Monday, March 06, 2006

Marriage - Ten Big Questions

Since I've been a minister I've married almost 30 couples. I love weddings. I'm the "wedding guy." There is nothing quite like celebrating marriage vows with people who are in love. When I counsel with couples I go over this list of 10 questions with them. (The list is adapted from a series of Dennis Prager articles.) Let me know what you think.

1. Is the person your best friend?
If you cannot say that the person you are considering marrying has become or is becoming your best friend, you need to figure out why before you decide to marry. Over time, friendship is the greatest bond between a couple. If the person you marry does not become your best friend, you will either seek someone who will be or simply drift apart. What is a best friend? Someone you can tell just about everything to. Someone you want to be with as much as possible.

2. Do you enjoy spending time with each other?
This sounds small, but enjoying each other may actually be the single most important characteristic of a happy marriage.

3. Is there chemistry between the two of you?
As essential as being best friends and enjoying each other are, there should be a physical component to your relationship if it is going to survive.

4. How does the person treat others?
It should go without saying that if the person is not kind to you, quit while you can. But it is far from sufficient that the person you are considering marrying treats just you kindly. Watch how he or she treats waitresses, employees, family members and anyone else they come into contact with.

5. What problems do the two of you now have?
Here is a rule that is rarely broken: Whatever problems you have before the wedding day, you will have during your marriage. Do not think that marrying will solve any problem you have with the person. You therefore have three choices: Make peace with the problem, see if it can be solved before deciding to marry, or don't marry the person. It is imperative that you be ruthlessly honest with yourself. And that is very hard. Nothing in life is easier than denying problems when you are in love.

6. How often do you fight?
It may be normal for couples to fight, but it is usually a bad sign if you are doing so frequently while dating. If you do fight, do you quickly make up? Does he/she fight fairly and hear your side? Has either of you said, “I'm sorry” after a fight? Do you fight over the same issues with no resolution? These are important questions?

7. Do you share values?
Opposites only attract in the very beginning. People who are alike stay together for the long term. The more you share, especially religious and social values, the better your chances of a good marriage.

8. Do you miss the person when you are not together?
This is even true for men. Even though men are easily distracted by work, sports, computer games, and numerous other things it is not a good sign if you rarely miss her when not together. As for women, if you don't miss him, it is probably a really bad sign.

9. Is the person unhappy?
The importance of marrying an essentially happy person cannot be exaggerated. If you are basically happy, do not think that you can make an unhappy person happy by marrying them. On the contrary, the ability of the unhappy to make the happy unhappy is far greater than the ability of the happy to make the unhappy happy. In other words – misery seeks company.

10. What do people you respect think of the person you're marrying?
Young people are certain they know better than anyone else in the world what is good for them. So a lack of enthusiasm for the person you are considering for marriage on the part of family or friends may mean little or nothing. But if objections come from a parent you respect for reasons that are not easily dismissed, and if others you respect are unenthusiastic as well, you should take their objections seriously.


Josh Kellar said...

I do not believe we have met, but I appreciate your thoughts on what makes a good match! I am working towards a marriage and family therapy degree, and the one thing that I am constantly reminded of is that if people I counsel had the skills or knowledge to choose the right person, things would be dramatically different for them. Thanks for the insight!

Charles North said...

Thanks Josh. Where are you going to school?

Charles North said...

Never mind - I just went to your blog! I got the M.Div from ACU last year, and I'm currently enrolled in the D.Min program. We may have met.

Floyd said...

Charles a great article. This is the kind of information that can help people.


Charles North said...

Thanks Floyd. It is better to be positive!