Listen: Dr Allan Meyer chats to Sheridan Voysey about what to ask yourself before marrying.
Part 6 of 7 in ‘The Search For Intimacy’ Series
To build a marriage that lasts a lifetime, most experts – and married folks – would agree that you need more than just “chemistry”.
Factors to consider in a potential spouse range from personality and spirituality, to career and intellect, to social and family aspirations.
To help in the decision-making process, Dr Allan Meyer, pastor and author of the Christian-based sexuality course, The Search For Intimacy, recommends five “tests” you can take. They’re questions that are best talked through with someone you trust.
If you’re wondering whether your current love interest is marriage material, why not give these tests a try.
Test 1 – The Longing Of Your Heart
The first question (and for most couples, the easiest) is whether you really long to be with your sweetheart – or your admirer – for life. Dr Meyer calls it “the proof of the heart”.
“There’s a passage in the Bible that says ‘it is God who is in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure’,” Dr Meyer said.
“If God is drawing you together with another person there will be in your heart a desire for it. God doesn’t just impose His will on people. He works in people, and with people, to develop their desire and their vision for life. And so that needs to be the first test.”
While this test is obviously bypassed in arranged marriages, it’s the one that motivates most couples towards marriage.
But according to Dr Meyer it’s not enough on its own. So, once you’ve decided that you’re “in love” and desire to be “together forever”, it’s time to move onto the next four tests.
Test 2 – The “Still, Small Voice”
If you’re a person of faith, it’s crucial to ask yourself whether the relationship you’re considering is not just a “good thing”, but also a “God thing”. In other words, is it in line with God’s will and ways?
Dr Meyer calls this “the proof of the spirit”.
“It’s not easy for people who don’t pray to understand what that’s about,” he said, “but there’s been more than one situation in life where I have had a personal desire, and then I’ve held it before God, and… realised that my personal desire is not really helpful.
- The Search For Intimacy Part 1 – The Origins And Power Of Sex
- The Search For Intimacy Part 2 – Six Key Principles Of Human Sexuality
- The Search For Intimacy Part 3 – Virginity, Dating And Courtship: A Love Story
“It’s like in my soul, there’s a ship sinking. A sense that you may really want it, but you’re not going to be as happy as you think you are, if you get what you want.”
“Our hearts can lead us astray sometimes. We need God’s prompting as well.”
Dr Meyer quotes the character Michael from the film Fireproof, who puts it this way: “Don’t just follow your heart, man, ’cause your heart can be deceived…you gotta lead your heart.”
Test 3 – Wisdom, Logic And Mathematics
The next test is one that Dr Meyer calls the “proof of mathematics” – a name inspired by the Argentinian pastor Johnny Ortiz, who once said “a great marriage is good feelings and good mathematics”.
Others might call it the test of compatability.
“A marriage is a relationship where a man and a women harness themselves,” Dr Meyer said. “They yoke their economics, their geography, their family connections; all of this stuff has to come together. And the question is, does it make any sense?
Dr Meyer points to a piece of ancient wisdom from the Bible, which says “you shall not plough a field with an ox and a donkey together”. In other words, it’s unwise to join together two animals that are badly matched.
“Don’t put an ox with a donkey because one of them’s going to get badly injured,” Dr Meyer said. “They can’t help each other, they don’t work well together.”
He says the same principle applies in human relationships.
“You’ve got to ask the question, do we have what it takes to build a lifetime of raising kids, paying bills, mowing lawns, resolving conflict?”
These kinds of questions are best worked through with a counsellor or a pastor. Marriage preparation tools such as the Enrich-Prepare course can help in this process.
A Few Practical Questions To Ask Yourself
Dr Meyer suggests asking yourself questions like the following.
- Do our world views and faith journeys work together?
- Do we have a similar vision and views on our purpose in life?
- How do our emotional makeups mix? Will we be able to handle each other’s emotions for a lifetime?
- What are our views on bearing and raising children?
- What about our views on family life and dynamics? Do they match, or will we clash?
- What are our friendships and family ties like?
- In terms of mixing with others socially, do we mesh?
- What do we like to do with our recreation time?
- Do we have a fairly even match of intelligence? Can we relate intellectually?
- Would our career goals work together well?
- How do we handle our finances?
- How do we manage our living space?
- Do we have views on sex and intimacy that are likely to conflict?
What If We Realise We’re Just Not A Great Match?
Dr Meyer said that out of all the couples who go through a marriage preparation course or process, three out of ten call their engagement off.
“Thirty percent of the couples who think they’re ready to get married, if they do really good marriage preparation, will discover they don’t have what it takes to make this relationship work,” he said.
He says this is not a bad thing, in fact quite the opposite.
“It’s a very good thing,” he said, ”because a little bit of pain in the short term can set you up for a lifetime of happiness.”
Test 4 – Your Family And Friends
Your circle of family and friends can be a crucial element in helping you decide on whether or not to marry the one you’ve been spending time with.
They’re often the ones who can see a potential love interest from a mile off, or see the warning signs of a bad relationship before the lovebirds involved can see it themselves.
One might call this the “inner circle test”.
- The Search For Intimacy Part 4 – Young Love And The Role Of Parents
- The Search For Intimacy Part 5 – Marriage: Have You Got What It Takes?
- The Search For Intimacy Part 7 – Healing From Sexual Brokenness: Six Steps
“What are your parents and those who really know you, like your uncles, your pastors, thinking?” Dr Meyer asked. “What do they really think of this relationship?”
He points to the experience of his own sister, who married a man that didn’t tick the boxes of compatibility. She experienced a lot of pain as a result.
“I wish my sister had asked my dad, “Dad what do you think? Is he the right guy? Because he would’ve said “Sweetheart, I don’t think so”,” Dr Meyer said. “She could’ve saved herself a lifetime of pain.”
Test 5 – Your Walk With God
The final test, which is one for believers in particular, is what Dr Meyer calls the “proof of discipleship”.
“Does your relationship make you want to walk with Jesus, and fulfil a magnificent life’s calling?” he asked.
“Or does it kind of make you want to care less and less about the way you honour God?”
Even for people who don’t hold to a particular faith, this test might still be useful, worded differently. For example, “does he or she inspire me to be a better person?”
“I Love You Just The Way You Are”
If you’re planning to marry just because sparks are flying and romance is in the air, a word of caution from Dr Meyer: don’t enter marriage planning to change everything about your beau that you don’t like.
“Often the sad thing is that people get married and say “I’ll change him” or “I’ll change her”,” he said.
“You need to walk into marriage saying, “even if nothing ever changes, from where they are today, if nothing ever improves, I could make a lifetime relationship last with this person”.”
More On ‘The Search For Intimacy’
- Part 1 – The Origins And Power Of Sex
- Part 2 – Six Key Principles Of Human Sexuality
- Part 3 – Virginity, Dating And Courtship: A Love Story
- Part 4 – Young Love: Should Parents Have A Say?
- Part 5 – Marriage: Have You Got What It Takes?
- Part 6 – The 5 Tests Of A Match Made In Heaven
- Part 7 – Healing From Sexual Brokenness: Six Steps
- More about Dr Allan Meyerand Careforce Lifekeys