As you prepare for married life, there are probably 100 questions running through your mind: Am I ready? Is this the right person for me? Will our love last? Marriage is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life, and these types of questions are a key part of the process. Here are nine questions to ask before marriage to help heed God’s plan for your life.
It has been said that we make close to 35,000 decisions each day. Some of these decisions are small and seemingly inconsequential: Get up or hit snooze? Regular or decaf? Blue or black pen? (Fun fact: between the two, I’ll always choose blue.)
Some of these small decisions accumulate to make a big difference, but not always. Then there are the big decisions—the yes or no, right or left, that will forever change your life. Marriage is one of those decisions.
A Big Decision
I’m in my second marriage, which is an interesting situation for a gal in marriage ministry. My first marriage was a disaster. I was 17 when we met and had just graduated high school a couple weeks before. Right around my 18th birthday, the abuse started. A few months later, I dropped out of college. Another few months after that, I was pregnant with our first child.
The next decade wasn’t all bad, but when it was, it was horrid. Abuse, addiction, adultery—all of them finally led to me leaving for good after 12 years of an on-again, off-again nightmare.
I feel like I need to enter a disclaimer here—it wasn’t all bad. If it was, it wouldn’t have taken me 12 years to give up. He isn’t all bad, and it wasn’t all his fault. We also had three beautiful babies together. Very few things and people in this world are ALL bad—but that’s also why they can be deceiving.
A Second Chance
Conversely, my second husband, Josiah, is one of the most loving, kind individuals I’ve ever met in my life. I truly feel like God led me to him, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am that we serve a God of second chances!
As someone who has experienced both a failed marriage and true oneness in marriage, I’d like to offer a bit of advice to those who may be considering entering into the holy, humbling, hallowed institution of marriage. Here are some important conversations to have with your potential husband, yourself, and the Lord before you say “I do.”
CONVERSATIONS WITH EACH OTHER
1. Do We Share the Same Faith?
In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul gave this advice: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness” (2 Corinthians 6:14)? It’s advice we’d do well to heed.
In the 1980’s there were these toys called View-Masters. You stuck a disk of tiny images on film into binocular-looking things and flicked a little switch on the side to move through the images as you peered through the lenses. It was fun to look through the pictures with friends. But what if they couldn’t see what you did? What if there was a completely different picture when they peered in, or the film was slightly off so they could only see part of the picture—or worse, just complete darkness?
Being a follower of Christ isn’t something we do on the weekends or just another ‘part of who we are’. If we’re truly following Christ, it’s a worldview; we see everything through the lens of God’s holy Word. Marriage is hard—for everyone. Paul said, “those who marry will have worldly troubles” (1 Corinthians 7:28), and that’s absolutely true. However, if you and your potential husband aren’t viewing life through the same lens, you’re going to make something already hard infinitely harder.
2. Do You Want Kids?
I listened to a pastor speak one time about a couple he once counseled. The wife knew when they got married that her husband didn’t want children. Whether she resigned herself to it at the time or thought he’d change, I’m not sure, but years into the marriage she found herself grieving for the children she so desperately wanted, but couldn’t have. The marriage finally ended in divorce.
We all change as we grow, and there’s no guarantee that what we want today won’t be different in 10 years. If you asked me 15 years ago (when I only had two children) if I’d even consider having SEVEN kids, I’d have laughed in your face and called you insane. Nevertheless, here I am, and while the road wasn’t—and isn’t—easy, I’m grateful to have each one.
I went into my marriage with Josiah knowing that he wanted children. That was imperative considering I already had three. I also knew he would want at least one or two more children because he didn’t have any yet. If I hadn’t been willing to do that, I wouldn’t have married him. It would have been a deal-breaker.
No one knows what’s in front of them in marriage—pregnancy, infertility, miscarriages, health issues, etc. However, before saying, “I do,” a conversation about each others’ willingness to have children (and how) needs to take place, and both parties have to be willing to be completely honest with one another AND themselves. (That last part is often the hardest.)
3. What Are Your Values?
4. What Fills You With Rage?
5. What Fills Your Heart With Joy?
6. What Are Your Best Memories?
Each of these questions helps you (and your potential husband) get to the core of your values. After you ask them, be sure to ask each other, “why?” Each answer should give you an idea of where your values lie. If something makes you angry, it probably violates values you hold dear. If an event or experience makes you joyful, it probably aligns with your core values. I’ll give you an example.
