Several weeks ago I wrote a post entitled How to Be Marriageable. In it I laid out, at a high level, some key considerations and preparations a man should undertake to prepare himself to meet that special someone and to serve as the foundation of a happy and fruitful marriage. I even taught pretty much the same information to a men’s group, touching on all the points in about 30 minutes without going into a lot of detail for each.
My plan already was to develop each point into it’s own teaching and present it to a group of young men that I connected to. When I presented the idea to the lads there was a long silence as they considered the prospect. Finally, one of the guys (and a leader) said, “Ok, I’ll do it.”
Another of the young men said, “Yeah, I’ll do it; what could it hurt?” To which the first young man said, “Oh, it’s Mr. Stewart — it could hurt!” Nevertheless almost all of them gathered last week for our first class. I’ve posted here the “script” I used and followed (for the most part). There was a lot of discussion and some diversions where I used examples from my personal life to illustrate a point and those aren’t captured here. There should be enough to give you a good idea of what’s up, though. It starts very similarly to the original post but quickly moves into more detail than I wanted to provide initially. There’s also a link to a handout we’ll be using.
A lot of guys hope or assume that they’ll be able to sense when it’s time to marry, either because they’ll find someone they FEEL they can’t live without or they FEEL it’s time to settle down. Both of those feelings are important, and feelings provide valuable momentum, but they don’t necessarily indicate that you have the proper outlook or skills to marry. Yes, of course, people do get married in the throes of passion and somehow manage to develop the proper survival skills on the fly when reality sets in. Then again, many people try it this way and fail spectacularly.
Ask yourself, would you rather learn to swim by being thrown into the deep end to see if you’ll go up or go down, or after you’ve been able to rehearse a few techniques while still at the side of the pool?
Things we’ll cover to help you be prepared:
- how to identify and evaluate a marriage prospect
- courtship vs. dating
- living in understanding with your wife
- what do women want?
- praying for your wife
- oh, yeah; sex in marriage
- your finances
- your appearance, hygiene
- on being “swave” and “deboner”
HOW’S YOUR CONDITIONING?
Marriage is a marathon, but most of us spent our single days as sprinters, chasing women and running away from commitment. You get yourself into a distance race, though, and you’ll find you may look good for the first couple hundred yards and then you start to seize up. Blisters form from the friction, and just about every part of your body screams, “What were you thinking?”
Now I’m not saying that you prepare for marriage by a series of progressively longer relationships; that may “condition” you, but not for marriage. What I am suggesting is that if your objective is to get married that you look to the condition of other things (ideally before you even meet the woman you’d like to marry). For example:
WHAT IS THE CONDITION OF YOUR HEART?
By that I mean, “What is your view of women?” Are you looking at them as your lover, your maid, your mommy? The fact is most people (men and women) get married because we’re “in love” with what we think the other person can do for us. After all, both people have just spent the last however many months and years trying to put their good sides forward as they dated/courted/pitched woo. Then the first time someone doesn’t hold up his/her end of the (perceived) bargain you feel betrayed.
You should be thinking in terms of what characteristics make for a good partner — and not just in her! What do you bring to the table besides your bad manners? (More on that in a later class.)
Pro 18:22 — [Whoso] finds a wife finds a good [thing], and obtains favor of the Lord.
Don’t say, “I’m not cut out for marriage.” You think you’re being selfless, but it’s really selfishness. You’re not willing to change your life to expand, to receive something good that God has for you. It’s as if God says “Here, take this blessing,” and you say, “Uh, no thank you.”
The key to finding a wife is to not go looking for a wife. No, that’s not some funky Zen or Yoda-like statement. The thing you want to find first is a friend. Paul gives us an important example of how we should relate to others in 1 Timothy 5:1-2:
Rebuke not an elder, but intreat [him] as a father; [and] the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity…
I know, that sounds like a set-up for a Jeff Foxworthy routine. “If you go to family reunions to meet women…youuu might be a redneck!” In a real way, though, Paul’s advice to young Tim gives you a chance to consider how you act around women — and not just the pretty ones. Do you see them as sisters, as someone to respect? What is a brother’s role in looking out for his sister’s well-being? (See handout).
Here’s something else to stretch your mind: nearly every woman you meet is also somebody’s wife! That is, she is either married to someone now or will be. Your wife, too, is out there somewhere. How do you want people treating her?
This is not meant to suggest that women need protecting because they are weak; my point is that women should be protected because they are under attack! For all the talk and ideals about women being equal and having opportunities (which I agree with), the culture today is systematically tearing down women on the altar of male libido. Sex and porn are used to sell everything from beer to cars and violence — in both word and deed — against women is pedaled through television, movies and popular music — and then women are treated as if they’re the weird ones if they object. This hyper-sexualized environment debases women and undermines men and we’re all swimming in a warm, sensual bath (to which the proverbial frog says, “ahhh” — right before he’s cooked!).
If you want to find a friend you have to stop looking for a toy.
There are men who have said, just before they get married, “Now I’m going to have sex every night!” These are often the same guys who say, just as they’re getting divorced, “Now I’m going to have sex every night!” Our culture says women are supposed to give themselves up to men (or males, anyway), yet we are instructed that it is the men who have to be prepared to sacrifice:
Eph. 5:25 – And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church.
You can prepare yourself to be married even before you’ve met anyone by understanding that marriage isn’t a 50/50 proposition but 100/100 for each party. It’s not just about what you’re going to get out of it, but what you have to give.
Make a list of 10 to 15 things you think you want in your wife; physically, spiritually, emotionally. What is important to you? Try to get to at least 8, and don’t go past 15 for now. Don’t worry, this list doesn’t have to be perfect; it will probably change many times over the coming weeks and years as you discover new priorities or re-prioritize the ones you already have. Be prepared to discuss.