Stages – Engaged

proposal

This page links to a few thoughts that might be relevant for people who are engaged to be married

Key Thoughts:
Firstly, I would urge you not to let the pressure of the wedding and all the excitement that entails, to cloud your vision. This is possibly the greatest time in your life when you need to keep a clear head, and not let parental or family pressure carry you away.  Remember that ultimately, you are the one who is going to be married, you are the one who is going to face all the issues and challenges within this particular marriage, so you have to make sure that it is your decision.

I know that once you have already gotten this far, to the point of getting engaged, it might seem impossible to walk away.  This might be especially true if you have already started planning the wedding, and people have already started spending money.  However, I urge you, if you have any misgivings at this point, not merely to ignore them.

At the very least, I would talk over the issues with a trusted friend.  It might well be that your fears are totally ungrounded, and you are simply suffering from last-minute nerves.  I’m sure that this is normal for many people.  Perhaps by talking through the issues you will come to see that this spouse and marriage together represent a beautiful choice for you.  Alternatively, you might be forced to accept that this marriage might not be a good idea at all, or it might not be a good idea at the present time.  Perhaps there are issues that you still need to talk through with your fiancé/e, or certain character traits you’ve identified in them that make you feel hesitant.

If you do need to walk away, then now would be the time to do it!  (Please don’t wait until you are actually at the altar!)  This might be the single most important decision you ever make in your life.  You owe it to yourself, you owe it to your future, and you also owe it to your fiancé/e and their future to make the right choice now. It might seem difficult to break their heart now, however I am sure that they would be much more heartbroken to be rejected within marriage itself, or even to feel themselves tied to someone who would rather not be there.

If you have not already taken time to think through some of these key questions, then I would encourage you to give yourself perhaps a week or a fortnight away from your wedding preparations, and also your fiancé/e to calmly and honestly ask yourself the following questions:

1. Whether this person truly would be a good match for you
2. Whether you are building your relationship on a great foundation

Questions you need to ask yourself – very carefully:
1. Is this person truly a great match for me:
– Do I truly know him or her?
This is one of my pet theories: It is well recognised that it takes 2 full years to truly get to know someone’s character. For that reason, I advise everyone to leave a full two years of frequent, close interaction in person before considering someone romantically. So online interaction does not count!

-Does he or she TRULY have great character?
I might sound as if I am being overly-fussy about the issue of character. Yes, no-one’s perfect. Yet, I believe that pursuit of Christlikeness, and with that, excellent character, is the single factor that distinguishes marriages “made in heaven” from other marriages.

Perhaps surprisingly, I actually think that a committed ongoing pursuit of excellent character is more important than someone who is already “all there”. I believe that for someone to remain excellent, they must also continue to strive forward in pursuing excellent character as hard as they can, no matter what level they might already have achieved.

-Are we truly friends?
Do we truly have shared values? Have we built up trust in one another? Do we truly care about one another? That is, would I be able to pour forth love into his/her life on a one-sided basis, even if/when he or she is completely ignoring me – or would I angrily walk away? Would he/she do the same for me?

2. Are we going about this the right way?
I believe that “dating” as normally understood: a succession of fun dates is a poor foundation for a future relationship, and a poor way of assessing someone’s character.
An alternative I would suggest would be to carefully and deliberately build a foundation of communication, friendship and prayer.  If this has not already been put into place, but you are sure that you are marrying the right person, then might it be an idea to take some time to do this, as far as is possible, before the wedding?
A further question to ask: Are we carelessly putting ourselves into the way of sexual temptation?  Remember, even though you are engaged, you do not belong to one another until you actually belong to one another!

If you are currently not approaching your relationship the best way, then you can always try to embrace a better approach for your relationship. However, if your partner is not truly striving as hard as they can after great character or you do not truly have shared values, then as hard as it might seem, I would end the relationship. These issues are only going to get more significant and pronounced within marriage itself. Yes, you can pray regarding “great character”. However, the amount of prayer that would be required to make a significant difference in this is so great, that I would advise that it is probably wisest to walk away altogether. I also think that it would be wisest to pray for someone in this way when you are not trying to build an intimate relationship with them.

If you are going to “break up” with someone at this point, then obviously immense sensitivity and tact would be required. I would pray so hard before even telling them. What would be ideal would be if you could then pray about the situation together.  However, if you have not already built up a history of praying together, then that might not be possible.
Additionally, it would also be great if you could continue to wish one another the best in life, and remain friends.  Again, however, that depends on your actually having true care and concern for one another in the first place, and having shared values; that is, truly being “friends” in the first place.  And it also requires a certain level of trust to exist between the two of you, and to remain even after the break-up.

However it happens, I urge you to think very carefully, to make sure you are making the right choice.  Act in such a way that your future self would thank you, with joyful and heartfelt gratitude!

Some links to the issues mentioned above:
Two Years: The definitive post about the Two Year thing
More posts about two years:
Striving after Christlike Character:
Why it is important to keep striving after character, even though “no-one’s perfect”
What is friendship?
More thoughts on friendship
A post explaining what I mean by “dating”, and why I generally don’t think it is a great idea: read it here
More posts on Dating
Some thoughts on communication:
Posts about prayer:
Different posts on Sexual Purity:
Building an excellent foundation for your marriage

Differing expectations of marriage

Exercising Discernment

Feelings

Forgiveness

Friendship

Making an excellent choice of spouse

Necessary knowledge before marriage

Premarital sex

Realistic ideas about marriage

Sexual Desire

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