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Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

Should You Get Engaged?

  • H. Norm Wright
  • 2004 7 Jul
Should You Get Engaged?

In the book There Goes the Bride -- Making Up Your Mind, Calling it Off and Moving On, the following suggestions were made. Please consider them carefully:

• "If you have mixed feelings about engagement, don't! You need to be certain. If you get engaged, listen to the feelings, especially numbness or dread or just plain wrongness. These shouldn't be there."

• "Engagement is a serious state. Listen to these words: 'Dating is one thing, but signing up for the rest of your life is liable to give anyone a few second thoughts. The challenge is deciding if you're suffering from garden-variety cold feet or what I call, "frozen footsies" -- a much rarer malady."

• "Don't feel pressured into engagement or marriage because your biological clock is ticking faster and faster. As one woman said about making a mistake of becoming engaged, 'I was turning thirty and that expiration date stamped on my forehead was flashing so brightly that it blinded me from all the signs.'"

• "If you're thinking of committing your life to someone for the rest of your life, identify the nonnegotiables. Don't do this after the fact. Consider these nonnegotiables:

--If your partner hurts you physically, don't proceed. It won't get better.

--Emotional abuse is more difficult to identify but it can involve lack of respect, controlling, etc.

--Does the other person put you before their parents' wishes or are they controlled by their parents? The scriptural teaching of 'leave their mother and father' includes emotional as well as physical.

--Don't plan on a marriage fixing your current problems. It compounds them. Work on fixing them now, but if you can't repair them...

--If you feel inhibited in what you talk about and can't bring up your needs and concerns now, it won't improve. Try new approaches now.

--If you find yourself saying 'I love him or her, but...' why would you think of proceeding?"

• Remember, a wedding is exciting but it lasts for just one day. Is this the person you want across the breakfast table from you every morning?

Red Lights

There are other red-light warning signs about relationships--warning signs that aren't based on knowing the other person. Some are just obvious common-sense guidelines, but too many people like to think, I'm an exception. Exceptions only exist in our minds.

Take a look at the following points. They are indications that marriage is not the best direction for you to take right now:

• Are you asking, "Are you really sure you love me?" again and again? It's an indication of low self-esteem. Counseling would be better than marriage.

• If most of your time is characterized by quarrels and disagreements that never get resolved, marriage will make them worse.

• If you plan to live together before marriage, don't. It hurts your chances of a lasting marriage.

• If your partner is like a parent you don't get along with, why would you want to marry that person?

• If your partner is all for your interests and activities, but then reacts to you spending time on them, this won't get better in marriage.

• Don't marry just for sex. Physical intimacy alone won't keep a marriage together. You need the emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, and recreational intimacy as well.

• How do you feel if you spend a day with your partner just hanging out and talking? If it's intolerable, why are you together?

• If you haven't recovered from a previous relationship, you're not ready for a new one.

• If your parent has an addiction and isn't in a recovery program, you're not their therapist.  And promises to reform aren't a basis for marriage.

• If the two of you are totally opposite, what delights you now will probably be a pain in the neck later.

Taken from 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged by H. Norman Wright; Copyright 2004 by H. Norman Wright; Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR; Used by Permission.

H. Norm Wright is the author of more than 70 books on communication, marriage and family, including the bestselling Before You Say "I Do," Quiet Times for Couples, and Finding Your Perfect Mate. He and Joyce have been married more than 44 years and have a daughter, Sheryl; a son, Matthew, deceased; and a granddaughter, Shalyn Joy.