Ok, ladies – here are some warning signs that you should not ignore when you are deciding whether to commit to a man or marry him. You will be marrying an imperfect man who will sin against you at times – even if he is a believer in Christ. You will also be imperfect and will sin against your man at times. But be sure your eyes are wide open before you marry and really look at who you are committing yourself to and look at yourself very carefully, as well. These flags don’t mean you can’t marry a guy. They mean – slow down, pray, seek godly counsel and deal with these issues as thoroughly as possible together before marriage. Examine yourself against each of these issues and seek to become the woman God desires you to be! (I am assuming you are only dating a man who is a genuine believer in Christ and I am assuming that you are a genuine believer in Christ.)
Note – These are difficult and very sensitive issues. If you are already married, this doesn’t mean that things are hopeless. My prayer is that whether it is before marriage or after, we might take our wounds, scars, and heavy burdens to Christ for His healing. If you are not married, take the time you need to process through all of these things and be sure you understand what you are agreeing if you marry someone who has some of these issues or if you have some of these issues so that you can get the resources and healing you need. 🙂
- secrecy – This is a bigger red flag the closer you are to marriage. If he talks a lot about his “privacy” and how you can’t have any access to any of his email/FB/cell phone accounts… it does not bode well and often correlates with dishonesty (unless your man is a spy or something similar). An honest and trustworthy man will have nothing to hide and will be transparent. It is also not a good sign if he is not willing to talk about his past or won’t tell you about his history in his family or in other relationships.
- charm – There are some men who are extremely smooth with women. They know how to act, what to say, how to flirt, how to give the most amazing compliments, how to make us feel loved with words. They can be so magnetic, extremely masculine, engaging, charming, and “irresistible.” There are times where men who start out like this morph into very controlling, manipulative men. Some warning signs are – trying to get you to be exclusive very quickly, removing you from your friends and family, controlling what you wear/how you do your hair/who you can speak to in great detail, early on lots of incredible compliments but then that changes into a great deal of criticism and controlling behavior, bragging about being controlling in past relationships, arrogance, acting like he knows you so much better than anyone else and that no one else could possibly understand you like he can.
- porn addiction – Unfortunately – this is an astronomically common problem now. It’s so common that it is probably difficult to find even a Christian guy who hasn’t at least dabbled in porn. If he is now completely repentant, accountable about it, and transparent – then this may work out, if you see that he is really living for Christ. But if you are dealing with a guy who uses porn multiple times per week (or more) or admits being addicted to porn – please do not marry this man until he repents and gets godly and experienced help and agrees to appropriate accountability measures. If your guy thinks porn is no big deal – that is a problem. Some great resources are available at www.xxxchurch.org. Please realize that this is an addiction just like a drug and men (and women) are very prone to “relapse.” It probably isn’t about you – but it may feel very personal to you when your husband chooses porn over you or loses his ability to be aroused by anything other than porn – which can happen with a major addiction to it. Be sure you are willing to extend forgiveness and grace and work with him after you are married if you decide to marry him. Be sure he wants to stop using it and understands that this is sin taht grieves God and hurts you and himself. In times of great stress (a wife being pregnant, losing a job, lots of pressure at work or home – a man who has been addicted to porn will easily want to turn back to it for comfort.) It’s a sin. And it can be devastating to wives. The book Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel has an entire chapter on this issue. Porn use/addiction IS forgivable – but all sin is painful and destructive. Be sure you know what you are agreeing to if you marry a man who has this issue. You also may want to search my site www.peacefulwife.com for “porn” to see what is involved for a wife whose husband has a porn addiction.
- won’t go to church – If you meet a guy who says he’s a Christian but refuses to go to church – that can be a huge warning sign. Some husbands I have seen who started out like this often end up pulling their wives away from God. Look for a guy who loves Jesus more than anything in life and who wants to obey and submit to Christ. A guy like that will want to be with other believers. He won’t agree with everything that is done at every church, of course – but he will most likely want to be involved on his own without being pressured into it. It is possible to be a Christian and not go to church – but it is something about which to really seek godly counsel about before committing to a man who won’t go to church. Of course, it is important to allow him to decide which church he wants to go to – and that you not force him into a specific church. (Do not follow him to a cult or false religion.)
