Look for a spouse who is motivated by God, not his or her own desires. It’s vital to search for a spouse who loves God so much that his or her relationship with God is the top priority – and he or she is willing to sacrifice whatever selfish desires interfere with that. Beware of people who lack self-control, especially in areas that are crucial marriage issues, such as sex and money. Realize that if your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to have sex with you before marriage or is in debt because of uncontrolled financial spending, that means that he or she values selfish desires over faithfulness to God – which indicates bad character that can cause you significant pain after you marry him or her. Search for someone who puts God first in all areas of life; that’s the kind of person you’ll want to be married to after infatuation has faded and you’re sharing a life together.

Consider whether or not your dreams are compatible with potential spouses’ dreams. Beyond a shared commitment to seeking God’s kingdom first in life, you and the person you marry should also agree on specific dreams and goals that will shape the way the two of you serve God together. Thoroughly discuss what you each hope marriage will be like, including details such as children, jobs, church, and gender roles.

Adapted from The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not About Who You Marry, But Why? copyright 2013 by Gary Thomas. Published by David C. Cook, Colorado Springs, Co., www.davidccook.com.

Gary Thomas is writer-in-residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, a frequent guest on Focus on the Family and FamilyLife Today, and a popular speaker around the world. His award-winning books have been translated into a dozen languages and sold hundreds of thousands copies. Thomas and his wife have three children. Visit his website at: www.garythomas.com.

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. Contact Whitney at: angels@aboutguide.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.

Publication date: February 12, 2013