WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DATING
Dating Toward Marriage
How can you know if you're ready for marriage? How would you
recognize a potential mate?
By Norman L. Shoaf
Not every date leads toward marriage. Not every date ought
to. Most dates should simply give men and women chances to build
friendship, personality and character through varied cultural and
But at the right time and in the right way, dating can and
should lead toward marriage. And marriage preceded by courtship
based on the laws of God can be the highest, happiest and most
rewarding of all human relationships!
Unfortunately, millions of people lose out on the wonderful
joys of marriage they should experience. Why? Because of wrong
dating practices before marriage! They stumble into ill-advised
marriages with the wrong people, or they don't wait until they
are mature enough to handle all the responsibilities of marriage,
or they spoil the marriage relationship by indulging in
premarital sex, or they fail to see how vital it is to stay
committed to this God-ordained institution.
If you are planning to be married soon, or if you are even
thinking about being married someday, you need to carefully read
every word in this seventh article in our series on dating.
Why not just live together?
We live in an age of rampant divorce and broken homes. Even
men and women who stay married are sometimes miserably unhappy in
Many ask, "Why should I get married in the first place?" Or,
"If we love each other, why do we need a piece of paper to tell
us it's OK to live together?" Or, "Isn't it a good idea, even if
you intend to get married, to live with the person first to see
if you're compatible?"
The answers to all these questions lie in understanding some
basic principles we have stressed throughout this series of
Marriage is much more than just a physical, natural union.
Marriage did not evolve as a mere social custom among humans who
themselves evolved from lower forms of life.
God Almighty, the Creator of human life, created marriage at
the beginning (Genesis 2:18). Human marriage pictures the coming
spiritual marriage between Jesus Christ and His Church (Ephesians
5:31-32). Living in and learning the lessons of the physical
family prepare God's called people to enter the spirit-composed
Family of God at the resurrection (I John 3:1-2).
These vital truths render null and void all social
relationships that reject the biblical laws concerning marriage
and the family! Premarital sex, living together before marriage,
adultery and other practices central to the modern "sexual
revolution" all defy the laws of God!
Of course, if you have read this far in this series, you no
doubt are not among those who want to continue to defy God. If
you are still reading, you want to know the right way to have a
happy marriage. You want to know how to avoid the modern scourges
of divorce, unhappy marriages, loneliness and shattered families.
You want to know how to date to eventually find the right person
with whom you can blissfully share the rest of your life. And
God's Word gives you the answers!
The most important key
Here is the single most important key to remember in dating
toward marriage: Base everything you do on the laws of God.
Despite what people want to believe, despite the contrary
arguments of false ministers, despite the struggle you will have
in this world when you set out to obey God, keeping God's laws
ultimately produces every joy and reward you could desire (Psalm
19:7-11). Thousands who have decided to live God's way can
heartily validate this incredibly good news!
Fear of commitment, living together without a formal
marriage agreement and sexual experimentation before marriage
lead to trouble. Loving monogamy, a desire to be faithful and an
attitude of caring for and serving one special, beloved person
for the rest of your life lead to a wonderfully happy and lasting
And a basic foundation of a strong, happy marriage is the
right dating that precedes it. But in specific, practical terms,
what role does dating play in selecting a life partner for
Knowing when you're ready
There comes a time when friendship, respect, admiration and
attraction between the right man and the right woman combine and
deepen into something more. The relationship takes on that
beautiful, wonderful quality the Bible refers to as "the way of a
man with a maid" (Proverbs 30:19, King James Version).
The man and woman have matured physically, mentally,
emotionally and spiritually. They are financially stable. They
have dated widely and know what they want in a mate. They have
examined their own personalities, talents and motives, and know
what they can contribute to a marriage. They both desire to give
and serve in a lasting relationship with a particular person of
the opposite sex.
They find that they truly love each other. Remember, true
love is outgoing concern for the needs and desires of the other
person. True love contains no element of selfish concern for
one's own lusts or demands. True love involves making a conscious
decision to care for and serve the other person's best interests
without ever asking anything in return.
To truly love in a marital way, a person must want to share
all of life's experiences, thrills and joys - to share trouble
and sorrow - to share success or failure - to share health and
sickness. When you find a completely compatible person who helps
you appraise your own ideas and actions, who complements and
helps balance you with good ideas and actions of his or her own,
who actually helps make you a better person by his or her
presence in your life - then you may well be headed toward true
Now your dating takes on a special purpose. Now you want to
determine if the two of you can be right together - permanently.
