Solomon says, in Proverbs 19:2, “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way”. This verse is very much applicable in marriage. If a woman marries a man she knows only superficially, she is indeed embarking on a dangerous venture. In America, the divorce rate is now about 50%. Tens of thousands of others don’t even get married. They just live together. Christians, can offer new hope to the world by maintaining stable marriages and solid families.
There is certain disaster if a man and woman do not approach marriage seriously. Nothing weakens your discernment as much as being in love. Love has a tendency to cover up the faults of the beloved. So sound guidelines must be followed. In order to make the proper decision, one need to answer the following questions;
- Is she or he a Christian?
1Corinthians 7:39 says, “A Christian woman is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord”. It is best if a husband and wife belong to the same religion, be it Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or any other religion. A husband and wife must be one in this most essential and deepest matter of life. In 2Corinth. 6:14, Paul gives a warning against marrying an unbeliever. “Do not be unequally yoked up with unbelievers, for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness?” There is probably no greater curse than a bad marriage. The warnings are clear in the scriptures, but they must be put into practice. A woman may think that she will surely win the unbelieving man she loves into a believer, once they are married. But it usually does not happen that way. Marriage is not the vehicle for evangelism and conversion. A woman who marries an unbelieving man stands a little chance to convert her husband. There is also the risk that if they have children, they will follow the father’s footsteps.
- Do you share the same spiritual interest?
Unity in the faith is necessary, but not sufficient. Happiness in marriages largely depends on the spiritual maturity of the couple. It is difficult to live together if one spouse puts a greater value on the scriptures and prayer than the other one does.
Is there Harmony of character?
Too great a difference in character and temperament can produce tension, while equal temperaments can clash as well. Love must be based on mutual respect and understanding. There is a need for fellowship and open discussion. One woman said, “one of the mates must be able to provide what the other is missing”.
Another woman said, “I want someone of the same level. He must be able to understand me. There must be an exchange of thoughts”. Yet another friend suggested “there must also be room for each to develop a life of his own”.
- Do you have mutual interests?
Be sure there isn’t too great a difference in education. Can you challenge one another on the intellectual level? Do you share any common sports or hobbies? The more mutual exchange there is, the stronger the unity of the marriage relationship will be. This will also keep the marriage new and fresh.
- How do your backgrounds compare?
It is important not only to get to know one another, but to get acquainted with each other’s background as well. Differences in language, nationality, social background, education, and church affiliation are not too difficult to overcome, but they do put extra pressure on the marriage and should be carefully considered. Initially it may appear that the hindrances can be overcome, but later they develop into a wedge between the couples.
Another good question to ask is how the young man’s father behaves towards his wife and children. There is a good chance that the son will behave in a similar way.
An issue that causes a great deal of troubles in many marriages is finances. Get to know one another’s spending habits. If there are wide differences, can they be bridged? Discuss this openly during courtship. A Cinderella who marries a prince sounds nice as a fairy tale but in practice, it could be a disaster. One marriage consultant says, “refuse to think of marrying someone who differs greatly with you in background. Love doesn’t solve all problems. It never has and it never will. Moreover, love is only one of the many aspects of a happy marriage.
- Is your partner also your friend?
It is a pity that the courtship time is increasingly becoming shorter these days. This simply does not allow for the two people to get to know one another very well. To get married too quickly deprives the couple of something beautiful. This can cause a damage to a marriage that cannot be repaired. Many newly weds would experience fewer problems by taking time for more preparation. Mutual experience, socializing, getting acquainted with each other’s relatives, and simply talking help develop a bond that the marriage will need later.
…with Rose Hansey (email@example.com)