We were discussing one evening how many of us don’t really think of marriage as the Bible portrays it: as a covenant, binding, contractual commitment (Mal 2:14). However, we do understand that when we buy a house we enter into such a commitment.  This understanding of how house buying works, leads many of us to act very wisely when house hunting. We then started thinking of the great benefits that could be gained by applying some of the same principles of house hunting to spouse hunting!! How is finding a spouse like buying a house?  Well in both cases you need to…

1) Be ready.

Buyers, if you have no money for a deposit and no way of paying a mortgage, attempting to buy a house will be a useless, frustrating process for both you and the sellers. Sellers, if you’re not ready to sell, putting your house on the market out of idle curiosity is a waste of time and will create false hope for the buyers.

Similarly, men if you can’t see yourself being able to get married anytime soon and are not yet mature enough to handle the responsibilities of life-long commitment, pursuing a woman is a pointless, potentially harmful exercise. Likewise, women if you are not nearly ready for permanent commitment, allowing a man to pursue you is misleading and can result in great heartbreak.

2) Know what you’re looking for.

Buyers, if you haven’t considered the number of rooms you want, the area you want to live in etc., you could end up looking at hundreds of houses while still being unable to choose one. This will result in you wasting a lot of peoples time. Moreover, you could wind up choosing a house that is completely unsuitable or missing out on a house that could be perfect for you. Sellers, if you have not considered what a trustworthy, good buyer looks like, or what a suitable asking price is, you could turn down perfectly good offers or be misled by shady buyers.

Similarly ladies and gents, if you have not thought through what essential, important qualities you’re looking for in a husband or wife (see Proverbs 31,Timothy 1:3 and Galatians 5:22-23 for ideas) you’ll find it difficult to choose a person to marry. In addition, you’ll probably waste people’s time, could make an unwise marriage choice and may even overlook a great match.

3) Not act too keen!

Buyers, if you find a house you would like to buy, wildly begging and pleading the sellers to let you purchase their house is not a good idea! Sellers, if you get a good offer, enthusiastically calling the buyer regularly to tell them how pleased you are with their offer is not wise. Such behaviour could lead the buyer/seller to take advantage of your interest and delay signing a contract while they wait and see if any better offers come up. In addition, they might alter the price in their favour.

Similarly, if we meet a man/woman we would like to marry, it’s unwise to show too much enthusiasm too soon. Such behaviour can encourage them to take us for granted, delay proposing/accepting a proposal and keep their options open. In the Bible, we see that individuals were not considered ‘caught’ or ‘taken’ until engagement (betrothal). There is great wisdom in not expressing too much enthusiasm or acting ‘caught’ until we really are!

4) Be realistic.

Buyers, if your budget is £300,000, it would be ridiculous to look for a 5 storey mansion in central London. Sellers, if your neighbour’s house went for £200,000 it would be silly to expect £1 million for yours. Similarly men, expecting your future wife to have a pHD, supermodel good looks and to be famous would seem farfetched. Likewise ladies, only being open to a man who is a millionaire and looks as good as Brad Pitt would seem equally ridiculous. Such high expectations can lead to us never getting married! In the Bible, we see principles that encourage us to look at the hidden person of the heart rather than a person’s honour, wealth and looks:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

5) Remember ownership only begins with permanent commitment.

Sellers, before the buyer has put their deposit down on the house, it would be inappropriate and a bad idea for you to let them start storing things in your loft, paint your walls or have their mail redirected to your house! Not only might they end up damaging your things but such behaviour could encourage the buyer to take you for granted. Furthermore, you could get your hopes up and find it is very distressing if they end up not buying. Besides you could miss out on prime genuine buyers while your house was off the market. Buyers, it’s not right for you to treat a potential house as if it’s yours. The privileges of owning a house only start when you’ve exchanged contracts and put the deposit down.

Similarly, isn’t it unwise and inappropriate to treat a potential husband/wife as if they are already ours when we’re not even engaged? Doesn’t treating someone in such a way increase the possibility that they will get their hopes up too high, have their time wasted and end up experiencing heartbreak? Equally, is it really sensible to allow a person who has not yet permanently committed to us to treat us as if we were already theirs when we might never be? Doesn’t such behaviour encourage the person to take us for granted? After all why should they feel greatly motivated and passionate about making a lifelong commitment when we already behave as if they had.

6) Not be too picky about silly things.

Buyers, if your future house must be circular in shape with a mosaic tiled entrance, green walls, blue floors and orange stained-glass windows, you will most likely never find a house to buy. Sellers, if you will only accept offers from buyers who have the right shininess of shoe, like your favourite band, are under 5’6″ and drive a Mini Cooper, you might never be able to sell your house.

Similarly, if we have a long list of non-essential, obscure qualities we are looking for in a husband/wife, and the determination that we won’t ‘settle’ for anything less, we will most likely never get married. In the Bible we see that marriage is far more about serving another and reflecting Christ, than having all our desires met (see Ephesians 5:22-33).

7) Consult wise council and do your research.

Buyers, it doesn’t matter how perfect the house looks. If you don’t get a survey done by an expert, you could be in for a nasty shock. If the survey shows major problems, don’t overlook them! Sellers, it doesn’t matter how sharp that buyer looks, find out if they are reliable and can afford your house.

Similarly, isn’t it foolish to try and make a marriage choice without consulting wise, mature counsel and without getting to know everything necessary about the person. In scripture we are taught that:

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” Proverbs 15:22.

8) Be sure before committing.

Buyers, can you imagine how awful you would feel if you put down 10% of the buying price and then had major second thoughts. Cancelling the sale would mean a huge loss to you and majorly messing the seller around. Moreover, if the seller is in a housing chain, it could mean many other people’s houses falling through. Sellers, refusing to sell after a deposit has been paid can mean getting sued as well as causing a lot of trouble.

Similarly, breaking off an engagement is a messy and potentially hurtful thing. It can bring great distress to many people. Be sure before you get engaged!

9) Take things seriously!

Buyers, you’re going to be paying back the average mortgage for 25 years. Such a spend is enormous, and merits serious time and thought – it’s not something to rush into.

Choosing a marriage partner is an even bigger deal.  You’re committing to a person for life, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, till death do you part. Moreover, your spouse will likely become the father/mother of your future children. Therefore even more careful thought, consideration, diligence and time is needed than when buying a house! Take choosing a spouse seriously!

So there are 9 ways finding a spouse is like buying a house. Can you think of any more? [Tom and Rowina Seidler. Rowina is the editor of this free magazine, Ruby in the Rough.  To read more of her articles do subscribe!]