You have been in a relationship for a while now and are beginning to wonder, “Are we ready to get married?” Some people believe that they will be ready when they are at a certain age or specific stage in life. Others will claim that you “know when you know.”
I would love to offer a less romantic but very practical filter of “Three C’s” for you to take your relationship through, which can hopefully help answer this age-old question while keeping Christ at the center.
Chemistry is essential in a relationship, but it may not be what you think it is. For example, many people believe “chemistry” means physical attraction, and though that may be a part of it, it is just a tiny piece.
The world seems to glorify physical attraction above all else. For example, movies portray people falling in love solely over physical attraction.
Often when dreaming of their future spouse, many picture things like, “What hair color will they have? What height will they be?” But none of these characteristics will make a marriage work.
The issue is that when you build a relationship upon just physical chemistry, it collapses when the physical attraction changes, and many people “fall out of love.”
The truth is that in marriage, there will be times when you feel over the moon attracted to your spouse and other times when you will feel annoyed and detached.
You will wake up one day and realize they are a human with many faults. If you don’t have other reasons for being with them, your relationship will crumble when the physical attraction leaves.
In response to this, I have seen many churches overreact, throwing out the value of attraction altogether. I had a pastor tell me once that you shouldn’t care about attraction at all! This is a gross overstep in the wrong direction. You should still feel attracted to someone, even in marriage.
But what is the balanced answer? It is in chemistry with them as a person.
You should be asking if you have chemistry with them as a person, not just physical attraction. How do you know? Well, do you enjoy being with them? Do you laugh together? Do you have fun together? Do you love spending time with them? Do you communicate well together? Are you attracted to their personality? This is all under this category of chemistry.
You will notice that the more you know someone’s personality, the more attractive they become or the more unattractive they become. For example, my wife openly admits that she didn’t think I was shockingly handsome at first.
But as we talked, we realized we had a lot of chemistry. We laughed, had fun, and loved being around each other. Then one day, she says she realized I was super handsome!
The reverse is true as well. I have met some very physically attractive people. As I got to know them, though, I saw them lie, cheat, use foul language, and care more about being of the world, and the attraction began to fade. It was as though they became less physically attractive.
What happened? Did I all of a sudden become attractive one day? Did those other people all of a sudden become unattractive? No, the chemistry we had in our personalities led to a shift in physical attraction.
So, what does this have to do with marriage?
In marriage, chemistry has more impact than immediate physical attraction. You want to marry your best friend. You want someone you can laugh with, talk with, be yourself around. If that is true first, physical attraction follows.
So, how do you know when you’re ready to marry someone? Well, do you still have chemistry even after the initial physician attraction has died down?
This is why I recommend dating people through a few different seasons of life so that you can see who you both become when the initial attraction fades. Do either of you give up on the relationship, thinking you fell out of love? Or do you stir up your first love once again?
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first…” (Revelation 2:4-5, NLT).
A mature person relationship realizes that physical attraction may come and go. The key is to stir up love again by intentionally connecting again.
Do you get sad when you don’t feel butterflies anymore? Or will you both still choose to connect until you get the initial chemistry back?
If you have been through seasons together and have both fought for your chemistry, that’s a great sign that you will still intentionally do things together to fan the flame of love in the years to come.
Another fundamental question to ask yourself before marrying someone is if the two of you have compatible callings in life?
- Do you feel called to serve the military, but they are unwilling to have you gone for months in deployment? That’s going to cause a lot of pain.
- Do you feel called to be a parent, but they don’t want kids?
- Do they feel called to go to a specific church, but you are unwilling to change from yours?
- Do you believe in having community, pastors, and being accountable to mentors, but they don’t want that?
These are all big calling questions that are critical to know about someone before moving into a marriage with them.
I would even suggest you bring your community into this and ask if they see compatible callings? Ask your pastors, mentors, and friends if they could see you marrying this person and if they can see your callings lining up?
This is a scary thing to ask, but it is better to find out if people you trust think this marriage will work or not before you start!
My wife and I decided we would be at the same church together in our marriage and even did premarital counseling with pastors. This massively helped reaffirm that we had compatible callings and that we were ready for marriage.
Then perhaps the biggest question of all is the calling of faith in Christ. Are you a Christian, but they are not? I would not recommend moving forward into a marriage with someone who does not believe in Christ.
When discussing marriage in 2 Corinthians 6:14, the Apostle Paul warns, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (ESV).
You become one with whoever you marry, so make sure they follow Christ! Christ cannot be something about you that they are willing to tolerate. He has to be the cornerstone of your relationship.
If you both have shown you have similar or compatible callings in life and you can completely support each other’s calling, that is another excellent sign that you could move forward in marriage.
The last question has to do with character. Do they have it? Do they have the character of someone you want to raise children with? You cannot date or marry someone for who they could potentially be one day.
You have to marry them for the character they show today. If they never change, would you still marry them? That is a challenging but necessary question.
What is character? Someone’s character is the attributes that make them up, not just physically or personality-wise but ethically and morally.
Once again, this is why it is essential to be with someone for a few seasons before marriage. Anyone can put on a face for a certain amount of time, but eventually, true colors come out.
What is the character of this person you want to marry? Do they have integrity with their finances? How about with their eyes and heart? Can you trust them? Are they faithful and responsible on their own, or only when you are around?
Can they hold a job? Can they show discipline in life? Do they have goals, dreams, and visions for life? Do you find that you have to defend and justify their actions all the time? Do they have a reputation for being a person of character?
Once again, a tremendous litmus test for this is asking your community what they think about their character. Transparency with God’s community in your life is vital to a healthy marriage.
Are You Ready?
If you have found someone you have chemistry with, and they love the Lord more than they love you, and their calling works well with yours, and they are a person of faith and character, I would say get married!
I’d recommend being with them for a season so that true colors can always come out and stay accountable to the community God put in your life. But if all of these line-up, and you feel peace from the Lord, I would say go for it!
For further reading:
What Is the Biblical Definition of Marriage?
What Is God’s Created Design for Marriage?
How Do Christians Know if They’re Ready to Date?
What Is the Origin of Traditional Marriage Vows?
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Taylor Jensen is a missionary, pastor, and world traveler. His passion is to help equip believers with practical ways to ignite their faith and bring Jesus into the world around them. That is the goal of his personal blog Fireplace Faith. Want to Learn How to Hear God’s Voice? Subscribe here to get his Free Ebook “8 Biblical Ways to Hear God’s Voice.” Reach out to him any time through his blog or through his social media accounts @taylorcjensen.