"Any mature, spiritually sensitive view of marriage must be built on the foundation of mature love rather than romanticism."
Both fairy tales and modern-day romance movies would have you believe that falling head over heels for someone should be enough to decide that the two of you should get married. However, the best motivating spiritual quotes about marriage are the ones that paint the clearest and truest picture of the fact that a marriage should not be based solely on those first, intense feelings. Gary Thomas said it best when he said that, "Any mature, spiritually sensitive view of marriage must be built on the foundation of mature love rather than romanticism."
There aren't many things in life sadder than finding out that the person you thought was "the one" is not - after you've gotten married. While compatibility in marriage can be difficult to predict, you can increase your chances of selecting a mate with whom you can live in harmony and of finding the one that God intended for you by asking yourself the following questions.
1) How does your partner view money?
Arguments about money are a reliable predictor of divorce. A 2009 Utah State University study found that couples who had a disagreement about financial issues once a week were 30 percent more likely to get divorced than couples who disagreed about these matters less frequently. If you are a saver and your partner is a spender - or vice versa - your differing attitudes are likely to lead to discord after you've hitched your fortunes together. Set financial goals before you walk up the aisle to decrease the chance that money will become a wedge that drives you apart.
2) What is his or her family background?
If your potential mate comes from a stable two-parent household, she is likely to have a different view of marriage than a person who grew up in a single-parent home, with relatives, or in foster care. People learn how to interact in a marital relationship by watching the models they grow up with. If the person you want to marry grew up in a dysfunctional home or did not have a model to show her how to be a good wife - or him how to be a good husband - then your partner will have a steep learning curve. This needn't be a deal-breaker, but should be something that you both enter into a marriage fully aware of and ready to address.
3) Do you each share the same religious beliefs?
Society is generally accepting of differing religious beliefs, but that doesn't mean you should count on living in harmony if you and your spouse do not share a similar faith. For example, the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted a study that found that 54 percent of Protestants are married to a person who doesn't share their faith. It is a safe bet that these individuals struggle with specific marital issues that the other 46 percent do. not When it comes to marriage, choosing someone whose spiritual beliefs mirror your own is critical. Otherwise, you risk compromising your beliefs in order to make your partner comfortable. Another difficulty that often arises when people marry individuals of a different faith is deciding how to raise their child. If your faith is important to you, you are certain to want to raise your children to believe as you do. If your partner believes differently, this can be a stressor that can destroy your marriage.
4) How does your partner treat others?
Watch how your future spouse treats others to get a good idea of how she will treat you once the shine has worn off the relationship. Does he get along with the people he works with, or does he have a complaint about every person in the office? When he has a conflict with someone, does he see his role in the problem, or blame the other person entirely? Keep your eyes open and take notes - how he manages conflict with others in his life is exactly how he will handle it with you.
What are her relationships like with her family? Does she take them for granted, or treat them respectfully? How does she interact with individuals she doesn't know, such as sales clerks? If she is courteous, this is a good sign - although not a dependable one, as some people can be quite charming in public and show an entirely different side of their personalities at home. Before signing the marriage certificate, make sure that you are choosing to share your life with someone who will treat you kindly and with respect.
5) Does your potential spouse employ healthy coping strategies when stressed?
All marriages have their stressful moments. A spouse may be laid off, have health problems or face the death of close family members. When hard times hit your marriage, how can you predict how your partner will respond? Will she pack her bags and leave? Will he bury his troubles in alcohol? While you cannot know with certainty how someone will react to extreme stress, look at how your partner deals with everyday stressors for a glimpse at what the future may hold. If he handles a stressful day at the office by staying extra-long at happy hour or she lies in bed all day after hearing that she did not get the job she wanted, you can bet that these reactions will be sustained in your marriage.
The above five considerations are only the beginning. It is wise to obtain premarital counseling before entering into the contract and commitment of your life. Since issues that are problematic at this stage are unlikely to resolve after marriage, couples who work out potential problems beforehand are likely to have a longer and more satisfying union.