How do I know if we should get married is a post from Boundless a couple weeks ago. I’ve been meaning to get to it, especially since I’m getting married soon.
The article is pretty short, so I’m gonna quote the whole thing.
I could see the worry on my friend’s face. He had been dating his girlfriend for six months and didn’t know if he should start planning a proposal or a breakup. It was a ripe time to choose.
I know others who have faced similar situations, so I asked my married friends on Facebook how they knew they should marry their spouse. Here are their answers.
Friendship. The most common answer I heard from couples was that they married a friend — someone they enjoyed spending time with and with whom communication came easily. A few even ended up dating and marrying someone who started off as just a good friend.
Of her relationship with her husband, Bethany says, “I felt like it was easy to be myself. Like really me.” David describes something similar: “When I met my wife, there were times I thought, ‘Oh, wow! I’ve been waiting for this and feel so free to be me now!’ Marla says when she met her husband, “I felt like I had met my new best friend, but also like I had known him all my life.”
A strong friendship can be a good indicator of marital success.
Compatible goals. In a partnership like marriage, it’s important to be able to pursue dreams and callings together. In Genesis 2:18-22, God gives Adam a wife as a “helper fit for him.” The first man and woman helped each other work toward God’s purpose for them in the garden.
Of her relationship with her husband, Glory says, “We felt like we could grow together, and we felt like we could be partners and supporters, in chasing after our dreams.” Summer says, “We talked A LOT about goals … what we wanted out of life, finances, kids … and what we envisioned about the future.”
Having compatible goals doesn’t mean you won’t have to adjust after marriage. Julie explains, “I’ve found that having the same goals and ideals and being willing to change with each other instead of separately has been key.” And sanctification is a primary goal Christians should share. Teri says, “Marry someone who makes you better than you are, someone who challenges you to be like Christ. A good marriage is not about finding the right person. It’s about being the right person.”
As we change and grow over time, a marriage focused on God can sustain the relationship through trials and hard times.
What you’re looking for. A really good catch may not make a really good match. It’s good to know what you are looking for in a relationship. David points out that discerning the right person to marry “requires knowing and discerning yourself.”
Making a list of what you want in a spouse can help you see how someone measures up when other signs aren’t as conclusive. Bethany said she made a list of her non-negotiables early on and checked her suitors against it. When her husband came along, he embodied many things on her list, giving her assurance that he was a good fit.
While it’s wise to know what you’re looking for, be prepared to have your assumptions challenged. Casey, who considers herself to be very independent, said she felt like she didn’t need marriage. But when she saw how kind her now-husband was, she realized what she needed. She hadn’t been kind to herself in years. She needed someone who would be an example of God’s kindness to her.
Character under pressure. We are all flawed. Julie says some advice from her grandma was a game-changer for her: “They will all drive you crazy!” she said. “You just have to pick the person who annoys you the least.” Realizing that no one is perfect (and your future spouse will annoy you at times), choose someone whose good character shines under pressure.
As you face adversity or conflict together, note how your boyfriend or girlfriend responds. Bethany says that in her marriage, “we love well and fight well. We respect each other even when we are mad.” That respect can be seen before you ever tie the knot.
Michael suggests marrying someone you know will have your back. Life will get hard, circumstances will change, but knowing that person will be on your side is important. Summer remembers how her boyfriend-now-husband took off work to support her at hospital visits after she received a cancer diagnosis. How the person serves you when you’re down can be a good indicator of the type of spouse he or she would be.
The Secret to a Lasting Marriage
A few nights ago, I was at a woman’s 50th birthday party. I talked to a couple, probably both around 60, that were flirting and laughing and stealing kisses from each other. I was afraid to even ask, because I so rarely see long-term marriages like that, but I finally did. “How long have you been together?”
“Thirty-seven years,” they replied. I asked what their secret was. The wife leaned way close to me and almost whispered, “I know this will sound corny, but the key is having God at the center of the relationship.”
I can’t give my friend a definitive answer about whether or not he should marry his girlfriend. Each of us has to choose for ourselves. But considering if your significant other fits the four criteria above is a good place to start.
The points that people come up with are:
- Compatible goals
- What you’re looking for
- Character under pressure
- Having God at the center
These seem pretty common. I think that if you poll random Christians from any random Church you’ll come up with a similar list. There’s will probably also be the awkward chuckling man or woman that says “compromise” is also a key to marriage. The only Scripture thrown out from Christians about marriage in this is Genesis 2.
Sadly, that’s the case of what the Church has become. It’s been vague allusions to spirituality without any substance. And you wonder why the Church has upwards of 40-50% divorce rate like the world. No one wants to stand on what God says about marriage.
Then you have articles like what women need from men from Tim Willard. Never really heard of the man before today, but based on what I know of sales on Amazon he’s selling dozens of books a day. His emphasis in bold.
Offering Our Strength
At the heart of offering our strength is the concept of serving. Christ himself “came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.” Later on in the New Testament Paul reminds men:
“The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing.
“Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.” (Eph. 5:22-28)
But it’s one thing to say we should offer our strength to women, quite another to live that out. So, what does it mean to offer our strength to our wives or girlfriends?
Offering our strength can mean cleaning the kitchen, doing the floors, and making the bed without being asked. It can mean hanging that painting, again, and again, and again. In short, we can and should serve our wives and girlfriends with our physical strength.
