Considering marriage is a big step. Marriage joins not only 2 people but two families, two sets of friends, two communities. It also joins two sets of morals, ideals, and ways of life. Knowing the background and perspective of your future spouse gives you a head start on making the transition from we to I a smoother one.
The 3 biggest areas that should be explored before marriage are relationship, stewardship, and faith.
Relationship is a very broad term. It encompasses neighbors, friends, family, children, and spouse. How close is your spouse to her family? Why is this so? What are her expectations when it comes to extended family? How do you feel about her family? These are people who will be in your life for a very long time to come.
How does she feel about having children? Would she rather work after children or stay home? How many children would she like to have? How do her expectations differ from yours?
How much time do you spend with your friends? She with hers? How will this change after marriage? OR will it? Does she have friends that you don't care for? Do you have friends she doesn't like? Why is this so?
Relationship also encompasses past relationships. If you are going to promise to love and be faithful to this woman for the rest of your life and she to you, you both have a right to know about past physical and emotional relationships. When she gives you her heart, you want to know that it is fully yours and not still linked with another.
Stewardship relates to how you care for and use your material goods, property, money, time, etc. Is she a shopper or a saver? Is she a penny pincher or a spendthrift? Money has the potential to divide a couple almost more than anything else. Will you be able to work together to have a financial plan that you both like?
In the area of stewardship it is important to ask: What does she value most? Is it things? Time? Security?
You want a wife that you will be able to make happy. If you are a workaholic and she craves time with you, both you and she should know this upfront. If she loves extravagant things and you prefer the simple life, trouble could ensue.
Faith is enormously important. What you believe about God colors every area of your life. It affects all the other areas: how you treat others, how you spend your time and your money, how you raise your children, and even how you treat your spouse. This is the one area that I think a couple must agree on before marrying. It is very difficult to combine two completely different faiths. You and your spouse want to be of one heart and mind. If one heart has a devotion to God or to anything else that the other heart does not, they cannot truly be one.
Keep in mind that your girl also needs to know all these things about you. She has a right to go into marriage with nothing concealed. When she says I do, when she pledges her life, love and devotion to you, you want to know that she is accepting all of you with the full knowledge of what you have to give.
Finally, remember that love is not an emotion. It is an action. Love is what you do for a person everyday. It is how you treat her, how you speak to her. Love is giving the grace to her that you hope she will always give to you.