How to find a
How to find a suitable spouse and partner? What things to consider when looking for a spouse?
Are you looking for a spouse? Have you been trying to find a suitable companion for yourself but do not know what kind of a person would be suitable for you or what to look for in a suitable spouse?
We are going to deal with this issue, since it is one of the most important things in life, right after a person’s relationship with God and finding eternal life. We will try to show what things are important in a relationship and what one should look for in a spouse. These points are probably already familiar to many readers; nevertheless, they are worth repeating.
MAKING DEALS. When buying a new car, it is normal for people to look for detailed information about the good and bad sides of the vehicle and also look at its durability and suitability for their personal use. These all are things that are usually checked before buying a new car.
In some ways, a new relationship and searching for a spouse are similar. It is good to be aware of the other's weaknesses and strengths and other meaningful everyday issues. Otherwise, these issues can later come as a shock or a surprise.
The following checklist can help to clarify the points to which attention should be paid. Most of these issues have been stumbling blocks in many relationships:
- (2 Cor 6:14) Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…
If you already believe in Jesus and are born again, you should also try to find a believer as your companion, as the verse above teaches. Since the marriage should last for a lifetime and it is the longest common "yoke", the spouses must be in agreement in at least this because agreement is seldom found elsewhere. Marriage between two believers does not automatically guarantee success, but it will certainly reduce the number of conflicts.
Many mistakes are made, especially when girls marry so that they can later save and change their spouse ("I'll marry him so that I can lead him to faith") without understanding that it is almost an impossible task, as Paul wrote:
- (1 Cor 7:16) For what know you, O wife, whether you shall save your husband? or how know you, O man, whether you shall save your wife?
D.L. Moody, who lived in the 1800s, repeatedly observed that problems occur when someone marries with a purpose of “improving” the other person or saving him. He noticed that especially young women were guilty of this and as a result made themselves very miserable. It would be good if Moody’s practical experience could speak to everyone who plans a marriage to improve the other person:
There is another hope that I think is the most deceitful and misleading one ever, and that breaks the hearts of many young girls. I mean that common mistake of thinking that a woman can improve a man by getting married to him. To me it is a mystery how people can be so blind to hundreds of cases we see in all societies, when faltering homes have collapsed and the lives of innocent people have been made miserable, all because a young girl wanted to marry a rascal in the hope of saving this man. I have never seen this kind of a marriage lead to anything else than grief and pain – and I have seen hundreds of such marriages. Let no young girl think that she can bring about such a transformation, when loving mothers or sympathetic sisters have failed. When you are considering matrimony, there should be clear evidence of real and thorough salvation.
Let no Christian woman believe that she can undermine Paul's order: "Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Cor 6:14), for in such cases I have always noticed that the husband will lose respect for his wife and that the wife will follow her Lord "from afar" or deny Him completely. (1)
You should also see whether your dating companion has turned to God and been saved before dating you. For many conversions that have taken place during dating, perhaps more than 90% of them, are not real but are based more on the fact that the person becomes interested in God because the other person is interested in Him too. He does not seek God for himself but in order to hold on to the person he loves.
The result of this is generally that the person’s interest in spiritual things will fade. It will fade as the first flush of romance fades. It is a bit like an alcoholic falling in love; when an alcoholic falls in love, he may stop drinking but when the emotions have faded, the alcoholic normally returns to the old way of life. The reasons for the problem are much deeper and momentarily falling in love will result in no permanent change.
Differences in character. It's generally noted that opposite characters attract each other – they may become interested in each other in very special ways. A person who is cold by nature can be attracted to a warm person, silent to a talkative, peaceful to an energetic, irritable to a mild mannered, and so on. These personalities complement each other very well and the relationship can be successful.
There can, however, be problems with this. It can also mean a confrontation between stingy and squanderer, messy and tidy, idle and energetic. This means that it is not necessarily a positive thing in marriage: it can also become burdensome and turn the relationship into a battlefield. Generally, the best indicator of people's bad qualities is time. Time also shows how you can adapt to the other's bad qualities.