I hate lies. I know most people do, but being lied to makes me irate, and the older I get the easier I can ‘spot the lie’. I feel it; I call it, “a disturbance in the force.” When someone lies to me, they violate one of my highest core values: truth. For me, that has a lot of subcategories as well—God’s Word, honesty, integrity, etc—but they all fall under the same blanket category of ‘truth’.
Values are tricky, though, because we have societal norms we think should be on our short list. For example, I feel like cleanliness should be one of my values. However, my home is in a constant state of chaos and on any given day you might find my shoeless children running around with grime on their faces and in outfits that are far from fresh. I like cleanliness, but if I’m completely honest with myself, it’s not remarkably high on my list.
Go on a date and ask each other tons of questions. Pray about it. Do some digging. Then, make sure your values align and/or compliment each other.
CONVERSATIONS WITH YOURSELF
7. Do You See Fruit?
When I was dating my ex-husband, we had many talks about God and faith. He didn’t go to church, but I didn’t at that point either. I’d gone to church sporadically my whole life, so I didn’t know enough to think much of it. Over time, though, it became very clear that we didn’t have the same faith.
Jesus said believers could be recognized by their fruit (Matthew 7:20). If I had been paying attention (and known any better at 17), I would have seen the difference in our fruit. But I wasn’t and I didn’t, mainly because my fruit wasn’t what it should have been either, which leads to the next part of this question: How’s YOUR fruit?
We have a tendency to focus entirely on our potential partners and their flaws when we’re thinking about marriage, but I think it’s important to analyze our own. When we met, I had fallen away from the Lord, and my life didn’t look much different than an unbeliever’s. Jesus never left my heart, but you couldn’t see Him in my life.
If you’re looking for rotten fruit, make sure you check both trees before you graft them together.
8. Is He a Good Example?
This one is pretty straightforward: If you got married and had a son, would you want him to be just like his father? Would you let him date your daughter if you had one? Often, sons want to emulate their fathers. Furthermore, daughters, without realizing it, pursue men who (in some way) are like their fathers.
Unfortunately, I didn’t think about the latter when my girls were born. I didn’t realize the trauma that was happening to them as I was muddling through our turbulent marriage. However, as I neared 30, my son was born, and I knew I had to make changes. Their father wasn’t devoid of good qualities. In fact, he had quite a few. But I knew I couldn’t allow our son to witness the way he treated me because he might grow up to treat women the same way. I couldn’t bear that.
Honestly, sis, if you’re not confident he wouldn’t be a good example to your children and lead your household well, don’t even date him! Don’t leave the enemy room to deceive you.
9. What Do You Love About Him?
When we’re infatuated with someone, we often think we love them because of how they treat us or how they make us feel. However, that doesn’t have a thing to do with biblical love.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13), and I’m pretty sure that means spouses, too. Biblical love in marriage means laying down your life for another human being—one who is just as imperfect as you are. You’re to lay it down when he’s cranky, annoying, messy, or just plain smells.
Marriage is hard, and if you want to get through, you have to have something other than butterflies in your tummy to cling to. What do you love about his character? What values does he hold that you, too, hold deeply? What do you love about his worship? It’s these things that are going to get you through the days, seasons, and sometimes years, when you just can’t remember that “lovin’ feelin’.”
CONVERSATION WITH GOD
These questions are just to get you thinking. The ultimate authority on what you do with your life will never come from any other human but Jesus. He is the Word—the Logos—under the authority of the Father, in step with the Spirit. Look to Him for guidance on this holy covenant you’re going to make before Him.
Ask Him to make your direction clear. If you ask Him for wisdom, He will be faithful to give it to you (James 1:5)!
As Christians, we believe marriage is a covenant agreement, not a contract. We say, “til death do us part,” and there’s no escape clause built in—our “yes” is supposed to be forever. For this reason, it’s imperative that we say “yes” for the right reasons to the right person, and in the end, the only One who knows the correct answers to any of our questions is God.
Think about the questions you and your spouse asked each other before marriage—are there any you would add to Alissa’s list? How did you know your spouse was ‘the one’?
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