What's the second most important decision you've ever made or will make in your life (after the decision to follow Jesus)? I believe most people would say "choosing their spouse." This decision will affect you for the rest of your lives...for better or for worse. It's not like choosing a house, choosing a career, choosing a pet, etc. which you can change if it doesn't work out as planned. Marriage is a life-time covenant/commitment between a man and a woman before God. I've always said that God-arranged and Christ-centered marriages are the best :)! Here's some advice I've given to my 20 year old daughter:-
- Pray for God's will...for your future spouse (if it's God's will for you to be married someday).
- Wait for God's best; don't just settle for anyone.
- Take time to know "that special someone" for at least a year (all four seasons), preferably longer.
- Never agree to marry someone out of sympathy, desperation, loneliness, fear, or desire to escape from a bad situation.
- Keep yourself sexually pure; save yourself (sexually and emotionally) for your future spouse and expect the same from him.
- Make sure he loves God more than you. How is his relationship with Christ? Is he a man after God's own heart (passionate for God and for living for God)?
- Does he encourage and edify you in your walk with Christ? Does your relationship with him help you grow stronger and deeper in your relationship with your Lord and Savior? Or does it distract you and cause the opposite effect?
- Do you see Christ and Christlikeness in him? Nobody is perfect but is he humble before God and you to admit when he's wrong and to repent and ask for forgiveness?
- Watch how he treats his own parents and siblings, your parents and siblings, friends, the Body of Christ, and even enemies (if there are any).
- How does he react to frustrations, failures, disappointments, obstacles, adversities, and trials? How well does he control his temper? Does he respect you and your opinions?
- Make sure he shares the same vision and values as you do. You both need to move forward in the same direction.
- Love unconditionally, unselfishly, and sacrificially. Give, forgive, and serve freely and faithfully. Put others above yourself; look for ways to meet their needs (instead of demanding that they meet your needs). You'll have to choose to love like Jesus and put these things into action over and over again. If you're not willing or not ready to live this way intentionally (it's a choice you make, not based on feelings) on a daily basis, don't get married yet. One main cause for divorces and unhappy marriages is selfishness/self-centeredness.
- Is it a joy/a pleasure to respect and submit to him? Does he make it easy for you or difficult for you?
- Can you trust him with your life? Without absolute trust in each other, the relationship will falter.
- Imagine what it would be like to spend your every day with "this person" for the rest of your life. A "way out" (divorce) is not an option.
- Discuss your dreams, your weaknesses, your strengths, your passions, your future expectations, your needs/your wants, the way you handle money, how many kids you hope to have, parenting styles, where you will live, how you handle disagreement/conflicts, ministries you support, ways you want to serve God, your likes/dislikes, your hobbies, your quirks, etc.
Advice I often give is this: "While you're still single (and when you're married), be completely satisfied, fulfilled, and content in Christ alone!" Some people say that their spouse completes them or some singles are looking for someone to complete them. That's a myth and a setup for disappointment! No one can complete you except God, your Creator. “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” (St. Augustine) Don't expect your future spouse to do God's job; it will never happen! My friend sent me this poem below and it pretty much says what I believe is the first requirement for any successful marriage. God first and God alone!
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone
To have a deep soul relationship with another
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively
But God to a Christian says,
No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled and content
With being loved by Me alone
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone
Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found
Will you then be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you.
You will never be united with another until you are united with Me
Exclusive of anyone or anything else
I want you to stop planning
And allow Me to give the most thrilling plan existing
One that you cannot imagine
I want you to have the best
Please allow Me to bring it to you
You just keep watching expecting the greatest things
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am
Keep listening and learning the things I tell you
You just wait
Don't be anxious
Don't look around at the things others have gotten
Or that I have given them.
What advice do you give to unmarried people? What advice do you wish you received before you got married? Please share. Thanks!
This post is linked up with Faith-filled Friday @Beholding Glory, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty @The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates with God at The Wellspring, "Hear It, Use It", and Inspire Me Monday @Create With Joy.