4. Encourage them to only date a person who would make a good spouse. Parents who encourage their kids to date around just to get “experience” are unknowingly sabotaging their kids’ future marriage. When kids date with no longterm purpose, their hearts and feelings get entangled and the breakups can leave lasting scars making trust and intimacy with a future spouse more difficult. If they know someone wouldn’t make a good spouse someday, they have no reason to date that person in the first place.
5. Encourage them to ask the right questions about any potential spouse BEFORE marrying them. Before saying, “I do” your kids need to ask some difficult questions about the person they’re considering marrying. These questions are also a good prerequisite for any potential dating relationship. The questions should include the following: Am I attracted to more than this person’s looks? Do I actually like this person (would I want to hang out with them often even if we weren’t dating)? Do I want my future kids to grow up to be like this person? Do the people who love me the most think this person is a good match for me? Does this person consistently bring out the best in me? Can I be myself around this person? Does this person strengthen my faith and character or compromise my faith and character? Can I remain committed to this person no matter what?
6. Don’t discourage them from marrying young (if they find the right person). Many parents (with good intentions) encourage their kids to get their “life in order” (meaning have all their schooling finished, finances in order, etc.) before they consider marriage. When a young adult gets on this life plan, they may drag out a dating relationship in a perpetual state of heading nowhere or breakup with someone who would have been a great spouse because the “timing wasn’t right.” I’m not saying everyone should marry early, but many of the healthiest and happiest married couples I know married very young and then built their life together. It’s worked for Ashley and me as well (we were 22 and 20 on our wedding day).
7. Encourage them to enter into marriage with no exit strategy! When it comes time for your child to get married, encourage him/her to enter into the covenant of marriage with no Plan B! Help them remove the word “divorce” from their vocabulary, and if they call you to complain about their spouse, encourage them to stop complaining and start working it out with their spouse. Don’t become an in-law who adds strain on the marriage. Be an in-law who becomes the biggest fan, friend and encourager of your new daughter- or son-in-law.
Be a lifelong cheerleader and supporter of their marriage.
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