Being single, I wondered if there was any reason to prepare myself for marriage…
After all, I didn’t know if singleness would be permanent.
But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the preparation for marriage doesn’t begin when the ring comes on my finger. Here are a few ways you’re already beginning to prepare for marriage even before you say “I do”.
Communication + Prayer
Ask any married couple and they’d tell you the foundation of a relationship is communication. Bringing two people together and learning to share your inner thoughts, feelings, and frustrations can be a bumpy road. Yet, it’s a road that we all need to go through in order reveal what’s happening in our hearts.
Being an introvert, words are difficult for me. Sometimes it can take me a few days to work out that I’m angry and by then the person or situation has moved on. If you are an introvert (or know one), you understand that we live an “interior life”. We are constantly thinking, the wheels of our minds never stopping until we’re asleep.
One way to prepare for marriage as a single is your prayer life.
You may have heard that praying is talking to God and that’s true. Sometimes, we vent everything that is going on whether through tears or in frustration but don’t sit quietly in His presence afterward to hear His response. Prayer is both talking and listening. Communication is the same way. We want to feel closer and feel know by the one we’re sharing with.
Intimacy + Worship
Every relationship comes with its measure of vulnerability. In the case of a romantic relationship, vulnerability is present from the very beginning. A man will (usually) ask a woman out on a date not knowing whether he will be accepted or rejected. As the relationship progresses, private personal things about their pasts are shared. Will this person who they’ve started to develop feelings for reject them when they learn about past failures or faults? Once we say “I do”, there is an even greater intimacy when two become one. The lack of physical intimacy as a marriage progresses can create problems when one person is willing to be vulnerable and share of themselves while the other dismisses it. (God never intended for sex to be used as a reward or a tool of manipulation but for a man and a woman to celebrate the gift of the other.)
Why, then, are we so willing to risk vulnerability when there’s a real possibility of rejection? Because we believe there is a greater prize to be had: love.
Like any pursuer, God risks rejection when He invites us into a relationship with God. For those of us who have said yes, the love we have been given by Him causes us to worship. He made Himself known to us through His Son, Jesus and we are able to know a love that is greater than any earthly one ever could be.
This gift of intimacy causes us to be known, to be loved, and to know and love in return. In turn, we sing and praise, living lives that honor Him and will one day honor our future spouses.
Respect + Submission
Submission has become such a taboo word among women, Christian and non-Christian alike. There is no denying that under the guise of submission there has been abuse and mistreatment but that is not how God intended it.
The word “obey” has been cast aside and rightly so. There is a difference between submission and obeying. Submission is the act of “placing oneself under the authority of another” (Dr. Julianna Slattery) as opposed to obeying, which is to blindly follow someone else without questioning their authority. In the Bible, Paul speaks to husbands and wives, fathers and mothers to show them the difference:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also should wives submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he may present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she may be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:22-27)
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live a long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
Paul is differentiating these relationships and what is required. In marriage, wives submit to husbands just as the church submits to Christ. Every day, whether we know it or not, we are submitting to a higher authority. Do you drive through a red light whenever you want to or wait for it to turn green? There may not be an officer there to watch what you’re doing because if you have your license you know what those colors mean.
Submitting to a husband is an extension of submitting to God. If you can’t or won’t submit to God, you won’t be able to submit to a husband. Submitting is an act of trust and love. As a woman, you are letting the man know that you believe he is walking with God and following God as best as he possibly can. Yes, he will make mistakes but he will not choose to harm you or degrade you. Men need to feel respected, just as women need to feel loved. When we submit to God in our singleness, we are yielding our timetables, our worries and fears, and trusting that He loves and provides for us.
Appreciation + Thanksgiving
Many of us are waiting for husbands but our hearts have grown weary through this long season. Instead of becoming strengthened in the wait, our hearts become bitter. We look for temporary means to satisfy the cravings in our hearts instead of learning how to wait like the women in the Bible.
It’s in the waiting that we can appreciate what we have: a relationship with Jesus. One message God has been putting on my heart to share is that earthly marriages are temporary. He gives us desires for intimacy and marriage because they are fulfilled first and foremost through our relationship with Him.
In appreciating what we have now, we can appreciate the men who come into our lives at God’s appointed time. Instead of putting all of our expectations on him, we will have thankful hearts to the One who is able to quench the thirsts in our hearts.
In relationships, it can be easy to get stuck in ruts. What was once new and joyous becomes mundane and ordinary. It can be hard to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving to God, yet that is really what our hearts need most of all. Thanksgiving allows us to remember that what we have is by no means of our own but through the grace and mercy of God.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalm 100:4)
Marriage is not easy, nor will it solve all of our problems, but our relationships with the Lord will greatly impact (either negatively or positively) our relationship with our future spouses. Set your hearts on God and continue nurturing a deeply rooted relationship with Him.