Wedding! Are You Really Ready for the Big Step?
PICTURE in your mind the home of a teen-age bride-to-be. Yes, there is plenty of excitement and concern. The parents, while concerned about the cost, work hard to make the eventful day a success. The girl may be, by turns, depressed and exhilarated. She knows that a big change in her life is at hand. But does she really know how big the change is going to be?
And then there is the young man. He, too, is a teen-ager, and also excited about the big day. Plans have been made to set up a new household soon after the wedding. But at this point all attention is fastened on the wedding day. Both boy and girl have attended weddings and have been caught up in the thrill and glamour of such occasions. They can already see the wedding guests crowding around offering congratulations and bringing gifts.
But are these two young people ready for the big step? Do they really know each other? Speaking of those early days of teen-age love, one authority declares:
“Each partner forms in the beginning an idealized picture of the other. If marriage occurs during the first glow of enthusiasm, both are likely to have a rude awakening later on.” How can they be sure that theirs is not merely juvenile infatuation that could wear thin in a few months’ time?
Perhaps you are a teen-ager, and you have not yet committed yourself to marriage. You may be contemplating it, though. How wise you are if you face the facts now, refraining from rushing into marriage without due preparation or preadjustment! Married life can bring joy, peace, an atmosphere of stability and contentment. But there are failures, too. And you want to avoid that.
Food for Thought
What is it that makes thoughtful, advance consideration of all the pitfalls in marriage desirable? It is the fact that one is entering into a permanent partnership when one enters the bonds of Christian marriage. Before God there can be no excusing the breaking of those bonds for anything short of marital unfaithfulness on the part of one of the mates. ‘Till death do us part’ is the solemn vow that marriage partners make.
So the glamour of the wedding day should not divert one’s mind from the vital questions that concern those days, months and years that lie beyond the marriage ceremony. Each one contemplating marriage should ask very soberly, Am I adequately equipped for this new role in life, ready to discharge its responsibilities? Young unmarried people can surely note what parents have to do. They can observe that a husband supports his household financially and that he cares for maintenance of equipment in the house. They can see that the role of the wife is that of homemaker—cooking, cleaning, mending and caring for the children. But what can they do to prepare themselves?
If a young man does not know a trade or does not have a job that is adequate to care for himself and his wife-to-be, and perhaps a child before long, can it be said that he is well prepared for marriage? Also, has he worked with his father in caring for practical things around the house? A young woman, too, needs to share in all the household duties with her mother, becoming proficient and always having in mind the excellent qualities of a “capable wife”. Has she really done these things? Successful marriage is not a prolonged honeymoon. Rather, it is a settled, deeply satisfying partnership, with each one contributing generously toward the success of the undertaking.
Religion is a vital consideration when it comes to preparing for a successful marriage. Unless the partners in the marriage can see eye to eye on the subject of God’s requirements for his worshipers, how can they expect success? How can they collaborate to teach their children what is right and true? The Bible wisely counsels: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers,” that is, those who do not accept the truth of the Bible teachings that you rely on as a guide in life.
It is not enough that one of the prospective mates tolerates the religious views of the other. No, because issues may arise that can shatter such toleration—the matter of who has the deciding voice on vital questions affecting the family, for example. Can the girl see in the young man she plans to marry someone she can accept as her “head,” someone for whom she will always have “deep respect”?
Does the man see in his prospective wife one who will always be submissive, not a competitor for the place of leadership in the household?
Many are the disillusionments of premature marriage. According to some authorities in the field of marriage counseling, “two out of three teen-age marriages end on the rocks.” Too late, young mates find that theirs was purely a childish infatuation. Too late, they find themselves mismatched. Too late, they wish they had looked beyond the wedding day and prepared themselves for the roles of husband and wife. Their passions led them into rash action.
What About the Sex Drive?
Yet it is often believed that the sex drive implanted within us should determine when to take a mate. That may be true of animals, but man is superior to the animals, or should be. Intelligent humans well know that the sex urge should never be permitted to take the wheel and direct one’s course in life. Feelings, it is true, are an essential element in our lives, but the mind should supervise, control, yes, even overrule the feelings when necessary to our welfare. If people did everything they felt like doing, this world would be in a sorrier mess than it is in today.
The sex drive is a factor to be considered in marriage. But there are other factors, which, if ignored, can rob a marriage of success. Good judgment, for example, may be cast aside. Consider what happens when someone buys an item without checking as to its quality. On the outside it may appear quite good, but when tested as to quality it may prove to be inferior. Such a discovery as to one’s marriage mate after the wedding day is too late, such as when one finds oneself married to a chronic complainer. Now is the time to think of such possibilities.
‘But this sex drive is too powerful,’ some have been known to claim. But why? Is it because they are reading books and watching films that glorify sex and elevate it to a position it does not deserve? Is it because they have become over-familiar with those of the opposite sex, whipping up their passions to a dangerous degree? That is how boys and girls often become obsessed with the idea that they must marry right away.
The Better Way
How much better, how much wiser it is not to be rushed into any such far-reaching decision as that involved in your choice of a marriage mate! First, it is beneficial to have had the experience of standing alone as an individual after passing the adolescent stage, depending on one’s own resources, physical, mental and spiritual. Teen-agers who pass immediately from parental care into the married state miss this opportunity. They never get to know the reality of single life. All they know is dependence on a marriage mate or a parent for protection and happiness.
Then there is the extreme seriousness of the vow they must make to accept someone in wedlock ‘for better or for worse.’ A vow made in haste, without full consideration of everything involved, holds very little of promise, “Have you beheld a man hasty with his words? There is more hope for someone stupid than for him says the Bible.”
A prospective marriage mate needs to be observed under unfavorable as well as favorable conditions. And that takes time. Also, it helps if one can become acquainted with the parents of an intended mate. One marriage counselor, a doctor, observed that ‘seeing her fiancé’s mother serve a meal, seeing the father and mother with each other, is one way a girl can get some idea of what her future husband is likely to expect of her.’ Likewise a young man may get some idea of the kind of wife his fiancée will turn out to be, by observing her mother over a period of time.
It takes time also for the respective parents to get to know the one their son or daughter is contemplating marrying. ‘That is unimportant,’ some may say. But then, if the marriage does run into trouble, to whom are the newlyweds going to turn for a sympathetic ear or some assistance and counsel with a view to patching up their differences? It is true that parents may not select mates for their children as in earlier times, but from their fund of experience they can offer helpful advice, especially so if they are well versed in the Bible’s fine principles.
Of course, if one sees the benefits from a waiting period before plunging into matrimony, then he or she must understand that intimate association with the opposite sex or reading books and watching movies having sex as their theme is not for them. Upbuilding reading habits and associations must be substituted.
Following the better way will produce many benefits. A greater stability will come to your life. You will be able to think more calmly and lucidly on vital questions including love and marriage. You will look well beyond the wedding day, preparing in advance for your role as husband or wife. You are more likely to enjoy a lastingly happy married life with God’s rich blessings.