I’m thinking about getting married to my boyfriend. Can you give me some guidelines that may help me know that I am marrying the right guy?
You know that there are hundreds of websites and books which talk about what to look for in a future spouse. These usually focus on the good traits we want to find in someone that we want to marry. I decided to give you another perspective and point out seven types of people you should think about twice before marrying:
1. A Non-Christian
This first one is obvious.
“Husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:20-33).
2. Someone with a Different Religious Background
Can you imagine two building contractors trying to build the same house with two different sets of plans?
In the same way, living with the same spiritual plans promotes harmony and success. Living with a person of a different religious persuasion often ends up with one being hurt and one not.
You need to be on the same page with your values, morals, and outlook on life. I see this often when a wife or husband wants to go to one type of church while the other wants a different one. Neither ends up being very happy … then imagine what happens when raising children comes into the picture.
3. One Who Has Been Divorced… with a Caveat or Two
“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God, “and I hate a man beating his wife” (Malachi 2:16 RSV alternate rendering).
Before you marry a divorcee, be sure you know exactly what happened, why it happened, and you feel that the personal issues are rectified.
This doesn’t mean that someone who has been divorced should never be married. Just be careful. Seventy percent of all second marriages end in divorce.
Paul provides a checklist of things to avoid when choosing a marriage partner: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, violence, abuse, and filthy language (Colossians 3:5-10).
A bank teller told me that on the second night of her honeymoon her husband hit her. She gathered her clothes, walked out the door, and never looked back.
4. Those with Personality Disorders
Persons with personality disorders seldom make good marriage material. However, that does not mean it is not possible. For example, I knew a woman who married a schizophrenic individual. She loved him and helped him get through life.
Let me give you a list of personality disorders that may or may not show up before you are married.
But first, know that I encourage all couples to wait at least a year before they are married. This takes them through all four seasons, and if some problem is going to show up, it most likely will during that year.
People with Narcissistic Personality Disorders are self-absorbed to the exclusion of all others. They “suck the life” out of all who befriend them.
People with Borderline (or Emotionally Unstable) Personality Disorders struggle with impulsive actions, rapidly shifting moods, and chaotic relationships. This disorder is often a combination of several others.
People with Antisocial Personality Disorders have no sense of right and wrong. They can do dastardly things to the people associated with them without feeling remorse.
People with Histrionic Personality Disorders are incredibly emotional and attention-seeking. Their “roller coaster” up and down lives wear down the people around them. They seek to control through emotional manipulation.
People with Paranoid Personality Disorders often interpret the actions of others as deliberately threatening or demeaning.
People with Avoidant Personality Disorders are hypersensitive to rejection. They are timid, fear criticism, and tend to avoid activities that involve interpersonal contact.
People with Dependent Personality Disorders want others to make decisions for them. They require excessive reassurance and are easily hurt by criticism or disapproval.
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6).
5. An Angry Person
The problem with an angry person is basically two-fold. First, you might be in their line of fire. Second, they may bury their anger and then express it in all sorts of unhealthy ways.
It’s important to recognize that some people struggle with anger because they have been drastically hurt. This person then experiences a double hurt because nobody cares. I call them “emotional rocks.” It is possible to heal from these hurts and let go of even the most deeply entrenched anger. However, the road back is extremely difficult, and few attempt it.
If you are considering marrying someone with serious anger issues, wait until they choose to get help and heal.
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).
6. A Selfish Person
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25).
“The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them.” (Proverbs 28-22).
The key here is “self.” Selfishness ruins relationships. “Self” manifests in three dangerous forms.
First, selfish people take from others.
Second, self-reliant people are unhealthily independent and think that don’t need others: “I can take care of myself; and, if you were just a better person, you’d take care of your own needs, too.” It’s tough to live with a self-reliant person.
Third, some people struggle with self-condemnation. They don’t feel worthy to be the kind of person that blesses others. Instead of utilizing their God-given personality, they hide it.
Before we get to the last topic, please remember, nobody is perfect. If we expect someone to live up to all of these considerations, no one would ever get married.
Pick out your three or four issues that you can live with—be aware of them and help each other through them—and have a great marriage. Make sure your partner does the same.
7. Those Who Grew Up in a Dysfunctional Family
I’ve saved the topic of dysfunctional families for last because all of us live and grow up in dysfunctional families.
Some dysfunctions, handled well, can build great character. The same dysfunction in the life of another may bring heartache and despair.
David’s family was intensely dysfunctional. He ruined every child he ever had. His children lived in a world of incest, rape, murder, deceit, shame, and rebellion. He never took time to love and discipline his children.
On the other hand, Joseph grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family. Eight of his brothers hated him and sold him into slavery in Egypt. Nevertheless, he used that background to become second in command to Pharaoh.
In the early 1980s, Janet G. Woititz published a synopsis of many of the characteristics of adults who grew up in alcoholic families. Shortly after publishing her book, Adult Children of Alcoholics, she discovered that many people with addictions, who grew up in strict and/or judgmental religious upbringings, who were adopted, who lived in foster care, or who grew up in other dysfunctional environments often exhibited the same adult problems as those whose parents were alcoholics.
If you discover that you are growing up, or did grow up, in a dysfunctional family, be sure you give those around you a little grace. After all, they are usually just passing on what they received from their own parents.
My family tree is full of alcoholics, drunk drivers, sclerosis of the liver, suicides, rebellion, and even an abandoned child. Both of my grandfathers were alcoholics. My mother and father never drank, but everyone around them did.
Personally, I always considered my family to be a good one—and in many ways it was. But I never understood just how dysfunctional my family was until I read Woititz’s work and identified with many of the symptoms.
Now I understand that many of the dysfunctional characteristics my mother passed on to me were passed to her from her ancestors. Mom simply passed on what she was given.
According to Woititz, adults whose parents were alcoholics or who grew up in overwhelmingly dysfunctional families:
Guess at what normal behavior is;
Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end;
Judge themselves without mercy;
Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth;
Have difficulty having fun;
Take themselves very seriously;
Have difficulty with intimate relationships;
Overreact to changes over which they have no control;
Constantly seek approval and affirmation;
Usually feel that they are different from other people;
Are super-responsible or super-irresponsible;
Are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved;
Are impulsive (they or others tend to spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up their mess).
I identify with nine of the characteristics. I suppose that our family was about 4/13th functional.
How about yours?
I hope you find some of these thoughts faithful as you are considering someone to marry.