Good friends ask the hard questions–especially when a friend’s about to get married!
I’ve been friends with Diane for seven years. She had divorced about five years before that through no choice of her own; her husband left her for another woman. Diane got a job, pulled herself up by her bootstraps, and supported her three kids. She also became very active in our church, working with the youth. She was a bundle of energy and on fire for God. I love her very much.
Then she met Peter. He wasn’t necessarily the kind of guy that we all pictured Diane with. But Diane loved him, and they became engaged.
People were wondering whether or not she was marrying the wrong person, and I decided that rather than talk about it, I would take Diane out to Dairy Queen and we would have a long talk before her wedding. I would ask her all the questions that were on my mind so that I’d be able to either support the marriage wholeheartedly, or give her a real warning.
I was reading a blog post recently from Love Truthfully about a woman who discovered her husband had had a porn addiction. When asked what she wishes people had told her before she was married, she replies:
People simply told us that we were “such a great couple” without offering any real wisdom on the journey we were about to embark on. I wish someone had not told us something specific, but that they had asked us the hard questions, that we had been forced to look deeply at ourselves and to really prepare for the journey. It would not have been a magical fix, but would have equipped us and offered more sure footing.
I think that’s so important–let’s ask the hard questions! And so today, on Top 10 Tuesday, I’d like to share 10 Things to Ask a Friend who is about to Get Married.
1. Does He Use Porn? Are you sure?
Porn use is so toxic to a marriage–and to a person’s soul. It eventually changes their personality as well, so the wonderful, loving man you think you’re marrying is no longer that loving, wonderful man. So ask: does he use porn? And then ask deeper: does he let you see his phone? Can you check the history on his computer? Is he open with you using his devices, or does he balk at that? There is no room for secrecy before you get married; you need to go in with your eyes wide open.
If this is a problem for you, I’ve written a post on Should You Marry Someone who Uses Porn that may help.
If he uses porn, or keeps his electronics secret, that’s a red flag.
2. What do you DO together for fun?
Many couples do very little together. Before marriage they watch movies or they make out. That’s not really a foundation for a marriage. Also, often before marriage we “date”. We go out to dinner, and we do “dating” things. But do you do day-to-day things? Have you cleaned the house together? Have you done a project together? Do you have a hobby you enjoy? Make sure that the couple actually has fun things that they enjoy doing, because once you’re married you can’t have sex all the time, and you can’t watch movies all the time. You need something that will build your experiences together.
If you have no hobbies together, that’s a red flag.
3. Can you PRAY together?
I know many people have difficulty praying out loud, and for some people prayer is such an intimate thing that praying together before you’re married can actually lead to a lot of sexual temptation (that may sound odd, but for many people it’s through spiritual intimacy that they feel the most drawn sexually, which is actually quite natural). But you should know that you can pray together. If the guy says he’s a Christian, and he goes to church, but he never wants to pray and you never see him reading the Bible, then you have to wonder if he’s truly a believer. Don’t marry someone thinking he’s one way and refusing to look at the facts on the table that perhaps he really isn’t like that.
If you’ve never heard him pray, that’s a red flag.
4. Do you know his financial situation?
You will be one in every way–including financially. Do you know what he owes? Do you know what he makes? Most importantly, do you know what he spends? Do you know what you make? Do you know what you spend? Have you shared this with him? I know one woman close to me who received a large inheritance from her father, and it was in an investment account. She didn’t tell her future husband about it until just days before the wedding, and I totally understand why. She didn’t the fact that she had a lot of money influencing the relationship. But in general, it’s a good idea to be completely financial open with the person you are marrying. I’d even suggest setting up a post-wedding budget NOW, before you’re married, so that you see what life will look like.
If he’s reluctant to tell you what he spends or makes, and especially if it’s because he doesn’t know, that’s a red flag.
5. How do you plan to serve together?
The Christian life is not just about attending church; it’s about being part of a community. How will you be a part of that community together? Will you volunteer in youth? In childcare? Will you be part of the outreach team at your church? Will you work on a university campus? Will you volunteer at a food bank?
If he can’t tell you any way that he’d like to serve, that’s a red flag.
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6. Does his family accept you?
You’re not just marrying him; you’re marrying his whole family. Have you made an effort to get to know them? Has he made an effort to get to know yours? Sometimes you can’t have relationships with some family members because they are toxic, but have you talked about this so that you both are on the same page? How will you spend vacations? Just make sure that this has been discussed.
Not getting along with his family is not a red flag necessarily; but not discussing or coming to an agreement on what that relationship will look like once you’re married is.
7. How does he treat his mom?
One of the best rules of thumb I’ve ever seen is how a guy treats his mother. If he hugs her, calls her, and treats her with honour, he’ll likely do the same with his wife. If he lets her wait on him, he’ll do that with his wife, too.
If your fiance treats his mother poorly, that’s a huge red flag.
8. How clean does he keep his apartment/house?
If his place is always a pigsty, remember–his habits won’t miraculously change once you’re married. He’s likely very messy. If his house is neat as a pin, will that conflict with your cleaning standards?
If you haven’t talked about who will do housework, and what the house will look like, that’s a red flag.
Don’t let your friend enter into a marriage naively, before she’s ready, or to someone who isn’t godly or good. Here are ten questions to ask a friend who is about to get married.
9. Tell me something you’ve been unhappy with him about, and how that was resolved.
If you’ve never been unhappy with anything, that’s a red flag, because it likely means you’ve both had a mask on and you’re not being your authentic selves yet. You’re still in the dating phase, and you don’t really know what the person is like. On the other hand, if you have been unhappy about something, but you just chose to overlook it and not bring it up, then that doesn’t bode well, either. Before you get married, you should have resolved at least some issues. If you haven’t, then you’ve been shoving things under the rug, and that is a seriously dangerous way to live in a marriage.
If you’ve never had a conflict, even something minor, that’s a red flag. It may be time to prolong the engagement and get some serious counseling together. It could be that one, or both, of you isn’t being honest and is still hiding a lot of true feelings. This needs to come out before you get married.
10. How does he handle anger?
Have you seen him angry? What did he do? Are you confident that he is safe to be with, and that your future children will be safe with him?
Erupting in irrational anger, where others feel threatened, is a huge red flag. Many people have anger issues; talk with a counselor about these before the wedding.
There you go–ten questions to ask a friend who is about to get married, to help her think things through and see if she’s marrying the wrong person or not–or whether the marriage is a good idea or not. I don’t believe that there is one magical “right” person for anybody, but I definitely believe there can be a “wrong” person. So even if that friend has gone through marriage counseling with a pastor (and I hope she has), it’s still a good idea, as her friend, to ask these questions early.
And Diane? In that conversation I came to see Peter in a totally new light. She told me things about him we at the church had never seen. I understood her deep love for that man. And I supported her marriage wholeheartedly. But she was glad, too–she had never thought through all of my questions before, and even trying to answer them helped her articulate some things and helped her be even more sure about her decision. A mature person who is ready for marriage will welcome these questions. An immature person will not–and that, in turn, is a red flag.
Don’t let your friend enter into a marriage naively, before she’s ready, or to someone who isn’t godly or good. Don’t let her say five years down the road “I wish I had known that before we got married.” Ask the hard questions now. That’s what a real friend would do.
I haven’t even talked about the question “are you having sex”, because I hope we’d be asking that of each other, and keeping each other accountable, long before the engagement. But that’s an important one, too! I just didn’t put it in because I think that’s an ongoing question that we should all be asking our friends to keep them accountable, and not something that would only surface once they’re engaged. If you’re interested, here’s a post on why we should wait until marriage to have sex.