For a successful marriage, God encourages us to avoid emotionally unhealthy people at all costs, Pastor Rick Warren says.
Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of the largest evangelical churches in the United States, wrote in his May 20 devotional "Emotional Health Creates Relational Wealth" that there are several guidelines given to believers by God to ensure that His people will not wed an emotionally unhealthy person.
It is important to avoid such people because "study after study has shown that 80 percent of all separations and divorce happen because one or both of the partners are emotionally unhealthy," Warren explains.
This is not to say that any of us are perfect, the pastor clarifies, but some of us are more broken than others.
"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," Warren explains.
There are several things to avoid when seeking out a life partner, including people who are too selfish, who have uncontrollable anger, who are harboring bitterness, who are stuck in addiction, or who are greedy.
Warren provides scriptural evidence that proves the dangerous nature of these types of people, as seen in Proverbs 28:25, which says: "Selfishness only causes trouble."
This verse is especially pertinent to marriage, Warren explains, because selfishness is the number one cause of conflict in matrimony.
As stated in Hebrews 12:15, it is also important to avoid those who might harbor bitterness in their life.
"Guard against turning back from the grace of God. Let no one become like a bitter plant that grows up and causes many troubles with its poison," the verse reads.
"Bitterness is like a poison — it eats you alive. Whatever you resent, you begin to resemble. To stop resenting, you've got to release it," Warren explains.
Along with attributes to avoid, there are also important attributes to look for in a mate, including finding someone who is generous and kind, and who always tells the truth.
Warren points to Proverbs 11:25, which reads: "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."
Additionally, someone who is truthful and righteous will encourage a loving and open relationship, as mentioned in Proverbs 20:7: "A righteous person lives on the basis of his integrity. Blessed are his children after he is gone."
Warren concludes his message by saying that although this sounds like a long list of do's and don't's, it will pay off in the long run when finding a life partner.
"God cares about you, and he cares about who you marry," the megachurch pastor explains.
The evangelical leader has spoken on the topic of marriage in recent weeks, explaining in a separate devotional post that love alone is not enough to see a successful marriage through.
Believing that love alone is a legitimate reason to marry is one of the top nuptial myths among Christian couples, Warren writes.
"I talk to people all the time who are getting married, and some couples I caution. For instance, there may be huge family issues that they're bringing into the marriage. There may be maturity issues or a gap between them in their commitment to Jesus. They may not have the same values and goals. Yet, they 'love each other,'" Warren says.
"Just because you love someone does not mean you should marry that person," the evangelical leader advises.