5 Things to Consider Before Getting Married
If you ask my wife Teresa and me what we enjoy most about our role in the Couples’ Ministry at FAC, we’d tell you it’s talking with couples who are either seriously dating or engaged and planning to get married soon.
Typically, our conversations with these couples usually highlight the time, money, and effort placed into planning bachelor/bachelorette parties, the grander plans for their wedding day, and huge plans for the honeymoon. We certainly don’t suggest couples forgo their big wedding and honeymoon plans. But we do recommend they give equal time, money, and effort into their marriage – before their wedding day.
Here are 5 things I ask couples to think about before getting married:
1. God’s Design for Marriage
Marriage is a divine institution. It’s God’s idea. He created the first man and woman, introduced them, gave them premarital counseling, and performed the first wedding! Without a doubt, God knows best what marriage should be and how couples should conduct their relationship since He designed it all. Make it a priority as a couple to comb through the Bible to know what a healthy marriage can look like within God’s design. A successful marriage and true happiness are possible when you discover God’s plan for marriage—starting with a concept found in the early pages of scripture:
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24).
In the New Testament, Jesus spoke those very words when answering a question about divorce. “And for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and live with his wife. And the two will become one flesh. From then on, they are no longer two but united as one. So, what God unites, let no one divide!”. (Matthew 19: 5-6). I’ve seen marriages struggle when one spouse doesn’t realize this truth in the early stages. It’s even more tragic when parents have trouble releasing their children. To me, this scripture reveals God’s ultimate goal for marriage. When you get married, there are no longer two people living individual lives; in the eyes of God, you’ve become one complete life together. Later in New Testament, the apostle Paul quoted the same scripture, but right after the words “the two will become one flesh,” he added, “this is a profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32). This is such a perfect way to describe marriage. It really is a profound mystery when 2 unique and different individuals come together as 1.
2. The 2-Word Success Formula: “Know Yourself”
You’re in love, right? People agree that for a good marriage, 2 people have to love each other. But here’s the thing; many couples have a wrong or inadequate understanding of love; they often describe it as a feeling. Build your marriage on choices, not feelings. Love is a choice; happiness is a choice; marriage should be a choice too, but feelings change based on thoughts and circumstances.
What does it really mean to love someone? Jesus understood the importance of love when He summarized God’s command, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind; this is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it you shall love your neighbor as yourself….” (Matthew 22:37-40, emphasis added). Knowing yourself in a deep, accurate, and appropriate way is vital to the success of your relationship. And knowing yourself and your partner intimately is essential for developing and maintaining deep unity in your marriage.
3. God’s Vision For Your Marriage
When I ask couples who are seriously dating or engaged, “Do you believe God brought you together?” Many reply, “Yes, of course!”
Then I ask, “Why do you think God brought you together?”
Most struggle to answer.
Understanding the “why” for your relationship – before you get married – will give you greater clarity of your purpose and direction for your marriage. If you’re looking to get married because you think it’ll make you happy, it won’t – it only intensifies your current state. If you’re happy, a good marriage will make you happier. However, marriage will likely make you more miserable, fearful, or angry if you’re already feeling those things. In his book “Sacred Marriage,” Gary Thomas suggests that God didn’t design marriage to make us happy but to make us Holy.
Growing mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy as individuals before marriage will help us see God’s vision for our own life and our marriage more clearly. With my wife Teresa, I recognize that our marriage is most successful when we’re satisfied with ourselves and in each other.
4. The Top Priority When Married
Marriage is a blessing from God. In Psalm 128, the psalmist writes:
How joyous are those who love the Lord and bow low before God, ready to obey Him!
Your reward will be prosperity, happiness, and well-being.
Your wife will bless your heart and home.
Your children will bring you joy as they gather around your table.
Yes, this is God’s generous reward for those who love Him.
May the Lord bless you out of his Zion-glory!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem throughout your lifetime.
And may you be surrounded by your grandchildren.
Happiness to you! And happiness to Israel!
Establish your priorities: love God first and foremost. Love yourself. Love your partner, then your children. In marriage, your MOST important relationship is with Jesus Christ. In times of trouble, He will support you when your spouse can’t. Jesus is your most trusted marriage advisor – not your friends or what you find on the internet. When your spouse falls short, Jesus will be there. He wants to be your sufficiency. Jesus is the One who enables you to keep your marriage commitment when the going gets tough.
5. Planning for Success
Life is rich because of our relationships.
In marriage, a healthy relationship can be so rewarding. There’s a right way to build a healthy marriage and a wrong way. A marriage that reflects God’s design and a committed partner has a 100% chance of success. Enter your marriage with intentionality.
Most couples never stop to consider just how important it is to take time to prepare for marriage. Most just get caught up in getting ready for their wedding. But couples often agree it makes sense to devote considerable attention to this matter; after all, getting married is one of the most important things you’ll ever do! Place effort and resources into defining what marriage means to you and what common values it can help you and your partner achieve. Failing to plan together is the same as planning to fail together.
Once you agree on a plan for your marriage, you can quickly focus your time and energy on what matters most to you as a couple – not what society, friends, or advertisers say matters. Consider these truths:
- You can’t plan for success in your marriage if you don’t know where you’re starting.
- You can’t plan for success in your marriage if you don’t know where you want to end up.
Here to Help
To stay on track from your starting point to your destination, monitor your progress. Good news – we can help! The Relationship Fitness Centre® at FAC (First Alliance Church) offers resources we hope will inspire you to embrace God’s perspective for marriage, allowing you to receive His vision, purpose, and joy for your relationship at every stage of the journey.
If you’re planning to get married soon, consider taking the Before We Say I Do course. For couples in their first 5 years of marriage, we have a First5 group that meets twice a month; once for a study topic and the other time just to hang out together.
We’d love to connect with you and help you build a marriage that honours God.
Side Note: The date of this article is April 1, which marks the beginning of National Couple Appreciation Month – founded to encourage couples to do something special and celebrate their relationship. It’s also “April Fool’s Day” in Canada, when many people play practical jokes and pranks for the day – a great opportunity to infuse some humour into your relationship! Couples who find things to laugh about together, often discover their bond grows.
Ron Buschman is the Couples’ Ministry Director at FAC. He and his wife Teresa will be married for 39 years this June.
You might also be interested in …
- “Making Your Marriage Beautiful” blog post (published January 22, 2021)
- “Am I The Problem in My Relationships?” blog post (published February 14, 2020)