Emotional health is one of the most important factors to take into consideration when thinking about marriage, Rick Warren has said.
In a May 20 blog, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California offers seven emotional health factors to keep in mind when considering engagement. Eight out of 10 marriage breakdowns occur because "one or both of the partners are emotionally unhealthy", he says.
"If you wait for the perfect wife or the perfect husband, it isn't going to just happen. Let me tell you why: We're all broken. That's why we need a Savior. We need Jesus. God loves you, but you need to understand that anybody you marry will be broken too," Warren writes.
"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."
He goes on to suggest seven characteristics of an emotionally healthy partner:
1. Someone who isn't nursing uncontrolled anger
2. Someone who isn't stuck in addiction
3. Someone who isn't harbouring bitterness
4. Someone who isn't selfish
5. Someone who isn't greedy
6. Someone who is generous and kind
7. Someone who always tells the truth
This might seem like an impossible list to live up to, Warren says, but "God cares about you and he cares about who you marry".
"The thing to do while you're prayerfully waiting on God to show you who to marry is to do the things that God tells you to do in your own life. In other words, obey God in the things you know to do and start preparing yourself to be the person your future spouse is looking for," he says.
"And no matter what your situation, remember God is a God of Hope. Do the thing you know he wants you to do, and watch to see how he works in your life."
Warren, who is married to Kay, has written extensively on relationships. On Saturday, he told readers that a personal relationship with Jesus is vital to emotional health and a strong marriage. "If you don't have that, you need to start there. You need to get spiritually connected to God," he said.
"Don't date until your own emotional hurts are healed or at least until you're in the healing process. We've got to get rid of any bitterness in our lives. Get rid of any anger in our lives. In other words, we've got to deal with our own baggage. How do I do that? Get with God. Learn from Jesus."