What an important question!!!! I’m so excited we can have a discussion about this. I am not saying I have all the answers. I am going to share my thoughts. Ultimately, each of you will need to make your own decision, based on sensitivity to God’s Spirit, His Word, and His wisdom, about whom you will marry.
DO WE NEED TO FEEL “IN LOVE” TO GET MARRIED?
Our culture says that we MUST feel “in love” to marry someone. In fact, in our culture today, this seems to be one of the only requirements we think there should be to marry someone. But look at what happens to so many people’s marriages – they crumble. Even though they were very “in love.”
Feeling “in love” is a wonderful feeling. I do admit. Infatuation involves a neurochemical cocktail in our brains that makes us feel SO happy, very attracted to a guy, and like we want to be with him all the time. There are butterflies in our stomachs when we think about a man when we are in love. We feel giddy. We get so excited any time we are going to see our man. The feelings can be very intense – to the point that we can barely concentrate on anything else or even eat or sleep. The feelings seem so REAL. Like this is how it will always be – forever! It is easy to think that marriage will be like this every moment of every day for the rest of our lives. Our expectations can be that we will build our marriage on these “in love” emotions and feelings. It is easy to make the feelings of being in love, feeling loved, and romance the most important things in our relationships and in our lives.
Reality is that those feelings of infatuation and feeling “in love” change and are unsustainable long term. When we are married and we begin to face daily life together, challenges, problems, chores, obstacles, and just the reality of living together with someone who leaves his socks on the floor and the toilet seat up – feelings come and go. They are not dependable. They are not constant. They are impacted by changing circumstances, health, energy levels, sleep-deprivation, etc
Romantic feelings can and – I think – should be part of marriage. It is wonderful when they are. But – romantic feelings and – in particular, the feelings of infatuation – are not a solid foundation for marriage. We have to have something much more solid upon which to build our godly marriages. Then, our marriage will transform from the fragile feelings of infatuation or worldly romance to something far greater and deeper – a godly kind of agape love.
In my experience feelings often follow obedience to God. Not always – but many times. The key is the feelings are not the most important thing. They are a bonus, but they are not the main course. I hope that makes sense. We can enjoy romantic feelings – but we should not hang our sense of identity, purpose, security, love, peace, joy, or worth as a human being on romantic feelings.
SHOULD I MARRY SOMEONE TO WHOM I HAVE ZERO ATTRACTION, THEN?
That doesn’t sound like a wise option to me. I do think that it would be ideal to have some level of attraction to one another in order to get married. But – that is going to look different in different people, personalities, and relationships. We don’t all have cookie cutter relationships.
I think it is great to have sexual attraction and romantic feelings. I would be concerned if there was no attraction, no desire for affection, and no desire to ever touch each other. To me, that would be a big warning flag that there will likely be trouble in marriage. Remember, you will be each other’s only sexual partners ever. So, marrying someone who repulses you would make your sexual intimacy a nightmare.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ROMANTIC AND SEXUAL LOVE?
The book Song of Solomon is about romantic and erotic love. There are some great studies about that book. One of my favorites is by Tommy Nelson.
Interestingly, though, very few of the passages that describe God’s design and commands for marriage in the Bible talk about romantic love. Proverbs 5 exhorts men to always savor their own wives’ bodies and the sexual relationship in marriage.
Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?
Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.
May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?
Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? Proverbs 5:15-20
But the passages in the Bible that give commands about whom to marry, and how to make marriage work do not mention much at all about romance or romantic love (eros).
I Peter 3:1-7
I Corinthians 11:3
Romantic love may or may not be part of marriage. Some marriages start with a lot of romance and “in love feelings” and they fade away quickly. If the marriage was built solely on feelings and romance, it will crumble. Just check out the tabloids. Some people keep romantic love alive all of their lives – but there is an ebb and flow to the intensity of it at different times and it changes and matures into something even more powerful and beautiful. Some people start marriage without romantic love but develop romantic feelings over time.
