As I made a batch of banana chocolate chip cookies a few nights ago, I started thinking about all the ways I can use my state of singleness to prepare for my future marriage.
There are different skills men and women bring to marriage. Relational skills add depth and speak volumes into marriages that practical skills cannot. And there are different aspects of character each need to work on in order to make marriage successful.
Men are expected to be spiritual leaders and should therefore make cultivating an attitude of spiritual leadership a priority. A husband’s job is to love his wife as Christ loves the church, and he does this through servant leadership. His duty is to ensure his decisions reflect his wife’s best interests and not his own selfish desires. This means he must learn to consider his wife’s input as much as his own.
Wives must learn to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. This means respecting any decisions he makes and encouraging him in faith. Wives should encourage their husbands to be active — not passive — leaders by honoring their leadership and forsaking any desire to usurp it. Women must also learn to think of their husbands before themselves and cultivate an attitude of helpfulness.
Marriage itself cultivates many of the attitudes required for a successful union as it refines our character to be more Christlike, but there are things we can do now to help prepare us for that giant commitment we’ll make someday.
The most important thing we can do for our future spouse is grow daily in Christ. We need to become people of Scripture and of prayer. In doing so, we will gain priceless wisdom and strength. With Christ as our solid foundation, we will be able to love and encourage our spouse in a selfless way.
For our future marriage to reflect Christ and His love for the church, we need to practice loving others with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. We need to cultivate attributes of patience, kindness and humility. We must learn how to put others before ourselves. We need to practice forgiveness daily and recognize that marriage is a lifelong union between two sinners.
For me, a big part of preparing myself for marriage is looking at my mom as an example of a godly wife and mother. There are practical skills I’ve learned from her over the years about managing a household, but I’ve also learned something by observing her character. She is always thinking of other people and their needs above her own.
She recognizes my dad as the head of the household. He asks for and considers her input, but ultimately, he makes the final decisions. My parents set an example for me of what it looks like to have a successful complementarian partnership in marriage where the husband is the head and the wife the helper.
What characteristics of husbands and wives do you think are crucial to a successful marriage? Share some things you are doing in your life now to prepare for marriage later.