The word “love” has been so abused it is hard to define. Fortunately, there are ways to tell of you are really in love with someone. Many of my people in my Eastern Cherokee Nation get married for the wrong reasons and find themselves “unequally yoked” as husband and wife (II Cor. 6:14).
       
Someone infatuated with another spends all their time and energy on that person. Infatuation rarely takes into account that the other person is imperfect. The things you choose to ignore can grow into insurmountable problems after you say “I DO.” All too often, dating couples let their hormones do their thinking for them. But true love is patient…and true love waits (I Cor. 13:4).
       
Most of the pitfalls of marriage can be avoided if the right questions are asked during the courtship. There are numerous topics that can become part of your dialogue. Do not interrogate your date, but blend some of these questions into the natural flow of conversations as your relationship develops. Unless real communication skills are developed, the time you spend together means very little. The other person’s childhood, spirituality and financial prospects are among the important topics you need to discuss.
       
Ask what their parents were like, the birth order of siblings and how they all got along together. What were their best and worst memories while growing up? Determine their dreams and goals for the future. Dialogue about where they liked to hang out, with whom and if they had an easy transition into adulthood.
       
Their level of spirituality is of vital significance. Find out where they go to church and how often they attend. You need to know if they have a personal relationship with Jesus. Seek to discover if most of their friends are Christians and where they go for entertainment. Discuss doctrinal differences without becoming argumentative.
       
Because money problems are the number one cause of divorce, it is important to know their financial outlook. Inquire about career and educational goals. Do they have outstanding bills they need to pay off?  What jobs have they held and which ones did they like the best? The answers to such questions can only be found during an extensive courtship process.
       
As you discover more about your friend, there are a few questions you may want to ask yourself. Will he or she be a good parent? What things in this person’s life must change? Do we have mutual respect for each other? Does this individual bring out my best qualities? Am I ever afraid they may lose their temper? Do many of our conversations end in conflict? Is this person open to constructive criticism? Do they flirt with others? Am I comfortable with their choice of friends? Can I picture myself growing old with him or her? Do we truly share similar values and goals? Are they willing to abstain from sex until marriage? How often do we pray together? Do we discuss Scripture together? Determining the other’s level of honesty is essential for lifelong happiness, for only the truth will set you free (Jn. 8:32).

       
God’s will is revealed when a relationship is solidly based on a mutual love for Christ. Through honest conversations and the leading of the Holy Spirit, those considering marriage can anticipate and enjoy a wonderful future together

Published in Indian Life, Jan./Feb. 2009


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