When I was growing up, “lists” were a must in Christian circles, and every serious believer looking to date and marry, had one. Even when we learnt how to leave out the less important things and focus on the major issues, we still ended up with lists that were quite robust.
While everyone does need a checklist of values and character traits they consider important in a life partner (even if it’s not a written list) how much can you possibly think of to put in a list? Anyone who has been married even just a year can tell you that there are things they never thought of discussing, and later wish they had. Sometimes we are not even cognizant of our expectations until our partner fails to meet them.
The truth is that while people grow and change, their core – the essence of who they are – pretty much remains the same. If you’re both already committed to Christ, you’ll find that asking questions, raising topics and having honest conversations before you get engaged can help you get to know each other better, and reduce the number of unpleasant surprises you’ll encounter in marriage.
Nobody can think of every single thing to discuss before marriage, but here are 30 considerations that may never have crossed your mind:
- Discuss how each of you would feel if at some point the wife earned more than the husband
- Would either of you love to live anywhere other than their home country, if you live there now?
- If you live abroad, how do you both feel about moving back home permanently?
- Even if you both love where you’ve decided to live, what would happen if a job came along that required relocation?
- What do you think about the word “obey” in a wife’s wedding vows?
- Do you think the Proverbs 31 woman sought her husband’s permission before she considered that field and bought it? Why or why not?
- Discuss how each of you understands the role of women in ministry and leadership. What are your views on Deborah’s role as a spiritual and political leader, and the ministry of Phillip’s four daughters who were prophetesses?
- How many children would you like to have, and what would it mean if you had only girls or only boys?
- What are your views on birth control?
- What are your views on both parents working while the children are young?
- If one parent had to stay at home and take care of the children, how would that play out?
- What church size do you prefer? Large? Medium? Small church?
- What kind of church service does either of you appreciate? Do you like liturgy? Responsive reading? Charismatic preachers? Hymns? Dancing?
- What kind of fellowship does each of you find nourishing? House fellowship/cell meetings/small Christian groups? Mixing with the congregation? Picnics/love feasts?
- Will your infants be baptized?
- Will the children take Holy Communion?
- Does each of you find their career fulfilling? What do you find most satisfying about your jobs?
- Discuss whether or not you think it is possible to make too much money.
- What kind of work would each of you do if money were not a factor?
- What percentage of family income should go into savings? Investment? Generosity? Living expenses?
- What are your views on tithing?
- How does each of you understand submission in marriage?
- Will either of you be devoting long years and much energy to further education, politics or ministry? How would this affect the partner who has to run the home and raise the children without their spouse’s presence and support?
- What does each of you like most about the way your parents raised you and your siblings?
- Which character strength is each person most pleased with in themselves, and which character weakness would they most like to improve?
- Will you pray and study the Bible individually, or together? Both? How often?
- How does each of you differentiate between privacy and secrecy? Paint scenarios.
- Discuss live-in relatives? Are there advantages? Disadvantages?
- Is marriage really permanent? What does each of you think about “trying marriage” to see if it works?
- Under what circumstances would you consider divorce, if at all? What would be a deal-breaker?
No, you cannot possibly think of every single important consideration or topic, but you will agree with me that it would be nice – if not important – to discuss these.
Marriage is serious business, and you can’t take it too seriously. Just remember to have fun as well!