*By Le Ann Trees
People can have a lot of idealistic thoughts about marriage. They may envision themselves marrying the person of their dreams and spending a lifetime of wedded bliss together. Stop. Wait a minute. Real life doesn’t exactly go that way all the time. Marriage is a gift from God, but it also requires a vast amount of commitment and sacrifice. Still, there are a lot of benefits to married life, and people all over the world continue to tie the knot.
If you’re not married, engaged, or seriously dating someone whom you think you might marry, you may wonder at times if you will ever experience the joys and challenges of matrimony. Here are six things you can do in the meantime:
1. Seek the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Patience is one of the first things you will have to practice after getting married. This is pretty obvious to anyone who knows married people. The process of learning to live with someone for a lifetime is not easy; if that were the case, the divorce rate would be a lot lower than it is. You will also need lots of other fruits of the Holy Spirit if and when you get married someday—including love, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—because your spouse and you will each be living with a sinner! (Gal. 5:22–23).
2. Look for a potential spouse right around the corner.
Marrying someone from a faraway city or country is a relatively recent phenomenon in our more mobile and wired world. Throughout history, romantic love and marriage have usually taken place between people who lived in close proximity to each other. Click here regarding studies on proximity factors in selecting a spouse. Internet dating apps are an increasingly popular way to find that special someone. Still, you are most likely to marry someone you have spent some time with in your community, church, school, or workplace.
3. Stop looking for your perfect match.
Many people think that there is one person in the world with whom they are meant to be, and they must do everything they can to find that person. This kind of thinking can make people hesitant to commit to marriage, because they fear they might be marrying the wrong person. While there are Bible verses that describe romantic love (see the story of Jacob and Rachel in Genesis 29 and the Song of Solomon), the Bible never corroborates the idea that there is one specific individual in the universe who is your perfect match. Holding on too much to this romantic idea can keep you from building a wonderful life with a worthy person you enjoy and love.
3. Don’t “let go and let God.”
It’s always nice if you can marry someone who likes the same things you enjoy. You will have more opportunity to meet that person by being actively engaged in life. For the most part, God works through ordinary, everyday events. Your daily vegetables don’t just appear on your table. Someone had to grow the produce and then get it to a market where you purchased it with money you earned. If you would like to be married, get out, go to work, learn new things, have fun, circulate, and you will be more likely to meet a potential spouse who shares the same interests you have.
4. Think about ways to help others.
Helping people reorients your life, focusing your attention away from yourself and towards the needs of others. During the times of my life when I have felt discontented or discouraged, a good way out of it has always been to look for ways to help people in need, even in some small, seemingly insignificant way. Jesus encouraged his disciples that those who give someone a cold cup of water in his name will receive a reward (Matt. 10:42). If Jesus values these small acts, they are important for all of us to do. Learning to serve others with a joyful heart is also great preparation for marriage, since married people do a lot of serving, whether that service is given to their spouse, children, or extended relatives.
5. Don’t trust social media; trust God.
It can be easy to look at social media postings and think that almost everyone else has the perfect life. They don’t; it just looks that way online. Of course, you know people who are worse off than yourself, but you may be focusing on your friends who are engaged, married, or married with children. It seems like you may never have that kind of life. Dwelling on what you don’t have can make you bitter and resentful toward God, instead of trusting in him (Prov. 3:5–6). Remember that you are not seeing the whole story of a person’s life on Facebook or Instagram, so try not to compare. There is a reason why God tells us not to covet: it is a very destructive activity (Exod. 20:17). Pray to the Lord and let him know your fears and anxieties about the future. He wants you to lean on him (1 Pet. 5:7).
6. Remember that God has your good in mind.
When I was young, there was a popular saying, “All that glitters is not gold.” Marriages that start out well don’t always end that way. Don’t be tempted to rush into marrying someone because you think it will validate your own self-worth. God doesn’t tell us everything he is doing, and sometimes we ask him for things that wouldn’t be good for us in the long run. Your end goal is not to find happiness on this earth but rather to bring glory to God in all (Rom. 11:36). You can trust that God hears your prayers and has both a purpose and his own timing in all he allows:
But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (Mic. 7:7)
God knows what he is doing, so you don’t have to be anxious about the future when it comes to finding a spouse (Ps. 28:7). Make the most of the opportunities you have to grow in your faith and love and serve others, wait on the Lord, and see what happens!
About the Author of this Article: Le Ann Trees. Le Ann is a writer, editor, speaker, wife, and mom who enjoys the Southern California lifestyle, including flip-flops, the beach, riding electric bicycles along the 101, and an occasional salted caramel Americano from Lofty Coffee in Solana Beach. She is exceedingly grateful for both the loving kindness of many people and the sound Christian doctrine that helped her to keep on living after her son died in a skiing accident in 2006. She holds a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Westminster Seminary California. Le Ann is managing editor of Beautiful Christian Life. This article is adapted from the excellent website: corechristianity.com (October, 13, 2016)