A young man requested that I write something about what is important for him when considering a perspective bride and I did so in the post entitled, The Second Biggest Decision – Guys Version. This one will serve as the counterpart for the ladies.
Next to salvation, choosing your life partner is the biggest decision you will make this side of eternity. When your prince charming comes around, how will you recognize him? What if he is not on a white horse but in a beat up car? When he asks for your hand, should you give it? Choose wisely.
Biblically speaking marriage is supposed to be a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. In our day, divorce runs rampant, and many forces are attempting to redefine the family, but that does not change the standard held out in Scripture. Once the rose-colored glasses are removed and real life settles in, the man you marry is non-returnable in God’s eyes. Even with the exceptions given in Scripture, the preferred goal is one spouse for life. My often-used saying is,
“It is far better to be happily married for forty years then to be miserably married for fifty!”
If it takes ten years for the right man to come along, it is better to wait. Being single and serving the Lord, is better than being married and miserable. I have spent the last 30 years of my life testing this sentence in the counseling office. It is true. Your life partner will have a direct impact on your ability to serve the Lord and your personal wellbeing, and therefore must be chosen carefully.
Most couples that marry begin their relationship by initially being attracted by appearance. For the record, that is normal and acceptable. Who wants to marry someone they cannot stand to look at? As those of us know that have a few years on our bodies now, looks come and go. What is possible to look like at 20 is near impossible at 40 or 50. Weight comes, hair leaves, and lines deepen. Young Prince Charming will turn into Old King George sooner than later. We all age, so basing our relationship simply on looks is foolish.
Beyond physical attractiveness, many traits should be considered. I am assuming that you are a strong believer and desire to please the Lord in your life. If you are not, then you have no business looking for a spouse at this time anyway! Your relationship to the Lord has to be primary in your life for when hard times come; it is what will help carry you through them.
This is not about how to get a husband or the best method to use, but what to look for in a perspective one, so I will not develop that topic. I also am not going to develop the timing issue regarding ages and such. God has given you parents and pastors that can help you in this arena. If possible, stay under your father’s protection and ask your family about the perspective spouse. Many times your brother(s) if you have one can give you insight into how a guy thinks and what his motives are in any given situation. Be humble and listen to those that God has put in your life and you will rejoice later on if you do.
Perhaps a few questions might be in order as to your motives for considering marriage – Am I ready for the commitment? Are my parents in agreement, not just giving in to me, but are they actually supportive of this relationship? Is my walk with God consistent enough? Am I a servant or selfish? Is this the right time? Am I attempting to run away from home by this relationship? Do I like my perspective mate or are there many things I intend to change in him after he says, “I do?” While no one is ever completely ready for marriage, when we get the release from the Lord and the authorities in our life regarding timing, we begin the exciting process of prayerfully waiting for our prospective mate! While the young man chooses his bride, the young ladies are given the task of waiting, patiently until chosen.
Shortly after birth, and often while they wait, many young ladies make extensive lists on what to look for in their future groom. Praying specifically about this is good, so I would not want to dampen that list, but I would suggest that these three things that I told my daughters be included.
1. Does the young man love the Lord with a heart to serve Him? Marriage is hard work sometimes and our relationship with the Lord is our anchor to steady the ship during the storms. If his love for God and His Word is not strong, his love for you will also not be as strong as it could be. There will be a direct correlation between his love for the Lord and his love for his wife. If the Lord is not first in his life, he will not have the necessary foundation upon which to build. Firm foundations provide something good to build upon, what do weak ones do?
2. Is the young man teachable? A know-it-all, arrogant young man typically grows into a know-it-all, arrogant older man. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble, the Bible teaches, and who does not need or want more grace? Being young and inexperienced is not a fault, being proud and unteachable is. If no one can speak into the life of a young man before marriage, what do you think the chances of your being heard by him are after marriage? How quickly does the young man repent and admit that he was in error about something? How does he line up under the authorities in his life? How does he treat his parents and siblings? All give insight into how he will treat you later on. Many daughters love their fathers and often wish their future husbands could be like their dad. If they are teachable when young, the father will be able to speak into his life to help him grow. If he will not listen to anyone about anything, what chance is there of that happening? God is and will be gracious, but the road may be difficult as you have to watch God discipline and break a proud husband.
3. Is the young man kind? Proverbs 19:22 in the NASB translation, states, “What is desired in a man is kindness.” If you marry a kind young man, you will be most likely end up being married to a kind older man later on. If you marry a self-centered, selfish, harsh young man, you most likely will spend a great deal of time in counseling and crying. How does this man interact with his family, peers, those of the opposite sex? How does he treat those less fortunate? Is he generous? A harsh man does not make a loving husband, and overlooking this fault will lead to a lifetime of pain. If a young man is not nice and kind to you during the period of pursuing you when he is on his best behavior, what do you think he will act like after he has caught you?
There is nothing magic that takes place during a wedding ceremony. What a person is before they say, “I do,” will simply be more clearly revealed after the wedding celebration takes place. Most people are on their best behavior during the courtship process and this can lead to some artificial representations. It is best to observe from a distance before jumping into a relationship. How a young man treats his family, friends, and authorities can be observed and is usually a pretty good reflection of how he will soon treat you. Again, choose wisely. Marriage is a pressure-filled experience. If children follow, the pressures increase. It is best to make sure that what is squeezed out of your man by pressure include a love for the Lord, teachableness, and being kind!
The three points above are by no means the full picture, but if these three were not there, I would very quickly walk away, or better yet, never begin the relationship! In addition to loving the Lord, being kind and teachable, there are multiple other factors to prayerfully consider. For example, his maturity level, emotional stability or moodiness, common interests and dreams, vision for the future, family planning goals, the handling of money, and communication skills all should be considered regarding compatibility. A wife in the Biblical sense helps complete the man. She is given to him to help him in his life to accomplish what God desires. If you do not like what God has called him to do or become, why would you want to partner with him for life?
A good rule of thumb is that if everyone around you is questioning the relationship, so should you! The old saying is that “love is blind.” I pray that you will not be. Listen to those that are more objective and love you; they just might see something that you do not.
Marriage is wonderful; a mystical picture of Christ and the Church, and God is the One that came up with the idea. Adam and Eve were the first married couple and all of history will end with a wedding feast! Jesus preformed His first miracle at a wedding and God has specific commands for those that will marry. A young lady becomes a bride and this decision will affect her for the rest of her days. It is an exciting time and marriage is a gift from God. I pray that each young lady will seek the Lord regarding this choice and that many godly generations will come forth as a result.
For a detailed discussion on this topic, please visit http://www.hopefamilyfellowship.org and listen to the Pre-Marriage Seminar
Pastor Jeff Klick