There’s a myth many people believe, that if the person they want to marry is a Christian, they will have a successful marriage. Sadly that’s not true. Yes, you want a spouse who follows Jesus! But that’s not enough. Marrying a “Christian” won’t guarantee a happy relationship.
There are many marriages where both spouses claim to be Christians, but they are miserable. And the divorce rate among Christians as a whole is not that much different from those who aren’t. What’s going on here? What else do you need to look for?
If you’re hungry to get married your emotions are likely highly engaged. And that’s part of the beauty of romantic relationships. So it will require an intentional decision to step back and thoughtfully and prayerfully consider the full picture.
Want to do more to guarantee a happy relationship? Here are some important things beyond “Christian” you need to evaluate in your potential spouse.
Are They a Christian in Name Only?
Sadly there are plenty of people who say they are a Christian, but who are not actively following Jesus. You may meet someone in church who is there because it’s the thing to do. Or someone may “become a Christian” once they know you in order to convince you to marry them. But is your potential spouse really following Jesus?
Look for more than just showing up in church, or using spiritual-sounding words when they pray. Get to know the person’s walk with God. Is being a Christian, to them, more than just an intellectual ascent to a list of facts? That’s not good enough! “Even the devils believe—and shudder.” (James 2:19)
A true Christian is one who has decided to follow Jesus and is doing just that. Following Jesus means doing life His way, including how they order their time, money, sex life, vocation/job, friendships, etc. Jesus is not only fire insurance to them; He is both their Savior and their Lord.
Are They Showing Good Fruit?
Jesus loves everyone unconditionally!! Always. But He also loves us too much to let us remain in the condition in which He finds us. He always calls us up to a new level of living, a process of ongoing transformation and growth. Following Jesus shows up as good fruit in a person’s life.
Is your potential spouse showing good fruit in their life? Has following Jesus begun to change them from the inside out?
That shows up in character. Is your potential spouse looking more and more like Jesus? How do they treat other people? How do they treat you? Your potential spouse is a sinner; there are no other kinds of people available. But are they showing evidence that the fruit of the Spirit is developing; love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, faith, etc? (Galatians 5:22-23)
Are there any Red Flags?
Please don’t ignore red flags! If there is a check in your spirit, something about your potential spouse that rubs you wrong, please don’t believe that getting married will fix it! If they spend money unwisely, struggle with porn, get angry easily, are often moody – those things will only become a bigger issue after saying “I do.”
There are certain kinds of people you should not marry, for any reason. I’ve listed certain kinds of men and certain kinds of women that will only make you miserable if you marry. The time to pay attention to these things is before committing to a life together.
If you are following Jesus, there will be a check in your spirit if something is off about your potential spouse. That does not mean that if you do not have a check in your spirit, getting married is guaranteed to be wonderful. But if you do have that uncomfortable feeling, pay attention. I’ve talked to too many miserable married people who tell me, “Looking back, I had a sense something was wrong.”
Are they Growing?
God is not finished working with you, and He’s not finished working on your potential spouse. But continued growth is not a given just because a person says they’re a Christian. Regularly throughout the Christian life the Holy Spirit will put His finger on something in your heart, pull it up into the light, and say “This right here; it needs to change. Let Me change you here.”
Is your spouse allowing the Holy Spirit to continue such a work in them? Are they humble enough to embrace that they still need to grow? Are they able to apologize when they are wrong, and then change? Can he/she allow someone else to be right?
Such a process of growth will need to continue after you get married. You and your spouse will both bring “stuff” to marriage that will cause each other pain. You will have differing expectations. And most importantly, you will both need to change along the way. Is your potential spouse willing to engage in this process to build something that will last?
This Goes for You Too
These four questions about your potential spouse – they also apply to you. Is Jesus not only your Savior, but also your Lord? Are you showing the fruit of the Spirit in your life? Are their red flags in you that would make living with you difficult? And are you continuing to grow?
These questions will help you prepare better for the kind of marriage God wants for you.
Your Turn: Are there any of these questions that trouble you about your potential spouse? Leave a comment below.
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Living the single life as a Christian is challenging. We want to help! Periodically (about once a month) we release a new article or similar resource specifically for you as a single Christian. We’ll talk about relationships, heart issues, and sometimes the possibility of marriage.
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