Several months ago I came across a little book called, Your Future ‘Other Half’: It Matters Whom You Marry by Rebecca VanDoodewaard. Rebecca addresses the importance of considering the type of spouse a woman hopes to marry. I want to share with you the areas the book covers and some impactful quotes but I encourage you to pick up a copy or copies for the single women in your lives.
This would be a great book to go through with your daughters as it facilitates good discussion. It is also a handy resource to talk about with your unmarried sons in preparing them to be future spouses.
It is a valuable resource and Rebecca shares the impact marriage has on us spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and relationally. She also addresses what you, as the single woman, should be doing to prepare yourself for marriage in the last chapter. At 127 pages it packs in a lot of good, solid, Christ focused wisdom.
Please note she states very clearly that, “this book cannot give you the ultimate Potential Husband Check List, Dating Strategies that Work, or a Perfect Marriage Pattern that you can hold up to your boyfriend to see if he fits.” The reminder is every couple is different and every Christian marriage is different. No two marriages will look alike and this book is not a formula but the purpose is to get you thinking in a Christ focused way on what is the purpose of marriage.
Marriage Will Impact You Spiritually
I appreciate the reminder here that if you are a Christian and the young man you are being pursued by is not a Christian – you need to end it right now. No unequally yoked! (2 Corinthians 6:14).
“A man who does not know Christ cannot be a Christ-like figure, loving you as Christ loved the Church as God calls him to in Ephesians 5. Pastor Jason Helopoulos warns single women about unbelieving men: ‘They will not be united with you on the most important thing, which shapes everything else, and yet you will be united in one flesh. As I have sat with grieving Christians, struggling to know how to live in a godless marriage, I hear in their cries the reality that there are few things more lonely than knowing that the person you are the closest to in this life is far from you in almost every way. If you don’t have Christ in common, it is hard to have much in common.’ Do not knowingly submit yourself to a false head (Eph. 5:23).” ~page 32
Marriage Will Impact You Emotionally
We are emotional beings (us women) and it would be good to have an understanding on how your future husband is going to respond to your feelings and ever changing emotions. It is not saying he is going to respond correctly or lovingly every time you are having a difficult moment but it does help to marry a man who is caring about your feelings.
“The issue is not whether your boyfriend understands you perfectly, anticipating and responding to your emotional state in exactly the right way. The issue is whether he wants to understand and shepherd you in this area. There is a difference between his not realizing how you feel, and his ignoring you when you communicate how you feel. There is also a difference between his being a little frustrated when he tries to figure you out, and his rejecting you or refusing any support when he does not understand. Effort and clear communication are key: a loving husband will try to listen, then try and respond in a biblically helpful way. Is your boyfriend on a good trajectory here?” ~pages 47-48
Marriage Will Impact You Mentally
Seeking a husband who looks to your well being by encouraging you intellectually and one who values your opinions and input is an important aspect in a marriage. We all benefit from mutual discussion and it is helpful so we don’t develop opionions that are unbalanced but we are able to see things from each others perspective. I cannot tell you how many times I have been thankful for my husband’s input as I may have been looking at a situation with blinders on and he helped me to see the whole situation more clearly.
Some great questions Rebecca shared in this chapter are:
Is he going to encourage your intellectual development or neglect it?
Will he value your opinions and thoughts?
Will he be upset or controlling if you have differing opinions?
Will he help you manage issues that are stressful?
Will he encourage and support you in the work the Lord has called you to?
Marriage Will Impact You Physically
I stand against the feminist movement and greatly embrace the truths in God’s Word that women are the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7). I have been married almost 29 years and can verify it is true in my marriage. My husband is physically stronger than I am and it is in his created nature to protect and care for me. I am not lesser just weaker.
Some other areas addressed in this chapter regarding being provided and cared for physically, dealing with abuse, being provided for financially, and sexual fidelity. One warning she shared was in the area of your boyfriend or future spouse viewing pornography:
“If you already know that your boyfriend is habitually or regular viewing pornography, that is a strong reason to end the relationship. It is realistic, not perfectionistic, to expect a Christian man to have victory over this sin–before you lock yourself in for life.” ~page 66
“If a man persists in this sin over time, this is reason to call into question his salvation and certainly his suitability for marriage. He values porn more than he values Jesus: have nothing to do with him until he has, over months or years, developed a track record of real victory in this area.” ~page 67
Marriage Will Impact You Relationally
Many good points were covered in this chapter especially regarding his relationship with your parents, siblings, friends, his own family and how he will respond to you mentoring younger women and having your home open to others in the way of hospitality.
“Don’t sacrifice the good relationships you have for the sake of one guy who can’t value the people who love you. But don’t marry someone who comes second to any other human relationship that you have. Marry someone whose relationship with you is strong and can nurture other relationships in your life. Marry someone who you can be happy to introduce to others as your husband because the relationship with him becomes the most valuable one you have.” ~page 76
What is Love?
Love by the world’s standard is just an emotion and it can come and go. Love by God’s standard, and what we are called to in Christian marriages, is agapao. Martin Lloyd-Jones describes it beautifully:
“This (agape) is the word that is always used the in the Bible to express God’s love to us. ‘God so loved the world’ — ‘Agapao’….not an erotic feeling, not merely being fond of, it is the love that resembles God’s love….The Apostle is addressing people who are filled with the Spirit, for they alone can show this love.”
If your future spouse is not a Christian, he can not show you this kind of love. Agapao love is selfless and it is not based on the actions of others but it is based on what Christ did for us. Your marriage must be based on this kind of love.
“If you are in love with a person who is not godly and not growing in the fruit of the spirit, then you must end the emotional attachment to him, regardless of his interest in you. Might that be painful for everyone involved? Definitely. Is it right and necessary? Absolutely.” ~page 86
How About You?
How are you growing in the areas mentioned above? Your spiritual condition will affect your future husband. How do you take correction? Are you motivated to help him in his role as spiritual leader of the family? Will you encourage him to be involved in his role in the local church? What areas can you help to free him up in the home so he can carry out his ministry roles?
Do you have a handle on your emotions? Your tongue? Will you show him respect and value his input and opinions? Will you care for his and your physical health? Will you be a true helpmate to him or will you be a helpless mate? Will you help with the family finances and seek his advice on financial decisions? Will you make yourself sexually available to him and remain faithful to him all the days of your life?
This is just a small sampling but how will you or are you being intentional in preparing yourself for marriage? We will never be perfectly ready for all aspects that will come up in a marriage but I encourage you to remain humble and teachable and seek out godly marriages you admire to get guidance and advice.
I want to leave you with a favorite quote of mine from Elisabeth Elliot:
“If a woman gets married she is going to marry a sinful person. There isn’t anything else to marry. I say that to women all the time. You’ve got to remember, whomever you marry, he’s a sinner. There isn’t anything else to marry.”
One final thought to remember is the will of God in our marriages is to bring Him glory and to bring about our sanctification. I love Rebecca’s final thought in closing, “the next time a godly man who makes you want to be more like Jesus asks you to marry him, it’s probably a good idea to say ‘Yes’!”
Your Future ‘Other Half’: It Matters Whom You Marry by Rebecca VanDoodewaard
It Matters Whom You Marry – The Christian Pundit Blog