Danger Signs for the Not Yet Married: Expanded Version – Part I


1. If you have a general uneasy feeling about the relationship. There should be absolutely NO PRESSURE to get married. If you’re thinking “I don’t feel good about this,” or “I don’t feel quite right about this relationship,” then STOP. Communicate this to your significant other. If they do not respect your feelings about this then that is the sign to abandon all future marital plans.

2. If you have frequent arguments. If you are arguing a lot, or all the time, then your relationship is like a car that keeps breaking down. In that case something is wrong with the car. You have a “lemon.” Yes, God can squeeze lemonade out of lemons. But in a relationship that is a lemon a there will need to be a whole lot of squeezing going on. You don’t want to spend a lifetime in a volatile, confrontational marriage, right? If you are hyper-arguing now getting married will not change this. Probably, it will get worse.

3. If you have no arguments. If you and your significant other don’t argue at all, what is the matter with you? All marriages, including the very best of them, have arguments. Linda and I do not agree on everything. If that shocks you, then pause and ponder, because we both love our imperfect, Jesus-filled life partnership. The absence of disagreement and conflict is a danger sign. Someone is in denial. Or someone is controlling. Or fearful. How you work through and process conflict is the indicator of  relational disease or health. Read this book to learn how to do this.

4. If your partner cannot admit it when they are wrong. I am now crawling on my knees begging and pleading, ‘RUN FROM THIS PERSON!” If you don’t like living in hell, politely “Adios.” Which means: “As I now go, you go with God and get some help.”

5. If your partner is unable to accept constructive criticism. See my comments on #4 above. It will not be fun being married to Saddam Hussein.

6. If you avoid discussing sensitive subjects because you’re afraid of hurting your partner’s feelings or starting an argument. This is the sign of a fearful relationship. We’re told, in 1 John 4:18 says – There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. Relational fear is in inverse proportion to Jesus-type love. Loving relationships can talk about ANYTHING without being threatened.

7. If you feel you are staying in the relationship through fear. See 1 John 4:18 in #6 above. This kind of relationship is to be avoided like the black plague. Let’s call it: slavery.

8. If you find yourself always doing what your partner wants you to do. This one might be about you. Never marry someone if you do not know who you are in Christ. This will not be good for your marital partner. It is not a cool thing to discover, one day, that you do not recogize the person you married.

9. If your partner thinks that toilets are self-cleaning. Sadly, I used to think this, while feeling upset upon finding an unclean toilet. My mommy used to always clean up after me. Then one day, in my first year as a Jesus-follower, I was living with my parents. We had finished dinner. God told me, “Wash the dishes.” I spoke words never before uttered by me: “Mom, you take a break, I’m going to do the dishes.” Mom looked at me like I was Gregor Samsa. Things got Kafkaesque for her for a while. My life as a servant began. Don’t marry someone who doesn’t clean up after themselves. No, let me put this more strongly: don’t marry someone who does not clean up after you. This goes for both of you.

10. If you detect serious emotional disturbances. This is a “please count the cost” item. You are not going to save this person from themselves. Yes, God can heal them. This healing can be either mediated (through counselors, physicians, other helpers) or unmediated (direct, from God). Yes, God loves people who have serious emotional problems. And yes, yes, yes, there’s not one of us who has a “full deck,” mentally. Your significant other should already be on the road to mental health before you meet them. This is a soft warning which says: marrying someone with mental illness is going to be a heavy cross to carry. If you struggle with mental illness, please get help now and let the healing begin. Then if and when you do marry the load of your recovery will not entirely be on the shoulders of your mate, who will be untrained in all of this.

NEXT: #s 11-20.


• Gary Chapman, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married.

See: startmarriageright.com