Nov 192017 0 Responses

5 Steps Before You Pop the Question

A majority of engagements happen between Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Not only do the holidays add a sense of romance, but the gathering of family provides the perfect audience to watch the milestone event take place.

Like any major decision in life, asking a person to marry you should not be done lightly. It should be the culmination of a process in which two people intentionally, prudently, and prayerfully decide to move forward together. Here are five aspects of that process.

5 Steps Before “Will You?”

1. Date for a year. There is nothing magical that happens on day 366 which wasn’t present on day 365 of a dating relationship. However, dating for a year is a good general guideline to prevent a couple from rushing to the altar. Marriage is too big of a decision to hurry. Many people feel in love after three months of dating and aren’t even talking after 6 months. Healthy relationships take time to mature. Dating for a year gives the relationship the space necessary for that to happen. (See: Date Well to Marry Well)

2. Settle issues with family. Things don’t have to be perfect, but they do need to be settled. One of the common mistakes couples make regarding marriage is to assume that family issues will get better over time. Sometimes they do, but most of the time they don’t. It’s better to work through as many family issues as possible before engagement rather than after. This doesn’t mean everyone has to be on board before you pop the question. It does mean that you have tried to find peace and you walk into marriage fully aware of every family issue on both sides of the relationship.

3. Talk about it first. Maybe there was a day when a guy would ask a girl to marry him before they ever discussed marriage, but this is not that day. An engagement can be surprising in the fact that it is happening on this day at this moment, but the season in which it happens should not be a surprise and the answer should not be in question. A couple should talk through many issues before a man chooses to ask a woman to marry him. The issue of marriage is too complex to suddenly jump into it. Many discussions and much foresight should be used. Engagement should happen closer to the feeling of having talked it to death rather than having never talked about it at all.

4. See a counselor. Pre-marital counseling is important. To walk through potential issues before you experience marriage can save a couple a great deal of grief. Yet once the ring is involved, things get complicated. Instead of doing pre-marital counseling, I recommend pre-engagement counseling. To understand my thinking, see: Do This Before You Put a Ring On It. If you have already popped the question, but haven’t had counseling, don’t let that stop you. Call a counselor today.

5. Have a financial plan. It’s not necessary to make a good amount of money before you get engaged. While a potential father-in-law might prefer it, money is not a pre-requisite to meaningful love. However, you can’t ignore that marriage includes partnership and partnership includes money. A financial plan is part of marriage. If you can’t explain how you are going to make money, eat, and live, you are not ready to get married. Regarding money, marriage should include both a healthy work-ethic and a sensible plan. If you are working hard and planning wisely, most in-laws will support you.

A 6th Step

While the five previous steps are important, I would add a sixth one. Friends, Partners & Lovers is a marriage book, but it should be read before marriage. The book lays out what a couple should do in order to have a healthy relationship. By reading the book before engagement, a couple can consider if they truly desire to do the work with this person that a healthy marriage will require. If you can’t imagine this person being your best friend, if you doubt whether or not this person will be a good partner or if you struggle to consider life-long intimacy with only this person, getting engaged at this time isn’t for you.

One of my favorite things to do is walk beside a young couple as they enter into marriage. In some areas, they are worried about so many things that don’t matter and I get to encourage them that things will be okay. In other areas, they have no awareness of some issues that could forever impact their relationship. I get to tell them to watch out. But more than anything, I like to watch as a young man and woman figures out how to make their marriage work.

If you are married, what is one thing you would tell a couple they should do before they get engaged?

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