Have you ever noticed how some married couples seem to display a real, genuine relationship with each other?
Being a guy with childlike wonder, I’m naturally curious.
Why does he treat her with love, kindness, and care? Why does she respect, honor, and follow him? As single Christian guys and girls, we should be cultivating habits which are crucial for healthy marriages.
Here are three effective ways the Lord has shown me to prepare for marriage during these single years.
1. View Marriage In Light of Eternity
Many of us will focus on many of the practical details of preparing for an earthly marriage that we often lose sight of marriage’s big picture. This big picture is Christ and the church.
In Ephesians 5:31-32, Paul notes, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
This “earthly” picture of Christ and the church is also seen as an “eternal” picture.
Revelation 19:7 notes, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.”
In short, we begin to effectively prepare for marriage when we view it in light of eternity. This eternal view is the feast to come with Christ and His bride.
2. Talk With Those Who Are Married
I’ve learned that if I really want to prepare well for marriage, I need to talk with those who are married. Seems pretty simple.
Through this curiosity, I started talking with couples who radiate Christ glorifying marriages. Couples who’ve been married 1 year. 10 years. 20 years. 40+ years. They all seemed like they loved each other, respected each other, and laughed with each other.
What were some of their secrets? While they shared many things, I noticed two essential qualities which stuck out.
One of the first things I heard from couples with healthy marriages is that they’re quick to admit they don’t have it all together.
He may say, “Oh, Ashley and I definitely have our moments of disagreement. I’m guilty of not always responding well to her.” She may add, “Yes, I’m often focused more on pleasing myself instead of seeing how I can serve Jim.” And yet, through their disagreements and conflicts, they both recognize where they fall short.
They have exceptional self-awareness.
This awareness leads to the second point these couples will share. This second point is being quick to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.
Through these conversations with other couples, I’ve been enriched and personally encouraged. They share how the healthiest God-honoring marriages are ones which manifest the Gospel. This includes recognizing one’s own daily desperate need for a Savior (First Great Commandment, Matthew 22:37-38) and using Christ’s redeeming work to serve others (Second Great Commandment Matthew 22:39).
3. Focus On Personal Growth
The single years are precious times to cultivate and establish Godly character traits. Over the years, I’ve asked God to show me where Christ is working in my life and where I still need to grow.
Yes, growing in our relationship with Jesus is for the rest of our lives.
I’ll often ask, “Lord, what are the areas in my life that I need to surrender to you?”
Through the writing process of a blog post on unconditional surrender, I’ve further solidified a personal conviction: the Christian life is much more about yielding to the Holy Spirit instead of “trying harder.”
Surrendering and yielding to God is one of the most painful, yet rewarding things we can do in our Christian walk.
Once God shows me another area to surrender, I’ll then pray, “I yield this area to you God. I yield this area to you Holy Spirit.”
Then, I move forward in faith. It’s amazing what fruit takes place as a result. We serve an AMAZING God.
It’s still not easy. It hurts. But the results of Christ’s joy being all for me outweighs the difficult process of pain.
So, why is working on personal growth now important for marriage? It’s important because you’ll need it in marriage. Your spouse will need it in marriage. And most importantly, Christ needs our desire to personally grow for the gospel’s sake.
So, how about you?
Have you given much thought to personal growth in your life?
What advice would you give your “single” self or “married” self on preparing for marriage?
What role does an eternal perspective play in your pursuit of marriage readiness?
Meet the Author: This guest post was written by John Kraemer, a blog writer of Joysuf, a ministry which focuses on joyful living in daily suffering.