There are dozens (if not hundreds) of books and articles out there of extensive questions that you should go through with your potential mate. While they are all valid and important questions, I’m an I-love-questions-and-reading-articles kind of girl while my husband of almost ten years is a let’s-keep-this-as-short-and-sweet-as-possible kind of guy.
While it is nice to know which side of the bed your future spouse will sleep on, if they eat meat or if they are vegetarian, if they prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream, if they prefer simple or more dramatic date nights, or if they will replace the toilet paper roll once they empty it; there are much bigger questions to consider.
Let’s be honest here – couples can easily work through replacing toilet paper rolls, putting the toilet lid down, deciding who is going to make dinner (or who will burn dinner every time), and discussing who is going to sort and wash the laundry (and who will stain all of the white shirts red); there are bigger questions to consider. The five topics listed below, if left undiscussed, can cause rifts in the marriage, early on, or later down the road.
1. Does this person support your dreams/goals? Can you talk openly and honestly?
Bruce Ika said, “People grow daily, just like love. Therefore, fuel your partner’s heart with love daily.”
A huge part of loving someone is supporting their hopes, dreams, flaws, and little quirks. In marriage, you become one. You become the other person’s loudest cheerleader and biggest advocate. You become the person in the stands at a game, cheering the team on to victory, regardless of whether the team is in the lead or losing by 40. We all need someone like this in our life – to breathe life into us. To help us work through adversity. To help us through the storms of life. To help us reach our God-given potential. To hand us a Kleenex when the tears won’t cease. To hold our hair back during the (what seems like) months of morning sickness as you grow your family. Your spouse should be your best friend.
Is this person someone who is going to support you and hold your hand through the storms of life? Through the beautiful and the ugly? Can you communicate with this person? Can you share things from the past and ask questions without fear of judgment?
2. Does this person want kids? How do they want to raise their kids?
This is an important topic to discuss so you know what the other person has in mind for their future. Does this person envision traveling the world while you envision staying in a small town and raising 6 babies?
For me, I have a 50/50 chance of the genetic disease, Huntington’s disease, which my father died from when I was 18. My husband never met my dad and never saw the severity of this disease and what it can truly do to a person and how it can impact their family life. I knew this was a top priority of things I needed to discuss with him, because of the risk it could impose on our family, and of course, any children. I didn’t want to tell him later on, only for him to say, “Sorry, that’s a no go for me.” Of course, he loved and accepted that part of me and the potential of what it is to come.
3. Do they know how to manage money?
My husband and I married at 19 and 20, and while our parents discussed finances with us, we did not really understand the true management of money, budgets, credit cards, and the burden of debt. This became a real stumbling block early on in our marriage as we worked through college debt and accrued credit card debt without realizing how difficult it is to get out of that hole.
Talk about finances. Plan. Write a budget. Take a budgeting class together. Finances are definitely top of the list of things that couples fight about. Talk about it early on and plan ahead!
4. Is this person abusive or manipulative in any way? Would the marriage be a “safe place?”
It is important to look for warning signs while dating. Does this person already try to manipulate you and guilt you into doing things? Are they abusive – physically or verbally? Do they tell you things like, “You can’t do better than me?”
If these things are happening while dating, please see the signs and don’t tell yourself, “That won’t be there once we get married” or “I can fix them.” God calls us to build one another up and to love one another; abuse and manipulation are not the foundation of a godly, healthy marriage. These types of manipulative or abusive behaviors will most likely worsen once you are married.
5. Do they have a relationship with Jesus?
This one is listed last, but I believe it is the number one quality to a lasting marriage. Perfect marriage? No. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage; however, a marriage centered in Christ is one that reflects selflessness, a root that is planted deeper to withstand the storms of life. Will the man be the spiritual leader and will the woman follow the man’s lead?
John and Lisa Bevere said, “Marriage was never meant to be a power struggle. It was meant to be a power union.” While marriage is a constant road of twists and turns, disagreements, different upbringings and opinions, and often opposite personalities, it’s important to talk about the bigger issues of the heart. It is also vital to realize that marriage is a constant growing process. You continue to learn more about one another each and every day. You continue to learn mercy and grace. You continue to realize that the success of a marriage isn’t based on silly differences but about forgiveness, dependence on Christ, and matters of the heart.