A man in Canada has pled guilty to trespassing into a home, doing laundry, and feeding the owner's cats. The man is being described by authorities as "marriage material" — Conan O'Brien, October 01, 2015.

Are you searching for a person who you believe is good "marriage material"? Maybe the search is for that "just right person"? Are you looking for a "soul mate" to marry? Maybe your search is focused in the wrong direction and looking at the wrong person? Could it be possible that you need to do a detailed examination of yourself first?

Before I got married, there was a tiny bit of introspection on who I was and what I wanted in a marriage. It was like a very short discovery trip to the refrigerator and back. I remember telling some family members that my wife had to be “a Christian, a good cook, beautiful, fun” and not necessarily in that order. What I don’t remember is explaining why I was worthy of that kind of a person and what kind of assets I was bringing to add to my marriage.

Some people do their self-discovery through personality tests in a magazine, palm readings, and what I call "horriblescopes" for their journey. These bad methods are many times so general in their questions and answers that they can literally apply to almost anyone.

I should have done my self-discovery starting with a checklist to see how I stacked up against true character. See how you do. Use the following qualities, called the fruit of the Spirit, and rate yourself from 0-10 on each one of them. (For a sobering view, have your future spouse score you!)

[L]ove, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Yes, this a good place to start in your examination! You can go from there, to another passage on virtues and character from Peter (2 Peter 1:3-9), and you have yourself a pretty good self-discovery checklist.

When a couple wanting to get married doesn't do some self-discovery and examination of themselves, that's bad. But then, they both have an overwhelming list of expectations that they bring into a marriage. Some of those expectations are for what marriage will bring to them personally. Others are expectations about the person they are marrying. These expectations are absorbed from all around them. They come from the media, books, blogs, society, and even our own sometimes crazy families. The really sad part about these expectations is that they’re so rarely verbalized. They pin a big list of expectations onto someone they love. Then they’re expecting that other person to help them with something that they’ve never discussed very well or in much detail. (At least they haven't discussed them very well before things get heated up, then, unfortunately, the neighbors heard about those expectations, too!)

Couples anticipating marriage need help with both of these areas — the self-discovery issues and the expectations issues. They need a good method that will help them examine themselves personally as well as their expectations. They need to go over these BEFORE they marry. A great tool can help them learn, understand and improve their relationship with the input of someone who is experienced in helping couples and is close to them.

Paul, in the New Testament, realized the importance of testing. He told the Corinthians:

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 3:5).

Before I got married, my bit of introspection was like a very short discovery trip to the refrigerator and back.
A good assessment tool is the "Prepare and Enrich" Program. This is a comprehensive, scientific, concise report that comes with useful findings that couples can discuss with each other. Each couple answers between 100 and 120 questions online and separately. A facilitator then receives a report that has the findings of the couple's strengths and growth areas. The couple also receives a report that summarizes the findings in an easy to understand format. This report contains powerful insights into the relationship. You can get more information about the assessment and the program: Prepare and Enrich.

"Prepare and Enrich" — or possibly another quality assessment tool — will definitely get the discussions going. The couple begins to realize who each of them really is and what they need in a spouse through this communication. The process also is enriched with an honest self-introspection of each their hearts as they seek God's help.

Sadly, couples spend countless hours and plunk down thousands of dollars for their wedding ceremony, pictures, music, and reception. Unfortunately, many forget the most important preparation that really needs to be done: their preparation to blend two lives together into a forever marriage.

I've heard some counselors say, "The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are." A great start to saving your marriage before it begins is to use tools like the Bible's description of character, a couple's assessment report, and guided communication to prepare for the "greatest challenge" in life. After all, God wants this challenge to be one of the greatest blessings in your life, as well!