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How can a couple know if they are a good match?

Most of us can be rather preoccupied with finding the right person to marry. But how can we find out if we are a good match? Below are a number of questions that will perhaps help you to find the answer. The questions will give you and your partner (if you have one) some ideas to work with in order to move forward in your relationship.

Good relationships are not built on good looks, a magical attraction or sexual experiences, but on something much more down-to-earth: good communication. Are you able to talk openly about any topic you are interested in, or is everything just about ‘us’ or ‘me’? Can you talk honestly about things that worry or preoccupy you, or do you push it all down inside you until you explode? Some people talk lots, while others are quieter. You should communicate at the speed both feel comfortable with. However, it is very important that you talk together regularly, and include new topics. This is the secret that makes love grow. 

Do you have fun together?

We all know life isn’t only about talking. You will either wear each other out or bore each other to death if you try to be serious all the time. Do you help each other to relax, laugh and have fun together? Do you find things to do that both of you think are fun? Do you appreciate just being together – not kissing and cuddling or having intense discussions, but just doing simple, daily things together?

Are you good friends?

Have you a strong sense of friendship, not just of being in love? Is your partner the person you would prefer to spend time with most of all? If you do get married, you will get to spend thousands of hours together. Enjoying yourselves together is necessary for a personal relationship. Friends bring out the best in each other. Good friendships lead to more life, more creativity and more energy. Friends give each other courage to face life’s daily challenges. Is it the same with you and your partner?

Have you several shared interests?

… apart from being interested in each other, of course! Shared interests are the building blocks in a good friendship, it is so much easier to be friends when you like to do things together. Is there a big difference between you in terms of schooling and education? Could these differences create problems? You may not start with many common interests, but are you willing to get involved in something new for the sake of each other?

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Do you enjoy yourselves with each other’s family and friends?

It’s true that when you get married, you marry each other, and not relatives and friends. However, when you are married you don’t spend the rest of your lives just with each other. You need other family members, and other friends. It’s important that you enjoy spending time with each other’s family and friends, or at least that you accept them and can get on fairly well with them. If not, you will quickly experience serious problems as a couple.

Can you work together as a couple?

Are you able to cooperate on daily (and perhaps not so fun) tasks? If you get married, there will be a lot of tiring, boring jobs to do. Someone has to make the food, do the dishes, hoover, wash and iron the clothes, and so on. Later on in life someone will probably have to change nappies, get up in the middle of the night to comfort a child and suchlike. Is each of you willing to do his or her best in this part of a life-long relationship?

Do you accept each other’s mistakes and bad habits?

Do you love each other – even with spots, irritating habits and so on? Are you proud of each other, both on your own and with others? This is a question of give and take. People don’t change that easily, and if they do it is normally because they themselves want to, not when they feel pressured to change. If there are things you don’t like about your partner, don’t count on them changing these things after the wedding. You will probably be disappointed.

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Do you build each other up? 

Does your partner give you greater self-confidence, or do you become insecure? Do you feel like a child or an adult when you are together? Do you feel inferior or superior? Encouraged or discouraged? Do you feel loved and complete when you are together? If your partner doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, then there is a serious problem. In this case there’s a big chance that one day you will end up criticising each other constantly.

Have you got common values in life?

For example, what about honesty in trivial and more important matters? What about the importance of a living faith in God, family devotions, taking responsibility in church and in society? Do you see your roles and sharing of tasks at home in the same way? What about bringing up children? What about contraception and abortion? You don't need to like the same things or have exactly the same ideas about every value, but if you don't agree on the basic values you will very often end up in bitter arguments.

Are you happy with how you make decisions?

If you do decide to get married, there will be countless decisions. Decisions about the wedding, about work, where to live, your house and use of money, about how you divide up the housework, about children, activities outside the home, and much much more. If you want to avoid bitter arguments and permanent disunity, you need to work on how you make both small and big decisions even now. It's not important how you make the decisions, but that both of you are at peace with how you do it.

