Check Out the Family
Scripture: And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD. (2 Ki 8:18 NKJV)
Observation: Jehoram was the king of Judah and he had married the daughter of King Ahab. Evidently his influence had affected his daughter and as she married Jehoram it also affected him so that he did evil in the sight of the Lord. Unfortunately Jehoram’s godly father had less of an influence on him than his ungodly wife did. The daughter of Ahab, whom Jehoram married as part of Jehoshaphat’s treaty with Ahab, was Athaliah, through whose influence Jehoram introduced the worship of Baal and many other evils into the kingdom of Judah (see 2Ch 21:2–20).
Application: As I work with couples preparing for marriage, I recommend, among many other things, that you Take Your Time.
While preparing for marriage, make sure you have spent enough time in preparation. As Shakespeare wrote in King Henry, “A hasty marriage seldom proveth well.” It takes time to know another person well enough to decide to spend your life with them. Proverbs 21:5 says it well, “The plans of the diligent and informed will lead to abundance, but every one who is hasty will only come to want and ruin.” A wedding is a one-day event, but a marriage is a lifetime commitment. Take the time necessary to learn everything you can about the person with whom you plan to spend a lifetime.
As a couple, they should focus on two key areas when taking their time to get to know one another.
1. Get to Know the Other Person’s Family.
Perhaps you have made the mistake of thinking the other person’s extended family doesn’t matter. The fact is we don’t marry one person; we marry, or join ourselves to, the entire family.
You must meet the potential in-laws and other family members and spend time getting to know them. Observe how they interact with each other. An old adage fits very well here: An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This family reared your potential mate, so you need to know who they are and what they believe. Only time can provide answers to the following questions, which you must answer.
• Do you know for certain his/her family’s values or habits?
• Is there a spiritual focus of the family? If so, what is it?
• What do they enjoy doing? What are their hobbies and interests?
• How do they handle conflict? How is conflict resolved?
• What is the financial philosophy of the family? Is money important? Is it too important? Did the parents train him/her to be financially responsible?
• How would they react should you choose to marry their son/daughter?
• What kind of in-laws would they be? Uninvolved? Obtrusive? Supportive?
• What was the parenting style of his/her parents? Strict? Flexible? Were they too permissive as parents?
• What kind of influence would they have on your children?
2. Get to Know as Much as Possible about him/her.
It will take time to see how the person with whom you are considering marriage handles conflict, jealousy, or failure. Ask any married couple and they will tell you that even when you think you know your spouse there are still many surprises after you are married.
Ideally it’s beneficial to see a potential marriage partner in every kind of situation before marriage. To do that will take some time, but its time well invested. You must observe how he/she reacts in anger, under stressful situations, and in difficult times. It’s wise and necessary preparation for a successful marriage to learn about the other person’s needs, likes, dislikes,
quirks, habits, particular weaknesses, and strengths.
When is the person not right for marriage? We have included some relational warning signs. Some of these characteristics are only revealed over time.
• Is often caught lying.
• Tends to blame others for everything.
• Is cruel to the innocent and weak. This person may be racist.
• Is controlling. Checks up to see where you go, who you are with, etc. Interrogates you if you’re late or not home. Insists you get permission from him/her before you go anywhere, etc. Handles all the money.
• Attempts to isolate you from your family or friends. Doesn’t want you meeting other people – says he/she is protecting you from people who are not good for you.
• Is extremely jealous. Shows up unexpectedly, checks your phone, even your car mileage. Gets angry if you spend time with anyone other than him/her.
• Quickly says he/she loves you and pushes for serious involvement. Immediately wants an exclusive commitment from you.
• Becomes moody and hypersensitive. Is easily offended. You find yourself constantly apologizing for hurting her/his feelings.
• Verbally berates or attacks you, curses often, is critical, hurtful, or degrading.
• Pressures you for sex. Tries to make up with sex.
• Is repentant but blames for you for his/her actions
• Has pushed, shoved, slapped, or become otherwise physically violent with you.
If any of these characteristics are apparent run, and run fast! The person is not marriage material.
A Prayer You May Say: Father, as people prepare for their marriage, may they take the time to prepare for this lifetime commitment and may the have their eyes wide open to any concerns they may have about each other and each other’s family. And if it is indeed in your will that they be joined in holy wedlock, may theirs be a life lasting and fulfilling experience.
Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
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