have to make a lot of sacrifices to make your marriage into a good one. Please pray, prepare, and proceed very reverently and cautiously into marriage. (Cindy Wright)