Last updated: 20 Aug 2019
Preparing for marriage is laying a foundation for a successful home.
Failure to prepare is readiness to join the multitudes of ailing marriages, or to add a statistic to failed marriages.
Dear Christian Single, this second scenario doesn't have to happen to you.
You have the time now.
Last week, we had a family seminar in church. I am not a notes-taker when listening to a sermon. I only simply listen, and whatever God speaks to my heart, that's what sticks.
But during this seminar, I took notes! The speaker was saying things that usually excite me. Things I've mentioned in some of my writings.
"Marriage is responsibility."
"Marriage is not for pleasure."
"Marriage is not for show." (self-esteem). Thank you, Jesus. I couldn’t have emphasized it better.
"Having a job doesn’t qualify you for marriage. Rich people do have problems with their marriages."
He reiterated, "Marriage is responsibility. Prepare your heart for it."
Coming from someone who's been married to one spouse for decades, one ought to pay attention.
Statistics show that almost 50% of marriages (in the US) end in divorce, with the divorce rates increasing with subsequent marriages.
The divorce rates reflect the percentage of ailing marriages. This means some couples still live together probably because the decision to divorce will be frowned upon by their family, church, or culture, but practically, the marriage is over.
In his book, Hidden Keys to a Loving, Lasting Marriage, Gary Smalley and wife lament the fact that few people give less time to preparing for marriage, compared to how much we prepare for school, careers, and other pursuits.
Many singles jump into marriage because,
They have a job
They are of biological age
Their friends are all getting married
They've fallen in love
As such, there's little thought about preparing for that
stage of life. Yet,
For the Christian, this takes place in various levels, which we'll all discuss in some detail.
This has to do with your relationship with God. As a single, you have the opportunity to build intimacy with Him. Chances are that your preoccupations are few, and you can give God an undivided attention now.
This will help you make the right choice of partner. Only date and marry a Christian for spiritual compatibility.
Spiritual preparation will also yield dividends in your marriage. A God-seeking single man has high chances of becoming a godly husband and father. A godly single woman has better chances of becoming a godly wife and mother.
Do not deceive yourself to prioritize seeking God only after you get married. Build that relationship with God now. Cultivate the habit of spending time with Him now. Get rooted in the Word now.
Find out what the Bible says about being a man, a woman, a parent. And ask the Lord to help you conform to the image of the godly spouse and parent He wants you to become.
Develop a godly character. Begin to see yourself like the biblical husband or biblical wife.
Also important, find God's specific will for your life. This is important in setting a direction for your life and makes it easier to find someone who can walk with you on that path.
One of the worst things to happen in a union is for the husband or wife to want to move a certain direction and their spouse thinks otherwise. You can avoid that scenario by knowing what path God has for you and walking in it while still single.
Worth repeating: Marriage is responsibility.
Age alone is not enough.
As a man, can you provide for the home? We're talking financial preparation for marriage's responsibilities.
If you can't feed yourself, you're not ready to become a husband and father. Instead of seeking a wife, seek a job. Ask God for help and direction. Get trained in something. Learn a trade. Start a business (even if you have to take a loan).
There are some basic requirements a man must meet before marriage if you want to take your responsibilities seriously.
For the woman, while you can work out of the home and also bring in income, learn basic homemaking: Cooking, cleaning, ironing, washing. Why not sewing, decoration, anything you can think of to make your home a happy one?
Under physical preparation is included medical check-up. Some medical conditions may not stop you from getting married but should prepare you for what's ahead.
Another truth worth emphasizing: Marriage is work. Marriage is not butterflies in the stomach, sex, and fun.
Learning to live with others doesn’t come naturally. Gary Smalley's book I quoted above opened my eyes to some of the messy things that can go on in marriage, even Christian marriages.
The couple may love themselves, have the finances, go to church and serve God, but their home may still be a little hell.
The butterflies in your stomach when you fall in love will not sustain your union if you're not psychologically and emotionally prepared for marriage.
Your wife or your husband will do things that hurt you. You will find habits in them you didn’t see during dating and courtship. You shall find out that Miss Right or Mr. Right has imperfections. They may even be times you'll wonder if you missed it in the choice.
That is why you must not enter marriage with unrealistic expectations.
Are you emotionally and psychologically prepared for the stresses of marriage?
The best way to judge your readiness is to examine how you deal with situations and interpersonal relationships right now.
Do you fight back when others step on your toes? Do you always want to have your way, and everyone else can go to hell? Can you let go and let God?
Your answers should get you thinking, and asking God for help. Maybe you should memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
Love is patient and kind…
Begin to practice and make it part of your life now in your relationships with others.
Can you withstand pressure, or do you fall apart? What is your outlook? Hopeful or pessimistic? Can you deal with the pain of childlessness without giving up your love and trust in God? Can you handle in-laws and intruder troubles?
I heard the leader of an African mega-church say people are not allowed to wed in his church without having read at least fifteen books on marriage. Fifteen!
Whether you read fifteen or more or less, please, do read good books on marriage. Without some of this knowledge, your idea about marriage may be a castle in the air. The live-happily-ever-after of romance stories.
I thought it would be better to give you some recommendations. These are just a few compared to the hundreds of books out there on Christian marriage.
N.B: These are NOT affiliate links.
His Needs Her Needs (Building an Affair-Proof Marriage) by Willard F. Harley Jr.
The 5 Love Languages (The Secret to Love That Lasts) by Gary Chapman
Hidden Keys of a Loving, Lasting Marriage
by Gary Smalley and Norma Smalley
The Blessing, a book on parenting, by Gary Smalley and John Trent
Notice the double emphasis on good. You need to choice your counselor wisely. Go for someone who has a good marriage
Many intending couples have been surprised by and happy for what they learned during counseling.
Unfortunately, I've also seen couples go through the motions, just fulfilling a rule. That is not right.
If you're already reading good books, counseling will reinforce those lessons. In addition, there are things a good counselor may highlight that you might have missed.
For example, establishing compatibility, lessons on financial management, how to deal with in-laws, and much more. If you get a good counselor, chances of your marriage starting on the right foot are high.
Approach marriage with the 'til death do us part' mentality. Take divorce out of the equation.
Be ready to fight for your marriage. Do not let the high divorce rates and ailing marriages cause you to lower the standard of success you expect from yours.
I've put much into the infographic than what I've written. You can download it, print. and paste somewhere for constant reminders.
Preparing for marriage proves your seriousness about the institution. Your future success depends on it. Make your home a statistic and reference of happy Christian marriages.
God bless. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Janet is a Christian with a knack for writing. She's passionate about encouraging the pursuit of God and a life of purpose.