Attraction and romance are intoxicating. And sometimes, these feelings can cloud our vision and keep us from seeing the true character of a man we are interested in. So we must be very cautious not to just trust our emotions and feelings – particularly if we are feeling infatuated or “in love” – but to truly seek to get to know a man’s mind, heart, and soul before we commit to him.
1 Corinthians 7:39 – both the man and woman must belong to the Lord in order for them to marry.
Look for a man who has a strong relationship with Christ individually. And seek God’s Spirit’s discernment. Sometimes, we think we can accurately measure how “godly” a man is – but our standards do not always match God’s.
Be a woman with a strong relationship with Christ individually.
If you both have a truly strong walk with Christ, I believe that will be the best possible foundation for a strong, godly marriage.
Some important questions to ask ourselves before committing to marriage:
- How does this man treat people when he is angry? (That is how he will treat me, too, one day. Can I live with that?)
- What is this man’s commitment level to Christ? Does he desire to fully submit to Him as Lord?
- Does he take responsibility for his mistakes and sins?
- Does he grieve over sin in his life?
- How has he treated past girlfriends?
- How does he treat his mom and sisters?
- What is his parents’ marriage like? Are there wounds that he has sustained from the example he experienced growing up? Am I prepared to help him with those wounds even if it hurts me?
- Am I willing to accept him as he is right now even if he never changed at all?
- Is my desire to marry him totally based on feelings of chemistry and attraction? What else is there upon which we could build a solid, godly relationship?
- Does this man encourage or discourage my walk with Christ?
- If we don’t have a lot in common, am I ok with that? Am I willing to learn about the things he enjoys?
- Am I willing to accept that he is not going to be just like one of my best girlfriends? That he is a man, not a woman? That I will need to relate to him differently from the way I relate to my girl friends?
- Am I prepared to allow him to have his personality and not try to force him to be someone he is not?
- Am I willing to accept that he doesn’t give a lot of compliments if he is not particularly verbal? Am I willing to accept that he may give me a lot of criticism if he is very verbal?
- Does he tend to be more controlling or more passive – how am I going to approach those challenges?
- Do I know how he deals with conflict and can I handle that?
- Am I willing to drop my expectations once we are married and focus on becoming the wife God desires me to be, trusting God to work in this man’s heart to accomplish His purposes and His will?
- Am I willing to not attempt to be this man’s Holy Spirit?
- What good things do I see in him? What do I respect about him?
- What concerns do I have about his character? Do I need to talk to a godly mentoring wife or couple or pastor about these concerns? Am I free to discuss my concerns with my man? How do I address them to him? How does he respond?
- Does he feel greatly respected by me? What speaks respect to him?
- Do we both have attraction to each other? Do we want to be together, and enjoy being together (- not that we have to want to be together 24/7, but do we like each other? Are we able to be good friends? Are we excited about the thought of sexual intimacy in marriage with each other?)
- Am I willing to learn to receive love in the way he expresses it without asking him to change?
- Am I prepared to stay with this man until death no matter what happens? Am I willing to leave divorce off the table completely?
- How will I respond when he doesn’t do what I want him to do?
- How will I respond when he sins against me?
- How will I respond when we disagree about a big decision and God calls me to honor my husband’s leadership and biblically submit to him?
- What is my plan to be a godly wife when this man has different priorities, values, or goals than I do?
- Do I trust him to lead me? And more importantly, do I trust God to be able to lead me through this man?
- What sin issues does he have and am I prepared to extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness?
- Am I able to gently, humbly, respectfully address any sin issues, concerns, fears, or problems I may have with this man?
- Am I carefully listening to God’s Spirit? Am I willing to give up this relationship if God calls me to? Am I putting this man above Christ in my heart?
- Am I willing to follow my husband if he believes God is calling him to a different part of the world or a different ministry than that to which I believe God is calling me? Am I willing to put his dreams, goals, ministry, and career above my own if I must choose between the two?