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Three marriage (or engagement) red flags

It’s wedding season.

For a pastor that means a lot of counseling sessions, rehearsal dinners, ceremonies and the potential to balloon past 200 pounds fueled by reception food.

My co-pastor, Bill Stephens, is a wedding machine. He’s closing in on 70 weddings including these first three consecutive weekends in June. Really he should be writing this blog post, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.

I’ve done far fewer weddings, but enough to notice some red flags. Come to think of it, these red flags are true whether you said “I do” 30 years ago or later this summer.

You agree with these?

  1. Are you hiding something?

I’ve learned the hard way to ask couples, “Is there something you are keeping from each other about your past?”

If a couple can’t be open about their skeletons – abuse, sexual history, etc. they shouldn’t get married. I realize that sounds pretty black-and-white, but where there are secrets, there is fear. A relationship that starts with secrets and fear is in trouble because trust has to be the foundation of any serious effort at a life-long commitment.

  1. Are you unwilling to give up a pre-existing relationship?

Marriage should redefine and take priority over all other relationships (outside of knowing God).

I’m squeamish when a guy says, “I’m not willing to change my female friendships.”

They have to change. Any other relationship is now subordinate to your primary relationship with your spouse.

How about bringing your spouse into those relationships? If your spouse can’t have a healthy connection with pre-existing friendships, those relationships need to end.

I’m on a black-and-white roll!

  1. Is your purpose bigger than just your marriage?

My friend Jeff Caliguire has been asking a great question lately: What is your marriage all about? He doesn’t just mean “love” or “respect,” he means what bigger purpose will you partner in together?

What do you feel called by God to do together? Care for your neighbors? Impact a cause you both care deeply about? Change the way your friends view God?

One of the best ways to become and stay close with someone is to share a mission together – what is yours?

Of course, the biggest challenge is when a couple doesn’t share a common faith in God. That has all kinds of ripple effects that impact everything above and more.

You agree with these three? Why or why not?

What would you add?


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