Marriage is a serious undertaking and something that will significantly affect the rest of your life. Therefore, it is imperative that you do all you can to choose the “right” person to marry. That right person is totally determined by you. If you are participating in a culture where marriages are arranged, then the things that I present in this article still applies. The difference is that someone else will determine who that “right” person is. However, I assume that you will choose whom you will marry in this article.
So how do you know who to marry? How do you know to do anything? You observe, evaluate and calculate, and then make a decision. For example, if you want to know what car you should buy, then you first determine what needs you have, what your budget is, what preferences you have, and the like. You then go out and look at cars to find one that meets all your requirements. A similar process should be used when choosing a spouse.
I would like to present some guidelines that you can use when trying to find that right someone. The points that I make in this article pertains to someone who makes his or her own choice of who to marry. Some cultures have arranged marriages where someone else will use their own cultural guidelines, which probably include some of the guidelines presented in this article. Whether a marriage is arranged or not, deciding who to marry should be taken very seriously to establish a solid foundation on which to build a marriage that will be a very happy one.
Pray For Wisdom
Marriage is an important and critical decision for your life. This means that you should make a very wise decision, and the wisdom that you need comes from God. The Bible reveals that if we lack wisdom, then we should ask God for wisdom and He will give it to us (James 1:5). Therefore, ask God for wisdom in selecting a spouse. After you pray to God for wisdom, believe that He has given it to you and begin to use it.
Love Isn’t Enough
I must emphasize how important it is to be diligent and not let mere emotions dictate who you should marry. My father once told me that love is not a good reason to marry someone. I didn’t quite understand what he meant at that time, but after being married for over 30 years, I get it. Love is fickle and not very reliable on its own. Love can fade and when that happens, you may start wondering why you got married and perhaps pull away from each other. So, keep emotions from dictating who to marry.
Let me be clear here by saying that there are several types of love. There is the God kind of love, the type of love that someone would have for their family or parents, and there is the type of love that someone would have for their spouse, i.e., a romantic love, to name a few. A type of love that we have for our spouses is affection or an emotional type of connection. Some might even call it infatuation. In any case, this type of love is emotional and I’m sure you know by now that emotions are not very reliable and should not be used as a determinant.
The way you feel about your girlfriend or boyfriend is important. After all, you don’t want to marry someone that you don’t feel good about and that you don’t have a romantic affection for. You should feel good about the person that you want to marry and at the same time, you should remain objective in your decision process.
Get To Know Their Character
There is a scene in the movie, Avatar where Neytiri explained to Jake the concept of seeing. Seeing is deeper than what hits your eye so to speak. Seeing someone is more than an image, but rather knowing the inside (character) of the person. The point here is that you should get to know the person you are considering for marriage.
You get to know the person like you get to know any other person, except that you want to be more diligent and observant given the seriousness of marriage. Observe how he or she operates under pressure. Observe how he or she treats you in public and alone. Get to know their passions, pains, fears, religious ties, etc. Look deep inside the person to see who he or she really is. Don’t be fooled by outward appearances because someone who looks beautiful on the outside may be a pool of death on the inside.
Another important aspect about seeing someone is to see them in as normal an environment as possible. For example, if you fall in love with your high school sweetheart or college sweetheart, then you don’t really see him or her in a normal environment. What you see is the student version of that person. The student version may conceal the actual character of him or her, and once school is finished, he or she may go back to being themselves, which may be too late for you if you’ve already committed to marriage.
See the person in normal everyday situations. How do they respond to sudden trouble? What does their apartment or house look like, i.e., is he or she need and clean or messy and dirty? Gather all kinds of data about the person in their natural environment so to speak. Don’t marry someone while you are in school or even shortly after graduating (high school or college). Let the dust settle so that you can see the person as they really are without the pressures and forced dedication of school or whatever the temporary situation may have been.
Communication is a critical component for obtaining a happy marriage, and therefore should be a priority when determining who to marry. It is impossible to have a successful or happy marriage if the husband and wife do not communicate effectively. A husband and wife should be able to communicate honestly and safely with each other. Therefore, you should be able to communicate with each other honestly and relatively-safely before you are married.
Can you and your girlfriend or boyfriend talk about things in the relationship and about each other honestly? Are you comfortable talking about yourself, your dreams, goals, etc. with your girlfriend or boyfriend? If you can’t communicate effectively now, then why would you think that you will suddenly be able to communicate with that person after you are married. Therefore, ensure that you and your partner have a good and intimate relationship where you can communicate freely and safely with each other before you are married.
The Bible says that we should not be in a bound relationship with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). That is a specific case of compatibility. An unbeliever and a believer (Christian) will have different dispositions and perspectives about life. The unbeliever and believer operate under two different paradigms and are therefore incompatible. This principle surely applies to marriage too. In other words, the husband and wife should be compatible, else much conflict will ensue after the wedding day.
