Marriage is the first human relationship described in the Bible. Jesus affirmed the ancient definition of marriage as one man and one woman becoming one-flesh. Married followers of Jesus were exhorted to love and respect their spouse and to submit to one another out of reverence to him. Such truths communicated in the Scriptures infer that marriage is the primary relationship in a household. Entering into the union is significant, exciting, and sobering. In this article, I present some important questions for you to ask and answer before you say, “I do.” These are questions that pre-marital counseling can raise and can help participants to address and process. I also encourage you to read the accompanying Scriptures. Emotional and spiritual compatibility are foremost and vital considerations.
Is this God’s Calling for Me?
(1 Corinthians 7:17)
Marriage is not the best fit for all. Given the privileges, responsibilities, and limitations that marriage involves, do I sense a calling to this life-long commitment? Am I willing to become one with this person – emotionally, spiritually, in partnership, and physically?
Do I have a positive vision for the future with this person? Am I willing to submit to this person, i.e. defer my own preferences and ways, and sacrifice for him or her?
Do Our Personalities Mesh Well?
Do we complement each other? Do I feel accepted “as is” by this person? Do I accept him or her “as is”? Do I like this person, and enjoy being in his or her presence? Can we laugh with and at each other? Do I feel safe enough to reveal myself, risk the truth in love, and confront and be confronted in love? Am I physically attracted to this person? Am I attractive to him or her? What common interests do we share? What evidence do we have that we can work well together?
What are We Bringing into Marriage?
Do we know what we are bringing into this marriage from our past, and how does our past impact our present relationship? (See Exodus 20:5-6). Without intentional repentance or emotional healing, past negative patterns can repeat themselves. What wounds, losses, reactions or patterns, and expectations are you bringing into this relationship? How have you and your beloved addressed these issues and realities from the past? How well do you know the person’s family of origin and background?
How Do We Communicate
Do we communicate and understand each other easily? (James 1:19-20) Do we resolve conflict and hurts? How? (Ephesians 4:26)
Are we Spiritually Compatible?
(2 Corinthians 6:14)
Do we share life’s most important values? How does this person affect my relationship with God? Does he or she encourage or discourage it? Or are they indifferent to it? Does this person inspire me to be a better man or woman? For followers of Jesus, does this person encourage me to love Jesus first? Do we pray together?
Do We Agree Financially?
Do we agree on basic financial principles and practices? (1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17) Can we afford to be married? Will we be able to save after covering all the joint expenses?
What Do Others Think?
Do those closest to us affirm this commitment? (Ephesians 4:15) Who would support and advocate for our marriage?
Are We Emotionally Mature Enough for Marriage?
Is there evidence of emotional maturity in us? (Galatians 5:22-23) Do we regulate our emotions in healthy ways? Do I take responsibility for myself? Does my beloved? Is there transparency in the relationship? How has this person earned my trust – i.e. does this person keep his or her word? Is there truth-telling and truth-keeping? Is this person addicted to anything? Am I? Are we willing to seek help and healing for our struggles?
Christian Counseling to Prepare for Marriage
If you are interested in addressing these and other questions before marriage, Christian counseling can be an invaluable resource. A licensed professional who shares a similar worldview and values, and has the skill to guide the exploration of these questions, can help you to discern your fitness for marriage.
“Couple Celebrating Fall,” courtesy of mrhayata, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY-SA 2.0); “Just Being Together,” courtesy of Garry Knight, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Couple In the Rain,” courtesy of Keromi Keroyama, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0);