The next example well describes what this is all about. As the other person's completely different personality can be very attractive, it can also bring some negatives to the marriage that may later become huge problems and burdens. This usually happens just when the first romantic flush in the marriage has faded.
A man who was recently engaged explained why he loved his bride so much. "She is a real child of nature," the man said. "Spontaneous and carefree. Full of surprises. It is so nice to be with her!” After a few months, when the same man had cancelled the wedding, he said, "My girlfriend drove me absolutely crazy. She lived in her own world, was careless and irresponsible and did not have any kind of self-control. She drove the car until the tank was empty, constantly overdrew her bank account, and bought things on a whim. And I almost got married to her. What would have become of that! (2)
Is the other person (or are you) inflexible, does he/she have strong opinions, does he/she fail to admit his or her faults? These features that can be hidden during the short dating period can become big problems in a relationship. It can sometimes be quite difficult to live with a “perfect" person, and many of us are like that. Still, if we are under the mercy of God, we can get rid of these characteristics little by little, so that they will not control our relationship.
You can get a good idea of the other one's personality by how he/she treats his or her parents - especially how the man treats his mother and the woman her father - and people he/she doesn't need to impress. If he has a negative relationship with his parents or has a grudge against them, then these feelings will usually follow him into the marriage. Similarly, if a person is sarcastic and does not appreciate people, these features will follow with him into the marriage. These features come to light just when the first romantic flush starts to fade and the spouses see each other through clear eyes.
Responsibility is an issue that can develop if we are under the grace and mercy of God. If you are looking for a spouse, it is good for you to ask how responsible that person is (or you are). Is this person a suitable parent for your children, or unsuitable and unloving? Is this person irresponsible with money? Does this person keep jobs, pay bills on time, keep the home clean?
These areas cause most of the problems in a relationship. According to some researchers, the use of money (getting into debt, what to spend on/save for) has been the underlying cause of divorces in 70% of all cases. Problems connected with spending money and other similar issues may seem trivial when you meet a person only now and then, but if you must live together for years, they can become big problems:
A subconscious denial of reality. It really happens, and it is dangerous. You can avoid it only if you analyse your future spouse mercilessly. How responsible is he in his work? Does he change jobs constantly? Is he conscientious and reliable? How responsible is he in relationships? Is he loyal to his friends? Have his friendships lasted through the years? What is his economic situation? Does he plan how he spends his money and does he save money for the future? Does he pay his bills on time? What is he like physically? Does he take care of his health? Does he keep his body in good condition? What about housekeeping? Does he take good care of his things? Are his things in order? Does he get around the law? Does he joke that rules are made to be broken?
If these questions seem awkward to you, watch out. Issues that may seem insignificant during dating may be become big problems in marriage. Disappointments that are easy to tolerate when dating can become unbearable when they are daily. No question is too small. No concern is too insignificant to address. (3)
Common interests matter. The more a couple has in common: views, habits, opinions, goals, hobbies (these are good to be discovered before dating – getting interested because of the partner doesn't last long.) and mutual friends, they are always a benefit in a marriage – they make being together much easier. On the other hand, the less a couple has in common, the greater the risk is for communication problems and conflicts. They may not have anything to talk about or they may spend too much time settling their disagreements – both alternatives are possible.
We should have gotten shared hobbies and friends. We went our separate ways, and finally we had nothing else in common than mortgage and a bed. (4)
One important aspect is spiritual work. Even if you and your spouse share the same faith, if one of you has a vision for missionary work and the other has not, then the vision can not materialize. Many believers have not fulfilled their calling because the spouse has not had the same calling. Oswald J. Smith illustrates this point:
I could tell you of many middle-aged couples who have come to me and said, "Dr. Smith, God called me once to go to the mission fields but I married a man who does not have a calling for missionary work, and now we have a family. We are now middle-aged, and it is too late. I have lost the best God had reserved for me, and now I have to be satisfied with the second best.” They have told these with broken hearts and with tears in their eyes.
