How To Find The Right Spouse Part 2

In the first instalment of this post (How to Find the Right Spouse Part 1) I introduced you to several people who had different reason for taking interest in the person who became their spouse.

The point is to look behind the process to see the essential elements involved. I want to draw out a key element from what I have already said, adding insights gained from the process of an arranged marriage.

In Review

Dawn chose to pursue her Mr Wright, because he had wealth and charm, and promised her a life above her current situation.

A Swedish woman determined who had won her heart by considering if she was prepared to darn the man’s socks for him, which is a process she detested.

An Indian couple suggested the Cheese Test, to find an economical bride for sons.

And Pastor Richard Holland chose to marry his wife, Garry, because she had great looking legs.

Now let’s look at what happens in an arranged marriage situation.

A Family Ordeal

My Greek neighbours were married through a family arrangement. The parents scouted around for eligible marriage partners, talked with the other family and then set up a big family get-together. This way the couple could meet and size each other up.

Both Don and Kaliope had been presented with several prospective spouses over a period of several years. Each time they advised their parents that they did not think they could marry the person in question. Or the other person did not wish to follow up with them. Then, when they were introduced to each other and found that they were open to the possibility of marriage they were escorted though the courtship process, on the journey to the altar.

They did not really get to know each other until after they were married.

Common Elements

Note that in each of these cases the end result was a decision about proceeding or not. Whether a couple married through personal choice or family selection the matter of the marriage was their willingness to go ahead.

So, whether you are attracted to someone because of their looks, their station in life, their personal qualities or your family’s recommendation, the final element will be your decision to marry that person.

Impossible Find

The Bible suggests that it is not really possible to find a virtuous wife. And that could well be presented in the inverse, that it is not really possible to find a worthy husband.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

The point of the question is not that virtuous women do not exist. Nor is it that you should give up hope and take whatever comes along. The point is that you should not rely on your own abilities in order to find an ideal spouse.

What you should do, to find the right spouse, is ask God to find that person for you.

Wild Card Selection

Everyone is a potential “wild card”. By that I mean that everyone has unknown qualities and can produce unexpected developments over time.

I recently heard a pastor’s wife, in tears, ask for prayer that her daughter would marry a man who proved to be good value in the long term.

Many a fine young man has proven to be less than fine. And many a lovely young lady has proven to be less than lovely. Some young wives have found themselves married to a drunkard, abuser or irresponsible husband. Some young men have found themselves married to an argumentative, controlling or emotionally unstable woman.

Then there’s the issue of the bumps along life’s journey. Some people who seemed to have it all together came unravelled when they faced a death in the family or similar traumatic event. Post natal depression, economic hardship, injury and loss can turn a person’s personality in an unexpected direction.

So, even if you take the greatest possible care in selecting a spouse, you cannot control the ‘wild card’ factor. Once again, you really should be trusting God.

Trusting God

God wants you to be blessed. And God knows far more about you and all the people around you than you could ever imagine. Trusting Him to lead, protect and bless you is the smartest thing you can do for any and all aspects of your life.

So, how do you find the right spouse? You get God involved in the process and you let Him lead you to the right person who will deliver into your life the blessings which God has for you.

But, remember, God won’t give you what you don’t deserve. If you are selfish, demanding, proud, arrogant, irresponsible, intolerant, jealous, greedy or the like, you can’t expect God to place a precious jewel into your hands, since you will only abuse that precious blessing.

God will probably match you up with someone whose own personal problems are a good match for yours. Then, as you humble yourself before God and find His grace, that grace will work in you both and you will rise out of your mess together.

You can trust God to rescue you. And which ever way you look at it, Trusting God is the smartest thing you can do.

How To Find The Right Spouse Part 1

Here is some advice to help you find the right person to marry. At least, I’ll give you some things to think about to help you move forward. This post comes in two parts, so make sure you look out for Part 2 posted later.

Being confident in the choice of spouse is important for people getting married. Many people struggle in indecision and some remain uncomfortably single because they baulk at the challenge of finding the right “one” for them.

Finding Mr Wright

Dawn was a lovely Christian lady in Tauranga, New Zealand, who told me about the time she met her man. As a young woman, she and some friends were walking along the road one day, back when cars were not common. A handsome young man pulled up and offered to drive the girls to their destination.

At that very moment Dawn decided “This is Mr Right!” And it was true. His name was John Wright. So she made it her business to catch his eye and gain his attention in the weeks and months that followed. And so, in time, they courted and were wed and she lived out the rest of her life as a happy wife, mother and grandmother, with her Mr Wright!

Darning Socks

Samuel Brengle wrote about a Swedish lady who told him how she knew she had found the right man to marry. Over 100 years ago she told him that as a child her family was poor and she had to darn stockings for her family, mending the many holes that occurred each week. She detested this task, which enabled her to use it in a unique way.

When she had blossomed into a lovely young woman many young men paid attention to her, hoping to be her husband. With each one she simply asked herself the question, “Would I be willing to darn his socks?” In each case she felt revulsion, which settled the fate of each young man’s hopes.

When she met the man was wed she applied the same test and found that her heart rejoiced at the thought of darning his socks. “She felt she would gladly spend her life darning his socks, and she longed to begin at once on whole drawers full of them.”

The Cheese Test

I have written about the Cheese Test in my book, Marriage Horizons. This test was originally suggested to me by an Indian family I met one evening. When they learned I had five sons (at that time) they proceeded to tell me how to select the right bride for the boys.

The idea is to invite a girl to visit the family and ask her to help in the kitchen. Then give her a block of mouldy cheese, asking her to slice cheese for the dinner.

If she throws the cheese away she will be a wasteful wife.

If she serves up the mouldy cheese she will be an unhealthy wife.

If she carefully cuts away the external mould and then slices the fresh cheese underneath, she will be an economical wife.

Good Looking Legs

Pastor Richard Holland, who recently passed into glory after a fruitful life of Christian ministry, once told me how he was drawn to his bride because he thought she had lovely legs. Richard was quite a character (larrikin is the word I would use) and he delighted in teasing and having fun. But he assured me that when he saw a lovely pair of “pins” (as he called them) pass his desk one day he took special interest.

Richard and Margaret (known widely as “Garry”) created a happy home, enjoyed a long and loving marriage and touched the lives of thousands around the world.

Something Clicked

Notice in each of the cases I have cited here that the people involved came to a point where they made a decision. The reasons for the decision vary from case to case, but the effect is the same.

When a person makes that decision that they are going ahead with their interest in another person it is usually because something clicked for them.

They come to a conclusion that they have found the right spouse, either because the person offers stability, has a special place in their heart, or simply catches their eye.

In Part 2 of this topic I will introduce the element of an arranged marriage, to help Westerners think about the bigger issues behind falling in love. My neighbours were wed through a family process. Go to How To Find The Right Spouse Part 2, by clicking this link:

The Neglected Wife

A beautiful young wife recently asked me how she could resolve her feelings of being neglected. Her husband is a delightful chap who is actively serving the Lord and who also works part-time to supplement the family income. The bride is caring for a baby and the husband enjoys his sport as a way to unwind.

Feeling Neglected

The young wife struggled with feelings of being neglected, yet she knew that her husband is a wonderful man. He is serving God, helping others, working to meet their own family needs and enjoying life with his friends. He loves her and helps her out with the baby and her other needs when he can.

Still she felt neglected and at times became angry toward him and said things that expressed her frustration and hurt feelings.

Now she was feeling guilty about being such an unworthy wife. She felt that she was out of order to carry the feeling of being a neglected wife. She did not want to burden her husband but to bless him. However she just could not get past the feelings of being hurt.

She asked me what I would suggest she do.

The Husband’s Challenge

I appreciated the heart of this delightful young lady. What a sweet attitude, considering herself to be wrong and willing to do what she could to change. I commended her approach, but I then directed my comments toward her husband.

I pointed out that one of the common crimes men commit against their marriage is to ‘neglect’ their wife. The tendency to neglect the wife is so strong and natural for men that if they are not consciously avoiding it then they are almost certainly doing it. Men are compulsive neglecters. It comes naturally to them and they will dismiss or justify their actions, despite the way they are hurting their wife.

This young man was very willing to receive my instruction so I ventured to point out what he needs to do.

What is Neglect?

Husbands are commanded to love their wife, and when they do not do this they are neglecting her. Neglect is what happens when a man does not make the wife the centre of his attention.

If the husband is distracted, absent, uncaring, dismissive or otherwise failing to focus on his wife he is neglecting her.

Some men are busy. Others feel that their wife’s concerns are of no real substance and are unworthy of the attention they demand. Some don’t want to have their time with their wife dominated by the wife’s emotional issues, but would rather pursue physical intimacy and her joining in their interests.

All of these things constitute neglect.

The Opposite of Neglect

Neglect is possibly best seen by looking at its opposite.

When a husband stops what he is doing to give his total attention to his wife and then engages all his powers to meet her needs as the highest priority in his life at that moment, then he is loving her and not neglecting her.

When a husband is attentive to the real needs his wife is struggling with and does all that he can do to meet those real needs and bring her to a place of security, feeling his total love and commitment to her, then he is not neglecting her.

My Advice to the Neglecting Husband

I suggested to this young husband, in the hearing of his wife, that he needs to be attentive to her needs. Even though he is busy he must allocate special time that belongs to her, where she has 100% of his life. He will not always be able to give that to her at the time she feels the need for it. So he must find the first opportunity, such as in three hours’ time, when certain processes or meetings are completed. When he commits to give her his undivided attention at that time she will feel secure and be willing to wait. She will appreciate the elevated status in his life that his commitment gives to her.

When she comes to him he is to give total attention to her needs. He is to concentrate on listening to what she is saying and hearing her underlying emotional needs. He is then to offer her his understanding and care.

Sometimes all the wife needs is to have her emotional tank topped up. The husband is her best source of emotional recharge. A loving hug and assurances of his care and commitment will do much to lift her over her emotional hurdles and give her energy to press on.

A Quick Top Up

A wise husband will look for opportunities to give his wife a quick top-up, to keep her emotional reserve tank full and ready for life’s challenges. When a husband sees that his wife is a bit distracted or a little titchy he should be attentive to her inner needs.

When he asks her how she is going she may well say that all is fine. But if he thinks that is not the case he should persist to encourage her to tell him what she is thinking or struggling with.

He can then hug her and share in her concerns, offering whatever help he can. It may be that he can only join her in prayer for God’s wisdom. He may have nothing to offer from himself. But that very act of caring enough to join her in prayer over the unsolvable problem will be very precious to her.

Regular input from the husband, investing his 100% attention to meeting her inner needs, understanding her thoughts, feelings and concerns, and then doing what he can to help her resolve them, will give her the quick top-up that will keep her in a healthy emotional state.

Strong hugs, caring words, supportive attitudes, attentive listening and expressions of affection are very valuable to a wife and will help her overcome the feelings that she is being neglected in the competition for her husband’s time and energies.

The Domestic Bride

I have met some lovely young brides over the years and been delighted by the heart-felt desire of each one to please her husband. The home and its domestic challenges is an area where many brides long to excel and through which they plan to bless their husband.

Yet the domestic role of a bride is also an area where some misunderstanding and unclear concepts can lead the couple into strife. So this post is for the domestic bride.

Beautiful Bride with a Beautiful Heart

I know that not all young brides are as wonderful as others, but I want to pause for a moment and commend the many amazing and sweet young ladies I have met over the years who earnestly long to delight their husband. Some of those lucky men have been ignorant of how blessed they are. Some of them have gone on to bruise the tender heart of their darling bride.

So, to you amazing and gorgeous young ladies, I commend you for your eager and delightful intention to bless your young man. Mankind is blessed to have the undeserved devotion that you give. I pray that God bless each of you with the rewards of His grace, even if your wonderfully blessed husband does not realise how privileged he is.

Tender Hearts Get Bruised

I am sorry that it is so, but tender hearts do get bruised. Insensitive young men and starry-eyed young brides end up with the pain of disappointment, hurts and misunderstanding. Sometimes the bruises are so sore that the marriage never regains the innocence and tenderness of its initial hopes and dreams.

With the progress of time many marriages completely lose their wonder and delight. Both bride and groom draw back from their innocent hopes and their willing abandonment. Many a cranky older couple started out as two tender hearts longing for things they could never find. I will look at this subject from another angle at some time, with reference to the ‘spirit of the marriage’.

Understand the Problems

Entering into marriage and this wonderful new level of relationship with some understanding may help you. So allow me to cover some points that should help you understand the problem.

In simple terms the main problem stems from the bride’s longing to serve and bless, and the husband’s ignorance of what he wants and how things should be administered. It is hard to effectively serve and bless someone when that service is ill defined.

The Dangerous Assumptions

In marriage, the easy assumptions to make include such things as the idea that you are both wonderfully compatible. Another assumption is that it will just work out fine, all by itself. Then there is the assumption by the man that the woman will somehow instinctively do what pleases him, and the assumption by the woman that the man will instinctively be delighted by what she gives him.

All of these assumptions are dangerous, because all of them are most likely not true. They set the couple up for surprises, disappointment, argument, misunderstanding and hurts.

It is unlikely that the husband has ever clearly catalogued what he likes and what he wants. He has most likely been a passenger in life’s journey, floating along with the things his mother did for him. What ever she did will be what he sees as ‘normal’, even if she is the only person on the planet who does things that way.

If a young husband was asked to explain the domestic management of a home very few would have much depth of understanding. Most husbands are happy to leave things up to their bride. However this creates several problems.

Integration Problems

Since two separate domestic worlds are brought together by the newly-weds they will have to work through the integration issues. If they have never done such a thing before then they will be surprised how many issues arise.

There are often no right and wrong ways to do things. But we each have a sense for what is familiar to us. That familiar process is the one that will “seem right” to us, even if it is the most inefficient process ever imagined. If the bride and groom have different ideas of what is ‘right’ they will end up stumbling over each other’s perceptions. It will be easy to use words like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, bringing a sense of condemnation into the relationship. If emotions are aroused, then insults and hurtful words can spill into the situation.

Tender and fragile emotions can be damaged in such an unexpected exchange.

Many a young man has rebuked his wife for not being able to cook meals the way his mother cooked it. His tastes and expectations have been moulded by his family experience and he may not realise that there is such great diversity in food and its preparation.

The Wrong Response

When a person does not have a clear idea of what they want or how to communicate it they can leave the other person directionless. Most young husbands will tend to leave their bride to do her best, not quite sure what she is going to do and how well she is going to do it.

These husbands can’t give positive guidance in such situations so the only guidance they can give is to point out what they think to be wrong. This I call the ‘wrong’ response. And the ‘wrong’ response is the wrong response!

When a husband can only tell his bride what is wrong he is set up to bludgeon her tender hopes into a calloused heart that gives up the hope of pleasing him. Or that gives him what he wants, but without any delight on her part any more.

Negative responses produce negative responses. A husband who guides his bride by disapproval is wounding her heart.

Is There a Simple Solution?

In matters of relationship there is usually no simple solution. I will offer a few simple suggestions, but I doubt that many people will heed them. I fear that many more lovely and tender young brides are going to head down the road to hardened and hurt older wives, despite what I present here. But for the sake of the one or two who may be saved from pain by my thoughts I will venture my simple solution.

Brides should be taught to expect that everything they bring into the marriage will have to be modified. They should be encouraged to go on a two-year journey of discovery of what works best in their home. They should be told that they will face some difficult challenges in this process but that they can succeed and create the most amazing new domestic formula for them both to enjoy.

The reason I put this on the bride is because she is the one who will otherwise be hurt. Her insensitive hero is less likely to be damaged in the sort-out of domestic process than the wife is. So my simple solution aims at shielding the most vulnerable party – that beautiful young woman.

If brides enter marriage with an expectation of their need to change, and a long-term time-line for getting things sorted out, there will be less pain in finding that the couple are less compatible than she hoped. There is time for the two of them to talk and explore their options. There is no silly idealism about it working perfectly from day one.

All of that helps the tender one to be more resilient in the inevitable sorting out process.

Other Helpful Steps

Obviously it is valuable for the young husband to understand the situation and how easily he can and will offend his darling bride. Men should be challenged to expect a long season of exploration and discovery. They should expect food to taste different and things to be done differently, because they are a new family, with new horizons and new possibilities.

