Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Items to Discuss Before Engagement

When my husband and I first started our relationship, we asked each other a lot of questions by email in order to get to know one another. Actually, in the spirit of full confession, I wrote up a list of questions that I emailed to him after our first date. Not exactly the most romantic overture. But it worked for us because we are both the logical, analytical type and we were both looking for a marriage partner, not just a nebulous romantic relationship. We both answered the questions from our perspective and it gave us a way to check out the important issues to make sure we were compatible before getting too emotionally involved in the relationship. Of course, we talked about many, many other things during our dating relationship, but having answered these initial questions helped make sure we were on the same page from the beginning. And to our great surprise and delight, we found we were very compatible on every item.

While I don’t necessarily recommend that everyone hand a list of questions to their romantic interest right after the first date, I do think that couples should discuss important issues fairly early in the relationship. If dating (or courtship) is for the purpose of finding a spouse (and I believe it is), then it should focus on determining compatibility first, before building emotional attachment.

Here is the slightly modified list of questions I sent Doug (which we jokingly refer to as the “million questions”). I have divided them up by topic for simplicity. They are mostly open ended because the purpose is to encourage discussion of these issues, not simply to provide a checklist. This list assumes that both the man and woman are Christians and want to have a God-honoring relationship (and possibly a marriage). Some of these questions should definitely be addressed early on in the relationship while others can wait until later. This is not a complete list of everything a couple should discuss before becoming engaged, but it serves as a framework for finding out how compatible they are on major issues. Discussing these major issues can help dating couples make wise and informed choices in their relationship. And in the long run, having compatible views on these issues will lead to a stronger, closer marriage.


Romantic Relationships

·         What does a God-honoring dating/courting relationship look like?

·         What kinds of character traits should a man look for in a wife? Or a woman look for in a husband?

·         What topics should (or should not) be discussed by two people who are trying to determine whether or not they are compatible for marriage?

·         What types of situations/behaviors should be off limits before marriage? What physical boundaries are appropriate? Should hand-holding, kissing, cuddling, or other types of physical affection be reserved strictly for marriage (and, if so, which ones)? If you and your girlfriend/boyfriend disagree on these limits, would you still honor his or her standards and abide by them?

·         What romantic relationships have you had and do you think that your relationship(s) maintained Godly purity and integrity? If so, what factors do you think were important to that success? If not, have you taken steps or made decisions to prevent similar problems in the future?

Husbands/Wives

·         What do you see as the role of the husband in a marriage? The role of the wife? Should men and women have different roles in a family? If so, how should they differ?

·         How should a man treat his wife? How should a woman treat her husband?

·         Should the husband be the leader in a marriage relationship? If so, in what areas, and what does that look like?

·         Should a woman submit to her husband? If so, what does that look like?

·         What is the purpose of marriage? What should be the focus of a marriage relationship, and how should couples endeavor to keep that focus?

·         Do you think divorce is ever an option for Christians? If so, in what circumstances? Is remarriage after divorce ever a valid option? If so, in what situations?

Children

·         Are you open to having children? If so, how many children do you want? What do you think about birth control?

·         How should children be raised? How should children be disciplined? How important is it to teach children to work? To give them a good education? To teach them to study and understand the Bible?

·         How should married couples address differences in views on how and what children should be taught?

Family Life

·         What tasks or responsibilities should be designated to the husband? To the wife? To the children?

·         Who should make the final decision if a disagreement arises? How should that decision be made?

·         Should a woman work outside the home? Should that change if/when she has children? Should a wife be expected to make some income after having children or is that the responsibility of the husband? If a wife wants to work outside the home (before or after having children), should she? If so, what types of job situations might be acceptable and what types (if any) are not?

·         What schooling options would you consider for your children? Public school? Private school? Home school? How important is your school preference to you?

·         What should be the role of media (especially entertainment) in family life? How do you decide what is and isn't appropriate to watch or listen to? Are there entertainment choices that are appropriate for adults, but not for children? If so, what criteria should be used to discern that?

Parents and Extended Family

·         What consideration should dating/courting couples give to parental (or other relative) approval and/or concerns?

·         Should a man ask a woman's father before beginning a romantic relationship with her? Before asking her to marry him? After asking her, but before marrying her?

Church

·         What are the major considerations when choosing a church to attend? Should doctrine be the only/most important concern? Should worship style (music, volume, enthusiasm) be an important consideration? What about the qualifications and reputation of the pastor and other leaders? What about programs and opportunities for ministry involvement?

·         How important is church membership? Or church involvement? Is tithing important to you?

·         If a husband and wife disagree on some doctrinal points, how should that be handled when looking for a church home? How should it be handled when raising children?


Are there any other questions that should be included here? What other topics or questions should be discussed before becoming engaged? Comment if you have additional ideas.

10 comments:

  1. Wonderful advice!
    found you over at WLWW and I'm following you now.

    Thanks, Traci

    Here's my last post about depression: http://ordinaryinspirations.blogspot.com/2012/04/whats-helping-me-during-season-of.html

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  2. Honey, don't limit yourself to an audience of primarily homeschooling Moms. You are brilliant and from what I've read so far on your blog, the Lord Jesus has given you a gift of writing. I knew you as a little girl when your parents pastored the Nazarene Church in Toccoa, Georgia and had no idea you had become wise beyond your years so rapidly. Keep at it! By reading your writings, I'm learning more about how to state what it is I believe in a clear, concise, and intellectually stimulating manner. Praise be to God for the wonderful blessings bestowed on you, which I know you are using wisely. Bless you! Looking forward to more soon! By Denise Grafton

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    1. Thanks Denise! It's good to know that I am helping others to be able to better understand and articulate what they believe. If I am doing that, my time spent writing is well worth it.

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    2. I guess Lindsay you have come a long way from when Denise watched you in the church nursery. WOW! I sent the article about Obama to Sean Hannity so if you get a call next week to be on his show you won't be surprised. That article was brilliant. I think you have the makings of a good book on inalienable rights. Once you get to the place that you feel you have somewhat exhausted the topic I suggest you format it for ebook reader format. I may be able to help you with that. This needs to get out to people who have saturated themselves with the liberal twisted rhetoric. Maybe we can even send it to Pres B.O.'s Kindle.

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  3. Great stuff Lindsey! So glad you linked up with The Alabaster Jar. It's nice to 'meet' you.

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    1. Thanks Jolene! It's nice to meet you too.

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  4. This is wonderful~ I totally agree and with my courtship we also had a list of questions. I think it is important to take care of the areas that are important to you in your walk with the Lord, right away! Thanks for linking you with A Mother's Heritage. You might enjoy my courtship story...http://www.amothersheritage.com/courtship/

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  5. A couple topics I would add, due to conflicts I have seen after marriage, would be:
    What is your view and plan on health care? (natural vs traditional, to vaccinate vs not to vaccinate..etc)

    Who will handle the finances, what role will each person fulfill in that realm?

    What about pets, how do you feel about them what kinds etc?

    Where do you see yourself living in the long term (I know God can change your circumstances), however if your husband has his heart set on living in the wilds of Montana someday and your family lives in Florida, that would be an important thing to consider.

    Wonderful article. Perfect kick off for a courting relationship.

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    1. Those are great questions also. Thanks for sharing!

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