7 Ways to Know If You’re Compatible for Marriage



Choosing who to marry is one of the most consequential decisions that you will make in life. Because of this, it can also be the most daunting. How do you discern what is really important when considering who to marry? How do you distinguish between infatuation and compatibility? What are the non-negotiables, and what are the variables?

Before diving into the following list of considerations when searching for a spouse, take a look at Tim Keller’s assessment of this idea of “compatibility:”

“As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage sustaining, and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, ‘Love shouldn’t be this hard… Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul mates.’

“The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible… Some people are really, really the wrong people to marry. But everyone else is still incompatible… Over the years you will go through seasons in which you have to learn to love a person who you didn’t marry, who is something of a stranger.

“You will have to make changes that you don’t want to make, and so will your spouse. The journey may eventually take you into a strong, tender, joyful marriage. But it is not because you married the perfectly compatible person. That person doesn’t exist.” (Quoted from Keller’s book,  Meaning of Marriage)

While the idea of perfect compatibility may be a farce, there are still some helpful guidelines that believers can employ when considering this momentous decision. Read on for seven ways to know if the person you’re dating is marriage material:

1. Pray about It

This is likely an obvious component but by far the most important in deciding about a potential spouse. James 1:5 demonstrates that God not only wants us to ask for His help in matters of wisdom, but He expects it.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

In addition to praying for clarity, it is vital to ask the Lord’s help in providing both the ears to listen and the will to obey as the Spirit guides you. One example of this playing out is in the realm of physical attraction. Not only does infatuation impede objectivity, but it can also create a great internal divide when your heart is attached to a person who your mind knows is not right for you.

On the other hand, if you are considering marriage to a person but the physical attraction is just not there, the Spirit can provide the wisdom you need in determining whether or not to pursue marriage anyway.

2. Consider the Bible’s Non-Negotiables

The Lord gave us His Word to serve as a plumb-line for the way we order our lives. As Sally Lloyd Jones phrases it in the Jesus Storybook Bible, “{God’s rules} show you how life works best.” (p.14)

Scripture provides us with a few clear principles for marriage such as being between one man and one woman (Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 7:2), and consisting of two believers (2 Corinthians 6:14). When considering that second stipulation of avoiding a union that is unequally yoked, one must investigate more than the simple claim of belief.

Who do you each see as the ultimate authority in life? What do you prioritize in life, and why? More specifically, how do you each view the role of God’s Word and His church? The answers to these questions have enormous implications for how one thinks and lives. If you each have different views on Scripture and how it applies to life, you will find yourselves in constant conflict because you have a different standard by which you measure decisions.

3. Explore the Grey Areas

In addition to these “big ticket” items, it is also important to observe your potential spouse’s worldview about things that aren’t specifically prescribed in the Bible. For instance: marital roles. Have a conversation about that controversial passage in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.”

How do each of you see that verse applying on a practical level? Do you have varying opinions on who works and who stays at home? Beyond that, what are each of your visions for career, children, and life in community with others? One way to get insight into these areas is to observe or ask questions about how your partner was raised.

What were the parameters that shaped her community growing up? How was her family structured? What parenting style did his parents employ? Does he hope to emulate the same approach, or are there things about his experience that he wants to intentionally avoid with his own family someday?

4. Discuss Societal Topics

It is important to explore each other’s viewpoints and discuss if or how you can navigate your differences while still maintaining unity as a couple. Get to know your partner’s opinions about politics, theology, worship style, and other social issues. What are the topics that each of you deeply care about?

You won’t agree on everything, and it’s probably better if you don’t. However, entering into these discussions will help you each to learn about the heart and mind of your potential future spouse, and will provide good practice in engaging with one another in a respectful yet honest way. Approach these conversations from a place of curiosity, rather than dogmatic persuasion. Keep in mind that simple yet difficult exhortation from James 1:19, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”


Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Leah Kelley

5. Assess the Imperfections

Since we know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) every marriage will consist of the union of two sinners. That being said, it is still imperative to take a sober look at the struggles of your prospective spouse and consider the question, “If this never changes, can I still love this person?”

While you can’t expect to marry someone without sin habits, and we of course all hope to grow and mature toward sanctification, it is important to honestly assess whether or not you can live with your partner if they stay the way that they are, or even get worse.

One specific example of this wisdom issue is addiction to pornography. Sadly, this problem is all too common for both males and females, regardless of their religious affiliation. It is a scientifically proven detriment to relationships, and cannot be trusted to disappear once a couple is married. If pornography is an issue for you or your partner, be encouraged that there is healing available, but also be wary of the danger of this vice if it is allowed to reign free. 

6. Invite the Input of Others 

When it comes to matters of the heart, it is nearly impossible to be objective. Beguilement begets blindness. For this reason, ask trusted family and friends what they notice about the relationship. Proverbs 12:15 tells us, “The way of fools seems right to them but the wise listen to advice.” 

What do the people who know you best notice about the person you are dating? What do they notice that is different or the same about you when you are together? Are there any red flags? As you reach out to a variety of people who care about you, you will likely notice the emergence of certain themes in their observations. Sometimes it may be difficult to receive their input, other times it may validate your own intuition. 

While the final decision of marriage ultimately rests on you and your partner, seeking advice with a humble heart can provide immense clarity in the decision making process. “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers” (Proverbs 11:14).

7. Experiment with Different Scenarios

When a single person “leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh,” (Genesis 2:24) teamwork becomes an integral element of this new union’s thriving.

In order to gauge your potential for operating as a team, make an intentional effort while dating to spend time together in various situations. Volunteer together at a soup kitchen, play games with a group of friends, navigate a trail together on a hike, or attend an event where you are seated with people that neither of you have met before.

When entering into these new situations, don’t look for perfect communication or an absence of conflict, but instead consider how you can work with each other’s different personalities. Soon you will discover how each of you deals with situations of stress, competition, and vulnerability both individually and as a team. And as you discover more about yourselves and grow in these areas, keep in mind Ruth Bell Graham’s helpful insight: “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” 

As you step toward the exciting yet risky process of finding a spouse, remember the One who is with and for you through this journey from singlehood to marriage: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Know that He cares for you with a deeper love than any other earthly mate ever could, and His faithfulness remains sure unto the end of the age and the marriage supper of the Lamb to His bride, the Church. While we long for and enjoy earthly intimacy, let’s remember that it is a mere shadow of that ultimate union for which we most eagerly wait. 

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (Revelation 21:2-5)

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/clownbusiness

Julie Davis is a retired ballet dancer-turned-homeschool mom of 3 young daughters. Her passion is for walking alongside fellow believers and reminding them of the grace and power of the Gospel in their lives. She loves to ponder and laugh at the adventures of life and motherhood via her Instagram and blog. Julie and her husband George live in Richmond, Virginia and enjoy hosting friends, getting outside, and sipping on moderately priced bourbon.

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