Offering our strength can mean protecting her heart: from other women, during times of pain, by encouraging her in her unique endeavors (like blogging, gardening, tri-athloning, cooking, yoga, whatever). We serve our wives and girlfriends by offering our emotional strength.
Offering our strength can mean initiating times of prayer, times of fasting, family devotions, caroling around the Christmas tree, or being the one who sets the tone before Sunday worship by being, yourself, ready in your heart for worship, firing up the waffle-maker, making the coffee, creating a bit of heaven in your house to foster the beauty of the Sabbath. We serve our wives and girlfriends by offering our spiritual strength.
Too often, however, we attempt to gain strength from our wives and girlfriends by trying to prove something. And that “proving” can often manifest itself in the form of dominance. Leading in a marriage or dating relationship does not equal waving your “I’m a man” Thor-hammer. Rather, it begins with relational fullness with God.
If we, as men, have drifted from God, then our marriages and dating relationships will reflect it. We will struggle with the lies that accompany the false self: perversions of sex, power, dominance, nonchalance—everything the popular culture equates to manliness.
To his credit, he has somewhat of the right mindset, but is still falling back into the trap of “servant leadership.” This is a mash up of roles and responsibilities that leave men more confused than when they started.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects her husband.
- Husband is the head
- Wife follows, as the body
- Husband loves through sanctification, loves his wife as himself x3, and nourishes and cherishes
- Wife submits and respects in everything, as to the Lord
Split division of responsibilities is important because it defines how the relationship normally functions effectively and in line with godly principles. If a spouse wants to go above and beyond — which is certainly a good thing in some cases — then they have the choice to do so. For example, a husband does not have to help out with the [wifely] chores of the household to lend ‘physical strength’ especially if he is already taking care of [manly] chores of the household like yard work, maintenance, trash, and so on.
Telling a husband he needs to pick up additional work that is tasked to the wife to “serve” her is nothing but slavery and certainly not sanctification. Indeed, masculine immaturity is placing responsibility before roles, but it is also taking up responsibilities that are not yours to handle. This is one thing Tim is confusing, and is part of the false narrative of servant leadership.
Dominance is what women want from their men. They want them to be masculine. A man who knows who he is and knows what he wants in a relationship. Women hate men who are wishy washy and put them on a pedestal. Both Christian and non-Christian women want their man to be dominant and assertive. It’s not necessarily about the actions themselves, but how the actions stem from the identity of the man in question.
The role of the head in marriage is imbued with authority from God. Men don’t need permission to wield their authority to love, to sanctify through directing her on the path of righteousness, and to treat her as he treats himself. But a man must first know his role and his value in Christ. As he holds himself to the high standard that God has placed in him, he blesses her through loving her as he does himself.
28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies (x1). He who loves his own wife loves himself ; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body (x2). 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself (x3), and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects her husband.
The Scriptures clearly does not say to place her (the wife) before himself (the husband) because that would be idolatry. This is different from other parts of Scripture where Christians are to hold other [Christians] in higher esteem than themselves. The covenant of marriage is different from the way general Christians related to each other because the roles and responsibilities of each are different. This is the nature of a hierarchical relationship such as marriage as opposed to being a member of the body of Christ relating to one another.
This is the true difference between the false servant leadership peddled by much of Christianity today versus what the Scriptures teach.
- False — the husband “serves” the wife as the head in marriage, especially taking over and helping her with many of her responsibilities. In this case, the husband becomes the wife’s helpmate.
- True — the husband is the head and holds himself to the standard of Christ. The example he sets and tasks he entrusts his wife as his helpmate help her become more like Christ.
Is it any wonder why husbands who are counseled under “servant leadership” are increasingly divorced? The Church for decades has conned them into inverting the sex roles under the guise of serving as the authority in marriage.
Instead, what the should be teaching is that it is up to the husband to set the standard in marriage — the high standard of Christ. He may even end up helping the wife if she needs assistance in her tasks as helpmate, but it actually under the mantle of cherishing and nourishing her as opposed to the slavery of servant leadership: responsibility with no authority.
Therefore, going back to the first part of this article, how should a man or woman know if she should get married? The answer is simple.
A man should get married if you find a wife who is willing to walk in the roles and responsibilities of a wife as outlined in Scripture.
- Ephesians 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. […] 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects her husband.
- Col 3:18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
- Titus 2:4 so that they may [b]encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
- 1 Pet 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right [b]without being frightened by any fear.
- 1 Corinthians 7:3 The husband must [a]fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and [b]come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
- Proverbs 21:19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife
- Proverbs 27:15-16 A continual dripping on a rainy day and a contentious wife are alike. Trying to keep her in check is like stopping a wind storm or grabbing oil with your right hand.
- Proverbs 25:24 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
- Proverbs 12:4 A wife with strength of character is the crown of her husband, but the wife who disgraces him is like bone cancer.
- Proverbs 11:22 A beautiful woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.
- Proverbs 14:1 A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.
- And of course Proverbs 31 which is too long to quote and so on.
And of course a woman should only marry a man if she finds a husband that is willing to walk in the roles and responsibilities of marriage.
I’m not going to list them all out, as this is a men’s blog, but they are in similar passages as the above verses.
Following God’s plan for marriage is the one way to know if you are ready for marriage. This is the firm foundation on which a marriage is on the Rock of Jesus.
Things like the fruit of the Spirit are obviously other key components of the Christian walk that assist in carrying out these roles and responsibilities. However, if you want to have a blessed marriage you need to focus on God’s Truths. No ifs, ands, or buts.