I can’t speak from experience, but most married individuals will testify that marriage is hard. It is hard to love sacrificially, regardless of the difficulty or current state of emotion. That is true in other relationships, and is brought to a new level in the closeness of the marriage relationship.
With this in view, isn’t it wise to use our single years to prepare in the ways that we can for our future marriage? Of course, we can never be fully prepared for what God has designed for marriage to uniquely teach, but there are things we can be working on now that will contribute to a healthy marriage in the future.
In a blog post I recently found about preparing for marriage, the first couple paragraphs aptly describe what I think is a common mindset among singles:
“Have you ever noticed that in ‘picking’ the right guy or the right girl it is just that? Have you ever noticed that the other person is always our preoccupation?
…We are quite scrupulous on the other person. But far too often, we are not the same way with ourselves.”
It’s good to have biblical standards when it comes to finding a spouse, but in the process, let’s not overlook our own shortcomings, or neglect those areas of our own lives and character that need changing.
Walt Alexander continues in his blog post,
“…let's take our eyes off the other person for a moment and start with ourselves. Instead of searching for the right person, let's strive to be the right person.”
Or perhaps better put, let’s prioritize striving to be the right person over finding the right person.
So what character qualities and life disciplines should we be striving towards?
Alexander lays out four helpful categories to think through in his post, which I encourage you to read here.
With some overlap from his list, here are just a few things we can be striving towards in our lives as singles that will also be of great benefit should we marry someday:
Again - if we don’t marry, these qualities and skills will still benefit other areas of our lives, bless others, and bring glory to God.
- We’re called to live unselfishly, regarding one another as more important than ourselves, looking out for another’s interests as we do our own. (Phil. 2:3-4)
- We're called to freely extend kindness, compassion, and forgiveness - a reflection of what we've received from God through Christ. (Eph. 4:32, Col. 3:13)
Men and women are created equal in value and dignity, but are
given some distinct roles:
- In marriage, men are called to be the protectors, leaders, and providers of their families. (See this article for a Biblical explanation) With a view towards this, single men should be striving towards financial security and spiritual maturity sufficient to care for and lead a family someday.
- Women are called to be the primary caregivers and nurturers of the home and children, as well as helpers (supporters) of their husbands. (See this chapter on “The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective”) With this in mind, us single women can be working now to grow our skills in hospitality, cooking, budgeting, loving children, being an encourager, etc. Take a look around your home, family, church, and community – the opportunities to serve are probably limitless!
If we do marry, I don’t think we’ll regret any careful preparation we devote ourselves to now, and neither will our future spouse!
In the next post we'll take a brief look at God's design and purpose for marriage.