My young friend, if God has called you into the missionary field, you do not have a right to date anyone who does not have the same calling. If you obey this rule, you will never make a mistake. (5)
Getting married too young. One thing worth noting is that you should not get married too young. It is always a risk if either one or both are under twenty years of age, or if they rush into marriage to escape difficult conditions. Many young people may be immediately attracted if someone only offers them a way out of difficult conditions. Because they are not mature yet and are still growing up, the relationship can be quite problematic. It may become a new prison for them instead of new freedom.
Therefore, if you plan to get married at a young age, think twice. You have nothing to lose if you wait a little longer and get to know your companion better.
If I could return to the past, I would study in peace and live my youth before moving in with anyone. I would also postpone having children and would not start building a house at the same time. You do not have to get everything at once: you can do things one after another, over time. (6)
I should not have started to date when I was 17. On some level, I knew that I was making a mistake, and over the years I found how big a mistake it was. But without those years, I would not be the person I am now. I had to look myself in the eye and work with myself a lot but now I know who I am and what I want, and I can live a life that is suitable for me. (7)
Getting a job is never bad for a relationship. There is a good advice in Proverbs, "Prepare your work without, and make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterwards build your house.” (Pro 24:27). This means that it is not good to build a relationship on nothing. Especially the man should have a job first, so that he can support his family.
Many problems in marriage are the result of these basic things not being in order; a young couple may even begin their life together at the home of either of their parents, which cannot be recommended. You are not stupid if you wait awhile and try to get these basic things in order first.
Differences in social status, education, and family life are not usually recommended. This is especially problematic in situations where the woman is academic and highly educated, and the man is working class. It is true, of course, that these and other obstacles can be overcome.
Future. Before taking the relationship any further, it is good to be aware of each other’s thoughts (wishes, expectations, irritations, and worries) and plans for the future. Many do not discuss these while dating, and they may later become problems in the relationship.
Some things that are worthwhile to clear up are: plans about how to spend money and free time; visiting parents and the relationship with them; education and housing; employment and whether or not both will work; how will the housework be shared; having children and what happens after the children are born; will the mother stay at home or go to work?; and so on. It is also important to clarify the number of children desired, the timing of their births, and method of contraception, for example. If one of you wants children immediately and wants the house to be full of children and the other only wants a few children some years apart, problems may arise later.
It never occurred to me that everybody gets the models for their family life from his childhood, before shared habits are formed. We should have discussed habits beforehand. The attitude towards festival days was completely different in my home and the home of my husband. So, along came the first Mothers’ Day and no flowers for me. I was so shocked that my husband immediately went and bought me roses. After that, I kindly reminded him of an event a little before the day. Now, I no longer even have to remind him. (8)
I should have understood that agreements on housework must be made when you move in together. No matter how nice it is to pamper your loved one and cook nice meals, it will quickly become a prevailing practice, especially if the man was pampered by his mother. Housework should always be shared from the very beginning. Later on, it will take many arguments to change the prevailing practices. (9)
Above all, you must reserve time for dating. For many may still see their companion as an idol without any faults or play a role themselves. Also, some can be head over heels in love but very often – perhaps after a year – they may wonder why they fell in love with the person in the first place.
We should have dated longer before moving in together. In the initial fascination, I failed to see those characteristics in my companion that started to annoy me in the long term. Of course, everybody has his different habits but if somebody picks his nose when watching the TV year in and year out, it makes me want to puke. (10)
If you are in this situation, it would be good for you to stop for a while, settle down, and wait because with time you will be able to see clearly what you are getting yourself into. Going through "bad times" together, seeing each other in everyday situations which get on your nerves, seeing the other one's faults realistically, and learning to solve disagreements will give the relationship a good and realistic basis. There is a good warning in Proverbs about how unnecessary rushing and enthusiasm can cause mishaps. It certainly applies to admiration and love:
- (Pro 19:2) Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hastens with his feet sins.
Relationship with God. If you have a relationship with God, then a good sign of whether your relationship with the one you love is from God or not is whether you still consider God the most important thing in your life. If the relationship is from God, it will also get both of you to search for God together. Otherwise, if you are only under the spell of your beloved and it causes you to pray less or it takes you further from God, then this relationship is not from God.