- has a criminal record – you will need to see evidence over time (and hopefully your dad can confirm this, or a godly mentor) that this man has truly been changed by God. Don’t rush into marriage in this situation.
- is divorced – Marrying someone who is divorced brings an enormous load of baggage to a marriage and can have long-lasting ramifications. It is even more complicated if there were children involved in his previous marriage. Please read here for more info. Please seek godly counsel and don’t rush into a marriage with a divorced man. Remarriage is a difficult issue biblically – there aren’t a lot of situations where it would be acceptable. There may be some – but seek to please God first! (The Bible and Divorce.) And even if you decide that this situation is biblical – there will be many extra challenges in a remarriage in most cases. Be prepared for that.
- doesn’t know his Bible or read his Bible regularly – If his relationship to Christ is not a big priority to him, and he puts forth zero effort to grow in Christ, slow things down and wait and look and observe before you continue in the relationship. Some guys are just spiritually immature, but growing. That is probably ok. Some guys just say they are Christians so they can get married, and then they revert back to their real unbelieving lifestyle. To commit to a guy knowing he is spiritually starving himself is probably going to lead to some major difficulties in marriage. It is not your job to be the Holy Spirit and to tell him what to do. But look for the fruit of the Spirit in his life (Galatians 5:22). It’s possible he is reading God’s Word and praying in secret and just doesn’t talk about it. But don’t make a lot of assumptions about how he will be so much more spiritual after you get married. Be sure you are willing to follow this man as your spiritual authority. Ideally, you would be having lots of discussions about spiritual things and even going to a godly mentor or counselor to prepare for marriage once you are engaged. It isn’t necessary that he prays with you to be a godly man. But be sure that you know him long enough and see him in enough difficult circumstances to see his true character and to know that he really does love Christ wholeheartedly and is not just going to church with you to get you to marry him.
- was sexually molested or abused – It is possible for God to heal men (and women) who have been through a great deal of sexual abuse – but many times, massive issues with sex or even homosexual tendencies can result and they often take a really long time to heal. Please educate yourself and be willing to be extremely patient and forgiving and work with godly counselors with your man before agreeing to marry him. This is something that you will need to be able to talk about in a fair amount of detail before marriage and may need godly counseling for both of you to be able to discern how to best overcome the deep wounds he has suffered (or that you have suffered – if you were abused). Your sex life in your future marriage will probably require you to have an incredible amount of selflessness, undestanding, compassion, and grace.
- a man who seems to have zero struggles with lust for you – A godly man will seek to control himself and seek your highest honor – as a godly woman will do for her man. But a godly man will still have sexual desire for you if he really wants to marry you. He will want to touch you, be alone with you, and kiss you. And you will want to do those things with him, too. You both may have to really fight yourselves on this issue. If your man seems to have no struggle at all with lust for you ever – that is often a really big red flag that he may not have any sexual desire for you after marriage. That is a tough life to sign up for. This is going to require some in depth conversations about what to expect after marriage as well as godly counsel. I have seen men in this situation who don’t want to have sex after marriage – at all. Ever. That is something to try to figure out before marriage. Not meaning that you need to have sex before marriage, but that this issue needs to be thoroughly discussed. If a man casually says, “Oh, God took away my desire for you. I can sleep beside you every night and not want to have sex with you at all right now,” that may be how he continues to feel after marriage, too. I would not expect him to change.
- has a poor relationship with his mom – The way he treats his mom is probably the way he will treat you eventually. Are you prepared to deal with that with grace?
- treats waitresses and customer service people rudely – That is an indication of how he will eventually treat you and your children. This is an example of how he treats people he thinks he won’t have any accountability for. Of course, he will be accountable to God – as will we all.
