Almost 40% of marriages end in divorce in America today. Another interesting area of research is the divorce rate for couples who did not date long before marriage. “A host of studies have found that a longer romance before marriage is linked to higher marital satisfaction and lower risk of divorce.
One 2015 study in the journal Economic Inquiry, for example, found that couples who dated for one to two years were 20 percent less likely to later get a divorce than those who dated less than a year, and couples who dated for three years or longer were 39 percent less likely.” (https://www.thecut.com/2018/06/do-marriages-last-longer-if-the-couple-dated-longer-first.html)
Though it is not true in every case, couples who rush into marriage are more likely to get divorced than couples who date a bit longer. A variety of factors could be at play, but it seems like many are either not ready for marriage (if that is ever possible) or have little to no knowledge regarding whether they should marry.
This article will not be the ultimate answer to the question, “Should I get married?” That can only be determined through prayer and counsel for each person and couple. This article will simply touch on some ways that one can know in general if he or she should get married.
It is a valuable and necessary question to ask oneself before entering into the commitment and covenant of marriage. Marriage is a serious and long-term decision that is not to be taken lightly. While God is merciful and gracious to those who have already walked through divorce, He hates it. (Malachi 2:16)
He hates it because it goes against His design for marriage. In Matthew 19:6, when talking about married couples, Jesus says of man and wife, “They are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” This is why it is vital to know when one is ready to get married.
Secular culture would tell you that you need to be sexually compatible, be able to live with one another, and want the same things in life before you should get married. This article will only present Christian morals and ethics.
9 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married
Here are some questions to ask before you get married.
Where is this person on his or her faith journey?
Often Christians will marry, and one is much stronger in his faith than his partner. This can be a recipe for disaster pre- and post- marriage. If one person is active in church, reading her Bible, spending time in prayer, using her gifts, and living out her calling, but her boyfriend is not, marriage may not be a good decision at this time. Though one’s stage in his walk with Jesus does not matter, whether both people are actively seeking and following him does matter.
Do we have similar beliefs and values?
This could be political beliefs, spiritual beliefs, familial beliefs, and other values. For example, if one person values education and hard work, but the other does not, this could lead to conflict and eventually divorce if one person is carrying the financial weight of the family. For example, if one person is Catholic and the other is Protestant it would be unwise to marry.
Perhaps the man was raised to believe that women should stay home with the kids, and the woman was raised to believe that women can work, too. These values and belief systems are in opposition to one another and can lead to unsolvable problems in marriage. While each person will have unique values and beliefs, they need to align in major ways.
Do I enjoy being around this person?
This may seem self-explanatory, but couples will often spend a lot of time in groups and have fun with each other while dating, but when they get married and have much more time solely with their spouse, they find they do not enjoy each other’s company very much. It is great to spend time in groups while dating, but do not neglect alone time with your partner.
These moments will help you see if you could spend the rest of your life together. It is also important to consider whether the two of you get along because problems in dating often get amplified in marriage. If you constantly fight and experience conflict, that may be a sign.
Do we share a common purpose?
Many married couples drift apart because each is pursuing his or her own purpose or call instead of pursuing a common one. God calls each to his own work, but married couples have an added call.
For example, both people in a dating relationship feel like God wants them to do ministry in a city or on the mission field. Both people believe he is calling them to be parents. Both people believe he is calling them lead a church. Both people believe they are to make disciples or have an inviting home for strangers. These are some examples, but a relationship is strong when united around a common purpose.
Why do we want to get married?
In couples counseling, this question, “Why did you get married?” is often posed to help a couple see what drew them together in the first place. It is a helpful practice to think about before marriage, though. If one’s motivation is to have a companion and not be alone or because one likes another’ company or because one wants to have sex or because one wants security, these are not long-lasting reasons.
You may not always like each other’s company in marriage, and there may be seasons where sex is not great. So, ask yourself honestly, “Why do I want to get married?” If it is a temporary or superficial reason, then maybe it is not the right time to marry.
Does this person love the authentic me? Do I love the other in this way, too?
Does your partner always want to change you or talk about wishing you were one way, but you aren’t? Do you do this to your partner? No one is perfect, and no one will be able to meet another’s expectations perfectly, but if there is no acceptance for who someone genuinely is, marriage may not be a good idea.
An example could be someone who is more of a homebody, but her partner wishes she would be more social. A person enjoys relaxing vacations, and his partner wishes him to be more adventurous. A person is quiet, and her partner wishes she were more outgoing. A person is more creative, but his partner wishes he were athletic.
Am I attracted to this person?
This again seems self-explanatory, but couples do get married sometimes without anything more than a friendly attraction. There is little to no romantic or physical attraction, and though attraction can change and develop over time, if that is lacking in dating, it will not magically get better in marriage.
Where am I on my faith journey?
When someone is weak in faith, brokenness in relationships is nearly inevitable. Your faith needs to be the foundation and the framework holding your whole relationship together, so it is not only important to evaluate your partner’s faith, but also your own. Consider if you and God are in a good place because if not, put marriage on hold to focus on that.
How is our mental health?
Marriage is never a good idea when one or both parties are deep in untreated depression, anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, and the like. Do not succumb to the temptation to rescue your partner, to think that you can be what he or she needs. That is a dangerous mindset.
If one or both people are battling mental health issues, make it a priority to both engage in individual counseling before getting married so that you can enter into marriage more stable and healthy.
These are just a few of many important questions to ask. A more comprehensive set may be asked in premarital counseling. Though it is not possible to ever fully be ready for marriage (since marriage changes everything), it is possible to know if it is right.
“Comfort”, Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Scripture”, Courtesy of Aaron Burden, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Just Married”, Courtesy of Marius Muresan, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “How Are You Really?”, Courtesy of Finn, Unsplash.com, CC0 License