Has your relationship been peaceful?

Of course you will have had some arguments, even some tough ones. But couples who generally experience their relationship as stormy can expect even more difficult times in marriage. It can therefore be a good idea to think about having a break in the relationship, or ask for advice from someone with more experience. The most foolish thing you can do is to ignore the danger signs and risk shipwreck after a long time, or even in marriage.

Are your sexual feelings under control?

If the answer is ‘no’, it can be a sign of future problems. If you do get married, you will often have to display self control. Self control will be necessary in the area of sex but also in many other areas. If you are not able to win that battle now, then it can be hard to win the battle later on. Sex before marriage presents many problems, but here are a few:

– Sex before marriage often brings feelings of guilt because you use a good gift of God in a wrong setting.

– Sex kicks off very strong emotions that can trick you into a commitment (and marriage) which you will later regret.

– Difficult times, which all couples experience, can be more problematic if trust has been broken: ‘If he didn't manage to control himself before we got married, what is he doing now when he comes home so late at night?’

– And most importantly: God has never cancelled the commandment not to commit adultery, meaning to perform sexual acts outside of marriage.

Do you trust each other?

You trust another person if you are convinced that they will do what is right. This trust is crucial in a lifelong relationship. If you don’t fully trust the other person’s honesty, how they use money, alcohol, how they treat children, sexual faithfulness and so on, then the resulting marriage can quickly end in failure.

Have you been together long enough?

There’s no one rule that fits everyone, but it’s impossible to get to know each other well without spending lots of quality time together. It’s only the hours, weeks and months you spend together that will take you through the first phase of romance’s ‘blindness’. Then you will also be able to see what the other person is really like. A lot of experienced counsellors recommend that couples in love should let a summer and a winter pass before they get married.

Have you argued and forgiven each other?

Anyone can get on well when the sun’s shining. But it’s hard to accept and forgive each other when you’ve been hurt. You can get to know each other better during a week-long crisis than during a month without problems. If you can’t forgive, if you hold on to old grumbles, if you use ‘the silent treatment’, or if every small disagreement ends in an argument, then you are not ready to get married.

Have you talked about your dreams for your marriage?

Most people who get married have lots of dreams or images in their mind of their future together with the one they love. But they often forget to tell each other what these images look like. That can be a real shame, as the images probably look quite different in several areas. If you expect your partner to just guess what your dreams and expectations look like, then they will probably guess wrong. Typical areas to look at are finances, housework, children, employment, holidays, shared leisure activities, sex and intimacy, and so on. Turn your dreams into words and talk about them!

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Have you checked with your Creator?

Marriage can be the best and most satisfying relationship that is possible between two people. This is even more true if you have an open heaven over you! God has stamped marriage with His seal of approval. It is His idea, and with His help you will both find it easier to love, accept, give and forgive. God is a specialist in these areas. So, when you feel that something is difficult, talk to your Creator – and read the instruction manual!

Have you discussed it with others?

A lot of couples want to keep their private life to themselves, they want to be their own ‘counsellors’, or struggle with their problems themselves. However, it often helps to see things from another perspective. Another person can’t tell you that it’s right for you to get married, but he or she can help you think about questions you’ve not thought about, or problems you haven’t managed to solve. Find an experienced friend, a pastor, or someone else you trust. Do it now, don’t wait till later.

A life-long promise

A marriage consists of an astonishing mix of things: daily life, unusual events, joy and pain, demands and pleasure. It's about a conscious decision: we choose to love, to understand, to forgive and to grow together. Are you willing to invest what you need to?

A lifelong relationship with the right person can be the best thing you will experience on this earth. But don't live in a dream world. More marriages fizzle out and die due to poor maintenance than for any other reason. If your relationship is important to you, and you want it to blossom, then it is your responsibility to work at it so that it functions. Give 100 per cent! Be a couple who meet the future with open eyes and hearts on fire!

From the book Verdt å vente på (Worth Waiting For) by Øivind Benestad.