- no father figure – It is possible to overcome this handicap. But it is a large handicap. Men who never witnessed a healthy marriage and family often don’t know how to be a godly husband or dad. They can learn. But it is going to be a much more difficult road because he will have a much more steep learning curve. If they don’t have God’s Spirit working in them, it is a recipe for a disaster. It is critical to only marry a man who is truly a follower of Christ. You will need to be able to commit to following his leadership even as he makes mistakes and be prepared to give a lot of grace and forgiveness (of course, that is true in every marriage!). Women who have no mother figure or a very ungodly mother figure also have a major handicap to overcome in marriage, as well. And those who had no godly marriage to model after from their parents will have greater struggles, too.
- sexual experience before marriage (he’s not a virgin) – God’s design is for husbands and wives to enter marriage as virgins and give themselves to one another sexually for the first time on their wedding night and for them to have no other sexual encounters. The more sexual experience a man/woman has (unless God radically changes him) before marriage – the more pain there often is later in marriage. There are also issues of possible children with other women which adds an incredible amount of strain to a marriage and STDs as well as major sin issues with lust, self-control, and lack of Lordship of Christ. The Bible warns us to not even eat with a man who is sexually immoral but calls himself a believer (1 Cor. 5:11). If sexual sin is in his distant past and God has dealt with him and he is living by pure convictions now – he may be a guy to consider marrying. (I think it would be wise to be tested for STDs ahead of time if either partner has had other sexual partners before marriage.) But please understand what you are getting into if you marry a man who has had sex with other women – especially if you have saved sex for marriage. Many wives feel haunted and feel they are being compared to their husband’s past lovers, or they begin to feel extremely jealous and angry about the sex their husbands had in the past. If you marry him, you will have to forgive him and accept him as is and agree not to hold his past against him. He can’t change his past at this point. It is part of the package deal. Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel may also be very helpful here. Keep in mind that women with sexual experience in the past have issues, too – but our God is able to heal! It is so much easier when the husband and wife enter into marriage as virgins. You will never regret doing things God’s way! but there is grace for the fallen in Christ thankfully! We all need God’s grace.
- flirts with other women now or cheats on you before marriage – If these things are going on before marriage when he is trying to win you over, you can expect them to continue after marriage unless he is willing to repent and completely change and rebuild trust and put himself in a position of being accountable to a godly man on these issues. I would want to see him changed over a very significant period of time under close accountability and scrutiny before committing to marry a man who has cheated before marriage.
- no job – Here I am talking about a man who won’t work, not a man who can’t get a job but is trying to. Men who stay home tend to be very depressed and God’s design gets really warped in this scenario and when the wife is the major or primary breadwinner – it can create a deep resentment/disrespect in her and huge insecurity in him that can cause massive cracks in the foundation of the marriage. I have not personally seen this scenario work well for anyone in real life. Both husband and wife tend to do much better when the husband is working. Ideally, your man would be prepared support you when you have children so that you can stay home if you believe that is what God wants you to do later. You may not think you want to stay home with your children now – but when you hold that baby, your maternal instincts may kick in and you might want to be home! I would like to see women at least discuss the possibility of wanting to stay home with children later with their men BEFORE marriage so that there can be a plan for that if that is what you believe God wants you to do once you have children. Of course there are times when a wife must work and the husband can’t for some reason. A wife will have to work extra hard on respecting her husband during such a time. But please be sure that you understand what you are getting into if this is the plan and research how the wife being the only breadwinner may affect a marriage so that you are prepared before you commit to a situation like this. In my opinion, it would be wise not to have the wife being the sole breadwinner as the primary plan for the marriage if at all possible. You will still need to be prepared to allow your husband to lead the marriage even if you are the only source of income.
- addictions – Whether it is video games, alcohol, illegal drugs, porn, rx drugs, OTC meds, gambling, strip clubs, working out, greed… whatever it is – if your man has an addiction – that’s a problem. Same for women. It is sin. Some addictions have worse consequences than others. You can’t change him or fix him! God may change him, but you don’t have a guarantee about that. If you marry a man, you must be able to respect him because God commands you to do that as a wife. If you can’t respect a man because of an addiction, please do not marry him until he gets the addiction under control for an extended period of time (many months or a year or more) and agrees to godly accountability with a mentoring Christian man. Thankfully, our God is able to heal, forgive and change people’s lives. But, in my view, it is wise to leave room for God to change him before you marry him – and to see that he has actually changed over an extended period of time. Once you are married – you are in a covenant for life. Be sure that you can live with your man the way he is even if he never changes.
