Long time marriages are disintegrating, young people repudiate marriage and experiment with other alternatives, rights previously reserved for marriage are exercised through other relationships, and yet young people keep right on marrying.
Many a marriage fails before it starts because it is without preparation. Of all forms of marriage, Christian marriage is best suited to social stability and individual enrichment and is what God expects of the Christian who relies on his promises of salvation. Christian marriage is a life-time commitment. The Bible says, "Let not the wife depart from her husband and let not the husband put away his wife". Christian marriage involves love and consideration. Ephesians 5:33 says, "Let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself and the wife see that she reverence her husband". Christian marriage offers legitimate and fulfilling sexual gratification, blessed by God, to which it is rightfully confined. I Corinthians 7: 3,4, says "Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence, and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband, and likewise also the husband hath not power of his body, but the wife".
The first priority in preparation for marriage is to recognize God's way and to be ready to commit oneself for the lifetime of the two. The second priority is to find someone with whom one can enjoy compatibility and willingly make such a commitment. "The two shall be one flesh", says Jesus in Matthew 19:5. To join two incompatible people would certainly make a grotesque union. Compatibility means both have the same goals, exploring one another's love, whispering sweet things into each other's ears and experiencing certain legitimate intimacies, are certainly highly enjoyable in courtship, but exploration of the real person is essential to adequate preparation. While not neglecting the communication of love, be sure each has the same goals in life and in marriage.
Equally essential to compatibility is equal means of reaching the goals. Having the same goals alone can blind two to conflicts which can arise in day to day details of life, as each strives independently for these same goals.
Compatibility further means that each is considerate of each others concept of his or her role in marriage. In this age when roles are confused, this is especially important. Be sensitive to role communication. Also beware of trying to change the mate, either before or after marriage. Deep seated personality traits, superficially adjusted to please a fiancée, have a way of reappearing later. This applies to all aspects of life: sex, children, occupation, location of home, religion, recreation, household responsibilities, money, savings, personal freedom everything affecting life with each other. However, do not expect perfect harmony, but be sure that there is enough reasonable agreement and love to enable two to grow more compatible through the years.
There will be conflicts, tensions and differences. Working these out and growing together can be satisfying and even fun. Then when you grow old together and the children are gone, you can take great comfort in one another's company and you will be able to say, "Marrying him (or her) was the best thing I ever did!