The problem with the view above is that we do not always think of these things from the point of view of eternity, but only in the short term. It is true that sin can offer pleasures for a short time – for example, sex for perhaps twenty minutes at a time – but as to eternity, these few minutes are a waste of time. Therefore, we act stupidly if we only invest in this life and put all our strength in it, and fail to think about eternity. Jesus refers to this in the Gospel:
- (Matt -26) For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Another thing is that we do not see sexuality as a shameful or bad thing. It is good and belongs to our normal physical development. Sex is so normal that it has taken place through centuries and without it none of us would exist. Boasting about it, as if it had just been invented, is therefore futile.
We should make a clear difference between the misuse and right use of sex. Alcohol and food by themselves are not bad but can become problematic (overeating, alcoholism), and this also applies to sex. It too can become a problem if it is misused, indulged on outside the marriage. Paul's words refer to this. He says that it is the responsibility of both the husband and wife to fulfill the sexual needs of each other:
- (1 Cor 7:1-5) Now concerning the things whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
3 Let the husband render to the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife to the husband.
4 The wife has not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband has not power of his own body, but the wife.
5 Defraud you not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PRAYER
- (Pro 19:14) House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
It can sometimes be very difficult to find a suitable spouse. Many people work hard going to different meetings and occasions in the hope of finding a suitable person for themselves, someone with whom they could get along.
Another alternative is to pray to God for a spouse. If we
can ask Him for other small things, why could we not also
ask Him for bigger things, such as a spouse? He can
certainly carry out the search in a far better way than
anybody else, even though in this situation it is also good
to remember: "But seek you first
However, an important thing is that when you are looking for guidance in this issue, do not be misled by all kinds of prophecies, voices, and dreams. (You should keep in mind that the first person you meet is not always the person sent by God!) These should never be the main criteria in searching for a spouse but rather our own judgment. Many have made rushed decisions. (You should also keep in mind, however, that if a person is married, he or she is certainly married "to the right one" because God does not want to separate spouses from each other.) They may rely on prophecies or other such things because they have not understood that our own judgment is the most important criteria in this area. The next statement by James Dobson is a good example of this:
I will never forget the miserable man who told me that he had been woken to a vivid dream in the middle of the night. It seemed to mean, "Marry Susan.” Ralph had not prayed for God's guidance, but he thought that this command came directly from the Lord. The following day, he phoned Susan (he had gone out with her only two or three times) and said, "God commanded me to marry you!” Susan knew that she should not argue with the Almighty, and she accepted. Their marriage has been a miserable one, and judging it humanly, it has proven out to be a mistake. Neither of them now believes that God spoke to Ralph in the middle of the night; it really was his own imagination running wild. (11)
Prayer can still be one important tool in searching for a spouse. For instance, the next couple of examples indicate very well how some have received answers to their prayers. Perhaps these examples will encourage those of you who are still searching:
BILLY GRAHAM: I remember two or three times when I thought I
was in love. Others called it "puppy love", but to me it was
real. Then one day I decided to wait for the guidance of
God. I did not know then that far away in
A wise mother once advised her son to pray to the Lord for a wife he had already chosen for him. - You will certainly marry, the mother said to him, when the son, at twenty, was going into the world. - Understand that your wife lives, and because of that start to pray for her. He obeyed, and approximately seven years later he met her. The son said that he can never thank God enough for his wife. The wise advice of his mother certainly brought about this result. (13)
1. D.L. Moody, Kristinuskon rikkaus, p.85.
4. Magazine Me, 1 / 2007, 25 jälkiviisautta parisuhteessa
5. Oswald J. Smith, Kutsu elämään (THE CHALLENGE OF LIFE), p.36.
6. Magazine Me, 1 / 2007, 25 jälkiviisautta parisuhteessa
11. James Dobson, Nuoruuden kynnyksellä (PREPARING FOR ADOLESCENCE), p. 81
12. Billy Graham, Avioliitto ja kotimme (THE CHRIST-CENTERED HOME), p.28-29.
13. Poul Madsen, Avioliiton ihanteet (HÖGA IDEAL), p. 40
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!