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5 Tips for Avoiding a Happily Ever Disaster

By: Kristen Clark

After eight long grueling months, I finally walked the aisle to my “happily ever after.” My engagement to Zack felt like a never ending form of torture. If I had possessed the power to rotate the clock forward, I probably would have.

To my surprise though, the big day did finally arrive. And before I even knew what was happening, I blinked, and found myself waking up next to my husband on our 4 year anniversary.

Time flies. And it flies at supersonic speed.

As I’m approaching 4 and a half years of marriage, I’m beginning to see things with a whole new perspective. The man I said “I do” to on June 18, 2011, would be the man I would experience my greatest joys and my greatest sorrows with in life.

Sacrifice, hardship, unfulfilled longings, miscarriages, financial burdens, and family deaths are a few of the challenges we’ve faced.

If I’ve learned anything through the ups and downs, it’s this: Fairy tales aren’t given, they’re created.

Marriage is what you make it.

And you know what? A great marriage starts long before you say “I do.” Choosing a man to spend the rest of your life with is a massive decision. I’ve watched Christian girls (younger than me) get married and divorced within several years. I’ve watched other Christian girls struggle with the daily burden of marrying a man who doesn’t seek the Lord.

Not all marriages turn out beautiful. In fact, very few do.

Every girl dreams of a happily ever after when she’s young, but sadly, most are waking up and finding themselves in a happily ever disaster instead.

If you desire marriage for your future, I want to challenge you to pay close attention to these 5 must-know tips for avoiding a happily ever disaster.

1. Commit to Only Marrying a Genuine Christian

If God isn’t at the center of your marriage, it will not thrive long term. Not like it should anyway. Make a commitment to never, ever, EVER consider a guy if he isn’t a Christian. This is absolutely foundational and vital for the health of your marriage, the leadership of your family, the discipleship of your future kids, and the impact on God’s Kingdom.

Look for more than a church going guy too. Just because a guy goes to church doesn’t mean he’s a genuine Christian.

It doesn’t mean he’s a practicing Christian. Look at his life.

What are his priorities with God? What does he value most (look where he spends his time)? Does he love God’s Word? Is he a praying kind of guy?

Don’t settle for less. Commit to only marrying a genuine Christian guy,

2. Don’t Marry for Happiness

Do you think marriage will make you happy? If so, I have bad news. It won’t. Not long term anyways. If you’re banking your happiness on the marriage relationship, you will constantly be asking yourself, “what’s he doing for me?!” or, ”why can’t he be more like this?”

Life will quickly become miserable because husbands are a far cry from perfect.

Marriage isn’t built on happiness, happiness is a result of what you build your marriage on. If you want to be happy, you have to make the daily choice to love unconditionally, sacrifice, and serve the other person.

God didn’t create marriage to be the source of our happiness. Our relationship with Christ is the only thing that can fully satisfy.

Understand that marriage isn’t the answer to your happiness.

3. Ask Every Possible Question Before You Say I DO

Once you’re in an actual relationship with a guy, the question asking must kick into high gear. I’ve talked to many couples who regrettably admit to not covering some of the basic questions before they jumped into marriage. As a result, something terrible happened.

They discovered, after marriage, that they had polar opposite views and beliefs on some highly important issues.

Ask every possible question before you say I do.

Zack and I actually went through a book called, “Before You Say I Do.” This book helped facilitate our discussion and brought up some tough questions we would never had thought of. As a result, we worked through some hard issues and were forced to search the Bible about what we believed.

Don’t say I DO until you’ve asked a LOT of hard questions.

4. Keep your Relationship Public

There’s a reason plants don’t thrive in the dark. They need light. And relationships work the same way. Nothing good ever comes from keeping a relationship completely private and totally secret.

When you isolate your relationships from wise counsel, godly friendships, and outside input, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

A wise couple will welcome input, invite counsel and encourage respectful critique.

If you’re in a relationship with a guy who is constantly trying to isolate you, this should send up a major red flag. Don’t think you’re smart enough to make this huge decision on your own. You’re probably not. Seek out counsel and keep your relationship open and public.

5. Honor God’s Plan for Sexual Purity

Even though the world called us crazy, Zack and I decided to save sex and kissing for marriage. We kissed each other for the first time at the altar on our wedding day and it was totally worth the wait. God has laid out His plan for sexual intimacy and it doesn’t include unmarried people.

So many young couples jump the gun and indulge in sexual pleasure long before they have rings on their fingers.

I talked to one married woman who made this mistake and she spoke with teary regret. “It took me a long time to trust him after marriage,” she said, “since he didn’t respect me and honor God before marriage, I always feared he would take interest in a different woman after marriage.”

