The Foundation of Any Great Marriage

Portrait of a Man, possibly Matteo di Sebastiano di Bernardino Gozzadini; and Portrait of a Woman, possibly Ginevra d'Antonio Lupari GozzadiniI don’t know anything about Tinder. But I read about it the other day and as far as I can tell what you do is scroll through a bunch of pictures people have uploaded and swipe one way if you find the person attractive and the other way of you don’t. The app takes you through a certain number of these images, I guess, and then picks a couple “matches” based on your choices.

If I am correct on my understanding of how this works (and please correct me if I am not) then I can only come to one conclusion: come quickly, Lord Jesus, because we are in real trouble.

I read online that eHarmony–you know, the site that matches people based on compatibility–has had 33 million members. 33 million. That is like one in every ten people in the U.S., including your preschooler. Not that your preschooler is on eHarmony, but that number means a very high percentage of the adults in the U.S. have been an eHarmony member at one time or another. That boggles my mind on the one hand, but I get it, too. It’s hard to meet people and Neil Clark Warren (the founder of eHarmony) has figured out a way to put people together that seems to work.

eHarmony thinks that if people are compatible in key areas–level of agreeableness (do they like to fight, I guess), preference for closeness with a partner, degree of sexual and romantic passion, level of extroversion and openness to new experience, how important spirituality is, how optimistic and happy each one is–they will make a great couple and have a good marriage. (Check out this article in the New York Times).

Now, I do think that physical attraction and personality compatibility are somewhat important components of a good marriage; kind of like paint and the floor plan are important parts of a house, but I don’t think either make for a good foundation. They aren’t going to get you through the storms and difficulties of marriage; only a good foundation can do that. Only character can do that.

In the first twenty-four verses or so of the Song of Solomon, we are introduced to a young man and a young woman. We know they end up together eventually, but at this point we get a glimpse at what initially attracts them to one another. Of him, it says, his name, his reputation, is like “purified oil.” She calls him a king and says women a right to admire him. He calls her beautiful, even though she says she has not had time to take care of her physical appearance; she has been hard at work in her brother’s vineyard.

Proverbs 31 offers some great insight into the kind of character that makes for a great marriage. I’ll discuss it in more detail later, but for men it means not being a womanizer, being self-controlled and standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. For women, it means being a hard worker, caring more for others than yourself and being respectful in word and deed.

I have a daughter who is in middle school. She has wondered from time to time what kind of guy she is going to marry. I have done my best to convince her that she wants to marry someone who has great character. And that right now, she needs to work at becoming a woman with great character. Because, in my opinion, the foundation for a great marriage is built long before you even meet your mate.

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