Somebody could be beautiful, funny, a pleasure to be around and even be active in church but still not be good marriage material. A few relational “infections” can all but erase many good qualities.
Put it this way: A gregarious guy could be a lot of fun to have in the dugout of a baseball team, but if he can’t hit, throw or catch a baseball, he’d be a poor choice to join your team. In the same way, someone could be wonderful in the context of dating and still be sorely lacking when it comes to the “game time” issues of marriage.
Not Marriage Material
I’ve seen the following six major character weaknesses become significant hurdles for marital intimacy and satisfaction and even take down some marriages. This isn’t, by any means, an exhaustive list. There are many more. But each one of these is significant enough that if the person you are dating displays several (or even one or two to a deep degree), they may not be marriage material. That is, they may not be emotionally or spiritually ready for marriage—regardless of how much fun it is to date them.
1. He or she is a “taker.”
The sad reality is some people are givers and some people are takers. Givers don’t always mind being in a relationship with a taker because they like to give; it brings them joy. But there are times when the giver will need to receive. For instance the giver gets really sick or is laid off, even though he or she provided the bulk of the income or just goes through a discouraging time and suffers things she has never known before, like depression or anxiety.
In those instances, can your taker learn to give? If not, he or she is not marriage material, and in many cases, sadly, the answer is no. The taker freaks out, abandons the relationship, or just runs around in an emotional and relational panic wanting everyone to feel sorry for them, only adding to the giver’s problems rather than alleviating them.
If you marry a taker, you’re sitting on a relational time-bomb, because you’re making the bet that, as a giver, your fallen body and your fallen soul won’t ever get so fallen that you’ll someday need help, even for a season. You’ll have better odds trying to win the lottery.
It is not selfish to want to marry a giver. It is wise. It is being a good steward of your time and life. It is a gift to your future children (just think about it).
How do you know if you’re dating a taker? I have an entire section on that in my book The Sacred Search (pages 203-208).
2. He or she is lazy.
Many, particularly younger, couples are often surprised at how difficult life can become. It’s a lot of hard work. Raising kids is exhausting. Taking care of a house, working and being married will sometimes push you to the limit of your energy. Unless you have unlimited funds and can pay for your house to be cleaned, your kids to have a full-time nanny and your spouse to stay home (if he or she wants to), you’ll run into serious problems if you marry a lazy person (and if you are a married person you won’t be able to afford any of that).
It might seem like a holiday when your boyfriend or girlfriend is all about play and always trying to take you away from work, but if they do that to an extreme and never demonstrate self-discipline and initiative, that carefree spirit will grow very tiresome, very quickly.
3. He/she lives primarily in the virtual world instead of the real one.
I’ve talked to couples where the wife spends too much time on Facebook or Instagram, or the wife is so invested in her blog about her marriage that she barely has time for her marriage.
I’ve also seen many occasions where the husband can barely restrain himself from getting into his video game seat for eight-hour sessions. I’ll grant that a man or a woman without kids can enjoy a four- or five-hour round of golf on occasion and still be a rather responsible adult.