Don’t you wish it were easier to figure out the person God wants you to marry? After all, the movies make it look so easy: See the person. Fall madly in love. Pine away for him or her for a little while. Then magically overcome all obstacles and live happily ever after.
At least that seems like the way it’s supposed to work. But real life often unfolds rather differently, doesn’t it?
And for those who want a happy, healthy marriage that will be pleasing to God, it’s going to take more than eHarmony to marry the right person.
In my last post, I proposed the first of 3 questions every Christian should ask before he or she says “I do.”
The first question was this: Is the person I want to marry truly a faithful follower of Jesus Christ?
But is that enough? I don’t think so.
We need to get more specific about what it means to faithfully follow God, especially when it comes to one critical area of relationships—problems.
Question 2: Is the person I want to marry committed to solving problems biblically?
I know, I know. You and your special someone will not have any problems.
But let’s suppose that one day, maybe, your relationship becomes like every other relationship in the history of humanity, and you confront a struggle of some sort. A problem surfaces. You disagree about something (Gasp!) An argument takes place. Sin happens.
What will you do about it?
The answer to that question will go a long way toward determining the health of your marriage. By asking this question before you get married, you can save yourself a whole lot of heartache.
Christian counselor Jay Adams once noted that the best pre-marital counseling a pastor could ever give a couple preparing for marriage is to commit to coming back six months after the wedding.
By then, the newness has worn off, and the problems that happen to all relationships have begun to surface. That’s when most couples need the most help.
Our culture has conditioned so many of us to dispose of anything that causes problems, even marriages. The popular approach to dating, trying on a potential spouse and discarding him or her when the going gets rough, simply trains us to run from marriage when conflict happens.
Conflict will happen. No marriage will be problem-free.
You are fooling yourself if you think your marriage will be problem-free.
Our secular culture has also conditioned us to think we can solve problems using worldly wisdom rather than God’s wisdom. Thus we tend put more faith in Oprah’s relationship advice or the latest psychology fads than we do in timeless biblical truth.
How Do You Know?
If you are human, you probably already have problems that have surfaced in your relationship with the person you want to marry—even if you are pretending they don’t exist.
So you don’t have to guess how he or she (and you) will deal with problems. You simply need to open your eyes to reality and be intentional about asking the right questions and listening, honestly listening, to the answers.
May I suggest you try these questions to help you figure out if the person you want to marry is committed to solving problems biblically:
- Is he or she willing to admit to making a mistake? One of the worst people you could ever marry is someone who thinks he or she is perfect. I know, no one actually says that. But some of us live as if it were true. If someone gets put out whenever you point out he may have made an error, give some room for the Holy Spirit to work. But if the denial continues as a pattern of behavior, know you are in for a very rough road ahead if you choose to move forward in marriage. And you can’t change them, so stop telling yourself that lie.
- Is he or she willing to confront you when you are wrong? It may not be a quality you admire right now, because having someone point out our faults is never fun. But trust me, you don’t want to marry someone who thinks you are perfect. Why? Once you are married, he or she will find out the truth. In Scripture we learn that Jacob put Rachel on a pedestal (seriously, who would work 14 years to marry a woman he didn’t know well enough to recognize on his wedding night?). His blindness toward her faults resulted in his preferential treatment of Joseph, which tore his family apart.
- How easily does he or she ask for and give forgiveness? “Will you forgive me?” There are few more powerful expressions in a healthy relationship, trumping even “I love you,” in my opinion. Because if you truly love someone, you will forgive that person. When we hurt someone, even unintentionally, we are in debt to him or her. When we grant forgiveness, we release that debt and clear the way to restoring the relationship. Scripture calls us to forgive as God has forgiven us—freely, promptly, and without reservation, whenever we are asked to do so.
- Does he or she look to Scripture for wisdom when dealing with conflict? Jesus made it pretty clear how we are to handle problems with other people. Matthew 18 gives us a roadmap to follow. The question is, does the person know it and practice it? Do you even know it? (Look for more on this soon in a post.)
- Will he or she let the sun go down while angry? One of the most important decisions my wife and I ever made in our marriage was to obey the biblical command not to let the day end with anger unaddressed. That doesn’t mean we have always resolved every problem, but we have almost never gone to sleep angry. I can count on one hand the times we have gone to sleep angry over the course of 17 years of marriage (except that I have chosen to forget them). We seek and grant forgiveness so we can start the new day grudge-free.
- How has problem-solving been modeled for him or her? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is a cliché because it is often true. We tend to repeat the mistakes of our parents unless we are intentional about changing the behavioral cycle. If his or her parents have not dealt with problems biblically, know that it will not be easy for him or her to change. Under stress, we tend to revert to what we know, even if it is self-destructive behavior. It is possible, don’t get me wrong, but only if you acknowledge the harmful tendencies he or she has observed and work together to change them.
If you prayerfully ask these questions about the person you want to marry, you will have done more than most people do when considering whether God wants them to marry someone.
Sad, I know. But true.
Most importantly, you need to be willing to be open to the leading of the Spirit and willing to walk away from the relationship.
Never think that you have gone too far down the road toward marriage to walk away if it isn’t a wise thing to do.
If it would help, why not share this post with that person and then set aside time to have a candid conversation about these questions before you tie the knot.
There is no such thing as the perfect marriage, because there are no perfect people. But your marriage can become something special if you are both committed to dealing with problems biblically.
Question: How willing are you to see the person you might marry as he or she truly is? If you are already married, how committed are you to dealing with problems with God’s wisdom instead of your own? Share your thoughts by clicking here.
Photo credit: kimblackham.com