This is in no way intended to be an exhaustive list. If I made an exhaustive list, I'd be, well, exhausted. Besides, you might have your own things to add. What you should not add are things like "blue eyes", "curly hair" and "must be over 3 feet tall" (well, maybe you could add that one...) Why shouldn't you add things like that? Because having brown eyes isn't a deal breaker (I have brown eyes, and I'm okay). Being a liar is a deal breaker. Being a jerk is a deal breaker, but a sweet person of character with straight hair is not a deal breaker. God looks on the heart, not the outward appearance -- we should, too. Yes, you should find the person attractive, but that shouldn't be the main focus. Our society puts nearly all the focus on the outward appearance and almost none on the character of a person -- and we have the divorce rate to prove it.
Don't be unequally yoked:
It doesn't matter how you feel about spiritual things, the truth is that you will have problems if you and your mate are not on the same page. If one of you is hungry for God and the only thing the other has ever been hungry for is pizza, you are going to have problems. If one of you wants to pursue Hinduism and the other wants to pursue Judaism, you are going to have problems. If one of you is Bible-thumping on-fire Christian and the other is a Christian, but doesn't let it affect his daily life, you are going to have problems. I can't tell you the heart-ache I have heard as I have counseled with people after they were married. They didn't think it would be a big issue when they were dating, but it became a source of great pain as the years went by. God knew what He was talking about when He told us not to be unequally yoked. Find someone of like spiritual faith. You'll be glad you did.
On the same note, if one of you wants to pursue ministry and the other does not, you will
have problems. We have known so many people who were called to ministry but either were not in ministry or were unable to go very far in ministry because of resistance from their spouse. If you feel you are called into ministry, please, please, please make sure the person you are dating feels an equal
call to the ministry. Ministry is hard enough without adding that kind of disunity.Honesty:
It should go without saying, but someone who is willing to twist the facts when you are dating is going to be willing to lie to you when you're married. It might be a "little white lie" now, but once you're married, it will be lies about how money is spent, who they were with and maybe even what was going on when they were with them. When someone tells you a lie, they are using your trust against you to get you to believe something that isn't true. A lie is never appropriate. Never.Self-Controlled:
A person who cannot control their emotions or their actions is going to cause problems in a marriage and in life. A self-contolled person, on the other hand, is stable. Stable people have a much easier time creating a stable marriage.Peaceable / Not an argumentative person:
If the person you are dating always has to debate everything, watch out. It may seem cute when you're dating, but when you are married, it means they will have a argument for nearly everything you say or do. If they do not have control of their temper, things can get dangerous in a hurry after you're married. Do the words "Domestic Disturbance" mean anything to you? A peaceable person, on the other hand, is going to be looking for ways to diffuse an argument when you don't agree. A peaceful home is more pleasant than a war zone. Choose accordingly.Responsible
: A responsible person is going to be where they said they would be, doing what they said they would be doing. They are dependable. They are diligent. That means they can hold a job, pay the bills on time and take care of the children. They will do whatever it takes to perform their responsibilities. How much better is it to be married to a responsible person than to have your partner hold down the couch while you do both your job and his/her job, too.Patient:
It's easy to be nice when everything is going well, but what about when you're standing in line, the traffic is heavy, or someone is late to meet you? If your potential mate cannot keep their cool in traffic, do you really think they will be patient while they wait for your 2 year old to potty-train? If he can't be patient when it takes too long to get your food at a restaurant, do you think he will be patient when you make him late again because you are still putting on your make-up?Unselfish:
It has been said that lack of communication is the leading cause of trouble in marriage. I don't agree. One minister said, "You can say, 'I hate your guts, you ugly jerk,' and you are communicating just fine. The problem isn't communication, it's selfishness." A selfish person will say whatever they are thinking, whether it's a good time or not. They will think mostly about how things affect them, and rarely think about how what they do affects others. They cause pain to others and often don't even see it because they aren't thinking outwardly. A good marriage partner will develop in unselfishness.Courteous:
This doesn't need a lot of explanation. If your date doesn't even have basic good manners, move on -- unless you want to always know exactly what they're chewing. Courtesy and manners are part of being unselfish. Only a selfish person is so self-absorbed that they can't be bothered to think about how their lack of manners might affect someone else. Good manners are simply a product of being thoughtful and mindful of others.Discretion:
A discreet person looks ahead and sees the consequences of an action before they do it. They can hold their tongue. They don't have to tell everything they know. They also don't dress in such a way that they show everything they have -- they are modest.Not an Emotional Manipulator:
An emotional manipulator is someone who will say or do things to elicit an emotional response in an effort to get you to do what they want. When you say you don't want to do something, they will try to persuade you -- often using guilt. In extreme cases, this is the person who says, "If you break up with me, I'm going to kill myself." Most cases are much more subtle. When you say you don't feel comfortable going to a certain movie, they will try to talk you into it anyway. When you say you want to save yourself for marriage, they will keep trying to put the moves on you anyway. They are pushing the boundaries, trying to get you to do what they want. A person who does this to you does not really respect you. If they did, they would respect your "No." Once you are married to a person like this, you will be constantly subjected to emotional pressure. They will even try to get you to violate your conscience when it serves them -- I have watched it happen. When you finally stop caving in and stand up to them, things will get ugly. I have never seen anyone get as angry as when a person who is used to getting their way runs into someone who won't give in -- especially if the manipulator's tactics once worked with that person. They don't like to loose control of the person.Servant's Heart:
Do they try to serve others, or do they expect to be served? Anyone can pretend for a while, but eventually, their true colors will begin to shine. You can begin to get a glimpse at the truth by watching them with their mother and/or siblings. Do they wait for mom to do everything for them, or are they actively working to help her? Do they treat their siblings with kindness and respect, looking for ways to bless them? How they treat their family members is how they will end up treating you. Have a good, hard look.
There are so many other character qualities we could talk about -- honor, kindness, humility, joyfulness, gentleness, generosity, virtue, compassion, loyalty, forgiveness, and thankfulness to name a few. You are not likely to meet someone who is fully developed in all these traits, but they should be showing strong elements of them -- and so should you. It takes character to have a good marriage that will last. You have heard it said that marriage takes work. It's true, and most of the work is on yourself as you develop and grow in character and unselfishness. As we said before, it isn't so much about finding the right person as it is about being the right person.
Take a brutally honest look at the person you think you might want to date. Remember, dating is a prelude to marriage. How are they really
doing with this list? Don't fool yourself into thinking they have more character than they really have, or you will come to regret it later. When my husband is teaching about dating and marriage, he often says, "It is better to want what you don't have than to have what you don't want." Turning a blind eye to serious character flaws will only lead to serious heart-ache later.
Go slow and give yourself time to really see the true nature of the person you are dating. People often make the mistake of moving too fast, but if you slow down you will have a much better chance of getting past all the attempts to impress each other. You will begin to know the heart of the person you are with. Keep your standards high -- you're worth it!
Next time we will talk about some things to consider before you say "I do."
Have a great day!Angela
In case you missed it: Intro Part OneGo on to Part Three.