It is always an anxious moment for a pre-married or pre-engaged client when they ask us this age-old question:
“Should I ask her to marry me?”
I almost never answer this question directly. I don’t believe I should be given this much power in someone else’s life. But what I do is try to lead them through some questions that might help them make a good decision. If we are seeing a couple that is undecided, we often ask them to do a homework assignment from a workbook that guides them through this process. We ask them to take a personal retreat and seek God for an answer.
Confusion over this decision may come when boundaries have been crossed. A relationship may have become too intimate too quickly – especially when sexual boundaries have been discarded. We may feel very close, allowing our heart to rule over our head. Feeling close is not the same as being well-matched. It’s especially easy to ignore important signs when a relationship is relatively new and in the infatuation stage (less than six months or so).
This heart over head, or head over heart question is extremely important to the longevity of a relationship. If out of balance you may be opening up your life to either chaos or coldness, which might not be sustainable.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Will he/she make a good parent?
- Can I trust this person completely?
- Will I fit into his/her family system?
- Do we have common goals?
- Is there any hint of abusiveness, physical or emotional?
- Is he/she emotionally mature?
- Are there any addictions that are not healed (drugs, alcohol, spending, sex)?
- Are there any character issues that worry me (lying, angry, irresponsible, needy)?
- Will we be partners, both carrying the weight of the relationship or will one person function more like a dependent child?
- Do we resolve conflict effectively?
- Do we apologize and forgive easily?
- Is he/she possessive, jealous, manipulative or controlling?
- Do I feel safe with this person?
Intense feelings of love are not sufficient to sustain a lifetime marriage. The right questions have more to do with direction, purpose, respect, integrity and commitment. Those are questions that have to be answered with courage and rigorous honesty.
A good goodbye is so much better than a painful life.
If you are married, and struggling with some of these issues, take heart. There is always an opportunity to heal old wounds, build some relationship skills, and change some bad habits. Those things also take courage, honesty and just plain hard work. You may have to lead the process in your relationship. Start with prayer, surrender your heart, and get good counsel.