You should marry someone that is compatible with you. Compatibility does not mean that they like and do the same things that you do. Compatibility means that the two of you fit and can coexist cohesively and in harmony even with your differences. A person that is compatible with you will not hinder your growth as a person or hinder you from accomplishing your goals. If you read and study your Bible and do your best to live what the Bible teaches, then your spouse should have the same mindset. He or she may not study as much as you, but he or she does appreciate the value in feeding upon God’s word so to speak.
Compatibility can be determined by observing the person you are interested in marrying, asking questions about various topics, gleaning information from conversations, and much more. What types of recreational activities does your mate like? Does he/she read the Bible, attend church or the like, pray, exercise, etc.? Again, your spouse doesn’t have to like and do everything you do, but at the very least he/she should not be a hindrance to what you generally enjoy or aspire to accomplish in life.
Resolve Any Doubts
We tend to be in love with the person that we want to marry. I’ve already stated that love (infatuation, feelings) is not a good reason to marry someone. In other words, you don’t marry someone merely because you are in love. Anyway, since we are in love with our potential spouse, we may overlook problem areas in the relationship or perceived issues that we see in our mate. For example, your boyfriend or girlfriend may show no interest in having children or a relationship with God, whereas you want a family and your relationship with God is important to you. Marrying this person will most likely produce strive in the relationship.
Therefore, do not ignore your doubts, but investigate and resolve. You may very well decide that marrying this person is not a good idea even though he or she is nice, loving, etc. This is another reason why it is so important to get to know the person so that you can uncover any strange beliefs or practices, incompatible goals, etc. I say again that if you start having doubts about marrying your mate, then check on those doubts as they may prove to be a valid reason to avoid marrying him or her.
You’re Not Marrying the Family
Some say that when you marry someone, you marry their family. I personally do not believe that, because the Bible says that the two will become one flesh, not one family. A man leaves his father and mother to cling to his wife. We know from the Jewish tradition that the wife also leaves her family to be joined to her husband. The two come together and start a new life. Your mate may have a very good relationship with their family, but that does not give them the right to interfere with your marriage and therefore, you should not have the attitude or accept the idea that you are marrying your mate’s family.
The problem sometimes is that the husband, wife, or both allow their respective families to influence their marriage and their relationship with each other. They may interfere if a serious issue does arise between the two by providing counseling. They may not mean any harm, but the relationship between husband and wife is a private matter. Of course, if the husband or wife asks for advice, then well. However, the husband and wife should not allow their respective families to interfere with their marriage relationship.
Talk About The Married Life
You and your mate (boyfriend/girlfriend) should talk about marriage if you are both considering it. If your mate does not want to talk about marriage, then that may be a sign that he/she does not want to get married (at least now). What does your mate think about marriage? What would he/she expect in a marriage? Talk about it so you can determine, along with the other points above, that marriage with him/her is feasible. You could talk about children, how to stay in love, responsibilities, and more.
At this stage in the relationship, you may not discuss details in those things, but you will discuss your feelings or thoughts about them. For example, if you find that your mate believes in a completely different child raising paradigm, then marrying this person and have children may become a point of contention, which will, of course, affect the marriage.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to try to ascertain what the married life looks like to your mate. You will be able to better determine how compatible the two of you are on many topics. Talking about married life is also a good way to practice communicating with each other since communicating is very important in a marriage relationship.
Consider What Others Say
Sometimes we may get so infatuated with someone, that we fail to see significant character flaws or incompatibilities that others try to make us aware of. Your family and friends may provide a perspective of the person that you may not see. They are not trying to interfere or tell you what to do, but they may warn you about things they see that is concerning to them. Don’t’ make a decision based on those but consider them and decide accordingly. Remain objective, but don’t neglect to consider the opinions of those who care about you.
Money matters is an area where marriages can develop troubles. This is especially the case if a financial crisis occurs, such as someone losing their job. Therefore, knowing how your mate deals with money now is important. Determine how your mate treats and manages money. Is he/she a careless spender, squirrely saver, or somewhere in between. Knowing how your mate treats money will enlighten you on how he/she will treat money if you were married. If anything, you would want someone that has a compatible financial mindset and who manages money responsibly.
Sex is a very significant and critical part of a marriage relationship. Marriage has a good chance of failing if the sex life is not strong. Therefore, it is imperative that you establish the meaning of sex between you and your mate. If you expect to have frequent sex with your partner once married, then that should be expressed. Though the two of you may be virgins (which is the ideal situation), you should still discuss sex. You may not have sexual intercourse now, even though you may kiss and make out, and you will, therefore, explore new things and discover more about yourself sexually once sex begins after marriage. You both must be willing to work through that process together even if issues are discovered.
Do you and your mate want sex? Do you both have a sexual drive (libido)? What type of sex would you think you’d like? Would you use sex toys? Did your mate experience any sexual trauma in the past (e.g., sexual abuse as a child)? Discuss these types of things with your partner so that you will be more prepared to not only fully please each other sexually after the wedding ceremony, but you will be more equipped to deal with sexual issues that may arise later.
