In writing a research paper I wanted to address the most important aspect of my life, my family. I thought about writing on children and the changes they undertake as they grow from infancy to young adulthood, but then I realized if I had not married their mother I would not know anything about how they grow or change. Today, the view of marriage is a negative one. This attitude is revealed by a young woman who said, “When I got married I was looking for an ideal, but I married an ordeal and now I want a new deal!” (Sam Kathy). But the problem is not the institution of marriage. The problem lies with the individuals within that structure and their attitudes towards marriage in general. In thinking about writing a research paper on a specific aspect of marriage I could not find just one I wanted to address. I began to research different marriage materials and quickly found myself among the many different stages of marriage, even before the I do. I begin by summarizing, first, how a single person should view marriage, then the characteristics one should possess when choosing a person to marry, leading to the questions that should be asked even before the engagement, to finally the union of man and wife and their roles once married.
A single person often thinks of marriage with an expectation that revolves around a white picket fence. Unfortunately this is just not factual, and too many times this is the cause of divorce when their ideal is not met. In Genesis 2:22 God became the first matchmaker “The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” Every single male that desires to be a husband should not decide what kind of marriage he wants but rather what kind of wife he wants. All too often men look for a woman that will meet the marriage requirements he has adopted over time and takes for granted that he will be in love with the woman first. This fact is true for men and women alike who are looking to marry. The single female looks for safety and security and hopes that marriage will provide both at once. The problem with this is that security cannot be achieved through marriage but by love. The only way a relationship is truly safe is for the couple to love each other to the point that worldly processions and status fall second to a faithfulness that can pass the test of time. Once this love is established then one must consider if the person they love possesses the traits needed for a lasting marriage.
Two people who have come to realize what is needed to consider leaving the single life behind and entering into marriage can then move on to personal compatibility. Once they are in love and decide marriage is the next step one should begin looking for key attributes in the relationship. Communication is vital to understanding each other on a level where one can find out what each other’s expectations for marriage are. If they are the same then the two of them can move on to family and backgrounds which should be considered before deciding to even become engaged. Talk to your partner about how the relationship began and let the other person know your desire for the direction you want it to head in next.
“Pre-marriage counseling will help prepare for a successful marriage.” (Robert Brennan) Once an engagement has been announced some people feel obligated to follow through even if they have changed their minds during the course of therapy. Counseling addresses preserving the beauty of the love relationship so that it can be carried into marriage. In creating a safe environment that allows both parties to express feelings and concerns without judgment the couple can learn more about each other than they have acquired in your relationship so far. When the couple knows each other and how they stand on subjects such as: family, finances, sexuality, and marriage expectations, then they can make an informed decision concerning their future together. There are five questions created by Dr. David Powilson that are a guide to consider before engagement.
1. Are you both of the same religious background or beliefs?
2. Do you have a track record of being able to solve problems? Where do you need to change and grow to become a wiser person?
3. Are both your lives headed in the same direction?
4. What do those who know you well think of your relationship?
5. Do you really want to marry this person? Are you willing to accept each other just as you are?
The most important of these would seem to be number five because it engulfs all the rest. If one can say yes to being willing to move on in their relationship with contentment in each other just as they are, then they are ready to move forward. “This must be evaluated because to enjoy the blessings in marriage, you need skills in solving problems and building honesty and trust.” (Monica) With the engagement at hand you now only have to know the right and wrong reasons for getting married.
Let’s start with the wrong reasons beginning with being free of one’s parents. If independence is what one seeks then marriage is not how to achieve it. Someone may become free of their parents but, will be committing themselves to someone else for the rest of their life. There are other reasons that are all wrong for marriage; sex, loneliness, to be happy, for financial stability, because the partner loves you, and because of pregnancy. The one thing a parent never wants their child to feel is responsible for a broken or unhappy marriage that was entered into based on pregnancy. Entering into marriage for any of these reasons will only be a temporary fix and end badly for both parties. If these are all the reasons not to get married the couple probably would like the positive side as well. The correct reasons for getting married begin with being in love with one another. This is the first and most important reason anyone should ever enter into marriage. Other reasons are; a desire to share your life with another, to have a lifetime companion, realistic expectations of the other, and a willingness to fulfill one another’s needs and desires. If the reasons for entering into marriage are the right ones the time for the proposal is perfect and the date should be set.
Once the union of man and wife is formed you have become one flesh as it states in Matthew 19:5 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” Now you can focus on your role in the marriage and your responsibilities to your spouse. For a husband the command is given to love your wife as Christ loved the church. “What a standard this is because He came from heaven to seek her, to be His holy bride; with His blood He bought her, and for her life He died.” (Monica) If a man is to love in this manner then the woman should be submissive to his love and both should be selfless in all areas of their life together. This is not to say that you cannot have a hobby or something set aside for yourself as long as it meets the approval of your spouse. When you have married, you have pledged yourself to someone else’s happiness. A challenge many loving married couples encounter is that of expressing their desire for one another in a manner that promotes passion. Husband and wife should learn how to complete each other through emotional and physical intimacy. Intimacy does not simply relate to sex in a marriage. There are many aspects of intimacy; mind, body, and soul. Each of these areas should be open and honest in your communication with one another especially in the first years of marriage because this closeness will be the foundation for years to come.
Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25. And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like unto a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.
If you build your marriage on a firm foundation it can weather anything life throws at it. Knowing what to look for while you are still single will be the corner stone for any marriage.
Brennan, Robert. “Marriage and Pre- Marriage Counseling.” Online posting. 7 April 2008. Apokata. Psychological services. www.apokata.addr.com
Buttoughs, Pat. “The good wife’s guide.” Online posting. 10 February 2008. Housekeeping Monthly. www.associatedcontent.com
Kathy, Sam. “How to be a Godly wife.” Morningside Ministries. Pflugerville, Texas. 12 August 2001
Monica. “Marriage.” Online posting. 26 March 2005. www.keepandshare.com
Stritof, Sheri & Bob. Weblog post. Lower you odds for divorce before you marry. About.com. 7 April 2007 www.marriage.about.com
“Let’s Talk About Sex.” 8 April 2008 www.thepurebed.com
“The Good Husband’s Guide.”13 May 2006 www.families.com
“The Holy Bible.” 1960. The American Standard Bible