Choosing a Spouse
Your spouse is the one of the most important choices you will make. Yet it can be difficult. A pastor’s wife told recently how she worries that her daughter marry well.
She knows from counseling many couples that men and women can turn out to be quite different to what they appear to be. The image they project may be far from reality.
Some years ago a lady lamented to me that she had nursed her husband through a long terminal disease and then had met a fine man who seemed to have boundless energy to make her happy. The second husband, however, hid from her his own ailing health. She found herself nursing a second husband to the grave. She was not happy about the deception.
How can you be sure you are choosing the right spouse? Here are some guidelines.
1. The First Safeguard you have is to involve God in the process. Rather than make your own choice and do your own thing you are much wiser to let God lead you and to do His will.
Some friends in New Zealand had the practice of going to the cattle auctions and praying about which animals to buy. While most people bid up the price of the better looking animals these men would cheaply buy beasts that no-one else wanted. In time they found that these made very good breeders, or gained weight or were hardy against diseases, etc.
The same is true of your spouse. That man or woman will have to travel many miles with you, metaphorically speaking. Together you will face challenges for which neither of you may be well prepared. God knows which person is good for the long-haul and the heavy load. He knows which one will give into bitterness or coldness, or some other quality damaging to the marriage. He also knows which one will be a good parent to the children over the many years ahead.
So seek God. Pray for guidance and wisdom.
2. The Second Safeguard is your Parents. God gave us parents to guard and guide us. While some parents are evil people with criminal intent they are in the tiny minority. Caring parents want what is best for their children. As we choose to honour God by obeying His instruction to honour our parents, God will enable our parents to provide good input into our lives.
If you have already abandoned your parents and spent most of your life listening to your peers then you have left yourself vulnerable. I counsel you to repent before God and then to rebuild the relationship with your parents which God intended you to have.
Remember too that the heart of the king is in God’s hands (Proverbs 21:1). God can turn it any way He chooses.
Jim Sammons, famous for his Red Dog story, tells how he went to his dad for advice, knowing the dad did not like his plans. Yet Jim was determined to obey God’s Word. Wonderfully the dad released his son to go with what was in his heart. This way Jim was able to fulfil his dream but also be in the right place with God and his parents.
3. The Third Safeguard is to follow godliness. Many people become emotionally and physically entangled with another, leading them to marry that person, often with tragic outcome. Those who choose to be holy in their actions and lifestyle are protected from soul-ties and entanglements which block the better choices God has for them.
If you are morally loose then you have removed some of God’s protection for your heart and life. You are sowing evil into your life and so that is what is going to grow from such seed. If you guard your heart, submitting your affections to God and to accountability with your parents, then you are in a much safer place.
4. The Fourth Safeguard is to see the other person honestly. This is hard to do, especially once people have become emotionally entangled. Those emotions blind the eyes. As the saying goes, “Love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener”. Many a young person has found that what their parents told them is true, but they would not listen until it was too late.
Despite their protests they are highly likely to be like their parents. Boys become like their dad and girls become like their mum. Often the behaviour match does not show up until the person has taken on the role of spouse and parent. Then they default to the training they saw in their home as they grew up. So a controlling mum will produce a controlling daughter. An angry dad will create an angry son. A drunkard will beget a drunkard. An irresponsible person will not raise a highly responsible child.
Don’t excuse the wrong actions and attitudes of the other person. Remember that they will be displaying those wrong attitudes and actions in front of your children in years to come.
5. The Fifth Safeguard is to look for the qualities that make a good marriage. Look out in your friends for those who are hard working, flexible, willing to serve, diligent, forgiving, patient, slow to anger, long-suffering, kind, humble and godly.
The loud-mouth egotist with the shiny car and the winning smile may create pain that is almost too deep to bear. The quiet wall-flower may prove to be an amazing and wonderful spouse. Look past the first impressions and look for the qualities which you want in your spouse.
One young man had his eye on a young lady and so he arranged to be part of a project which the family was involved in. Within a few weeks he realised that the pretty girl was selfish, demanding, lazy, spoiled and unwilling to change. The younger sister, on the other hand, was cheerful, willing to serve, hard working and keen to find God’s will in her life.
6. The Sixth Safeguard is to Guard Your Heart. Girls find easy to give their heart away. Boys also do this, so they are not exempt from this area. If people let themselves be led by their heart then they will fall into many hurts.
I have met older men who never recovered from being jilted in younger life. I have met girls whose emotions have been tangled like spaghetti. Those hurts do not help your future marriage happiness. Do as the Bible teaches, “guard your heart diligently” (Proverbs 4:23). You will be able to give your heart away to your spouse quite easily once you have confirmed that this is the person you will spend the rest of your life with.
And as a note of caution, realise that being led by your heart to find your spouse sets you up for being led by your heart toward someone else even once you are married.
7. The Seventh Safeguard is to be an ideal spouse. If you are a selfish, demanding, inflexible, unhappy person then you are simply not going to have a happy marriage. Many marriages have been torn apart and many spouses have grown more difficult when the other spouse has been completely unsuited to married life.
Problem people have been transformed. Hard hearts have softened. People have been released from addictions, fears, insecurities and so on, by the grace of God and by the encouragement of a loving spouse. If you allow God to make you into an ideal spouse you can be confident that your marriage has the power to get better over time. Be humble and let God deal with you in preparation for the marriage that lies ahead.
This is not the final word, but I trust it prompts you to some steps that will bless you, your marriage and the family which you build.