Red Flags: how to prevent a bad relationship

(Note – this applies equally to both sexes. Constantly using he/she and him/her is awkward.)

You’ve met The One.

If there ever was a time when emotion overrides intelligence and common sense, this is it.

You can’t stop thinking about him. Music is playing and angels are singing. He’s perfect. He thinks you’re perfect too. The ring is bought and the question is popped, and you’re on your way to happily ever after.

Every single person I have talked with who ended up in a bad marriage said the same thing.

There were red flags, but I ignored them.

Many had friends or family who counseled against the match. Many began to have reservations in the space between yes and I do, but they felt pressured to go through with the wedding anyway.

I understand. Every single one of those things applied to me, but I married him anyway. I was convinced that we’d be able to work out our issues and that love would conquer all. Instead, we had a couple of decent years and then I spent the next 23 in a miserable relationship with a man who had never really loved me.

Ask yourself the following questions.

Please, I beg you, take just a minute and put your emotions on the back burner. If he is The One, your relationship will stand some scrutiny. If he’s not, then you might just avoid making the worst mistake of your life.

Is he pulling you away from God?

Our God is a jealous God. He would never, ever send you someone who would take his place in your life. If you find yourself skipping church, praying less often, and having to blow the dust off your Bible when you open it, then this relationship is not God’s best for you. Ultimately, only a marriage centered in Christ will succeed.

How’s his relationship with his family?

No family is perfect, but if he doesn’t respect his mom or can’t be in the same room with his brother for 5 minutes without fighting, he has issues. If he’s unable to maintain healthy boundaries with them, he has other issues. At some point, you’re going to end up dealing with those issues. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but make sure you know and can accept what you’re getting yourself into.

If he has kids, how’s his relationship with them?

Does he make an effort to see them or at least communicate with them? Do the kids want to spend time with him? Does he pay his child support without complaint? If the answer is no, please seriously reconsider having children with this man. He will not become a good father just because the child is yours and not his ex’s. Trust me on this one – I have lived it.

How many times does he hurt you in any given week?

I’m not talking about physically, although if that’s going on I hope you are already making plans to end this. Does he hurt you emotionally on a regular basis? Is he rude, selfish, or inconsiderate? Do you have to beg for his time and attention? Are other things more important to him than your relationship? Does he expect you to care for him but leave you to fend for yourself? Does he get angry a lot? Odds are that these issues will get worse after you are married.

Mistakes happen. Patterns matter more.

Mind you, I’m not talking about honest mistakes here. We’re all selfish sometimes. We all mess up, and we hurt each other unintentionally. That’s why repentance and forgiveness are crucial to a lasting relationship. But if this is a pattern of behavior for him and he is not making sincere, honest efforts to change, think twice about spending the rest of your life with this person. His actions are saying loud and clear that he does not love you.

Are godly family members/friends/people you respect expressing any reservations about your relationship?

We all have blind spots, and the people who care about us often see things that we don’t. If anyone has (even if it was disguised as a joke) suggested that this is not the person you should be with, have the courage to find out why they feel that way. What are they seeing that you are not? Prayerfully consider what they have to say, even if it’s painful. Remember that they care about you and don’t want to see you make a mistake. You may disagree with them in the end, but their concerns need to be taken seriously.

If these questions haven’t raised any red flags, you’re good to go.

But if you’ve discovered some things that make you uncomfortable, it’s time to sit down with your intended and have a discussion. His response will tell you a lot. If he doesn’t take your concerns seriously or isn’t willing to make any changes, it may be time to take a step back. At the very least, postpone your plans until you are clear about what God wants you to do.

God has a plan for you that is far above anything you could possibly come up with.

Have the patience and the courage to wait for it. You will never regret it.

What were the red flags in your past relationships?

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