I met my beloved about 32 years ago when I was 14. I am so glad we met as teens. We were old enough to know ourselves, but young enough that the world and it's leanings stayed far outside our circle of influence. I think as you get older things can get in the way of knowing if you are a good match. Priorities shift. Many marry for wrong reasons. Status, finances, social pressure, career, convenience, etc. can steer you in the wrong direction. My husband showed me a post the other day. An acquaintance of ours announced she's getting a divorce. They have been married two years and after a period of separation they have found they are happier apart. She still loves him very much and wishes him well. I don't know the details, but this scenario has become pretty common. Couples even throw divorce parties? It makes me sad. I feel like marriage is being embraced with a disposable mentality. Rob is a realtor and there is a palpable difference between renters and buyers. When he has shared stories about showing rentals most people know what their basic needs are. In today's market it has become, okay, this meets us where we are. It's clean. It serves the function and the area looks good. Then they toss out an ap to see if the owner feels the same about them. If so, they are in until they move on to something different. People looking to buy? Different animal. What is the neighborhood like? Do people take care of their properties? What are the schools like? Do they treat the kids well? We don't have kids, but some day.. Also, what about the house? What are it's needs? What is under that carpet? They most often pay someone to inspect it top to bottom. They carefully look to find the best person to do this to prevent headaches in the future. Very often they will have a trusted relative like Dad look it over with them... I feel like now a days many people approach marriage with a renters mentality. It wasn't designed to be that way. It is meant to be a forever relationship met with similar scrutiny of buying a house. For those considering marriage, neighborhood can easily be equated to your intended's family. You will conceivably be spending a lot of time with them. Your children too. Be aware of that. It can also equate to personality. So many people go into relationships with intentions of changing the other person. This is disastrous. I spoke to a girl weeks before her wedding. She was exasperated because her guy needed to be picked up from the bar... again. I asked her, do you really want this to be your life? I was about 18, but I could see the book before it was written. It was all over her face when she got the phone call from the bar keeper. "He will change..." He did. Not soon enough to avoid divorce. Another friend married someone mentally unstable assuming a change of environment would fix the psychological issues. It did not. Do not marry someone for who you can change them into. Marry someone for who they are. Any other approach is unrealistic and unfair to the other individual. Marriage is not signing up for a makeover. Imagine those vows... I will love, honor you and make you over into the person I require you to become in order for me to be content. It would be a rare wedding that would make it to the reception. Just be honest, before you get engaged. I have two of the cutest cats. I bathe them often and if you came over to our home you would want to pet them and maybe take them home. They are sweethearts, but what visitors don't see is the occasional hairball... They will likely never step on that wet, slimy, hairy ball of mess with a bare foot as they rub sleep out of their eye on the way to the powder room early in the morning. So gross. There is just not enough soap. Or experience cleaning up said pile of filth. They also don't see them sleeping with their heads on my pillow, which sounds super adorable, unless you have allergies, like me. They will certainly never change the litter box. They will likely not experience the occasional dodge out the front door that leaves me looking like a fruitcake calling for them throughout the neighborhood and hanging up signs. Still we love them. They are mostly amazing kittens with the usual amount of disagreeable habits and needs. This is like getting married. Forgive the comparison, but once the honeymoon is over and you begin the wondrous journey of doing life together, there will be stuff. On both sides. Have a good baseline. Marry someone mostly amazing then working past differences is much less of a struggle because you truly love them and appreciate them for who God created them to be. Kids. You might have some. Discuss how you will raise them, acceptable steps for correction and simple things like how many. My mother was engaged a few weeks before finding out her intended wanted at least a dozen children. She offered to have the first two. That put the kibosh on that. How are they with children? Offer to watch someones children. How do they interact? My son once dated a girl that as she walked in the door drew her hands up and recoiled when his little sister, around 2, came over to say hi. She was not covered with food or paint, just a friendly little girl being reacted to as a vicious dog. It was wildly weird, but super revealing. Finances. Do you have the same goals? What do they need to be content? Financially, emotionally, etc... Talk with a Pastor, Mom and Dad. They may pick up on things you don't. Most importantly, make sure you are equally yoked. 2 Cor 6:14 Once you have taken your vows, you are in it to win it. You are a team. Make sure you are pulling in the same direction in all the ways that count. Imagine walking down the road attached to someone constantly yanking you in different directions. Some of them bad. Straining against this would be exhausting. This is a life long decision. Choose wisely. God meant marriage to be forever.
Mat 19 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no person is to separate.” This is the unique and divine nature of marriage. There is no other human relationship like it. When you marry you become one with your spouse. In 19 the only reason given for divorce is sexual immorality, if the couple cannot reconcile. Marriage is an adventure. It is a journey like no other. When you stand before God and family you are making a commitment to love, support, protect and stay with that person. Even when it is hard. In the most trying cases, if a soul is willing, even when they don't deserve it. It is looking on that person every day with the love you felt when you said I do, but stronger. If you are in Christ you are loving them right down to their toes, soul and all. Marriage is Holy. It is beautiful. It is a relationship set apart by God and designed by God. Like all journeys it will have ups and downs. It's a fact. In over thirty years we have walked through many valleys, but most often we were hand in hand. There were times when I have not liked my husband very much, they were few, but I have always loved him with all that I am and I always will. Love is of God. Like is subjective. Every marriage has windows that at times you may want to jump through, but hang in there because as long as you are in Christ you will find the beauty in the mess. Romans 8:28 Rob was most often conscientious, but I did meet him at 17 and he is not Christ. On our journey I have watched him walk, run, fall on his face, find his feet and get back up again with redefined purpose. He has watched me do the same. We are just two ordinary people who fell in love, but we serve an extraordinary God and that has made all the difference. If you are blessed with a great marriage, please share about it. If you are walking on coals and need someones hand to hold while you brave the heat, we are here. ~ Dagney
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails