I sat with a couple who was upset. Their son was getting married. Instead of feeling joy, they were anxious and concerned. Their son wasn’t paying attention to any of the red flags regarding the relationship they tried to discuss. He was in love. Nothing would deter him.

If you are considering marriage, pay attention to the people who love and care about you when it comes to selecting a mate. This is important when you decide to marry. They often see things you may not.

Parents and relatives: My parents (two people I consider to be relatively healthy in their relationships) had opinions and a perspective I valued as they watched me interact with men. At the point of marriage, they knew me better than anyone else. They also felt somewhat protective of their daughter.

There were men I dated that my mother felt were not compatible with me. She didn’t meddle, but did share her observations. This was helpful because she only reinforced what I already sensed. My father also had opinions and commented on things he felt were important about men. My parents’ input didn’t determine my decision, but I certainly found it valuable, and I listened. Yes, I was willing to listen, not get defensive.

Friends: In addition, you should talk to your friends and listen to those who share your faith. They can help you think through important issues. If you are not defensive and open to feedback, friends can point to areas of concern. Deal with those areas prior to  making a commitment. Problems will not magically disappear after the wedding. I know people who married and knew they made a mistake before the honeymoon!

Spiritual counsel:Godly counsel is also important. As you pray, read your Bible, and seek God, do you sense peace or a check in your spirit? If you ask God to speak to you about the person, He will. Don’t think God isn’t interested. He is. If His eye is on the sparrow, He’s watching you! He knows the seriousness of the covenant and wants you to get it right. But you’ve got to make marriage a decision of prayer.

People often tell me after they divorce, they felt “a check in their spirit” but ignored it. Or they felt prompted to end a relationship and didn’t. Don’t ignore those spiritual warnings. When you pray about a specific marriage partner, the answer may not always be a green light. But if God is a good Father, then He wants the best for you. Trust your gut, or what people of faith believe is the Holy Spirit working in you.

Your pastor/priest/rabbi should be involved in the decision to marry. He/she is your spiritual authority and can challenge you as a couple regarding your commitment and compatibility.

Premarital counseling: This is effective. There are inventories like PREPARE that identify areas of relational strengths and potential problems that predict marital dissatisfaction. PREPARE is one of the most widely used assessments around. The inventory can highlight areas of potential pitfalls. You may also learn things about your partner you didn’t know.

Obviously there is much to consider when choosing a spouse. That’s why it is so important to take your time, get to know the person and watch how he/she handles life under a number of circumstances. Seeing someone function over time and with their family is very helpful. Quick courtships are risky – anyone can be on best behavior for a short period of time.

Bottom line, prepare by listening to God, those who love you, and those who counsel. Watch for signs of trouble and compatibility. In the long run, preparation on the front end makes all the difference.

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad