Lately I’ve come across quite a few of these “marriage advice” articles, many of them titled something like this:
Twenty Questions to Ask Before You Get Married
Ten Marriage Deal Breakers
Thirty-Five Things You Absolutely Must Agree On
The One Characteristic You Can’t Overlook in Marriage
I’m sure some of these articles contain some decent advice. One should never go into a serious relationship blindly. But don’t you get the feeling, from those titles, that the authors are trying to reduce it to some sort of formula? “Ask all of these questions, then you’ll know for sure whether you should marry this guy or not.” They’re trying to give us the steps to go through to make the process simpler — ask this question, make sure you agree on this issue, don’t forget to notice if they have this characteristic…figure out if they are “perfect for YOU” …and if all the ducks line up, you’ve got yourself a spouse!
Also, just for humor’s sake, you’ve gotta love this one that regularly circulates Pinterest:
Thank you, wise high schoolers 😉
Of course, yes, there are basic, important questions that need to be settled before a couple moves forward into engagement and marriage — the things that are fundamental, things like faith, spiritual convictions, and the direction they’re going in life.
Do both love the Lord more than anything else?
Are both actively and intentionally pursuing a relationship with Jesus and being more like Him?
Do both have a similar passion and calling in life? Are they going the same direction?
These are the questions to ask….more so than these:
Who will be responsible for keeping the house and yard clean?
How do you feel about paying for your children’s college education?
What will we do in the case of an accidental pregnancy?
How much time will we spend with our in-laws?
If one of us cheats, what will be the outcome?
(Yep, all of those questions came out of articles like the ones I listed above. One page even started out, “Sometimes love isn’t enough to keep a couple together….ask these questions now!”)
One of the best marriage articles I’ve read lately came from a young lady named Mo. Here’s what she says on her blog after getting engaged:
You see, my mind doubted because I was weighed down with the fear of making the wrong choice. Maybe Jeremiah wasn’t “The One”. How would I know for sure? There are things we disagree on. There are things about him that don’t always make me happy. It’s been a challenge, at times, loving him. And I KNOW it’s been a challenge for him to love me. Maybe we’re just compatible and I’m making the wrong decision. How do I know, for sure, that he is my soul mate?!But maybe we’ve got it all backwards. Marriage is a covenant – a promise – to God that you vow to love another like Christ first loved us. In the most intimate, challenging, all-inclusive way. A vow to become one flesh with another person. To serve them and selflessly love them as Christ served and selflessly loved us to the cross. To carry their burdens. To take the lashes of their shortcomings. To bear the taunting of their sins and struggles. To put them before yourself to the point of brokenness, so that we can ultimately rise, just as our King did, in love.
I think, after knowing that a potential spouse loves the Lord with all his or her heart, is pursuing God, and that the two of you can truly walk forward in life together, the next big question is
a) does this person selflessly love and serve me like Jesus?
b) can I selflessly love and serve him or her like Jesus?
c) will we love one another in a way that reflects how Christ loves the Church?
Personal story moment.
The other night, my fiance, Brett, and I were sitting on the couch, watching TV, and eventually he fell asleep, leaning against me. He looked so peaceful, and I began to pray as I watched him sleep. For ten or fifteen minutes, I silently poured my heart out to God, praying for Brett, for us, for our marriage, and for myself, to be the wife he needs. I prayed to always be, just like in that moment, a place of peace, rest, and refuge for him, in good times and bad.
When Brett woke up a few minutes later, I shared with him that I’d been praying for us while he was sleeping. His response surprised me. Pulling me into a tight hug, he whispered in my ear, simply, “Thank You, God, for Ashley. Please help our relationship always be centered on You and reflect You.” Then, looking me in the eyes, he told me, “I love you. I love how you pray over me. I love how you want to honor God in everything.”
That moment, that night, reminded me of how blessed I am to call this man my future husband, how thankful I am that God brought us together. It reminded me that, though neither of us are anywhere near perfect, we can reflect Christ in a godly marriage relationship. It reminded me that this won’t always be easy — there will be trials and disagreements and challenges and uncertainties — but by God’s grace we will stay focused on Him and keep loving each other. And it reminded me of what’s really important… not the 276 Questions To Ask Before You Get Married (yes, that’s a real article), but the knowledge that this man loves Jesus and loves me, intentionally and selflessly, and the conviction and commitment to do the same for him.
I couldn’t ask for more.