What specific points should you now think about in your dating?
Could you succeed as husband and wife?
You certainly already have some ideas about what you would
like in a husband or wife. Dating should now bring those ideas
into clear focus as they relate to the person with whom
marriage has now become a distinct possibility.
A man should ask himself if be cares more about her than
about any other person in the world (Ephesians 5:25). You should
find her personality and her appearance supremely attractive. You
must have no doubt that you can "always be enraptured with her
love" (Proverbs 5:15-19) - that you will be perfectly satisfied,
even anxious, to forsake all others and "cleave" to her for the
rest of your life (Genesis 2:24, KJV).
Making this choice does not require premarital sex or living
together before marriage! Remember that true love is a matter of
choice - a conscious decision on your part that, in your life,
with your wife, fidelity, ongoing romance and physical and
spiritual love will be the case.
Would this woman make a good mother? Does she want the same
number of children you do, and at the same time?
Most important, is pleasing God the driving force in her
life - the No.1 purpose for her existence? Is obeying God's laws
even more important to her than pleasing you? Think about it!
This will be for the best in your marriage.
Other important virtues a man should look for in a woman are
compatibility and adaptability. Does this girl follow: your lead
(Ephesians 5:22)? Does she obviously respect you? Do you respect
A woman should consider carefully whether she will be able
to respect, submit to and be affectionate toward the man for the
rest of her life (Ephesians 5:22-24). Does he make sensible
decisions? Is he assertive in the right way, without being
overbearing or inconsiderate of your ideas, feelings and
needs? Does he ask for your input before he acts? Is he reckless?
Does he have bad habits - e.g., drinking too much, driving
poorly, not watching his health, being unconcerned about his
appearance? Does he find you attractive? Is he able to openly
express, in proper affection and words, how pleased he is with
you? Do you find him attractive?
Are you absolutely certain of his concern for your best
interests? Are you sure that you now are and always will be the
only woman he loves this way? Is he considerate of you, making
sure not to spoil your future by pressuring you into premarital
sex (I Corinthians 6:18)?
Is he a hard worker? Does he have a good job? Will he do
whatever is necessary to provide for you and your children, or
will money problems continually undermine your marriage? How does
he feel about your working outside the home, if it was necessary
for you to do so?
Will he make a good father? Does he like children? Will he
be able to love, teach, discipline and earn the respect of his
Talk everything out. Discuss plans and goals. Ask questions
and find out all you can about each other. Don't assume anything
or leave anything to chance. God warns that you and your future
wife or husband will not be able to walk together in marriage
unless you agree (Amos 3:3).
Major points to consider
Here are some specific areas you must consider about your
Millions of people marry for the wrong reasons - for
convenience, out of lust, to gain security, on a whim, to get
away from parents, for money. But you should not even consider
marriage unless it is built on a relationship of growing love.
Perhaps the most important point is that you should simply be
strong, deep, close friends.
You may well start out as friends before you both realize
that you have become or would like to become something more. If
your marriage is based on friendship, that unity and closeness
can transcend any problems that come along later. Whatever
happens, you will always be friends, and that will help keep you
Being friends means spending lots of time together, whether
working together, enjoying some type of recreation or just being
happy in each other's company. Being friends means building deep
trust, understanding, respect, reliance. Cherishing, nourishing
and enjoying the relationship you have with your special male or
female friend will mean more to you than any other physical
consideration. A husband or wife can actually become "a friend
who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).
Husbands and wives must communicate often, seriously and in
Dr. Leland Glover, in a book entitled "How to Marry Someone
You Can Live With All Your Life," said:
"Intimate, friendly and prolonged communication between a
husband and wife tends to weld them together whereas a
decided decline in this type of communication tends to break
up existing attachments. Partners who are going steady can
and should assess their ability to communicate effectively.
Studies reveal that couples who communicate well during
courtship generally continue this wholesome pattern in
marriage, while those who communicate poorly but get married
anyway continue this negative relationship after the
How much and how well do you talk with the person you are
dating? Are your conversations awkward, trivial, negative - or do
you not really talk at all?
