We received this question earlier this week. Actually, there was a follow-up question that went with it. The fellow that emailed us asked, “What are some things that I can avoid that will damage my marriage later?” So, we’ll answer both of these questions in the same answer.
This answer is from the standpoint of the man. As a man, here are some practical and spiritual things that you can do to prepare for your marriage, even long before you find the woman that you believe God would have you to marry.
Establish consistent personal devotions – Ps 55:17 David prayed three times a day; Is 34:16 read your Bible daily; 2 Tim 2:15 study the words of God; 1 Tim 4:13 Paul exhorted Timothy to “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” – the best way to prepare yourself to love your wife is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul – Jesus loves the church and we are to love our wives the way that Christ loves the church, Eph 5:25 – your love for your wife should always be secondary to your love for the Lord – if, therefore, you don’t love the Lord very much, you won’t love your wife very much either – or else you will end up loving her more than you love the Lord and that will cripple your marriage
Rule your spirit – Prov 25:28; 14:29 – loving relationships between men and women involve emotions – therefore, you have to have control of your spirit and your emotions to keep from rash statements and actions that will hurt your spouse – one thing with which women have a hard time is forgetting things that hurt them – many men have hurt their wives because they lost their temper at a time when they should have maintained control – their marriages have suffered from then on
Control your eyes – Ps 101:3; Job 31:1 men have a terrible time with this problem, particularly today – you have to be disciplined to keep from developing an attitude about women that they are simply objects for your personal pleasure – so, don’t watch TV, watch few movies [be sure there is nothing suggestive or explicit that you will view], don’t surf the internet, don’t lust after women Matt 5:28
Control your thoughts – 2 Cor 10:4-5; Prov 16:3 – once you have an image, you have an imagination – and the trouble with our imagination is that “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth,” Gen 8:21 – you have to control your thought life – if you don’t you could very easily end up marrying the wrong woman for the wrong reason and be very miserable in your marriage – furthermore, with an out-of-control thought life, you will not be satisfied with the wife of thy youth [Prov 5:18-19] and before long you will be looking for pleasure from other women – follow Phil 4:8 and not the philosophy of the world – fill your mind with good things
Keep yourself pure – 1 Cor 7:1 keep your hands to yourself; 2 Tim 2:22 flee also youthful lusts – the best way to avoid trouble here is don’t play the dating game – and covenant that you will wait till you are married before physically loving your wife
Find and do the Lord’s will for your life – Phil 2:12-13 that way when you meet your future bride, you won’t be pulled away from the Lord’s will by trying to appease her – 1 Cor 11:3 the head of every man is Christ – therefore, you have to be under his authority if your wife is ever going to be under your authority – many a man has left the path of the Lord’s will for the sake of the woman he wanted to marry only to find that he could never get back to the Lord’s will because she wouldn’t let him without making his life miserable or without threatening to divorce him
Prepare yourself financially – 2 Thes 3:7-10, Prov 24:27 – you have to be able to pay the bills without straining your marriage – it’s too easy to crave the companionship of a bride so much that you neglect to be responsible about the future of your family
Develop strong convictions – 1 Tim 4:12 – as the old saying goes, “a man that will stand for nothing will fall for anything” – there is some truth to that statement – you have to know where you stand and then you have to stand there – that will make it easier for you and your bride to determine whether you are agreed on important matters – if not, then you’ll find yourself giving ground that you cannot recover just to keep your marriage together – like Amos asks, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
Study and develop leadership characteristics – Gen 3:16, about the woman, God said, “he shall rule over thee”; 1 Cor 11:3, “the head of the woman is the man” – how can you expect a woman to follow you if you cannot rule – a preacher said, “a man will either rule his house or he’ll wreck it” – so you have to learn how to lead
Be very faithful in church – Heb 10:25 – attend all the services faithfully [i.e., Sunday school, preaching morning and evening, and prayer meeting] – occupy your time with things in the ministry – learn to be a helper and concentrate your efforts on getting lost people saved and in church – that way it will be natural for your family to grow together in church
Honor the women who are in your life – 1 Pet 3:7 – a man is to give honor unto his wife – so learn the proper honor and respect for the women who are in your life – honor your mother – treat your sisters with honor – treat your aunts and grandmothers and personal friends with honor and respect – that way when you marry, you will know how to honor your wife – too many men treat their wives with less honor than they do their dogs
Pray for the right woman – Prov 18:22; 19:14 – “a prudent wife is from the Lord” – God can direct you to the woman he wants you to have but you would be wise to start praying now for the discernment to know who she is when she shows up – a friend of mine prayed for years for a wife and when visiting a church he identified her – shortly thereafter they married – and they have been married now for over 40 years, with wonderful children and grandchildren faithfully serving the Lord
Study spiritual qualities in virtuous women – Prov 31:10-31; Tit 2:3-5 – a man once told me what his mother told him about marrying the right woman – she said, “Don’t you marry no woman what you loves … you marry a woman who gonna prove she love you” – now that’s not good grammar but that is sound wisdom – she explained that a man is prone to fall in love with the first woman he sees who’ll look back at him – forget about her physical qualities for a minute and check out her non-physical qualities to see if they match the qualities of a virtuous woman – remember that “beauty is vain” – “a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” – I’ll guarantee you this, if she’s virtuous she won’t let you start a physical relationship with her until you two are married
Be manly – Prov 13:22 “a good man obtaineth favor of the Lord”; Acts 11:24 Barnabas was “a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith” – today there are many sissies in church because Christianity is soft and all about feelings – be a man – and like an old preacher said, “If you can’t be a man, fake until you become one” – a good woman deserves a man with a backbone – she’ll be extremely insecure if you’re backbone is no firmer than a wet noodle – and when a woman is insecure she will try to take control
Develop friendships with good men – Prov 13:20 – most of the problems that young men have with young women stem from friendships with bad young men – you run with the wrong crowd and you will do the wrong things – and the converse is true – you run with the right crowd and you will do the right things
Follow the example of men in successful marriages – Phil 4:9 – ask the men who have been married to the same woman for twenty five or thirty years or more how they did it – listen carefully and do those things – you will generally find that these men are stable, sober, compassionate, friendly, secure, humble, and good natured; they are good listeners and good leaders; they are not harsh and they are not cruel; they are honorable and trustworthy
Now, certainly, there is more that can be said about this subject. However, if you dedicate your time to these things, you will find that, in time, you will be prepared to assume the duties of marriage.
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder