Are We Really Ready for Marriage?
You’ve found your match, and you’ve been dating long enough to know that you’re in love. Wedded bliss is on the horizon. Or is it? On the threshold of one of life’s biggest decisions, you start to wonder . . .
Are we really ready for marriage?
NAGGING doubts about marriage are normal—even when you’re in love. With unhappy marriages abounding and divorce rates soaring, it’s understandable that you want to proceed with caution as you contemplate this life-altering step. How do you know if you’re ready for it? Now more than ever, you need to root out any daydreams you may have about marriage and replace them with realities. For example:
DAYDREAM 1 “We can live on love.”
Reality: Love will neither pay bills nor cover over financial hardship. In fact, researchers have found money to be a leading cause of marital disputes and eventual divorce. An unbalanced view of money can cause you spiritual and emotional harm, and it can erode your relationship with your spouse. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) The lesson? Don’t wait until after marriage to discuss money management!
The Bible says: “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense?”—Luke 14:28.
Suggestion: Talk over your future financial arrangements with your intended spouse now—before you are married. (Proverbs 13:10) Consider such questions as these: How will our income be budgeted? Will we have a joint bank account or separate accounts? Which spouse will be more adept at keeping financial records and seeing that bills are paid?* How much money can one of us spend on a purchase without consulting the other? Now is the time to start working as a team!—Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.
DAYDREAM 2 “We’ll be a perfect match as a married couple because we see eye to eye on everything—we never disagree!”
Reality: If you never disagree, it’s probably because you’ve carefully managed to avoid issues that might spark a conflict. But marriage will not afford you that luxury! The fact is, no two imperfect humans are perfectly matched, so a measure of disagreement is inevitable. (Romans 3:23; James 3:2) You need to consider not only how well you agree but also what happens when you disagree. A strong union is made up of two people who can openly acknowledge a difference and then work to settle the matter maturely and amicably.
The Bible says: “Don’t go to bed angry.”—Ephesians 4:26, Contemporary English Version.
Suggestion: Reflect carefully on how you’ve handled conflict with your parents and siblings up to this point. Make a chart similar to the one that appears on page 93 of this book or on page 221 of Volume 2. Note specific events that have triggered a disagreement, how you responded, and what response might have been better. For example, if your impulsive reaction to a conflict has been to storm off to your room and angrily slam the door, write down a better response—one that will work to resolve the problem rather than further entrench it. If you learn to respond better to conflict now, you’ll gain a skill that is crucial to a happy marriage.
DAYDREAM 3 “Once I get married, all my sexual desires will be satisfied.”
Reality: Being married does not guarantee ‘sex on demand.’ Remember, your spouse is a human being who has feelings that must be considered. Frankly, there will be times when your mate simply isn’t in the mood for intimacy. Marriage does not give you the right to insist on having your needs fulfilled. (1 Corinthians 10:24) The fact is, self-control is vital in both singleness and marriage.—Galatians 5:22, 23.
The Bible says: “Each one of you should know how to get possession of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in covetous sexual appetite.”—1 Thessalonians 4:4, 5.
Suggestion: Make a careful review of your sexual desires and tendencies, and think about how these might affect your future marriage. For example, are you enslaved to the self-focused habit of masturbation? Have you had a habit of viewing pornography? Do you have a roving eye, secretly looking lustfully at members of the opposite sex? Ask yourself, ‘If I have trouble controlling my sexual desires before marriage, how will I be able to do so afterward?’ (Matthew 5:27, 28) Another matter: Have you been prone to flirt and play the field, earning a reputation as a playboy or a flirt among those of the opposite sex? If so, how do you plan to curtail that tendency after marriage, when your affections will need to be directed to one person—your spouse?—Proverbs 5:15-17.
DAYDREAM 4 “Marriage will make me happy.”
Reality: An unhappy single person usually becomes an unhappy married person. Why? Because happiness is determined more by one’s outlook than by one’s circumstances. (Proverbs 15:15) Those who tend to look negatively at their lot in life usually focus on what’s missing in a relationship rather than on what’s present in it. It’s far better to cultivate and nurture a positive spirit while single. Then, when you’re married, you’ll bring out the best in yourself and your spouse.
The Bible says: “It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else.”—Ecclesiastes 6:9, Today’s English Version.
Suggestion: Sometimes a negative attitude comes from having unrealistic expectations. On a separate sheet of paper, list two or three expectations you have of marriage. Read them, and then ask yourself: ‘Are my expectations based more on fantasy than on reality? Have they been fueled by the media, perhaps by romantic movies or books? Do my expectations focus on what marriage will do for me—perhaps cure my chronic loneliness, satisfy my desire for sex, upgrade my status among my peers?’ If so, you will need to shift from thinking about “me” to thinking about “us.” To help you do that, list two or three expectations of marriage that involve you and your future spouse.
The above marital daydreams can adversely affect your happiness in marriage. So strive to eliminate such thinking and replace it with a realistic outlook. The worksheet on pages 216 and 217 can help you and your future spouse as you look forward to what can be one of life’s greatest blessings—a happy marriage!—Deuteronomy 24:5; Proverbs 5:18.
A breakup can feel like a minideath. How can you cope with the aftermath?
“A man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.”—Genesis 2:24.
Talk to an older married couple, and ask them what advice they would give to a new husband and wife about how to have a successful marriage.—Proverbs 27:17.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
In a successful marriage, husband and wife view each other as friends, communicate well, know how to resolve conflicts, and view their relationship as a lifelong union.
The trait I will work on now to help improve my relationship with my future spouse is ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● In some lands, a high percentage of marriages end in divorce. Why, do you think, is that the case?
● What dangers are there in marrying simply to escape an unhappy homelife?
● Why will it be important to conform to Bible principles in your future marriage?
[Blurb on page 220]
“Marriage is a huge step. It’s important to know not only what you’re getting into but who you’re getting into it with.”—Audra
[Box/Picture on pages 216, 217]
Are You Ready to Get Married?
Consider the questions on the following two pages. You might even use these pages as a basis for discussion between you and your future mate. Be sure to look up the cited scriptures.
□ What is your attitude toward money?—Hebrews 13:5, 6.
□ In what ways do you already show yourself to be financially responsible?—Matthew 6:19-21.
□ Are you currently in debt? If so, what steps are you taking to pay off what you owe?—Proverbs 22:7.
□ What will be the cost of your wedding? How much debt, if any, would you consider reasonable?—Luke 14:28.
□ After you are married, will both you and your spouse need to work? If so, how will you handle differing schedules and transportation needs?—Proverbs 15:22.
□ Where will you and your spouse live? How much will rent, food, clothing, and other expenses likely cost, and how will you pay for those expenses?—Proverbs 24:27.
□ How do you currently resolve conflicts at home?—Colossians 3:13.
□ If you are a young woman, in what ways do you demonstrate a “quiet and mild spirit”?—1 Peter 3:4.
□ Do you plan to have children? (Psalm 127:3) If not, what form of birth control will you use?
□ If you are a young man, how do you plan to take the lead in providing spiritually for your family?—Matthew 5:3.
□ How have you demonstrated a self-sacrificing spirit?—Philippians 2:4.
□ If you are a young woman, what evidence is there that you can subject yourself to authority?—Ephesians 5:22-24.
[Picture on page 219]
Do not jump into marriage without first knowing something about the “waters” you are getting into