It’s now more common for marriages to fail than it is for them to last a lifetime. But you can still get married with the confidence that you’ll enjoy the healthy, holy marriage God wants you to have if you invest time before getting married into asking wise questions. Making time to consider key questions will help you and your future spouse head in the right direction: one that leads toward God’s purposes for both of you.

Here are some crucial questions to ask before you get married:

Are you willing to grow up? Your own maturity level, and that of your spouse, will determine how well you all can work together in marriage and how likely you all will be to stick with your relationship or give up on it. So each of you needs to honestly assess your current spiritual, emotional, social, and financial maturity by reflecting on issues such as how much self-control you each have, how much you respect authority, how much you can say “no” to some activities so you can say “yes” to those that are best for you, how much peace versus drama you have in your relationships with others, how often you keep your promises and follow through on commitments, whether or not you have a job that pays your bills, and whether or not you’re in debt.

Are you “equally yoked”? It’s never God’s will for you to be yoked (tied together) in marriage with someone who’s not a Christian, because a person who’s not connected to Jesus can’t head in the same direction as you can. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you can pull an unbelieving spouse closer to Jesus; what happens instead in marriages between believers and unbelievers is that the unbelieving spouse pulls the believing spouse further away from Jesus. Realize that you can fall in love with anyone you happen to be attracted to, but that doesn’t mean that you should marry them.

Have you talked about money? Disclose all of your financial information to the person you’re considering marrying, and expect full disclosure from him or her, too. Talk about how each of you plans to earn, spend, save, give, and invest money if you get married, and why. If you discover that one or both of you doesn’t currently have a healthy budget or healthy money management attitudes or habits, get help and make changes before getting married to save yourselves from having to go through tremendous stress afterward.

Will you tell the truth? You and your future spouse must tell each other the whole truth about the romantic relationships that you’ve each had with other people previously, regardless of how wild or mild they were. Share all of the details with each other honestly, listen to each carefully, and give each other mercy as God does if you have each sought His forgiveness for your sins and repented of any unhealthy behaviors.

Will you commit? Marriage as God designed it requires a lifetime commitment. So you and the person you’re considering marrying should face your fears about that and discuss issues such as how you plan to handle disagreements and crises that may come up in your future marriage, such as illness and job loss. Determine whether or not both of you are willing to trade the lives you have now for a new life together, and whether or not you’re willing to eliminate the option of divorce and keep turning to God for the strength to keep working on your marriage.

Are you compatible? Realize that just because you love someone doesn’t mean that person is a good match for you. Honestly evaluate which personality traits and personal habits you can live with for many decades in a future marriage, and which will drive your marriage apart. Let go of any person who isn’t truly compatible with you to save you both years of heartache.

Have you communicated your expectations? Discuss each of your expectations about married life, such as where you’d live, where you’d go to church, when you’d start trying to have children and how many children you want, and what types of careers and work hours you each hope to have. Since surprising each other after you’re married will cause lots of stress, it’s much better to talk about your expectations beforehand and see if you can reach agreements before committing to married life together.

Are you ready to marry an entire family? Get to know each other’s family backgrounds well, since each of you will carry over the attitudes and behaviors that you learned growing up into the new family that you create together. Pursue healing for issues that concern either of you (such as anger management problems or addictions) and end the dating relationship if you discover character problems (such as a lack of integrity) that the person you’re considering marrying isn’t willing to address.

Are you willing to submit? Each of you must be willing to submit to Jesus in obedience in your life together, to express honor and respect for Him. That means mutually following Jesus’ example of loving service to others. Never try to control each other, but instead choose to serve each other even when doing so is difficult, just as Jesus served others when He was on Earth. Through this process in your future marriage, God will help each of you become more like Jesus.

Will you give respect? You each must also be willing to respect each other – even when you don’t think that the other deserves that respect – because God has made you both and highly values you. By choosing to respect your future spouse when he or she doesn’t deserve it, you can motivate your spouse to change and begin acting in ways that are worthy of respect.

Are you ready to love? Realize that love is an action, not just a feeling. Are you prepared to act in love toward your future spouse, even at times when you don’t like his or her behavior? Some of the ways you’ll need to show your love include listening, protecting, providing, and serving each other, no matter what.

Are you ready to “get naked”? Understand that sexual intimacy within marriage involves far more than just a physical connection; it also calls for a spiritual, emotional, and conversational connection. How do you plan to build the kind of relationship with each other that makes healthy and fulfilling sexual intimacy possible in your future marriage? Discuss that openly and honestly with each other.

Adapted from 12 Questions to Ask Before You Marry,copyright 2011 by Clayton and Charie King. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.

Clayton King, a pastor, evangelist, missionary, and author, has been dedicated since age 14 to proclaiming the gospel and calling Christians to live out the life of Jesus. He has spoken to millions of people in 30-plus countries and helped organize missions to such places as Haiti, the Himalayas, and India. His books include Dying to Live, Amazing Encounters with God,and 12 Questions to Ask Before You Marry(coauthored with his wife, Charie). Clayton loves good books, the outdoors, strong coffee, dirt bikes and four-wheelers, and especially his wife and children. Visit his website at: http://www.claytonking.com/.

Charie King is an artist, author, and a popular speaker at youth and women’s conferences. She has coauthored 12 Questions to Ask Before You Marrywith her husband, Clayton. Together with her pastor-evangelist husband, Charie shares a passion to serve Christ through ministry, missions, and marriage, which she pursues by prioritizing being a wife to Clayton and a mom to their two sons.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.comto send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.