The first thing you can do to drastically increase the likelihood of choosing a mate wisely is this: PRACTICE THE LAW OF THREE.
When hiring an employee, business owner Brian Tracy requires that each candidate pass three tests before being hired. He has three interviews with each taking place at a different location and different environment. Each interview is a test for the potential hire. If the candidate passes all three tests, they get the green light to be hired. By practicing this law of three, Tracy weeds out a lot of candidates that would be a poor fit for his company. If you’re dating, you need to practice the the law of three. Here’s three tests you can apply to weed out bad candidates:
Test #1 is this: Do friends and family approve? Proverbs 27:6 says “Wounds from a friend can be trusted…” That is, you might not like the advice a friend gives (it might hurt a little) but because they are your friend and love you and know you well – what they tell you can be trusted. You might say to a close friend or family member “What do you honestly think?” and they might say “Two thumbs down.” That might hurt a bit to hear, but you can usually trust (under normal circumstances) the input of family and friends. The Bible says to trust them. On the day I decided that I wanted to marry Kristin, the first thing I did was call my dad and ask him “What do you think?” He gave me two thumbs up! The second thing I did was call my mom to ask her “What do you think?” She also gave me two thumbs up! I also brought her home to meet Jon and Andrew, my two closest friends. The four of us went out to dinner together and my friends got to meet her. I got a thumbs up from them too. Now listen…If you don’t want to ask your parents or friends what they think of this person you’re getting serious with, what does that say about the relationship? Let me tell you what it says! It says that you know intuitively this person is no good for you, and you’re not asking others what they think because you already know what they think. If they don’t pass the friend and family test, dump them as quickly as possible!
Test #2 is this: Do we have compatible interests, goals and values? In 1 Corinthians 1:10 the apostle Paul said in reference to the unity of a church “…be perfectly united in mind and thought.” Being united in mind and thought is what keeps unity in a church and what keeps unity in a marriage. You have be united in mind and thought around your interests, your goals and your values. Let’s talk about each briefly. Common Interests: Most strong relationships include at least some common interests. If you live for the outdoors, you probably do not want to get serious with someone who hates going outside. People who have little in common will ultimately not spend a lot of time together, or if they do, they won’t be doing what they enjoy. Common Goals: Before you get serious with someone, you need to have a good idea of what direction you are going in, and you need to determine whether that person’s life is going in the same direction. If you want to be a missionary or inner-city worker living on a limited income, you must share that goal. Common Values: Search for character that shows the fruit of the Spirit – love, patience, kindness and so forth. You are initially attracted to a person’s outsides, but over time you will experience their insides. A person’s character is what you will experience long-term and be in relationship with over time. So make sure the other person shares your values too! If your common interests, goals and values don’t align, get out of that relationship before you waste even more time. Kristin and I didn’t have all the details of our future mapped out, but we both knew we wanted to be serving God in full-time ministry. We both knew we wanted a large family. And we both wanted the set up where I would work and she would stay home with the kids. You don’t need all the details of your future nailed down – you can figure the details out together along the way – but the big picture you each have in your head needs to be compatible.
Test #3 is this: Do they manage their money well? This might seem odd to you, but listen…George Gallup reports that 58% of all divorces today are due to money problems. Money problems are therefore the leading cause of divorce in America! Don’t set yourself up for trouble. 1 Timothy 6:10 says “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Someone with an unhealthy view on money can shipwreck both their faith and their marriage! An unhealthy view on money can separate God and man, and husband and wife. So find out their views on money before getting married! I read a book by Gary Chapman called Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married and one chapter in the book is entitled “I wish I had know…that we needed a plan for handling our money.” In this chapter he gives several tips for laying a solid financial foundation. These are things you can talk about before trying the knot. He says:
- After marriage, it will no longer be “my money” and “your money” but “our money.” Once married his and her debts become “our debts.” His savings and her savings become “our savings.” The Bible says that in marriage the two become one (Genesis 2:24) and this includes becoming “one” financially. So before getting too serious, ask the person you’re with if they agree with this. You’ve got to investigate this stuff ahead of time. Don’t wait till you’re married to find out! It’s too late then!
- Agree on a percentage of income that you will give away, save and spend. These are really the only three things you can do with money (give it away, save it and spend it). Based on biblical principles, I encourage couples to live by the 10-10-80 rule. Give 10% to God, save 10%, live wisely on the remaining 80%. Give 10, save 10, use the rest wisely. Find out how the person you’re with feels about this. If tithing is important to you, don’t marry someone that cringes at the thought of giving money to God through the local church. That would be foolish. If the person you’re thinking about marrying doesn’t see the value in saving, that’s a red flag. Look into this before you get married!
- Decide before marriage who will keep the books. So before you get married, find out who’s better with the money and agree that they will take the lead in this part of the marriage. I’m going to add a 4th thing to consider…
- See how they would feel about living off one person’s income prior to having children. This will set you up for success if mom wants to stay home with the kids, once they arrive. Many people choose a lifestyle that’s dependent upon two incomes. Then they have kids and mom wants to stay home with the kids but it’s not an option (because of the lifestyle they’ve chosen). This is what Kristin and I agreed to before we got married – that we would both work, but would live off my income only. We saved her income. When kids came along and she wanted to stay home with them, this is something we were able to do.
By practicing the law of three, like Tracy, you can weed out bad options and save yourself a lot of time, money and heartache.