“I will give them a single-minded purpose to live in a way that always shows respect for me. They will want to do that for their own good and the good of the children who descend from them.” (Jeremiah 32:39)
Two people will never be in total agreement about everything, but in a good marriage, the couple need to agree about the most important issues and be willing to let their partners differ on lesser issues. The following verses do not comprise an exhaustive list of all the possibilities, but offer some suggestions about topics that could cause serious friction and need to be discussed prior to marriage.
Alcohol use is an issue on which Christians from differing church backgrounds may disagree. Some feel that it is okay to drink in moderation; others feel that it is wiser to refrain from all alcohol consumption. The Bible is very clear on the point that drunkenness is not acceptable. If your boyfriend is habitually drinks in excess, get out of the relationship. If he does not drink in excess, be sure that you discuss and come to agreement about how much (if any) alcohol use you are each comfortable with. Do not assume that one or the other of you will change your mind on this issue with time—that is unlikely to happen. If you are not in agreement on this point, do not marry. It can be extremely divisive and will get worse as time goes on.
Notice that it does not say that children are a requirement, only that they are a blessing. Most adults welcome children joyfully into their households and take great delight in raising them. But there are a few people who firmly desire not to have children. It is not disobedient or sinful to choose not to have children, but it is essential that both husband and wife are in agreement about the choice before they marry. For many people, the desire to have a family is so strong that it is emotionally devastating to them if they are denied children. On the other hand, those who are firmly convinced that they do not want children are almost sure to become increasingly resentful if they are pressured into having them. If you and your boyfriend cannot come to full agreement on this issue, you may not be a good match for a permanent relationship.
There are numerous things that can enslave a man that are not necessarily “sinful.” Read 1 Corinthians 6:12. The Apostle Paul offers two cautions about things—even good things—that may exercise a lot of control over a person’s life.
· “All things are lawful for me”—but
· “All things are lawful for me”—but
Examine the things that take a lot of your boyfriend’s time or focus, particularly things that he is unwilling to forego for the sake of other important things. Following is a list of some possible addictions or obsessions a man may have.
____a sport (or a particular team)
____work (more than required or reasonable hours)
____gambling (including lottery tickets)
____a TV or movie series
____a hobby or leisure activity: _________________________________
With time and maturity, it is possible that some of these things may lose the intensity of their hold on the man you are dating. But it is equally possible that the addiction(s) may increase.
Read Romans 12:18.
A multitude of behavioral differences may exist between two people that are neither “right” nor “wrong” spiritually, but about which you or your boyfriend may have very strong preferences or personal convictions. These could include such things as personal tastes in food, music, or clothing; personal convictions about TV viewing, dancing, or holiday celebrations; preferences in church denominations, decorating styles, or vacations; or personal expectations regarding manners, spending money, or household chores. This is not an exhaustive list—you will find others as you spend time together and discuss the future.
In order to know if you can, indeed, “live peaceably” with this man, it is essential that you talk about these things and any other issues about which either of you have strong preferences or personal convictions. Share with each other the things that each of you considers non-negotiable and be very sure that you can come to an understanding about them that you are both comfortable with. There will be many issues for compromise and unselfishness in any marriage, and you will each need to bend a little and make some adjustments to please your partner. But on the issues where you do not feel that you can bend and still live peaceably, be sure that your partner is willing to accept that.
Take some time to think through the things that matter most to you when you consider daily living and family life.
Read Matthew 19:3-6.
Fear of abandonment will keep you from fully trusting a marriage partner if you are not both committed to staying the course permanently. A marriage that is founded on a mutual commitment for life and agreement on the most fundamental issues can be a wonderful adventure. When you find such a companion, you will have found a man worth sharing the rest of your life with.