This is why dating should involve more than sitting in a
darkened movie house all the time or being entertained by some
other outside stimulus, If you don't talk now - if you don't talk
a lot, and enjoy talking - you won't after you are married. The
result? Your marriage will be filled with loneliness, alienation
from each other and bad decisions (because you will never discuss
Many marriages suffer because men and women don't get to
know each other while dating beforehand, and thus they marry the
wrong people. Then, after the wedding, they proceed to try to
change their mates to suit their likes and dislikes. It doesn't
It all has to do with personality, and with talking before
marriage. If partners' interests, goals and desires are the same
- if their temperaments, sense of humor and idiosyncrasies match
or complement each other - then they will be able to live
But after the wedding is no time to start developing common
interests, talents or hobbies. You should find out while you are
dating whether you share complementary aspects of personality.
Ask yourself. "Can I marry this person as he or she is - without
trying to change his or her personality? Am I totally without
reservations about the way he or she is? Do his or her habits
bother me? Do our hobbies, values, goals and even recreational
pursuits generally match or complement?"
No one is perfect. If you wait to find the "perfect" mate,
you will never be married. But you should be able to feel that
the person with whom you are contemplating marriage is perfect
Physical and mental health are important if a marriage is to
run smoothly and enjoyably. How concerned is the man or woman
about diet and exercise? Is the person free of problems such as
smoking and alcohol and drug abuse? Has the person been infected
with some sexual disease or with some other life-spoiling
Take a hard look too, at the person's mental and emotional
state. Is he or she optimistic, cynical, easy to get along with,
loudmouthed, relaxed, easily angered, prone to physical violence,
full of weird ideas? Does he or she have a strange sense of humor
- or no sense of humor - wild mood swings, mental quirks,
You should see each other in as many different situations as
possible as you date. See how each other responds to varied
Do you see why marriage must be based on more than a few "dates"
in the back-seat of a car? Do you see why you must evaluate a
person on more than bow he or she dresses, dances, kisses or
*Heredity and environment*
Certainly, no one can be condemned for where or how he or
she was born or who the parents were. And to a large extent, most
people had little control over how they grew up. But heredity and
environment most assuredly do affect all of us in our lives now.
If no problems in this area exist to begin with, you won't have
to worry about them in your future marriage. So find out about
the person's background.
Take a look at his or her parents. What have they
accomplished? Do they look down on anyone who aspires to higher
education or who wants to better himself or herself? Are they
comfortable in elegant environments and humble surroundings? Are
Do they drink heavily? Are they overweight? If you look at
your future wife's or husband's parents, you can probably get a
pretty good idea what your wife or husband is going to look and
be like in about 20 to 25 years! (Not always true, but sad to say
in my experience over 65 years of life at present, it is true too
many times - Keith Hunt)
Think about the education, experience, political stance and
social and cultural level of your prospective mate. If the woman
has a stronger personality or is simply more intelligent than the
man, for example, she will have a hard time respecting and
submitting to him. What kind of environment will the person be
comfortable in after marriage? Is he or she perfectly happy in a
small apartment in a rundown section of a large city? Does be or
she want anything more out of life?
Engagement Period - and wedding
When you find yourself getting especially interested in a
certain person, it is time to seek wise counsel about what is
developing. Of course, the wisest counsel you can possibly seek
comes from God Himself. "A prudent wife is from the Lord"
(Proverbs 19:14). The same is true of prudent husbands!
Pray for God's guidance in your relationship. Ask Him to
help you choose the right mate for you, just as He did with the
first man and woman at the start of human history. If God is
involved in your choice of a wife or husband, and both you and
your future mate set yourselves to obey God's,laws concerning
love, marriage and sex, you can't go wrong. Ask God to help you
see everything you should as you decide who you want to marry.
Again, base everything you do on the laws of God.
Also seek counsel from the people who know you and this
special person best - your parents, families and friends, Be sure
they are honest and constructive when they offer advice.
Engagements vary in length. Normally it is not advisable to
wait longer than a year: You should be drawing closer during this
time, and too much intimacy could lead to premarital sexual
During the engagement you should spend most of your free
time together. There is so much to discuss! You should get to
know each other deeply, and you will have much to decide
concerning the coming wedding and your plans after the wedding.
If you decide once and for all to follow God's laws in every
aspect of your dating and friendships with the opposite sex, then
you can enjoy this assurance: On your wedding day - and, happily,
ever after - you can he sure you have married exactly the right
person for you, that God has blessed the marriage and that you
have nothing to look forward to except vibrantly joyous love,
happiness and true contentment together!.
Entered on this Website September 2007