Don’t Feel Rushed Or Obligated
You may analyze all that you know of your mate and decide that he/she is not a good fit for you to marry, or that for some reason you are not ready to marry just yet. This is not to say that he/she is a bad person, but rather, he/she is not the person that you should marry. You have to be willing to walk away if the two of you are not compatible and have a very different worldview. This may be extremely hard to do but consider that living for years in a bad marriage is a lot harder. So, don’t feel obligated to get married regardless of how long you two have been together dating. Perhaps you can work on the compatibility and get married later. In any case, it is important that you marry someone that you really want to be with, and you have concluded that you will be a great married couple trekking through life together.
Get Premarital Education
Premarital education (sometimes called premarital counseling) means that the two of you get educated on what marriage is, how it works, how to make it a great one, etc. This way you have a very good idea of what to expect and what to talk about. At the very least, you could purchase marriage books to read and discuss together. You could also take advantage of any online resources designed for premarital education/training. I highly recommend this approach because many marriages fail because the couple is ill-prepared to be married in the first place, and they, therefore, don’t know enough to know what to do when problems come.
Once you’ve gone through some type of premarital education, you will have a better idea if you are ready for marriage and if you should marry the person you are considering (and vice versa). I have to add that this education does not end if you get married but will continue throughout your marriage life. Education mixed with communication is the dynamic duo in marriage to make it a great one.
You Really Want To Marry Him/Her
You should only marry someone that you want to marry. In other words, you have taken into consideration the points above and more, and overall you really want to marry this person. He/she is compatible, you communicate well with each other, etc. You now believe that he/she is the one and that you want to spend the rest of your life together.
Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into marrying someone either by family, friends, or time. You may, for example, feel that being with the same person for several years means that you have to get married. No. You get married when you want to get married not because someone is forcing you too. You are the one that will have to live with your spouse and it is therefore up to you to ensure that you select a spouse that is “the one.”
Other Things To Consider
If I was to explain everything that I think is important in determining who you should marry, then this would be a book. Hmm. Perhaps we have something here. Anyway, let me just list some other things that you should consider when deciding who you should marry, or more precisely if the person that you are with now is “The One.”
- Listen between the lines. You can gain a lot about the disposition about people by trying to determine what they are really saying or doing, apart what they expose to you and others. The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” He or she may be nice about a particular thing, but inside they hate it, and paying attention to their posture, undertones, and expressions, may reveal or give a glimpse of the truth.
- How much sex in the past? This could affect their expectations towards you sexually or it could be baggage that may be dragged into the marriage.
- Health. If he or she is sickly now, then chances are that he or she may be sickly later and you’ll be the one that has to deal with it. This may not be a reason not to marry, but it is something you should prepare for.
- Knowledge of the Bible and biblical principles.
- What religious practices does he or she adhere to, e.g., shouting, speaking in tongues, going to church many days a week, etc?
- How active is he/she in the church and what demands are placed on him/her
- Occupational responsibilities. A person who has a high profile job or is demanded to spend long hours at work will be homeless and with you less.
- Physical activity. Is he or she active, works out regularly, takes care of their body, etc?
- Eating habits. The way a person eats will contribute significantly with health issues later. If you’re married to him/her, then you’ll have to deal with it.
- Are there any ulterior motives for marriage? Sometimes a person may get married, not because they want to live their life together with their spouse, but because their spouse offers a service or resource that they need, e.g., financial, security. Try to determine if your partner really wants to marry you and not merely what you have to offer.
- Is he a momma’s boy or she daddy’s little girl? If your potential husband is momma’s boy or daddy’s little girl, then there is a chance that their parents may interfere with the marriage because they can’t let go.
- What are their parents like? This will help you to ascertain their perspective of a husband or wife.
- Does he or she take care of themselves, i.e., grooming, organization, etc?
- What hobbies and other responsibilities does he or she have?
- Does he/she have or want pets?
- Is he/she a smoker?
- Where does he/she want to live?
- Does he/she live alone now?
There are many more questions to ask and things to discover. Just take your time and get to know the person so that you would have a good idea of who they really are and therefore if you want to marry him/her.
How do you know who to marry? How do you know that the one you are currently with is indeed the one? I provided some guidelines that you can use to help you answer those questions. Don’t allow your emotions to rule. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into marriage. Get to know your spouse and ask questions and talk about things pertaining to their character, goals, marriage life, and more.
I also believe that not ignoring your doubts and considering what others have to say about your mate are very important to the decision-making process. Pray to God for wisdom and you will have it. Remain objective, though emotions are a part of how you feel about someone. Just don’t allow your feelings toward your potential spouse to short circuit common sense, reason, and objectivity.
You are going to spend the rest of your life with this person, so don’t take the decision-making process lightly. Enjoy each other, and if the relationship supports it, discuss marriage topics just to get a feel for where your mate is on the subject. Educate yourself about marriage and discuss what you’ve learned with each other (you’ll ideally do this during the course of your marriage too).