Young People Ask . . .
Am I Ready for Marriage?
● “Advice to persons about to marry—DON’T.”—Henry Mayhew: Mr. Punch’s Almanac
● “A happy marriage has in it all the pleasures of friendship, all the enjoyments of sense and reason, and, indeed, all the sweets of life.”—Joseph Addison, English essayist
QUITE a contrast of opinions! Yet statistics indicate that those who do marry have but a 50-50 chance of finding “all the sweets of life.” For example, estimates are that over one half of marriages in the United States eventually end in either divorce, separation (legal or otherwise) or are “loveless marriages”—couples who doggedly stick it out but are miserable.
Nevertheless, it is not really marriage that fails but people. How, though, do you know whether or not you are ready for marriage?
To exchange marriage vows is a serious step, similar to the making of a sacred vow to God. However, the Bible tells of some who would rashly, perhaps on a sudden impulse, make a solemn promise, or vow, to God to perform some act and “after vows he is disposed to make examination.” (Proverbs 20:25) Because of not making an “examination” before making the vow, he may find that more was involved than he hastily had considered. But now he is stuck!
Some have similarly rushed into marriage without first making an “examination.” But what “examination” should one make? First, you should look—as best you can—into your own heart and mind. What are your goals in life? How will these be affected by marriage? Now is the time to start thinking seriously about them because the responsibilities of marriage may practically preclude certain goals or careers.
Examine also why you may want to get married. Are you seeking relief from a bad situation either at home or in school? One young girl confided in her fiancé: “I’ll be so glad when we get married. Then I won’t ever have to make any more decisions!” But rather than lessening your responsibility, marriage greatly increases it.
Living Up to the Roles
Many youths also fail to ‘examine’ the roles of husband and wife. For instance, Sally, a typical teenage bride, says of her husband: “Now that we are married, the only time he acts interested in me is when he wants sex. He thinks his boyfriends are just as important to be with as I am. . . . I thought I was going to be his one and only, but was I fooled”! Did her husband realize that being a husband meant he would have to stop playing the role of a single person?
Or consider the 19-year-old bride who wrote: “I’d rather watch TV and sleep than clean house and fix meals. I’m ashamed when my husband’s parents visit because they keep a nice house and mine is always a mess. I’m a lousy cook, too.” Did she appreciate that being a wife meant being a homemaker?
The Bible, however, gives clear guidelines for husbands and wives. The countless happy families who live by these principles are ample testimony to their value. The accompanying box contains a few Bible principles regarding marriage. As you consider these, think: ‘Am I ready to live up to this?’
Are You Mature?
“Marriage really takes commitment,” stated Vicky, who wed when she and her husband were teenagers. “This isn’t a game. The fun of the wedding is over. It soon becomes day-to-day living and that isn’t easy.” Her husband, Mark, added: “I remember that for my first job I had to get up at 6 a.m. I kept thinking: ‘This is hard work. Will I ever get some relief?’ And then when I got home I felt that Vicky didn’t understand what I was going through.”
To a youth such problems can seem like impassable mountains. However, mature people have a different perspective. Likely, they have already ‘climbed some mountains’ and are emotionally prepared to deal with such problems. So have you truly put away “the traits of a babe” and “become full-grown in powers of understanding”? (1 Corinthians 13:11; 14:20) “The emotionally mature person is other-centered rather than self-centered; he is able to accept responsibility for the well-being of others as well as of himself,” explains Lloyd Saxton in The Individual, Marriage, and the Family. “The emotionally immature person tends to rely on others for his behavior (and then to blame others for his failures) . . . never maturing ethically, nor putting the rights or needs of others before their own immediate sensual gratification.”
Nowhere is maturity more evident than in how you get along with others—primarily those with whom you live. For example, learning how to handle a disagreement without damaging the other person or your relationship with that one is a valuable lesson to learn. Such takes maturity, having insight and knowing “how you ought to give an answer to each one.”—Colossians 4:6.
You Need Spirituality
“Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.” (Proverbs 31:30) Similarly with the man that fears Jehovah.
“It was having learned what Jehovah wants me to do and having come to love him and to view him as my friend that made the difference in my second marriage,” stated Maureen, whose teenage marriage was shattered by divorce.a With the help of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Maureen studied the Bible and began to deepen her relationship with God.
In time she managed to cultivate the qualities that would make a good wife. At the age of 26 she remarried. This time she looked for someone who had the same goals and the same love for God and his Word. After two happy years she said: “Now I want to do everything I can to make the marriage work. During my first marriage I thought if things don’t work out we can always get a divorce. Now I don’t have that attitude at all. By remembering what the Bible tells me to do and by praying to God for his strength, we find that it really works!”
If you are contemplating marriage, why not ask a mature, happily married couple for their comments regarding your readiness for it? Marriage can be a source of the richest happiness or of the most bitter pain. If you choose to wed, what will it bring—pleasure or pain? Much depends on what kind of person you are or are willing to be.
a Her experience is in the article “Teenage Marriage—Pleasure or Pain?” in the September 22, 1983, issue of Awake!
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Bible Advice to Husbands
● Provide for your own household.—1 Timothy 5:8.
Are you willing to hold down a job, even if this may involve getting up early and long hours of hard work day after day?
● Continue loving your wife even as Christ sacrificed himself for others.—Ephesians 5:25.
Are you willing, when there is no violation of God’s law, to put the interest and desires of your wife before your own?
● “Even the Christ did not please himself.”—Romans 15:3.
Are you willing to sacrifice some freedom and forgo things that you prize?
● Assign her honor as a weaker vessel.—1 Peter 3:7.
Will you ‘hold her precious,’ or honor her, even when you are under pressure or if she is in a bad mood?
Will you be able to deal with her delicate emotional makeup, which is sometimes affected by her monthly cycle?
● Render to your wife her due.—1 Corinthians 7:3.
Rendering her full “due” includes not just physical union but attentiveness and tenderness. Have you developed the self-control to render such, not thinking just of your own sexual satisfaction?
Bible Advice to Wives
● The wife should have deep respect for her husband.—Ephesians 5:33.
Will you still respect your husband though he may disappoint you or make mistakes?
Even if you disagreed with a decision, would you submit to his headship as long as there was no violation of God’s laws?
● Workers at home.—Titus 2:5.
Are you willing to prepare meals and keep the home and your family’s clothing clean? Do you do this now with your own room or home?
Do you have the skills and industriousness to handle the demands of a homemaker?—Proverbs 31:27.
● Love your husband and your children.—Titus 2:4.
Are you prepared to seek only the attention of your husband rather than the flattery of other men?
Will you still love a child who wakes you up in the middle of the night?
● Render the husband his due.—1 Corinthians 7:3.
Are you willing to participate in an act of love even when you would prefer not to? Will you refrain from using your “charms” just to get your own way?