I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life – some big, some small. Thankfully, who I married is not one of them. My wife Abigail is amazing . She’s not perfect, but she’s closer to it than me, and there is no other woman I’d rather be married to.
While we cannot control everything in life, most of us do have control over who we marry.
For anyone who is in a relationship, engaged, or wants to be married someday, make sure you do these five things below before saying ‘I Do’. It will be best for you, your spouse, and your family in the long run:
1. Know thyself
Knowing yourself – your interests, values, and beliefs – is essential. There’s two reasons why this is important:
- Compatibility, and
- So your life doesn’t revolve around trying to please the other person.
By knowing your interests, values, and beliefs, you will know who you are (and aren’t) compatible with. You don’t need to share every single interest, but your essential beliefs and values should be on par with each other. Knowing what yours are will help you know if you’re compatible with the other person or not.
Also, by knowing your interests, values, and beliefs, this will help assure your life doesn’t revolve around your significant other.
Yes, you want to love the other person and make them happy, but your life’s purpose is not to make your spouse happy. If you aren’t aware of this, your spouse’s emotions and happiness will control your life and wellbeing. This is a recipe for codependence, which will lead to unhealthy relationships and personal wellbeing.
Do you know your interests, values, and beliefs? Make sure you do before getting into a relationship and getting married. This is one way you will know if your relationship/marriage will be compatible and enriching, or problematic and conflicting.
2. Know thine lover
There’s a scene from the movie Frozen where Anna is sick and dying. Her lover Hans comes to her side, whom Anna thinks is going to help heal her with his love/kiss.
But then, the truth comes out. Hans doesn’t help Anna, because he doesn’t really love her. His motives were sick and twisted; he wanted to marry Anna only for fame and royalty – he didn’t really love Anna. Anna is shocked, hurt, and dumbfounded.
If Anna was smarter, she would have never gotten engaged and pursued marriage with a stranger – a person she didn’t truly know.
Sadly, many people in real life make a similar mistake. They get into a relationship with a person whose character and integrity they don’t truly know, only to be left hurt and disappointed when the person/relationship doesn’t turn out the way they expected.
Do you really know the other person? Do they have integrity and honorable character?
Make sure you really know their character, what they’re like under pressure, if they’re truly loving & have integrity, and if they are open to feedback or not. Don’t marry someone who has questionable character, tends to lie, is prideful, is unkind, and/or is someone you don’t really know. Otherwise, chances are you will be miserable, hurt, & very disappointed.
One thing that helped Abby and I clarify whether or not we should pursue marriage, was discussing our dreams, values, and non-negotiables. This helped us really understand what was important to the other person, and know whether or not these ‘essentials’ of ours were compatible together. I definitely recommend doing the same with your significant other.
3. Make sure he/she is a ‘spiritual racehorse’ – not a ‘spiritual turtle’
When I was in college, a professor told our class:
Class, make sure you marry a spiritual racehorse, NOT a spiritual turtle! You want someone with a strong faith who loves God and is pursuing God with all his/her heart, and who will cause you to do the same – that’s a spiritual racehorse. A spiritual turtle is someone who isn’t pursuing God with all his/her heart and is sluggish in his/her faith – he/she will drag your faith down and make your life miserable.
Those words have stuck with me ever since.
Now that I am married, I can see how important those words are. My wife is a ‘spiritual racehorse’; she loves Jesus Christ with her entire heart, soul, mind, and strength, and she genuinely loves other people like no one I know. She pursues the Lord daily, and doesn’t settle for mediocre living or lukewarm faith. Because of this, she inspires me to love Jesus and people more, make the most of my life, and causes me to want to grow daily.
4. Get input from family and friends you trust
Abby and I dated for three years, and then broke up for three years before reconnecting and getting back together (and eventually getting married). During that time of being apart, I never thought I’d date Abby again (and she never thought she’d date me again), so I pursued other women. Every time I was interested in another girl, my family never approved of her.
I would always ask them, “why don’t you like her? What kind of girl do you see me with?”
“Someone like Abby,” was their response almost every time.
In hindsight, I should have considered my family and friend’s advice more, and stopped pursuing these other women. I had lost hope in Abby and I ever working out again, so I didn’t even consider pursuing her again or praying about it (until Abby came back into my life unexpectedly).
Lesson: Your family and friends want what’s best for you, and they can see the truth when you are blinded to it because of ‘love’. Consider their advice and be open to their input.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” – Proverbs 19:20 (ESV)
When you pray for wisdom and guidance in your relationship, do you feel a peace? Or do you feel uneasy and unsure about moving forward with your significant other?
Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (ESV). The word ‘rule’ here is brabeuo, which literally means ‘to be an umpire’, ‘to decide/determine/direct’. In other words, the peace of Christ guides us in the right direction towards the right decision.
Is the peace of Christ pulling you towards marriage with this person, or towards breaking up? Peace is one way the Spirit of God guides us into what is best for us. Follow the peace, and you will make the right decision.
Are you married? What advice would you give to those who are engaged and/or want to be married some day? Share your wisdom and experience in the comments below!