Actions have consequences.

Moral failure has repercussions. Choose to be patient and build your marriage on a strong foundation of purity, trust, and honoring God. This will carry you much further than impatient youthful passion.

Do you want a thriving and healthy marriage someday?

Do you want to avoid a happily ever disaster? Of course you do. Everyone does. It’s not going to happen by default though.

It starts now.

It’s starts by being highly intentional and proactive in how you view marriage, how you obey God, and how you handle every aspect of your relationship.

I want to hear from you now.

  • Out of the five tips from above, which one stood out to you the most and why?
  • If you could add a 6th tip to my list what would it be?

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  • Leanne

    Ouch, this brought conviction to my heart. Does anybody have a good idea to this issue? I know of a guy who definitely has marriageable qualities if the Lord brings us together many years later. At the same time, I’ve surrendered my love story to God and will be satisfied with whatever He provides, whether I be married or single. But what about the guys around me here where I am? If any guy should ask me out, what is a polite way of telling him, no thank you, you don’t come close to what I’m looking for in a future husband? Particularly, they’re not a Christian?

    • thehappygirl

      Leanne, I’ve came across this issue a couple of times. Both times, I told the guy something like this, “Thanks for asking, but I don’t believe we are compatible enough to pursue a healthy relationship.” Once, a guy asked why not, and I explained that I believed both parties must share the same beliefs and convictions and we did not. Nothing too harsh! Hope this helped you girl!

    • Hi Leanne! Another idea, along with what @disqus_hihTx5ZolR:disqus said is to say, “I’m really flattered you’d ask me, but I’m choosing to save something even as small as dating for someone I could potentially see myself marrying.”
      You could also just say something as simple as, “Thanks so much for asking me! I’m really sorry, but I’m just not interested in dating right now…But I feel honored you’d ask”

      Just a tip: always sandwich a negative in between two positives. Even if the positive is just explaining your reason or reiterating your thanks. =)

  • Andreia Figueiredo

    Great post, Kristen! Thank you so much for sharing this with the world. Of all the 05, I pick #03 as the one that resonates a lot with me. Talking, having intentional conversations about your future together is so important and so simple and so deep! Of course, your view and your future husband’s view must always be checked with God’s view on the subject (expressed in the Bible!).
    I always share the Girl Defined posts with my church friends, and it is always such a blessing in my life and on the life of many other girls here in São Luís, Brazil 🙂

  • Grace

    Another reason to keep relationships out in the open is that friends and family will often notice red flags and asks questions that rose colored glasses easily hide. That has happened to me, I thought a guy was worth noticing and my brother quickly shut me down on several things, and my cousin who was present and had never met this guy commented on things that she had picked up from conversation. Everything they said was stuff I either hadnt noticed or didn’t want to see. I am so thankful that they were willing to speak into my life and blunt about the truth!

    • YESS!!! Especially when something is just in the “attraction” or “noticing”, I don’t want to tell EVERYONE how I feel about a guy, because word gets around, but I always tell my parents and two best friends I know I can trust…I fell HARD for a guy and my parents wisely say a couple red flags that I was blinded to. My two best friends, whose brothers were friends with this guy, told me some things they had witnessed about him and honestly, but kindly encouraged me away from him….It was things I never would’ve noticed or seen through my starstruck eyes and it ended up taking a metaphorical bomb to get me to really BELIEVE it….but I agree, keeping relationships, or even FEELINGS hidden entirely can be a huge mistake….

  • Mary

    Wow! This is awesome! Thank you so much.
    This is a little off topic, but it’s something I’ve been wondering for a long time. Whenever someone compliments me by saying something like “You’re so gorgeous,” I always feel awkward. Not necessarily because I don’t think it’s true, I’m flattered that they would say that. It’s just I’m not sure if I should say “thank you,” or something more like “well God gets the credit.” Any suggestions ladies? Thank you!

    • Hi Mary! Personally, I just say “thank you,” and don’t drag it on. If I say much more than that in a serious response, I feel like it draws attention to myself, which is what I’m trying to avoid. However, you might like trying something more lighthearted, like, “Thanks! I chose my looks myself!” 🙂 Or something along those lines.

  • Shanice Harris

    Fabulous list I want to keep until the day I say, “I do.” Thank you for the book reference! !! God bless you!

  • Janae Sloothaak

    The physical purity. It’s all true: the fact that he may fall under the temptation of another woman if he falls under your seduction. Especially if physical touch is your main love language, it makes it harder.


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