As Paul Friesen’s daughters began to attend college, he started to email each of them a series of letters sharing some thoughts regarding the second most important decision of their lives: marriage. As their friends at college started to hear about these letters, they asked to be added to the email list of those receiving them. And as adults with high school and college-aged children started to hear about the letters, they asked for copies as well.
To make a long story short, in the end the letters were compiled into a book. Although the original letters were written in random order as topics came to mind, they have been sorted here into four major categories. Each section discusses certain characteristics of a potential spouse (and also of the reader) that should be considered before marriage. Some characteristics are matters of preference and compatibility; others should be regarded as non-negotiable.
The initial few letters are introductory in nature. Following those are letters in the Convictions section, which address spiritual matters. Here, a mismatch with one’s potential spouse should be a “deal stopper.” These include having a personal relationship with Christ, the source of ultimate authority in one’s life, and commitment to God’s Word.
The section on Character introduces traits that are critical to a vibrant marriage: Does your potential spouse have a “servant heart”? (And do you?) Is he a person of integrity? Is he willing to truly leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife?
Letters in Considerations cover issues of compatibility. A few differences in these areas may not merit breaking an engagement, but if enough differences are counted up, there may be reason to pause and think, to discuss, or to seek counsel. Living with a mate who enjoys what you enjoy is much more enjoyable!
The Chemistry section includes letters that address the need for (and the implications of) physical and emotional attraction and how to handle them before marriage. While chemistry is vital to a thriving marriage, if experienced too deeply too soon, it can cloud one’s vision and judgment.
The final letters offer summary insights from a dad who longs for each of his precious daughters—as well as every reader of these letters—to be better equipped to find, recognize, and appreciate the spouse she (or he) has always wanted.
These letters were written specifically with Paul Friesen’s daughters (Kari, Lisa, and Julie) in mind. Each relationship is unique, but our prayer is that the issues raised may also be helpful and clarifying to you and may help you to make wise decisions as you face the “second most important decision” in your life.