- you can’t accept him as is – If you want to change your man, please don’t marry him! Only marry a guy you can respect. Either learn to genuinely respect him or do not commit to him! (Ephesians 5:22-33) Sometimes – probably lots of times – it is our expectations that need to be adjusted. Sometimes Christian women have outlandish expectations of what a godly husband should be – and our expectations are unbiblical and almost impossible for any man to meet. If you have a guy who loves God and wants to live for Him, that is the most important thing.
- he has only ungodly friends – A man usually becomes like his closest friends. If he has only ungodly friends, then it may be wise to wait and observe his character and not rush into marriage. Maybe he is seeking to win them to Christ. That is awesome! But if he has zero godly friends, that could be a problem.
- he has a lot of debt – Debt – whether yours or his – puts incredible strain on marriage. Talk about the plan to get out of debt BEFORE getting married. You may even want to see him making progress on this issue before you are married. It would be wise to get godly, financial counseling or at least take some courses by Dave Ramsey about being a godly steward of finances together before getting married. Don’t assume your man has the same expectations and plans as you financially. Be sure you listen to him and hear what he is telling you. Once you are married, you are a team and you will sink or float together. If you enter marriage with debt, be sure you have completely agreed on how you will both handle this and what your financial goals are together.
- he is irresponsible – You need a man who is responsible, capable, competent, intelligent and who will carry out his duties whether he feels like it or not – same goes for us as women. We need to be responsible, capable, competent, intelligent, and willing to carry out our responsibilities whether we feel like it or not. Of course the definition of “irresponsibility” often lies in the eyes of the beholder. Sometimes we as women have different definitions of what responsibility means than our men do. Relying on a truly irresponsible husband is extremely frustrating and it’s easy to allow mountains of contempt and disrespect to pile up in a wife’s heart in such a situation. This issue not an absolute deal breaker. But it may be wise to be able to accept him as he is in this area. He may improve, he may not. Respectfully ask for things and praise him when he does things well in your eyes. Keep in mind, once you are married – he is a God-given authority in your life. You will need to be able to step back and allow him to lead and give him grace if he fails. All men have learning to do about leading. They won’t be perfect. Just like we all have lots to learn about becoming godly women and wives.
This is not an exhaustive list!
But if you see anything on this list in a man you want to commit yourself to – Please either contact me or talk to godly parents or a godly mentoring wife and seek God’s will WAY above your own!
REALLY BIG RED FLAGS – if a man wants to live in these lifestyles and does not repent and turn fully to Christ, please don’t marry a man with these flags:
- if your man is not a believer in Christ.
- if he is involved in a cult.
- if he is deeply entrenched in a severe sin addiction currently and is unrepentant
- if he is violent toward you
- if he is married to someone else
This is not an exhaustive list.
WHAT WOMEN OFTEN THINK
Many women think, “Once we are married, he’ll change.” Or “My love will change him.” Or “I can change him.” “Being with me will make him a better man.” “When we get married, he’ll change and do things my way, I’m sure of it.”
These are foolish ways to approach marriage! We don’t change our men. God can change them. But marrying a man with the expectations that he will change to become what you think you want him to be is unwise.
Sometimes women also expect their men to act like women. That is also unwise! Study godly masculinity and femininity and see how differently God made us to be (For Young Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn)! Some things men do doesn’t make sense to us as women, but they are not wrong. They are sometimes just masculine and different. They are not going to feel, think, process and act like we do. That is a good thing!
Marriage is between two imperfect humans who both need a lot of mercy and grace. Marriage reveals depths of our sin that we have never seen before – it shows us how selfish and prideful we are and reveals idols that we have. Marriage does not fix problems in people’s character – it accentuates them. But, if you are a believer, God can use the crucible of marriage to bring all the sin and dross to the top and skim it off and make us more like Jesus.
I want to see you have the most godly marriage possible that will bring the greatest glory to God and draw many to Christ!