Valentine’s Day is commercially touted as the most romantic day of the year. As such, couples may feel pressure to mark the special day with a grand romantic gesture like getting engaged. 

However, making and/or accepting a marriage proposal should never be done under pressure or for show. Instead, it should be something you do after much thought and prayer and with complete conviction that you’ve found the person you want to share the rest of your life with. 

Furthermore, ignoring doubts or problems in your relationship and plunging into a proposal just to make a Valentine’s Day memory could eventually lead to a lifetime of misery.

Looking at the Numbers

If you’re planning to propose or expecting a proposal on Valentine’s Day, you’re not alone. According to the 2013 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, six million people expected a Valentine’s Day engagement, which was up from 4 million people in 2012.

But numbers are just numbers and getting engaged shouldn’t be something you do “join the crowd” and “get in on the trend.”

Holidays, in general, represent huge retail opportunities and according to the AMEX report, Valentine’s Day gifts ring in at an average of $239 per person. Furthermore, Americans surveyed feel $2,410 is a good, average amount to spend on an engagement ring.

Here’s another important factor to consider: Buying an expensive engagement ring or Valentine’s gift you can’t afford automatically puts a financial strain on your relationship. Managing finances together is one of the most critical components of a marriage or committed relationship. Money trouble often causes marital trouble. Therefore, going into debt for an engagement ring before you can afford it is just never a good idea.

Real Life Isn’t Always Romantic

Statistics from the National Survey of Family Growth 2006-2010 reported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), show 20 percent of first marriages will fail within five years and 48 percent will fail within 20 years.

Being married to your soul mate can be one of God’s greatest blessings and joys in your life. However, keeping a marriage strong and helping it grow and thrive takes hard work, commitment, prayer, communication, trust and patience.

Many of your days together will be spent maintaining the daily routine: Going to work, paying the bills, doing yard work, housework, managing schedules, taking care of sick kids, serving on church committees—the list goes on. None of these activities are the slightest bit romantic, but are a very real part of everyday tasks couples will share.

Let’s not forget adapting to your spouse’s quirks and habits such as leaving dirty socks on the floor, eating potato chips in bed, and leaving the toothpaste cap off. These kinds of things are trivial, but in loving your spouse you find a way of living with them that is manageable and acceptable for both of you.

So, before you put a ring on it and long before you take a trip down the aisle, make sure you can really envision living with this person through bad hair days and the flu, through tough times, fun times, sad times and hectic times. Also realize romance in an enduring relationship is often forged in small gestures and quiet moments when you both have time to breathe at the end of a busy day.

Love and Pray Before You Leap

Marriage is a sacred commitment between two people and above all, you should love who you marry, without doubt or reservation. While love at first sight can and does happen, it usually takes a while to truly get to know a potential lifetime partner. “Falling in love” is a process and time can only strengthen a bond and deepen your mutual trust.

New or young couples shouldn’t rush into a Valentine’s Day proposal too soon because everything “feels so right.” Likewise, one partner shouldn’t put pressure and expectations on another to make a proposal, even if you’ve been together a long time. Delivering an insincere proposal on a universally designated day of romance; if you are unsure or not totally committed is a terrible mistake that can have tragic consequences.

A marriage proposal should come from the heart, as a natural next step in the evolution of your love and your lives together. In this sense a marriage proposal should be in your own time, with God’s direction.

Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33

Similarly, listen to your inner voice. Does your partner love and respect you according to God’s word? If you are always arguing, if your partner is controlling or abusive, if you spend a lot of time apologizing or making up, if he or she has quirks, life views or spiritual beliefs you can’t support, don’t hide behind excuses to stay together. More importantly, instead of leaping into a life-altering commitment with this person, consider having a very honest talk about why you may not be right for each other.

In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

God willingly and abundantly grants guidance through Scripture and prayer for every aspect of our lives. Therefore, in considering the sacred commitment of marriage, seek His direction first and trust He will guide your heart in choosing the right person and the right time to get engaged and ultimately get married. Overall, a marriage built on Christ’s love will endure way beyond a lifetime of Valentine’s Days.

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