The most overlooked characteristic of who you want to marry

There is one vital characteristic you should look for in a spouse but unfortunately, it is often forgotten.

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  • Editor's note: This article was originally published on Kevin A. Thompson's blog. It has been republished here with permission.

  • "In sickness and in health."

  • On two occasions I have said those words with the full confidence that the couple repeating those words actually knew what they meant.

  • The first occurrence brought a smile to my face. She had endured and marriage was her reward on the other side of illness. Together they have journeyed through the struggles of a serious disease as boyfriend and girlfriend. Now they would be husband and wife. They knew what "in sickness and in health" meant.

  • The second occurrence brought a tear to my eye. She had weeks to live. The vow renewal was his gift to her. I almost cut the words fearing they might be too painful. But with a crowd gathered I included them as a testimony to all who would hear them say, "in sickness and in health." They meant it and everyone knew it.

  • Few people consider sickness and suffering when picking a mate.

  • They consider how the other person might look in the morning or what bad habits they might have.

  • They consider what offspring they could produce or what extended family they might bring to the reunion.

  • Yet few people ever consider what is a vital question - can I suffer with this person?

  • It sounds like the beginning of another marriage joke, but it's not.

  • It's a real question and one which should be explored by every dating couple.

  • Suffering is a part of life.

  • And the older a person gets, the more we realize that suffering is not a rare occurrence, but is a common aspect of our lives.

  • Sorrow comes in many forms, yet it is guaranteed to come.

  • BEWARE: Not everyone suffers well.

  • Some live in denial - unable to confront the deep realities of life.

  • Some live in despair - unable to recognize the convergence of laughter and tears.

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  • Few have the grace to suffer well.

  • Those who do suffer well are a well-spring of life and faith.

    • Who do you want holding your hand when the test says "cancer?"

    • On whose shoulder do you want to lean when the doctor says, "We've done all we can?"

    • With whom do you want to lay beside when you don't know where your child is or if they will ever come home?

    • When your world turns upside down, in whose eyes do you want to look?

  • Find someone who suffers well.

  • I know it doesn't seem important when life is perfect.

  • A beautiful smile is far more attractive than a quiet determination.

  • A common interest is far more appealing than internal strength.

  • Yet when life falls apart, you want someone you can run to, not someone you want to run from.

    • You want someone who believes in you.

    • You want someone who instills faith, not causes doubt.

    • You want someone who hopes no matter the circumstances.

  • In the Bible, Job's wife responded to his suffering by saying, "Curse God and die."

  • Had he not suffered enough?

  • Was life not difficult enough?

  • Enduring hardship was enough, yet Job was also forced to rebuke his wife during his time of struggle.

  • Life is hard enough; there is no need to make it harder.

  • Choosing a spouse who does not suffer well makes life harder.

  • It makes every grief stronger.

  • It makes every sorrow more painful.

  • It makes every hurt deeper.

  • Yet,

  • when our spouse knows how to suffer,

  • when they don't live in denial, but confront the sorrows of life,

  • when they don't live in despair but know how to laugh and cry at the same time,

  • when they offer support and hope in all of life's challenges,

  • when they can see the big picture of life,

  • then,

  • every grief is wedded to hope

  • every sorrow is matched with love

  • and every hurt is paired with healing.

  • One of the great guarantees of life is that every person, every couple, will suffer. When choosing a mate, choose someone who suffers well and you will never be sorry.

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Kevin A. Thompson is Lead Pastor of Community Bible Church, a multi-site church in Fort Smith, AR. He currently writes a daily blog focusing on leadership, marriage, and parenting (specifically parenting a child with special needs). Along with his wife, Kevin is co-owner of JThompsonMMC, a full-service​ media and marketing company based in Fort Smith. He is a graduate of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and Oklahoma Baptist University. Kevin is also the author of "Friends, Partners, and Lovers—What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work.

Website: http://www.kevinathompson.com

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