You’ve been seriously dating a wonderful Christian guy for over a year now. You’re both finishing your senior year in college, and friends and family are starting to ask the obvious question: “So…when are you getting engaged?!”
You may feel excitement and anticipation. Emotions run high as you look at a bright and beautiful future with the man of your dreams. But deciding who to marry is also one of the most life-altering decisions a woman ever makes. To enter engagement with wisdom and peace, there are some serious questions to be asked.
- Do we share the same faith? This might seem basic, but in a culture where moral relativity reigns supreme, it’s necessary to ask. None of us are merely physical and emotional beings; we are first spiritual beings, souls housed in human bodies. Relationships are built on this soul-to-soul connection. When we bind ourselves to another person in matrimony, we’re committing to spiritual, emotional and physical unity “until death do us part.” This is why Paul so adamantly warned against being “unequally yoked” to unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). The couple who share a mutual commitment to Jesus Christ will have a spiritual foundation and motivation to show Christ-like love for one another.
- Do we share the same values? It’s not enough to simply share a faith; a couple must also share the same values. Some people are extremely close to their immediate family. Others are committed to avoiding financial debt. Some want to have many children, and others don’t want to have any at all. If these things aren’t discussed prior to engagement, they can loom large over the wedding day and cause conflict in marriage. Discuss your values at length as you approach engagement, touching on topics of finance, family, children, jobs and where you want to live. Take a financial class together. Make sure to meet one another’s families. Share your vision for the future and discuss it together. Being clear on these topics prior to marriage will make for a much smoother transition and a unified relationship.
- What are our family backgrounds? Whether we like it or not, the families into which we are born have a profound effect on our worldview. Relationships with parents and siblings affect how we handle conflict and communicate with others. Having a different financial background from your partner can cause miscommunications about budgeting and what a young couple can afford. All of these situations require a frank discussion of family background. A few things you could talk about would be:
- What your parents’ relationship looked like, and how you would do things the same way or differently.
- What your relationship with your siblings looks like today.
- What your home life was like when you were growing up, and how you would want your future home to be similar or different.
- Are we clear on sexual boundaries and expectations? These days it’s normal to have a long engagement; six months is considered short in the wedding planning industry. But engagement brings with it a new set of sexual temptations. When you plan to get married, it’s easy to think “crossing a line” isn’t so bad after all. But this is the time to be clear about your boundaries and determine to honor God as you near the finish line.In discussing your physical boundaries for engagement, be sure to also discuss any fears or expectations you have about sex in marriage. If this is easier to do with a mentor or counselor present, certainly do so. If one or both of you has a past of sexual sin from which you’ve repented, be honest with one another (if you haven’t already), but don’t share explicit details. The goal is to have nothing hidden from one another, but also to protect one another from jealousy and insecurity.If you need guidance on this topic as you approach engagement or you are already engaged, the Christian book Intended for Pleasure is a helpful resource.
- Are we willing to love one another the way God loves us? Marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the church. As such, it is one of the most difficult relationships we will ever undertake. It requires complete selflessness on a daily basis; a commitment to love one another even when we don’t feel like it. This is love as God defines it. This is love as Christ loves us!
Choosing to get engaged means you’ve chosen to love unconditionally. You’ve also chosen to respect unconditionally, as the two go hand in hand. This kind of love requires forgiveness. It requires allowing God to be your justifier and your defense. The excitement of emotional love is sustained as we choose the mundane of daily love over and over again.
So if you’re getting engaged, congratulations! This is the beginning of an incredible journey: an opportunity for you and your fiancé to present Christ to the world through your relationship. Enter into this season with wisdom, and God will give you peace.