Look Before You Leap
Answering these questions can help you avoid making a mistake in marriage.
by Susan Johnson*
Marriage is an enormous commitment. After the wedding, when the blush of romance is over, real life sets in. Marriage never fixes problems in a relationship; it only adds more complex issues. When you are in love with someone, you are often blind to the other’s faults or inappropriate behavior. You are deceiving yourself if you think that by marrying, you can change the person you love.
Everyone has faults and weaknesses. Still, it is important to be aware of both the negative and positive tendencies in the person you’re considering as a mate. Here are some guidelines.
Do you know what his childhood was like? Does he respect his parents? Has he suffered neglect or abuse as a child? If so, how has this abuse affected his life and personality?
How does her family treat you?
Does he respect your parents? How do your parents feel about him?
What has her past relationships been like?
Is your boyfriend stable — emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially?
How well do you know your girlfriend’s weaknesses and strengths? What do you love most about this person? What do you like least?
What does he love most about you? Does this person look for reasons to make you happy?
Does she show empathy (care) for you and for other people who are hurting? Does she ever make fun of you or of others?
Does he ever show favoritism or racist behavior?
Is she patient with you and others?
Is he a faultfinder and perfectionist, or someone who looks for reasons to compliment you and others?
Is she humble, or does she brag about her character and accomplishments?
Is he tactful and considerate, even during disagreements?
Is she a forgiving person or someone who tends to hold grudges?
Does he ever lie? Has he always been completely honest with you?
Are you sure of her faithfulness to you? Does she trust you? Does she ever accuse you of cheating without cause?
Does he express his feelings easily? Does he ask your advice and respect what you say?
Does she take responsibility for what she does wrong? Does she apologize if she hurts your feelings?
Is he affectionate with you?
Does she have a true interest in your life and in what you do?
Do you have similar interests?
Is one of you more independent than the other? How do you deal with this now? How will you deal with it later?
Is one of you more outgoing than the other? Do you know how to compromise on participating in social activities? What will your social life be like?
Do you share similar feelings on whether one or both of you would work? Do you agree on whether you will have children?
How many children would you have, and how you would raise them?
Do you know his expectations of you? Are they reasonable? Are you willing to fulfill them?
Have you thought about how you will each contribute to the marriage?
Does this person do anything that annoys you? Have you asked her to change this habit? What was her response?
Is he a heavy drinker or a smoker? How do you feel about his personal habits? (He won’t change just because you married him.)
Does she use illegal drugs? Is she addicted to porn? (This won’t change because you married her.)
What type of people does he hang out with? Are these people a good influence on him? Do you feel comfortable around them?
Why does she want to marry you?
If you asked him to wait two years to marry you, would he wait for you?
Have you deceived yourself by thinking that you can change her once you are married?
Do you feel you are settling by marrying him? Are you marrying him because you are lonely or because you want someone to take care of you?
Are you sure you love this person? Are you positive that you don’t just “need” her to meet an emotional or financial need? (Many people have married for these reasons.)
Are you staying with him only because you find it too hard to break up with him?
Are you looking for a father or mother for your children?
Are you willing to commit to this person for the rest of your life?
Does he treat you any differently than he did in the beginning of your relationship? Is he moody? Does he seem to have two personalities that are opposite to each other?
Does she expect you to do things you are not comfortable doing? Does she expect you to change yourself just to please her, or does she love you now, just as you are? Does she ever try to control you or tell you what to do?
Are you afraid to go against his wishes?
How does she respond to upsetting situations? Does she have a temper?
Is he ever verbally abusive or insulting? Physically abusive? Does he ever blame you for what you believe was not your fault?
Do you feel comfortable being yourself around her, or do you feel as though you have to be a different person to make her happy?
Do you feel happy when this person is around, or relieved when he is gone? Does this person ever weary you by constantly finding fault with you or needing you too much?
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14, NIV).
Are you a born-again Christian? If so, the following questions are extremely important. It is a sin for a Christian to marry a non-believer, and it will put a great strain on your marriage. The consequences of disobeying God in this matter are often severe.
Marrying a Christian who is weak or young in the faith can be nearly as difficult. Make a point of noticing your potential mate’s spiritual priorities.
Commitment to Christ
How long has this person been a Christian?
Does she pray regularly and study the Bible?
Has he been mentored by a strong believer?
Does she put God first in her life? Has she submitted her will to God?
Does he love the things of God more than the lusts of this world?
Does she call sin what it is: disobedience to God? Does she regularly repent of her sins?
Is he growing in his Christian faith? Does he desire to do so?
Does she swear or use God’s name in vain?
Is he getting help for any addictions?
What is her church like? Does it teach the Bible accurately? Does she attend church regularly? Would you go to this church with her?
Doctrine and personal convictions
Does he believe in the supreme authority of the Bible?
Does she believe Jesus is God?
Does he believe there is only one way to be set free from sin: through Jesus’ death on the cross and repentance?
Do you both agree on political and theological topics? Do you agree on what is right and wrong? Are there any considerable differences in your convictions and beliefs?
Is she praying for guidance in your relationship?
Does he pray with you and read the Bible with you?
Does she give you biblical advice and encouragement?
Does he encourage you and others to obey the Bible?
Does she make her decisions based on what God would want her to do?
Is he open with you about his struggles in his Christian faith?
Does she worship God openly and witness for Christ? Does she try to be a good Christian example?
Does he ever pressure you to do anything you feel uncomfortable doing or that is inappropriate by God’s standards?
Does she watch, read, or listen to things that are immoral in God’s sight or offensive to you?
Does he pray for you?
Do either of you feel that you must be married to be complete? (Only God can make us complete; we cannot depend on any person to do that.)
Is she he willing to go to pre-marriage counseling with a solid Bible-believing pastor? Would he be willing to go to a Christian counselor if you had problems in your marriage?
A person’s commitment to God must be real and secure. Christian beliefs must be more than head knowledge, more than a set of morals used for show.
Most important, pray for God’s will in your desire to marry. God has a specific plan for your life, and He knows best.
* Name has been changed.