If things like prenuptial agreements, dress and tuxedo shopping, or invitations and event planning outweigh a sense of respect for the covenant of marriage, your focus is off. Marriage is too serious a commitment to be downplayed by excitement over the wedding. The wedding is just one day but the marriage is meant to last a lifetime. It is not that the engagement cannot incite celebration—but because engagement precedes marriage, material things never top the list as more important when it comes down to the two.
1. Ask God to reveal and confirm that the timing is accurate. When He does show you, do what He says without hesitation because He knows and wants what’s best for you, having designed your life (Jeremiah 29:11).
2. Discuss how you compliment each others weaknesses with your strengths. Where money is a weakness, money management would be the strength.
3. Decide on child-related matters. Including having children together, and integrating those children into the family who are already there.
4. Remain sexually pure. Sex confuses a relationship, out of its appropriate time and place.
5. Start the habit of praying for your future marriage and spouse daily and unselfishly so it’s a natural instinct by the time you’re married.
6. Recall your reasons for agreeing to marry and use those reasons as instant reminders for hard times. You might also implement them into a marriage plan of action.
7. Schedule weekly marriage counseling with a Christian counselor to unbiasedly and impartially help you talk through issues and concerns. Select a counselor wisely and don’t feel tied to one just because people expect you to see a specific counselor.
8. Become familiar with your marital role as defined in the Bible. Learn what God says husbands and wives should and should not do. A good start for women is Proverbs 31: 10-31, and for men Ephesians 5:25.
9. Select a wedding date based primarily on the success and completion of counseling—not before hand. Digging deep into the root of the engagement relationship, some couples discover they need more time for growth or (in some cases) that they aren’t actually a “marriage match” after all.
10. Forgive each other for any major hurts so you don’t enter into the marriage bitter or resentful of anything. Confess it to each other and keep in mind that when outrageous reactions result from sharing issues, it’s a sign the relationship isn’t ripe enough for matrimony; marriage has so much to do with healthy conflict resolution.
DrPhil.com: Are You Ready for Marriage?
Editor-In-ChiefZara Hairston is a modern-day renaissance woman who uniquely draws people to the Cross of Christ through teaching, writing and speaking. She holds a bachelor of arts in Journalism from Temple University, and a master of arts in Christian Counseling from Jacksonville Theological Seminary—where she was also ordained. Hairston's organizations include Love-Life, Inc., YourHeartShape, Moms In Christ, BComingMe, Sister Keepers and Arrow Spring Academy. Currently, she resides in the Atlanta area with her husband Anton "Eshon Burgundy" Hairston and their three children.