So what’s really gonna make this thing last? I mean, this feels like “love”… but if this could lead towards marriage, how can I tell if that marriage would be successful?
Simply stated: how do I know if this could be the one?
Well, there are no formulas to guarantee who is “the one”. But apply these five filters to your would-be mate, and see if marital compatibility could be in your combined future together.
Each of these filters is linked to one of the top five marriage-destroyers in existence. If you deal with these issues early on with your potential life-mate (or at least start the conversations together now), you can help prevent yourself a great deal of frustration and disappointment down the road.
You may save your marriage before you ever even say “I do”!
Filter #1 – Faith. In Christianese, we would call this equal-yoking. This is more than just “do you believe in the same things” – although that is certainly part of it. This is “what really controls you?”
- What masters you?
- Whom do you obey, ultimately?
- Who or what outside of yourself determines your decisions – your life’s direction? Ultimately, this question here is, who or what is your god?
If the two of you ultimately worship and follow different gods – whether they be actual deities or other things like security, fear, wealth, status, success, notoriety, comfort – your marriage will not last.
Filter #2 – Purpose. In which direction do you want your life to go?
- Think career-wise: what do you want to do or “be” when you grow up?
- Think education: does what you want to do require lots of extra education? Would you be a full-time student? For how long? Or, would you pursue your education while working?
- Think geographically: where do you want to live? Do you want to live in one place or move around?
If God’s calling on your lives is not compatible – your life purposes, your life directions – then your marriage together is going to be extremely difficult.
Imagine a man who wants to join the Army – he will be relocating every 18-24 months throughout his career. If the woman he wants to marry always imagined herself “settling down”, establishing her roots, and raising her kids in one place, their marriage is going to be filled with frustration with each other.
Or imagine the woman who always dreamed of becoming a doctor. She has a decade of full-time post-graduate work ahead of her. If the man she wants to marry always envisioned his wife being a stay-at-home Mom, or working full-time to help pay for his post-graduate degree, then their marriage is going to be a long uphill battle.
If the trajectory of your lives is not in the same direction – or at the very least, compatible directions – it is going to be very difficult to maintain happiness and peace in your home together.
Filter #3 – Finances. Look at any reputable study on divorce – money problems are consistently cited among the top-ranked marriage-destroyers. (But yes, they rank 3rd on my list behind faith and purpose.)
Compatible views on how you handle money are essential for preventing marital strife and promoting marital bliss! Talk about these things early, and determine if you can live the rest of your life with the way this person plans to manage your combined finances:
- How do you feel about giving?
- How do you feel about saving?
- How do you feel about credit?
- How do you feel about debt?
- What is your desired or expected standard of living? How soon do you want / plan to achieve that? How?
- What kinds of cars do you expect to drive?
- What kind of home do you plan to live in?
- What kinds of vacations to you want to take?
- How do you intend to pay for all these things?
Talk these things through NOW, while they are still just ideas in your potential future – before they have the chance to ruin your marriage 5, 10, or 20 years down the line.
Filter #4 – Kids. Most dating or engaged couples never breach this subject, but it is one of the most formidable aspects of marriage life: raising kids together. Again, ask these questions of each other early, and decide if the responses you get back are compatible with your genuine hopes, desires, and dreams related to kids and parenting:
- Do you plan to have any kids at all?
- If so, how many? And how soon?
- If not, what is your reasoning? (your potential future spouse should know the answer to the question of “why” – even if you agree, you should understand where each other is coming from.)
- How do you feel about adoption or foster care?
- How will you discipline kids?
- Do you believe in spanking or not?
- What about chores and an allowance – how do you see those things working when you have kids?
Filter #5 – Cleanliness. Whose responsibility is it to prepare the meals? Wash the dishes? Take out the trash? Wash / dry / fold / put away the clothes? Hygiene? Organization?
What does your desk-space look like? Your bedside table? The top of your dresser? Your papers and files? Are you generally organized and neat, or most often not?
How often do you clean out your car? Where do you leave your shoes in the house?
What about hygiene? Let’s cut straight to the bottom line: does your would-be spouse have any habits that you just can’t see yourself enduring everyday of your life for the next 50-60 years?!
It seems odd that a thing like cleanliness would make it on my top-five list of marital compatibilities, among such things as faith and kids. But think about it: have you ever had a roommate – or even a close friend – who just had one habit or tendency that just annoyed the stew out of you? Maybe it was the way they left their clothes laying around, or they never washed their dishes, or they always left the windows open, or the blinds closed, or their phone’s battery was always dead, or they never put the remote back where it belongs, or… well, you can fill in the blank with your own pet peeves…!
Now imagine this person with whom you are currently twitterpated has this same habit that drives you nuts. You’ve gotta take a step back from the warm fuzzies and picture yourself living with that habit or eccentricity for the rest of your life.
Their eccentricities are an important part of who they are. You should love and adore them! – not decide that you can merely endure them…
Apply these five filters to that special someone who has stolen your heart, and build a solid foundation for a successful ever after!