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
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.
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
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.
In any case, 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.
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.
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.
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 to 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
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 are 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?
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.
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
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
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
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.
HAVE THE PATIENCE
When it is a question of sex
life, many people have often been tempted to start it at an early age even
before marriage because the attraction can be so great. Some can even feel that
they will burst because of their desires. People have also defended their
premarital relationships by saying that there cannot be anything wrong about it
if both love and respect each other.
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.
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
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.