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Imagine you’re two months away from walking down the aisle. You’ve dated your fiancée for two years, been engaged for four months, attended pre-marital counseling for three of those months, and it’s only now that you’ve been forced to look at possibly the hardest choice you’ll ever make…using a different set of rules.

I’m not sure how you would feel, but I was anxious and something short of terrified as I stared at the latest (and last) assignment my worship pastor had given us.

We had to do it individually and it went something like this:

The choice to get married is not the most important decision you are making at this point.

Um. Yes it is.

Lost-in-love feelings aside, write down the things about your intended that you absolutely cannot stand. Now write down the little things that simply irk you. Write down things that may not necessarily bug you but that you can identify as character flaws. Write down his weaknesses. Make sure your list is complete before you proceed with the rest of this assignment. (If you don’t have enough information to make this list then this assignment, and marriage, are not right for you at this time).

It took me a good few hours to get that list done. Not because my fiancée had a rap sheet of bad qualities, but because the assignment bothered me for a number of reasons:

  1. I didn’t like badmouthing him, especially on paper.
  2. Compiling a list of complaints made me feel harsh and gave me a general feeling of discomfort.
  3. I was getting married for goodness sake! Let me wallow in the euphoria of it.
  4. Somewhere he was compiling his own list about me (and did I ever want to get my hands on it).
  5. People grow and mature over time. Surely not all of the things on my list would be relevant to my marriage five to ten years down the road.

Or would they? Back to the assignment:

Expect none of these things to change. In fact, at least half of them will probably get worse over the years.

WHAT?

With that in mind, look over your list again. Can you live with everything on it, day in and day out, for the rest of your life? Can you truly love him at his worst? Can you remain loyal to your commitment, faithful to your covenant, steadfast in your decision to join your life with his, even if not a single thing on that list ever changes? Even if problems not currently associated with your idea of a perfect marriage find themselves in yours? Search your heart, pray without ceasing, and do not answer lightly. Then decide if the wedding is still on.

I needed a good joke to lighten the mood right about then.

I had never doubted if my fiancée was who I wanted to marry. I loved him, had prayed for, about, and with him. I trusted him and had dated him long enough to see what kind of man he was; and now I was facing this ugly, twisted way of analyzing him as my choice.

And that’s when I realized the point of the assignment: The choice to get married is not the most important decision you are making at this point.

Examining my fiancée’s not-so-great qualities was more about examining myself. What would I do when the love “feeling” scattered like clouds pushed by a gusty wind–as it can sometimes do–and left in its wake a bird’s-eye view of his flaws in all their glory. Was my love for him a feeling? Or would it be a choice?

Would I choose to love him with that agape type love that is selfless (putting him before myself), unconditional (not based on how I feel or whether he’s deserving), sacrificial (willing to give all), and constant (his for the rest of our lives)? As much in love as I felt at that moment, if I couldn’t answer “yes” to that question, then I was being counseled not to go through with the wedding.

Because that’s the kind of love a lasting marriage requires.

I took much longer searching my heart and praying without ceasing than I did compiling that list. And in the end it was not a choice I made lightly.

And even though I never got a look at that other list, whatever was on it didn’t keep him from making the same choice I made. We’ve been making choices together now for almost eleven years.

What about you? Are you contemplating marriage? And if you’re married, what was the hardest choice in your decision to marry?

Click here for Marriage Part I: The Model, Click here fore Marriage Part III: The Wife’s Role, Click here for Marriage part IV: The Christian Husband