Monday, 14 January 2013 10:40

Before You Say “I Do” A Premarital Checklist

Written by  Lou Priolo
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Dr. Anthony Florio likens certain premarital danger signs to traffic lights.

 

Like red blinking danger signs mean STOP, then proceed with caution (if at all)...

Negative traits may be hidden from you, and just the tips show

what is going on beneath a supposedly mature exterior.

 

In my counseling ministry I have given the following checklist to many couples along with the following advice. “If there are more than a couple of these ‘danger signs’ in your relationship, you should probably be concerned. The greater number of these issues you encounter between the two of you, the more you should consider putting your relationship on hold, not necessarily breaking up, but slowing things down (or at least not moving forward) until these issues are resolved.”

Place a check in the box next to each and every danger sign that either you or your boyfriend/girlfriend (fiancé) believes is a recurring issue between the two of you—not something that happens just once in a while. (Ideally, both of you should take the inventory).         

 

      Recurrent doubts about the relationship (Romans 14:5)

There are several reasons why people in relationships have doubts. People who are prone to anxiety, for example, may have doubts because worriers tend to worry about those things they value (like the importance of making a wise choice for a life partner). Doubts may also arise from physical issues, like sleep loss or certain prescription medications (or the indigestion that resulted from the anchovy pizza one had for supper). It may be that God’s built in smoke detector (your conscience) is warning you of a serious problem that needs to be examined in light of the Scriptures.

                                   

      Frequent arguments

It is not necessarily a problem to have conflict so long as the conflicts are resolved quickly, effectively, and with a minimal amount of sin. But when conflicts turn into quarrels that are not resolved according to biblical principles, it is indicative of significant underlying problems.

           

      Avoidance of certain issues or topics of discussion

If there is an apprehension to bring up “sensitive” issues for fear of starting a fight or of receiving a defensive (proud) response, this is a major red flag.  It may be indicative of an inability to resolve conflicts biblically on the part of your partner or an  inordinate desire for approval on your part.

                                   

      Increased (inordinate) physical involvement

You resolve to limit the acceleration of your physical intimacy, but find that on each date you start again at the place where you left off.  Sometimes couples get involved physically as a way to avoid arguments.  Just one of the reasons for this being a danger sign is that your relationship may remain on a physical level only, throughout your courtship and marriage.  After you’re married, you may not like the personality that goes along with the body.

 

      Fear of ending the relationship

Love (the biblical antithesis of fear) involves giving others what they need, not necessarily what they want.  It is doing what is right rather than what it feels like doing.  It is doing what is best for the other person, in light of eternity, according to the Bible, and doing it whether or not the person being loved understands what you are doing.            

           

      Opposition from family and friends

Solomon said, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” and “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.” (Proverbs  12:15, 15:22)

When there is strong opposition from parents, spiritual leaders, close friends and other relatives, consider their reasons before making a final decision. If their reasons are biblical, it is best to wait until the issues are resolved.

 

      Lack of spiritual harmony

Amos asks, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (3:3 NKJV) The Bible directs, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

           

      Pride

Some marital conflicts simply cannot be resolved apart from one person admitting wrong.

 

      Anger (characterological)

Scripture warns, “Make no friendship [let alone marriage—the ultimate friendship] with an angry man. . . lest you learn his ways.” (Proverbs 22:24–25)

           

      Impatience

The person you marry is going to have struggles with sin that will likely take time to correct. If you cannot patiently endure with him/her you will greatly increase your marital misery.

 

      Intolerance

In addition to struggles with sin, your spouse will come into the marriage with certain annoying, idiosyncratic mannerisms and ways of doing (or not doing) things that are not sin, but may cause you some measure of daily frustration—unless you are a very tolerant person. Moreover, if you routinely manifest a critical, condemnatory, accusatory, judgmental attitude about those idiosyncrasies you will be in for a rough ride.

           

      Selfishness/inconsiderateness

Selfishness is the root cause of virtually all marriage problems. Is the person you are wanting to marry a giver or a taker?

 

      Inability to resolve conflicts

In his book, Christian Living in the Home, (pp. 64) Jay Adams explains the importance of conflict resolution skills in choice of a mate.

 

“How, then, may one know how to choose a mate?  There are only two absolutely essential requirements: first, that the other person is also a Christian; second, that the two of you not only desire to, but growingly give evidence of being able to, face, talk over, and solve problems together from God’s Word in God’s way.  While socioeconomic, ethnic, chronological, and other factors may rightly enter the picture as minor matters of preference, they are in no sense essentials.  The one factor beyond salvation that is truly essential is the ability to solve problems biblically.  With this capability, persons with quite diverse backgrounds find it possible to enrich their own lives profoundly.  Difference (or similarity) is a matter of preference, not an essential.  But, aside from the desire and ability to solve difficulties scripturally, carbon copy backgrounds will not make two sinful persons compatible.”

           

      Lack of compassion

Someone whose compassion is seriously lacking will without a doubt cause much pain to his spouse. The apostle John said, “Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17)

           

      Disrespect

Both husbands (1 Peter 3:7) and wives (Ephesians 5:33) are commanded to show respect to their spouses.       

 

      Bitterness

Forgiveness (the antithesis to and antidote for bitterness) is an essential ingredient to any marriage where at least one person is a sinner!        

 

      Irresponsible behavior     

Financial irresponsibility is especially indicative of problems. Paul reminded the Thessalonians, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

 

      Irrational thinking

Irrational (or subjective) thinking distorts and hinders a person’s ability to love others.  This is so because, among other things, so much of love involves how we think about others.

Examples of irrational thinking  include jealousy (love is not jealous), suspiciousness (love believes all things), a pattern of making rash judgments or uncharitably judging  the motives of others, frequent accusatory comments, a critical, censorious spirit, and excessive or irrational fears.

 

      Excessive passivity

This is especially a concern for men who, by design, are intended to be the initiator in marriage.

 

      Legalism/perfectionism

Legalism involves exalting a personal standard higher than the Sriptures and desiring to obey that standard more than the Scriptures. Perfectionism is an all or nothing mindset that sees anything less than near perfection as failure.

           

      Unresolved conflicts         

When a person comes into a marriage without a conscience toward those in his past that he has wronged he is in danger of shipwrecking the relationship.

 

May I again suggest that if you have taken this inventory and have checked off more than a few items, that you talk to a trusted pastor or biblical counselor. It will be worth your time and could save you years of misery and heartache.

 

 

A graduate of Calvary Bible College and Liberty University, Lou is the author of several books, including The Heart of Anger, The Complete Husband, Teach Them Diligently, Getting a Grip, and Pleasing People. A noted lecturer, and full time biblical counselor for over 20 years, he is the director of The Center for Biblical Counseling at Eastwood Presbyterian Church where he is also an elder. He is an instructor at Birmingham Theological Seminary in Birmingham Alabama. Lou has an extensive CD ministry oriented toward helping Christians apply the Bible to specific problems in living. He is a Fellow in the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, and a section editor for the Journal of Modern Ministry. Lou and his wife, Kim, are the parents of two girls, Sophia and Gabriella. 

 

 

Last modified on Monday, 14 January 2013 10:56
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