I know you’ve all been dying to find out the next five questions you should ask yourself before dating or marrying someone. Here they are. You’ll note that all of these are more serious than the first five. These five are also more important as you’re looking towards marriage.
6. Are We on the Same Page about Money?
I’m a Financial Peace baby. I grew up listening to Dave Ramsey in the car all the stinking time. Because of this, I know that money fights and money problems are the number 1 reason that marriages end in divorce. This is a big hairy deal and it can be really uncomfortable to talk about. You don’t want to ask for someone’s financial statements on a first date. That’s just weird. You do, however, want to avoid getting seriously involved with someone who has very different thoughts on money, work ethic, and finances then you (especially if one or both of you is unwilling to change your thinking and habits). This can be done gradually as you get to know someone. Before things get too serious, make sure you’re on the same page as far as financial goals go. This is especially important to talk about once you get to the whole “we’re kind of talking about marriage” stage. Before you marry someone, you should be 100% transparent about your financial situation. Dave would also want me to remind you that even though you can talk about your finances, you shouldn’t combine them until after you’re married.
7. Do our life goals and callings align or work in parallel?
It might not seem to be the case at first, but this is really closely tied to the money thing. Both issues are about your priorities. This one can get a little messier because it also involves God’s call on your life. I had a friend who dated someone for most of college. Their senior year, they started talking about marriage. However, they had a problem. She was passionate about being present in the lives of underprivileged people and had thought about living oversees as a missionary. He really wanted to live in the suburbs and have the typical middle class life. They ended up realizing that they needed to not only not get married, but break up because their lives were headed in completely different directions. If your life goals, dreams, and callings don’t match up, that’s a good sign that maybe you aren’t meant to be. Don’t give up too quickly on this one. Sometimes things that seem incompatible end up working out in the end. However, don’t gloss over it either. If you’re constantly being pulled in two very different directions, there’s no way you can walk side by side as husband and wife.
8. Do They Make You a Better Person/Bring Out the Best in You?
One of the things that confirmed in my mind that I should marry the man that is now my husband is how many times people who knew him said that I brought out the best in him. That’s what a good spouse should do. The two of you should be better people together than you are on your own. If you’re exactly alike, one of you is unnecessary. You should have complementary gifts, talents, personalities, and characteristics. The Bible even tells us this. In Genesis 2:18, when God makes woman and presents her to man, the Hebrew word that is often translated as “helper” or “helpmate” literally means “helper according to the opposite.” You should be strong where he is weak and vise versa. If you can’t think of ways in which you complement one another, or if people think you have a negative influence on one another, stop and reconsider
9. Have I taken the time to pray about this?
This was one of my biggest regrets in my first dating relationship. I didn’t really pray about it at all. I just kind of fell into it (which is a whole long story which will be told elsewhere, eventually). All relationships are a big deal. Romantic ones are no exception. Just because you feel carried away on a wave of emotion doesn’t mean you should ride the wave without thinking. No need to rush. The opportunity will keep, and if it won’t that’s not a good sign anyway. Spend some time praying about a potential relationship or marriage. Don’t just pray that God will bless your relationship, actually spend some time listening for God’s voice. Ask for confirmation that this is the right thing to do or for God to intervene. You can do this through periods of silence, reading Scripture, or talking to godly people in your life (especially the ones that are older than you and have a better sense of perspective). This process doesn’t have to take years or months or weeks even. It can just be a couple of days. This process shouldn’t end once you’ve said yes either. Whether you’re entering into a new relationship or you’re accepting a marriage proposal, keep praying for your relationship throughout.
10. Are They on the Same Faith Journey as Me?
I think this is by far the most important question because it effects all the others. Your faith should effect every area of your life. His faith should effect every area of his life. While none of us are perfect, if there are big areas or lots of areas where his (or your) faith isn’t impacting life, that’s a problem. If one of you is deeply committed to their faith and the other is a baby Christian or is only a nominal Christian, things are going to be tough. I know this one from experience too.
There are two main dangers here. The first is that whoever is the weakest Christian (or not a Christian at all) will have a negative effect on the stronger one. Let’s not be blind to this. Love is a powerful thing and missionary dating does not generally work. Having a person you love doubt or reject spiritual truths can make you doubt and reject them as well. Many times this will manifest itself in the physical aspect of your relationship. Non-Christians and new/baby Christians often don’t understand the why behind the sexual ethics of Christianity. They just see Christian sexual ethics as pointless rules to be broken, when in fact they are there to protect us.
The second danger is this: if you date someone who isn’t a Christian or only nominally a Christian and you consider yourself a strong Christian, everything you do effects that baby Christian’s perception of Christianity. If you break their heart, they may blame God or Christianity. As Christ’s representatives on earth, our actions deeply effect non-Christians’ and new Christians’ ideas about what Christians are like and what God is like. Don’t let a dating relationship ruin someone’s perception of God.
I hope you’ve found these questions helpful. Feel free to comment with any additional questions you think are helpful, any questions about the questions, or any experiences you’ve had that you think others could benefit from.