Ask the Tough Questions About Your Relationship

By Glenn Lutjens
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Focus on the Family

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Am I ready for a relationship? Are there issues I need to address in my own life first?
  • Have we shared enough varied experiences to know what each other is like? Have you seen him when he’s hungry or tired? Have you seen her around ministry opportunities?
  • What do family and friends say about our relationship? (This isn’t foolproof, but being open to wise input is one of the smartest actions you can take into a relationship.)
  • Is there enough commonality in our relationship? (I’m not talking about differences in personality — often, opposites do attract. I’m talking about your faith, beliefs, commitments, and values.)
  • How does my friend relate to others? Is she respectful? Is he compassionate?
  • Is our relationship one-sided — one always giving, one always taking?
  • Have I sought God’s heart regarding our relationship? What does the Lord say about our relationship?
  • Are there deeper issues in my friend’s life that need to be addressed, but simply get avoided?
  • Am I romantically attracted to my friend? (Though it’s not the leading element of a successful marriage, romance is a gift from God.)
  • Am I feeling pressured to move forward in our relationship by my friend, others or my own expectations?
  • Are there issues in our relationship that need to be resolved first if we are to move forward?
  • Do I stay in the relationship because I don’t want to hurt my friend or myself? (Grief will certainly be felt if you brake off the relationship, but hurt is not the enemy of health.)
  • Am I trying to rescue my friend from a hurtful or painful life?
  • Do I marry simply because I’m in love? (For romance to play the part God intended it to, there needs to be a healthy foundation and frame for romance to rest upon, no matter how many goose bumps I may be experiencing.)
  • Does our relationship draw me closer to Christ?
  • Should we receive pre-engagement counseling? (Once a couple has decided to marry, especially if they have a wedding date set, each person may be a bit more guarded about sharing their weaknesses with a counselor.)
  • Could I be content if I were to remain single?

Give that last question some thought.

The True Value of a Relationship

“Earlier, you mentioned 18 red flags; my friend only has two of them, so most don’t apply to us.” That may be true, but even one red flag could make the difference between a wise choice and a disaster when it comes to marriage. With no disrespect to premarital surveys (I believe in their value), it would be nice if you could simply take a test, identify red flags and green lights, give them a number value, and calculate if you should move forward or not. It’s not that simple.

Many people get married because of a fear of loneliness, of not having anymore chances in life to find love. The thought that my friend is the last “fish in the sea” will tend to create desperation.  It’s tough to keep in mind, but if you do end the relationship, over time you will likely find more opportunities. And even if you don’t, your worth isn’t based upon finding someone who will marry you. Other than Christ, no one on earth determines your worth. Like the moon reflecting the sun’s rays, spouses can reflect the truth about their mates, but they don’t make them valuable!

Is it possible that there might not be any red flags in your relationship now, yet issues arise later in your spouse? Yes, absolutely. There are no guarantees that a spouse might not walk away from you, God, or emotional health. What I’ve talked about here relates to red flags, some clear, some more obscure, which can be detected now. Don’t rationalize, excuse, or ignore them. Find the goldmine, not the landmine.

If you’re still concerned about your relationship, talk to someone. Feel free to give us a call here at the Focus on the Family Counseling department. Call us at 1-800-A-FAMILY (800-232-6459). Our licensed counselors or chaplains would love to speak with you and, if you would like, can direct you toward local Christian counselors.

© 2011 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Glenn Lutjens

Glenn is a licensed family therapist who’s been on the Focus counseling team for 23 years. Prior to joining Focus, he spent time in church counseling and pastoral ministry. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have three young adult children. Glenn loves Jesus, has an affinity for lasagna and cheers for the Oakland Raiders.

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