Marriage … is a much sought for relationship. When we seek for that person whom we are to commit our lives until ‘death do us apart’ what characteristics do we look out for? Often, the determining factor is along the lines of beauty, privileged class/wealth, income earner, healthy, education. However, Debbie Wood in ‘Where God places two hearts in a home’ shares nine positive characteristics that one should be on a look out for in a life partner.
“So, once you’ve ruled out the things that you would not want to live with, what positive things are you looking for? Here are nine positive characteristics of a suitable partner. The one you marry should possess as many of these characteristics as possible:
- Feels to you like a close relative whom you had never met before (Gen 2:23). The term bone of my bone that Adam used when he first met Eve, refers to her being his nearest relative (see 2 Sam 19:12-13). When you get to know the one you are to marry, you should have a growing sense that you are kin to each other. In marriage, your one-flesh bond to each other must grow stronger and take precedence over your relationship to your parents, your siblings, and your children.
- Seems unique and special above all others (Song 5:16; 6:9). This should be the person that you can each introduce to your friends and family as Solomon and his wife did and say, This person is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and my friend.
- Helps and encourages you to love and serve the Lord (1 Cor 10:31). This person increases your walk with Christ and effectiveness for ministry. One of the reasons that we felt quite assured that we were to marry was that we were stronger in our faith and work for the Lord together than separately. Throughout our married life, we always spur each other onward to love and good works in Christ (Heb 10:24).
- Demonstrates good character (Tit 1:7-9; 2:6-8). These qualifications for a leader in the church are also appropriate qualifications for the one who will help lead your family. Your sons and daughters will look up to this person and follow his/her example. In 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Paul says that we are to avoid everything that appears evil. When you marry, it will appear to others that you approve of the things that your spouse does.
- Exhibits the fruit of the Spirit, not the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:19-22). Imagine your future home if one or the other of these lists is typical of your spouse‘s attitude. Which list do you want to have as the prevalent atmosphere in your relationship and home? How will these attitudes affect your children? Your parents as they age?
- Is merciful and tenderhearted (Prov 12:10). Observe the way he/she thinks about weak things who have no power to fight back. Does he/she try to protect the weak, have a hardened heart, or even enjoy harming them? William Wilberforce, the man whom God used to stop slavery in England in the 1800s, was also the founder of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The Bible says that a person who lacks mercy to animals is an indication of an evil heart. Someday it will not be animals but your babies that your spouse must protect and nurture, not harm.
- Honors Christ and avoids activities that bring shame to His reputation (Eph 5:3-20). Note these say we are not to participate in things like sexual immorality, drunkenness, greed, nor to be deceived by the persuasive words of those who practice them. When we are attracted to someone, we are highly vulnerable to believe those persuasive words, aren‘t we? If he/she says that all the bad behavior is in the past, it is of course possible that there has been a permanent change, but it is more probable that the change is motivated by a temporary desire to win your approval. If the person has hit you or hurt you, has been involved in sexual immorality (including pornography), gotten drunk, or used filthy words in the past, don‘t be too quick to trust the change. Wait to make sure before you marry. Unless there is a long-term demonstration of change, these things probably will only return and intensify after a few years of marriage.
- Loves you and is willing to lay down his/her own desires to sacrifice for you and to serve you. Ladies, please read Ephesians 5:26, 28. Gentlemen, please read Titus 2:4-5. Love is not optional. It is the heart of Christian marriage. Some people have not learned to give themselves in love. Even in a relationship with one whom they find delightful, they marry only because of what they can get or need. These selfish types are guaranteed to bring pain to their spouses and their children.
- Shares your core values (Amos 3:3). In some areas of tastes, personality, or habit, you can both compromise. But you must come to agree on the values that deeply affect your life together: the Lord, children, in-laws, parents, standards of right and wrong, sexual relations, birth control, and where you will live. This means that you also need to feel comfortable enough with a prospective spouse to be able to discuss these core issues. If you cannot even discuss sensitive topics or areas of disagreement, you are not yet ready to be married.
Before engagement, you need plenty of time to talk, to observe, and to know his/her friends and family. An old English saying is marry in haste, repent at leisure. In Burma, the saying is If you marry, build a pagoda, or make a tattoo, all are for life.
..More important than finding the right person to marry is to become the kind of person that an excellent person would want to marry! Go back through the list above and see how you meet up to these criteria for a good spouse. If you are not there yet, pray about how you will get there. Even if you are already married, it is time to step up to all that God wants for you to become.”