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The decision to marry

by Jacob Ninan

Question: I am a 25 year old Christian girl. My parents have been hardly there for me, but now they are saying I should get married before I become too old. I am very much interested in a man in my office who is very nice to me. He is married, but he says he is willing to divorce his wife and marry me. What do you say?

Answer: You have a natural desire to get married, and you are facing pressure from your parents at this time and there is also this man who is giving you a lot of attention. It is no wonder you are confused, not knowing which way to proceed. You shouldn't decide in a hurry because marriage is for a lifetime and you can't afford to jump into it without sufficient thought. So it is good that you are seeking for counsel. If you could come and meet me it would be easier for us both to understand each other better. But as things are, let me try to make some points clear for you to think about. You are welcome to write back and seek any further clarification you might want.

It is natural that normal people start thinking about marriage as they get into their teens and later. The challenge is to make the right choice about the one you are to marry. If we get married in a hurry, as they say, we will have a lifetime to regret! As a girl, what are the things you should be looking for in a husband to be? I would suggest that the priority should be for finding a man whom you can trust and in whom you feel confident that he will love you, care for you, take care of you and will be faithful to you. You won't be able to find a perfect man, but you should be able to feel sufficiently confident about him before you marry him. You may have heard your pastor saying that as a Christian you should marry only another believing Christian because differences in faith can be very troublesome in relationships especially in the long run. I say 'long run' because most people who are in love imagine at the moment that their love will see them through all such differences, but things are likely to become very difficult as time goes on. At the same time, it is also foolish, like many Christians do, to give no further thought to the aspects I have mentioned above that you need to look for, just because the other person is a Christian! Christians are also people, and many things matter when it comes to long term relationships.

As a counsellor I have noticed that many girls make their decision for marriage based on how they feel, without thinking objectively about different factors that can affect the marriage relationship. This is especially true for girls who have come from families where they have faced abuse or neglect. In such cases, these girls experience a strong longing to love and to be loved by someone, even though they themselves are not conscious about this desire. But because of this longing, they are vulnerable towards falling for any man who shows them special attention, and makes them feel wanted and loved. This is sad, because they get married to these 'nice' guys and then find out that the one they have got married to is not the same as the one they had loved! There are so many cases of such marriages, and that is why I don't want that to happen to you. I think you may be in this vulnerable group because, as you said, your parents were hardly there for you. Because you have not experienced the normal love and affection that children get from parents, the chances are that you may be yearning for love from someone. Doesn't that make you vulnerable?

This man in the office is married, and he is willing to divorce his wife in order to marry you. In other words, he is willing to break his wife's trust and promise you a trustworthy relationship! Can you trust him? How can you be sure that sometime later he will not do the same thing to you as he is doing now to his wife? He may be telling you that it is you he loves, the first marriage was a mistake, now he has found his true love, he will never leave you, etc. Words! His actions towards his wife show his real character.

Believe that when you seek God, He will lead you to the right person at the right time. Don't give in to social pressure or pressure from your parents. Whenever any man comes across your life as a possible husband, take the matter to God in prayer, and think about different factors involved. No two people are fully compatible in every way, but see if there are any outstanding areas of incompatibility that might make a long term relationship difficult. I hope you are able to see things more clearly now.

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