Recently, I began posting a series entitled, "Before You Marry." (Part one here and part two here.) Most of these thoughts come from years of watching people and having literally hundreds of conversations with people prior to marriage. Some of these thoughts also come from the watching and observing people in their marriages. I feel so fortunate and honored to have had a front row seat with so many people. The following are a few things I have learned.
1. Don’t marry him thinking that he is going to change. Far too many people "fall in love" with potential. Can a person change? Absolutely! Many of us are witnesses to this in our own lives. However, when you marry, be prepared to marry the person that she actually is right now–not what you hope she will become.
2. Do you love the home you grew up in? Don’t marry someone with values completely different from your parents and then expect the same results. I have seen this repeatedly. A guy loves his mom and dad. He values the way he was reared. He appreciates the values of his parents. He then marries a young woman who shares none of these values and then wonders why his own home is now very different from his family of origin.
3. Before you marry, consider what kind of father or mother he will be. Yes, listen to his ideas and thoughts about rearing children. However, more importantly, look at his life. Imagine your children basically turning out with the values of this guy or girl. If this man is the father of your children, what will they value? Again, think about this not just in terms of what he says but in the way he lives. The same is true regarding a mother. If this woman becomes the mother of your children, what will they probably value? What does she seem to value right now?
4. Beware when he wants to hide a part of his life
from some of the people whose relationship he values. Does he not want his parents to know that he parties? Does she not want her siblings to know about her gambling? Beware. He may one day desire to hide a part of his life from you!
5. What are his or her friends like? This says a great deal about this person’s values. Does she tend to surround herself with friends who love God and who seriously attempt to follow Jesus? Do her friends seem to value what is good, what is right, and what is eternal? Our friends say so much about the kind of people we are. On the other hand, pay attention when he or she seems to only attract people with values that you don’t share. Who does he surround himself with? Are these the kind of people who you want to hang out with as a married couple? Do not assume this will change.
6. Does she bring you down or build you up? Does she build you up and encourage you? Or is she constantly critical. Is she moody and difficult to deal with? Or, is she the kind of person who brings joy and peace to the relationship? Do you tend to seek the things that are really important when you are with her? Or, do you tend to just talk about what is trivial? Does she seem to bring out the best in you?
7. What does your family think about this girl or this guy? Do they seem to have some real concerns? Now of course, some families may have concerns because that person is so different from others in the family. Perhaps she grew up in a very different setting than your family or has tastes and interests that are different from your family. These are issues that can often be worked out with much, much patience on the part of everyone. On the other hand, a more serious concern arises when you are thinking about marriage to a person whose values are very different. Again, don’t just consider the values that are expressed in words but that are expressed in the way this person lives.
8. Know that marriage is a good thing. Yes, many marriages end in divorce. However, there are many, many marriages that last, where both people love one another and are faithful to one another. Marriage is difficult. However, many, many people work through the difficult times to experience great joy.
9. Be careful about marrying your project. I have talked to many people who married men and women who were their projects. They thought that if they just did all the right things, that person would turn out the way they had hoped. Give this some thought.
10. Marry a person who shares the passion of your heart. Do you deeply love God? Marry someone who deeply loves God. Do you live each day with a desire to please God? Marry a person who lives to please God. Do you wish to have children one day who have a heart for God more than anything else? Marry a person who desires to rear children who really love God.
What else would you add to this list?