Can we marry our soul mate, the person that is "right" for us? Are we marrying that right person? Did we marry that right person? Questions like these - assuming we thought about them at all - were tough enough the first time around! But now as we enter our next stage of life, how do we answer them the second time, to finally get that happy marriage?
By now we have found no shortage of marital advice, from family, friends, relationship experts and others, if we are open to it. Perhaps the most fundamental, and the easiest to remember always, is the "4H test": Heaven, Heart, Head, and Hands.
Remember that our relationship with God is the most important one that any of us ever experience here on earth. Hence it should be no wonder that Heaven is at the top of our list, particularly when considering someone to marry. We ask ourself this question: does this person share my goal, my desire, to get to Heaven? Is this person willing to help me get there, and am I willing to help him/her get there as well? Does this person share my belief in God, and accept Jesus as our Savior? Reaffirming each other in shared faith is essential for a happy marriage and especially throughout all of life's ups and downs.
Does this person accept the Bible as God's inspired word, and hence our guidebook for living? In times of trouble or problems in our marriage, do we agree that Bible teachings give us peace of mind by putting all of our problems in proper perspective? Do we agree that the answers to all of life's so-called mysteries, at least the ones worth solving, can be found in the Bible?
Recall our discussion on mature dating and being relationship ready. Faith is fundamental to our daily lives, and like dating, choosing a marriage partner with a faith different from our own in hopes of a conversion is a long-shot at best. If your prospective partner is willing to change, then allow sufficient time for it to happen and to be convinced of his/her sincerity before proceeding.
What is our emotional attachment to this person? Remember to separate these feelings from our sense of physical attraction. Recognize too, our initial feelings of euphoria, i.e., the emotional high of being "swept off our feet", will certainly subside during the early years of marriage. So the question becomes - are we willing to practice, and to use, the acts of love? Do you derive, and will you continue to derive, your happiness from the actions you take that you know make this person happy? This is where (and how) the "labor of love" really applies, and the ultimate test of our commitment to each other.
What's the distance between our heart and our head? Remember the distinctions between the two, and know that our communication skills build the bridge. Be aware of your ability - good or bad - to convey your own thoughts and feelings, while also listening to those of your partner. If one or both of you lack these skills, is there willingness to learn?
Head also prompts some very practical questions for a happy marriage. Is there an intellectual match (remember that education level is different than intelligence)? Is there a shared vision of how and where to live, especially come retirement time? Is there agreement on how to handle family responsibilities from previous marriages? How about finances and property, and the rights for inheritance? Are prenuptial agreements going to be important? Answers to these types of questions determine our "fit".
In some respects it may seem shallow, cosmetic and ultimately fleeting, but physical attraction to each other is still an essential ingredient for many of us. Needless to say, the qualities of our physical attraction will certainly change over time as we age, and it's essential that we recognize that right from the start. But it's no less important to touch, to hold, and to physically connect ("to lay hands on each other") and display our love to each other in these ways. It's yet another form of intimate communication between the sexes, and one that we can share and find pleasure in at any age. It's a real part of "chemistry", and it's important that both partners find a reasonable match, a fit, in this area as well.
As we consider this person for marriage, we should ask our self some additional questions. Regardless of our ability or desire, or even the practicality, simply think for a moment of having a child with this person. What if that child would be exactly like this person – how would we feel about that? Do we think that would be a good thing or a bad thing? Are there some values, traits, and personal characteristics that we accept, tolerate or simply overlook, that others may find intolerable or even unacceptable? Answering questions such as these – objectively – tell us whether we have truly found our soul mate!