If you’re single, dating, or engaged—and you’re looking toward marriage—one of the best things you can do for yourself and the one you love is know what you want and need in a marriage partner.
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A helpful way to prepare is to consider the five building blocks, the 5 Cs. These essential traits will connect your hearts and help you to build a strong marriage for years to come. Ask yourself the questions listed below about your own relationship and pray about God’s best for you.
As a person of faith, choosing a dating or marriage partner who is also a Christ-follower is crucial. Not only does God’s word call us to marry someone who follows God (and not an unbeliever), it’s also the foundation for your entire relationship. Just as a house built with a solid foundation will enable the home to stand strong, your foundation of shared faith will honor God and keep your house of love strong during the calm and the storms of life.
Beyond “knowing Christ personally,” what does a shared faith mean to you on a practical level? Is he mature in his faith? Is she committed to spiritual growth? Will you pray together as a couple? Attend church together? How will your faith influence decision-making in your life together?
A God-centered, lasting love begins with God in the center. When hard times come or you need to make difficult choices, you are not alone. As a couple, you can go to Him in prayer and know that God can draw you closer to Himself and to each other.
Communication is essential to any good relationship. Without it, most people wither like an iris in the hot summer sun.
I remember a dreadful date with a man who didn’t talk to me almost the entire day we were together. One Sunday afternoon we drove to Green Bay for a Packers football game and he was completely silent throughout the entire game—including halftime!
Men and women communicate differently. Most often, men say that the purpose of talking is to “report” or discuss facts. On the other hand, most women like to build “rapport” and make a connection.
Effective communication includes talking and listening—it’s a two-way dialog. Sharing deeply builds emotional intimacy, which leads to greater connection and closeness spiritually and physically, too.
What kind of communication is important to you in a relationship? How do you handle conflict? How do you manage your emotions, deal with differences, or handle anger? These are important questions to ask yourself and to consider how the person you love handles them. The better you communicate with each other, the better your relationship will become.
Character refers to temperament, personality and moral fiber. Does he have integrity? Does she keep promises? How do your personalities mesh? Are your temperaments complementary? Every couple is different, and you don’t have to think alike in all areas of life. In fact, God designed us to “complement” or balance each other in marriage. Your strengths and growth areas may be just what he needs and vice versa.
Know what’s important to you. What can you live with? What can’t you live without? When you know how someone with a different personality type thinks and acts, you can approach situations with more understanding and work more easily through conflict. For instance, Mark (who is more analytical in nature) wants to get right to the point in conversation, while Ashley (who is more social) enjoys small talk first and then gets to the main topic.
Despite our differences in personality and gender, it’s good to remember that marriage is God’s idea. Read 1 Peter 3 about how husbands and wives are to treat each other—with love, honor and respect—key character traits for both men and women.
Chemistry is another word for attraction—not just physical (although that plays into it), but also emotional and spiritual chemistry. Is he handsome in your eyes? Does she have other qualities that appeal to you besides her looks? Is there that intangible “certain something” that makes you click as a couple?
Don’t base your choice of a marriage partner solely upon how someone looks on the outside. While the attraction factor is important, and it needs to be there, true beauty is more than a perfect smile or fit body. It’s comprised of both inner qualities (like a good sense of humor and how that person makes you feel) and outer qualities. Chemistry is just one of the essential five C’s for a healthy and fulfilling match; it’s one piece of the entire love puzzle.
Calling is the term I’ll use here for God’s will for your relationship. Has God called you to a marriage relationship with this person, or not? Are you going in the same direction? Just because you love someone doesn’t always mean you will marry him or her. If you have all four of the five C’s, and God is not leading both of you to be together for the long term, it will never work. He may have different life paths for you.
Finally, know that the patterns you begin in your relationship while dating—like the ways you treat each other— will grow throughout your engagement and married life. Are they healthy? Are they godly?
Start with the basics. Be kind. Treat each other with love and respect. Don’t nag the other person, but instead talk to God about what’s bothering you and let God change them. Read books on marriage topics. Talk to people who’ve been married for years and listen to their hard-won wisdom. Pray together. Nurture the relationship. And enjoy each other!
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Jill Briscoe once said, “Marriage is a series of adjustments.” You can’t know all the answers today, and you can’t fathom how your life will change over the years, but you can start with the most solid foundation possible, a relationship based upon God’s principles. On His words you can rely.
– – – written by Jackie M. Johnson