HELPING SINGLES PREPARE FOR MARRIAGE

Karen and I have worked with hundreds of young adults. None has ever claimed to have the gift of celibacy. Every single young adult we know is hoping to be married, and at least for many of the gals, the sooner the better. So how are singles to live as they anticipate that change in status?

TRUTHS TO EMBRACE:

  1. God is not mad at you. He is not punishing you for something you did as a teenager. He is not waiting for you to get it together. He has a plan for you, and it is not related to the way you have messed things up. We sometimes turn God into a monster, and we think He must be trying to teach us a lesson, but it is not clear what. If He has not made it obvious, don’t worry about it. Picture God as the perfect Father who knows how to show love and is exceedingly patient and kind. That is how God treats you.
  1. Delays are not denials. Waiting in the Bible is purposeful. While you wait, God works. He is doing something wonderful in you, though it may cause pain. Think David. He was not ready to take the throne at seventeen. After thirteen years, during which God schooled him through pain, he was prepared. He cried out, “How long…?” feeling forgotten and defeated. Read Psalm 13 if you sometimes feel that way. He felt ashamed and as if the enemy was winning. But he managed to close the psalm trusting God and affirming His love. If you are going through affliction, it is developing character, which can only make you a better mate. Maybe like David you are not quite ready (ouch!). That might hurt if you are thirty-five. Ask God, “Anything else I can do while I wait? Affirm to Him, “I know you are not taunting me.”

Try not to give up hope. Hopeful people are good looking. Sometimes God’s timetable defies understanding. It was that way for some well-known and highly blessed women, like Sarah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth, but God was fulfilling His good plan in their lives and in their bodies. It is more about Him than about you. Upgrade your confidence in God’s sovereignty and His ability to make good on His promises.

SOME WORDS TO GUYS:

  1. Get ready financially. Get a good job and get out of debt. Learn generosity. Build testimonies of God’s provision. You are called to lead in marriage. Gals appreciate guys who have some clear direction in their lives.
  2. Get ready morally. Pornography kills commitment. It is relationship without responsibility. It will suck the confidence out of you. It will bring passivity rather than action. Do what you can to overcome this winnable war. Get help and walk in accountability.
  3. Get ready physically. Give your wife the gift of a strong and healthy body. Call it temple maintenance. It is spiritual to get physical.
  4. Be bold, even when it is hard and you are uncomfortable. You will need to take some risks. Look to mature mentors to help you. Rejection does not feel good, but it may happen on the road to fulfillment and success. You are going after something worth going after. Be aggressive, even when you feel like you can’t. “He who finds a wife find a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).  Finding means looking. Avoid the paralysis that comes from fear. Let a fear of the Lord trump timidity. Don’t think that you are different from other guys. This is a difficult area for most men.
  5. Don’t rely on “a words from the Lord.” I’ve seen too many disappointed young men who relied on well-meaning prophecies or personal words. Because of the intensely personal nature of God-given relationships, our fear is sometimes factored into our ability to listen. Don’t convince yourself that God told you something without listening to wise mentors. I am thankful that my mentor caught me up short when I was living a contented single life. It led to marriage within nine months. Don’t say that God has not spoken to you yet about marriage. He already made it clear in His Word. That is enough to go after a wife.

SOME WORDS TO GALS:

  1. You are beautiful. When I spoke to a group of young adults at a camp last year, I showed them a clip from Lion King, who bought a lie that compromised his identity. I asked them to share a lie that might do the same for them. A girl said, “I am afraid I am not pretty enough to get married.” Satan was tampering with her God-appointed destiny, and in her weakness she bought the lie. The truth is that no woman is beautiful to everyone, but every woman is beautiful to someone. God made you and He made you well.
  2. Bitterness is not beautiful. Neither is a victim or a woman who feels entitled to be married. Character is the most important ingredient in a successful marriage. Be the kind of person that someone would want to be married to.
  3. Take advantage of the single life. Paul says it offers advantages marriage cannot give you, like single-minded devotion to the Lord and independence. Some of our children traveled the world before they got married. Do your best to have enjoy your life. Don’t settle in for substitute romance with novels or soaps. Make the most out of your life now. You will be glad that you did, because marriage that includes children will definitely limit your options.
  4. Don’t expect marriage to change him. If you are counting on it, don’t marry him. If he can’t convince you now, he won’t after you are living together.

Marriage is God-ordained, but is not the ultimate—Jesus is. Don’t put all your marbles in the marriage basket; put them in the Jesus basket. Then you will live successfully as a single or married person. There are countless lonely married people, just like there are lonely singles. Your life is found in God. Don’t expect your partner to meet needs that only God can. The more you pursue Him, the greater your joy whatever your station.

2 thoughts on “HELPING SINGLES PREPARE FOR MARRIAGE

  1. “Karen and I have worked with hundreds of young adults. None has ever claimed to have the gift of celibacy.” You probably need to use caution when making such statements. Because you haven’t met everybody in the world and scripture is not based on popular majority.

  2. Paul, thank you for writing this piece. Your wisdom in this area is very, very needed today. Thank you for emphasizing that men need to look for and find (or even just to plan for) meaningful employment that has the potential for supporting a family. I have found that a large percentage of unmarried men in the church seem to be sorely lacking in this area.

    If I could give one critique, it would be an addition to what you wrote. As a woman, I would note that both 1 & 3 that you have listed for the guys could also apply to the women.

    On Finances for women: Getting your finances in order and ditching debt will definitely benefit all involved for the long term. One of the best things that young women can do is to pay off debt as quickly as possible (especially large school debt). A young woman who has lived below her means in order to pay off her college debt will set herself up for having more options as a single or married woman that would not be present if her debt load was large (such as allowing the financial room needed to consider staying home to raise future children or even as a single to make a job change to take a lower-pay-but-more-fulfilling job).

    On Fitness for women: Fitness is also important for women. Being physically fit allows women to feel better about her own appearance and to feel more attractive to men, in addition to just being positive for her overall physical health. Women should be ready to give their husband the gift of a strong healthy body as well — one that is prepared to handle what comes in life — such as future children.

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