Decision #2 - Marriage
September 9, 2020
I said in my blog several weeks ago that those who have researched people and their patterns of behavior have observed that all of us only make five to seven major decisions in life. We spend the rest of our lives managing those decisions. As I have worked with people for many years I have seen that to be true, starting back in high school. I watched people then make decisions they are still working out the implications of today.
The first blog dealt with the choice of our worldview and our view of God. That first decision underlies everything else we choose. Today I want us to consider our choice about marriage.
There are two parts to that choice, and they both impact us for a lifetime.
The first part of that choice is if we will marry. Paul wrote that he saw singleness and celibacy as preferable for him.
“Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others.
I do, though, tell the unmarried and widows that singleness might well be the best thing for them, as it has been for me. But if they can’t manage their desires and emotions, they should by all means go ahead and get married.” 1 Corinthians 7:7-9
Most people don’t deliberately choose singleness for themselves, but we all can agree that singleness and marriage both have unique challenges. Each decision will have to be managed for the rest of our lives. For instance, single people have a degree of independence that married people do not have. However, single people typically experience loneliness in a way that married people do not. Paul also said that single people have less demands on their energy. and time and therefore have more time to serve the Lord. I am sure some singles might debate that 😊, as we marrieds do tend to count on them for so much. But in any case we do have the option to be married or single, and whatever we choose, dramatically affects our lives.
Whomever we marry, there are decisions that accompany our choice. Will we have children? Are we open to adoption or other alternatives? Will we care for our parents in their old age? Where will we live? The questions and decisions that follow our original choice ripple on and on.
But think about the choice of WHOM you marry. This will impact your life more than most any other choice. There are so many things that could be said about the choice of a marriage partner—I will mention a few that seem most important to me.
- Do you know God's purpose for your life? Where do you want to go with your life? If you marry a good person who wants to go another direction, you may never get where you need to go. For certain, this person must share your faith and be equal in devotion.
- Are you and the person you are considering physically, emotionally, and spiritually mature enough to make a lifelong decision?
- Are your faith practices similar? You may say it doesn’t matter now, but if you come from widely different faiths/churches, it eventually will matter. Some of the most miserable people I know are the ones who thought it didn’t matter, and this became a huge issue later.
- Are your lifestyles similar? The way you spend your time and money are important to consider. How you want to live makes a big difference.
- Are there similar energy levels? Significant differences in energy can challenge the relationship. Are the ambition levels similar? One who wants to push ahead and one who is content to stay as things are can present real problems.
- What are the family relationship dynamics on each side? What are the family values? How do they communicate? How is affection expressed? How do they resolve conflict? Forgive? How is respect shown to each other? Does the person you are dating respect his/her parents? Do the parents respect their son or daughter? Never make a mistake about it—you DO marry the family in many important ways, and family values will show up in your marriage unless there is a radical and supernatural change.
- Is the person optimistic or pessimistic? Grateful or entitled? Can they accept differing opinions? Are they gracious or critical? Suspicious or trusting? Do you have to walk on eggshells or avoid certain subjects?
- Do you have similar and complementary interests?
- Do you share friendships? Do you enjoy each other’s friends and family, or do you have to change to get along? Are either of you possessive toward each other of your time? Inordinate possessiveness always leads to difficulty.
- Are you able to pray together and enjoy worship together?
- What do people who know you both well think about it? Jeremiah tells us the most deceptive thing about us is our hearts. We can make excuses for everything. Listen with an open mind, especially from wise believers. Never move ahead without peace from God.
When you are in the process of choosing, never overlook the little things. Never assume you can change each other AFTER the marriage. You marry who they are, not who you hope they will be.
Much more could be said, but never consider this most important choice as anything but of utmost importance. You’ll be managing it the rest of your life.