by Rick Warren
“The righteous choose their friends carefully.” (Proverbs 12:26a NIV)
If you wait for the perfect wife or the perfect husband, it isn’t going to happen. Let me tell you why: We’re all broken. That’s OK, because God still loves you. But you need to understand that anybody you marry will be broken.
Everybody’s broken, but some people are a lot more broken than others. And you need to avoid them no matter how good-looking, rich, or nice they are. You have to figure out the emotional health of your potential partner before you enter into a long-term relationship.
Why am I saying this? Study after study has shown that 80 percent of all separations and divorce happen because one or both of the partners are emotionally unhealthy.
I’m going to give you a partial checklist of emotional health factors. These aren’t my opinion; this is what God says you need to avoid.
Whoever you marry must not be nursing any uncontrolled anger. Proverbs 22:24 says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person; do not associate with one easily angered” (NIV). Do you know why? Because uncontrolled anger reveals deep insecurity and low self-worth.
Whoever you marry must not be stuck in an addiction. Proverbs 23:20 says, “Don’t associate with people who drink too much wine or stuff themselves with food” (TEV). Only two things are mentioned here, food and alcohol, but there are a thousand ways to get addicted.
Whoever you marry must not be harboring bitterness. Bitterness is like a poison — it eats you alive. Whatever you resent, you begin to resemble. To stop resenting; you’ve got to release it. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:15, “Guard against turning back from the grace of God. Let no one become like a bitter plant that grows up and causes many troubles with its poison” (GNT).
Whoever you marry must not be selfish. Why? Proverbs 28:25 says, “Selfishness only causes trouble.” When it comes down to it, the number one cause of conflict in marriage is simple: selfishness.
Whoever you marry must not be greedy. Proverbs 15:27 says, “Greed brings grief to the whole family” (NLT). If you marry a greedy spouse, you will be in debt your entire life.
Whoever you marry must be generous and kind. The Bible says, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25 NIV). And, “Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves” (Proverbs 11:17).
Whoever you marry must tell the truth. Proverbs 20:7 says this: “A righteous person lives on the basis of his integrity. Blessed are his children after he is gone” (GWT). Love is based on trust, and trust is based on truth. If you don’t tell me the truth, I can’t trust you. And if I can’t trust you, how can I love you?
You might be thinking, “This sure is a long list, Rick. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find anybody who fits this.” Oh, really? I did. And you can, too.
When Kay and I got married, Leonard Ravenhill, who was a great preacher of the previous generation, sent us a wedding card. I’ve never forgotten what it said: “God always gives his best to those who leave the choice to him.” I wanted God’s best in my life, and I got it.