The Sacred Search -- What If It's Not About Who You Marry, But Why?
(by Gary Thomas)

This book is written to singles contemplating marriage, to a good partner! It is written by a Christian husband and father using principles from the Bible as a guide.


1. If you seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and let this principle undergird your decision regarding whom you choose to marry and refuse to compromise on that, you will increase the likelihood of a much more fulfilling, spiritually enriching, and overall more satisfying marriage.

2. Being "in love" is not a reliable criterion for marrying someone. Women are more likely to experience romantic love with dominant men, even though dominant men typically demonstrate less ability to express the kind of companionship, relational skills, and emotional attachment that women ultimately desire in a lifelong mate. If you simply follow your feelings, you are more likely fall in love with a guy who will thrill you for twelve to eighteen months as a boyfriend and then frustrate you for five to six decades as a husband.

3. The average life span of infatuation is two years. The author recommends a couple not get engaged less than one year before meeting because infatuation has to run its course in order to really get to know a person, including his or her weaknesses, before getting married. Discerning a person's true character, values, and suitability for marriage is hard work that takes time, counsel, and a healthy dose of skepticism. Brain scans of people together for 28 months showed a more realistic view of their partner than those together for 8 months.

4. Our culture embraces the mistaken notion that there is only one specific person who can complete us, and we will know who that person is by the intense feelings we have. Conversely, the Bible does not teach that there is only one right person for you. Instead, it teaches that there are wise and unwise choices, and that a man should search for a woman of virtuous character (Proverbs 31:10). Desirable traits include (but are not limited to) industriousness (31:13, 19, 22), compassion for others (31:20), a good reputation (31:28, 29, 31), and, most importantly, having reverence for the Lord (31:30). Most married Christian women desire their husbands to be godly, to have a good sense of humor, to be an involved dad, and to have a strong work ethic, among other traits.

5. A single person should become involved in social situations where they are more likely to meet a qualified marriage partner, such as church, work, or introductions through family and friends.

6. Relationships are unstable when they are based upon (6.1) romantic idealism, (6.2) physical attraction, or (6.3) domination of one by the other. (6.1) If you're a romantic idealist, you're going to become very disappointed when your partner focuses on his business or hobby. (6.2) A marriage based primarily on mutual physical attraction is a shaky foundation, because marriage is about growing old together more than it is about being young together. A passionate partnership can seem intimately intense and satisfying when two people enjoy it, and suffocating when just one of them wants it. (6.3) Some people become interested in a relationship only when they are terrorized by or are terrorizing their partner, for reasons often related to past wounds and
bent personalities. These couples fight, argue, make each other miserable and afraid, and may even have vigorous makeup sex. Exhausted and spent, they peacefully coexist for another short season until routine sets in and they start the horror cycle all over again. These people need to get healed before they get married.

7. The author believes you should never marry a person who is highly arrogant, is unwilling to forgive, or expresses anger with physical violence.

8. A complementarian marriage is one in which the husband leads by being a loving servant (Ephesians 5:22-32).

9. Compatibility is about having the most important things in common. Prior to marriage, dating couples should respect and appreciate their partner's personality and character. Morally, the Bible prohibits sex outside marriage (I Corinthians 6:15-20). Neurochemically, sex before marriage bonds two people through the outpouring of oxytocin before they can properly test and evaluate each other's character. Sexual intimacy will cloud a person's judgment about their partner. If they see something about their partner's behavior or character that gives them pause, they will be inclined to continue with the relationship because of their sexual bond

10. Design some dates specifically to reveal each other's character. Going to the movies, biking through the park, and eating out may produce a certain level of affection, but it doesn't tell you how a man would face a medical crisis, what kind of courage a woman has, what values each person lives by, or what spiritual pursuit drives the other person. You can find out your date's true character by paying attention to how he or she treats people.

11. Pornography is destructive because it teaches wrong information about women, that they like to do certain things and act in certain ways that they really do not. Porn trains men to bond with the images of many women's bodies in general, but not to bond with one woman (as a whole person) in particular.

12. Never marry someone just because you have been having sex with him or her, or because you feel sorry for that person, or because you want your search for a marriage partner to be over.