I recommend that the couple set up an expectation – possibly suggested to them in the pre-marriage preparation process – that the husband review the bride’s processes and program at regular intervals.

While that might sound very sexist and man-serving at first glance, allow me to show why that is valuable.

The bride is built to please her man. How can she do that if she does not become attentive to what he needs or wants? If she makes her own assumptions and assessments independently of him she may spend her whole life doing things he does not want her to do in ways he does not want her to employ. This undermines her whole design and motivation.

I have also observed that two heads are better than one. I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the first to observe that fact. When any person acts for their whole life without the benefit of additional input and review they are in danger of doing the wrong things the wrong way for a long time. The most valuable and understanding contributor to the wife’s situation should be her husband. So having him give input in a regulated and consistent fashion is logical and appropriate.

And I also recommend that young men be given at least some understanding of how to protect the tender heart of their beloved. The pushing of the feminist notion that men and women are equal and almost identical has robbed men of appreciation for the woman’s needs and denied women the loving care that they are due.

Catherine Booth one of the Army’s Best Men!

This is the day that … Catherine Booth died, in 1890.

Catherine Booth (nee Mumford), was born to a coachbuilder in Derbyshire, in 1829. She read the Bible eight times by the age of twelve, but was converted at the age of 15, when the words of a hymn led her to assurance of salvation.

At fourteen she developed spinal curvature and four years later, incipient tuberculosis. While ill in bed she began writing magazine articles against alcohol.

Catherine met William Booth, a Methodist minister in 1852. Catherine was impressed with both the sermon and the young preacher.

William believed ministers should be “loosing the chains of injustice, freeing the captive and oppressed, sharing food and home, clothing the naked, and carrying out family responsibilities.” While keen on social reform, Catherine, an avowed feminist, disagreed with William’s views on women. She objected to William describing women as the “weaker sex” and she argued that women should preach, while William opposed the idea. Despite their disagreements about the role of women in the church, the couple married on 16th June 1855.

Catherine first preached in1860 when a strange compulsion seized her and she felt she must rise and speak. The sermon so impressed William that he changed his mind about women preachers. Catherine Booth soon developed a reputation as an outstanding speaker but many Christians were outraged by the idea. Lord Shaftesbury regarded William as the antichrist for his promotion of women preachers. Booth later wrote, “some of the best men in my Army are women”!

When William created the Salvation Army she took her place as the beloved mother of the movement. She particularly inspired young ladies to preach and evangelise, including her own daughters. She journeyed to Paris to help her daughter Catherine and a handful of other young ladies set up the Salvation Army there.

Some said that Catherine’s sermons were as good as her husband’s. Certainly many were converted under her ministry.

For 30 years she and her husband waged war on sin and reached out a loving hand to England’s poor and needy.

She also took social action including the Food For A Million Shops, where poor could buy an inexpensive three-course meal. She was angered by the sweated labour that many women were subjected to, working 14 hours a day for a pittance. Bryant and May matches also used yellow phosphorous that poisoned the women working with it. She began a campaign that her husband completed after her death, to end the use of yellow phosphorous.

Eventually she found herself on the banks of ‘chilly Jordan’. She writes from her deathbed – to the 20,000 gathered in the Crystal Palace:

“My dear Children and Friends, My place is empty but my heart is with you. You are my joy and my crown. Your battles, sufferings and victories have been the chief interest of my life these 25 years. They are still. Go forward … live holy lives … love and seek the lost; bring them to the blood … I am dying under the Army flag; it is yours to live and fight under. God is my salvation and refuge in the storm. I send you my love and blessing. Catherine Booth.”

On Saturday, 4 October, 1890, the old General and his family gathered around Catherine’s bed. They prayed. They sang. Such grand old hymns as:
Calvary’s stream is flowing so free,
Flowing for you and for me.

“Go on,” Catherine said … and they sang some more –
Jesus, my Saviour, has died on the tree,
Died on the tree for me! Hallelujah!

Eventually, unable to speak, Catherine Booth pointed to the text hanging upon the wall, which read, “My Grace is sufficient for thee”. “That”, writes her biographer, “was her last testimony to God’s faithfulness.”

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.