<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> The Christian Marriage - Part 2: Finding Your Mate
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The Christian Marriage Series
Part 2: Finding Your Mate

Revision 1, March 2000

By William R. Cunningham
1999,2000 All Rights Reserved

 

Introduction

We are going to look at the activities that precede marriage in an effort to give those that are contemplating marriage some information that may be useful. I have been married for over 11 years at the time of writing this document and I have spent over 15 years researching and contemplating marriage as a whole as well as talking to many men about their marriages. Therefore I feel that I have useful information to share with anyone that intends on getting married.

What are some things that happen before the actual wedding day? What leads up to the big proposal? These questions are the subject of this part of the "Christian Marriage" series of studies. I hope to provide useful information to those who intend on getting married or would like information to help them plan for a marriage. We are going to talk about finding the "right" mate in this part of the series.

Why Should You Marry?

Why should we bother to get married? Why can't men and women simply live together have children and live happily ever after? Well this is actually possible but not biblically sound nor socially constructive to the child's development. Two people marry because they are committed to each other. Marriage is usually the next progression in a relationship after courting. Marriage is by far one of the most serious decisions that you will have to make in your life. Is this the person for me? How do I know if I should marry this person? These questions race through your head even if you do feel comfortable about the person. Only time will tell however.

Marriage is desirable because of the stability it provides for the family, even if that family is just the husband and wife. This of course assumes a good marriage. Marriage can also prove to be very beneficial to the development of the man and woman as they purportedly pursue dreams and goals together. Marriage by nature is a good thing however; having a good marriage is a whole different ballgame and will require a lot of work by both the husband and the wife.

Why Marry a Certain Person?

You are in a relationship with someone and the thought of marriage is in the air.  Why should you marry this person?  People get married for many reasons.  In part one we discussed that love is one reason why people get married and we found that love alone is insufficient for marital bonding.  People also get married for the following reasons:

  • They produce a child out of wedlock
  • A sense of security that their spouse will provide (such as financial security)
  • Need a father or mother for children
  • Prospects or the continuation of good sex
  • The pride of linking with such a person (supermodel type)

Here is where the problem starts for many.  Simply said, they marry or pursue the "wrong" person and/or for the wrong reasons.  Choosing the right mate is extremely important to increase the probability of a productive and successful marriage.  I think that it is commonly believed that if a woman has a child out of wedlock then that women and the father of the child should get married.  On the surface this sounds logical, however logic will not produce a successful marriage.  Instead the marriage will be in trouble from the very beginning unless the two really have a genuine love for each other, have a strong relationship, and are really willing to commit to each other for life.  A marriage resulting from this type of circumstance is a marriage based on duty and not commitment and will not necessarily produce a good Christian marriage. This doesn't mean that such marriages can be successful. I am only saying that a child before marriage should not be the sole reason for two people to be married.

Getting married for the wrong reasons to the wrong person can be devastating. This may result in the man, woman, or both living the rest of their life in misery. Their marriage may end in separation or divorce. Worse, they may never separate and simply live a miserable unfaithful existence with each other.

Basically, you would decide to marry a specific person if you believe in your heart that you will commit yourself to him or her. You love her, care about her (or him), and you want to live the rest of your life joined with this person so you pursue marriage. Technically, you marry someone because you want to. You may find that marriage may one day appear as the next step or natural progression in your relationship.

How do you know if this is the right person? The truth of the matter is that you won't. How would you know whether to take one job over another? Similarly, you won't. Only time will reveal whether or not you probably made the "right" decision. Of course having a good marriage involves a lot of work on both parts so even marrying the "right" person doesn't guarantee a good marriage. So the bottom line is to do all you can to choose the right person for you and to continue to nurture your relationship after the wedding day to increase your chances of having a wonderful marriage.

Finding the Right Mate

How do you know when you have found the person that you should marry?  Some say that you should just trust God to lead that special person to you or lead you to him or her.  Others believe that God will show you your spouse when you meet him or her.   I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle.  Let me explain.   Let's look at what the Bible says about acquiring a spouse.

(Proverbs 18:22 NIV) He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.

I would like to focus in on the word "finds."  This implies that the man searches for the wife.  Also note that the one who finds a wife, which is good, receives favor from the Lord.  In other words, finding a good wife is an indication that a man has received grace of favor from God.  Let me show you another scripture that applies to the principle that I am trying to share.

(Psalms 1:3 NIV) He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

Again we see how God blesses what we do.  A man will seek a wife and will find one.  God blesses the man's activities by him finding a wife.  Now there are a lot of other scriptures that I can quote that further illustrate the concept I am trying to relay to you.  However, instead of quoting them let me simply reference them for you to review at your convenience.  See also the following:

Psalm 119:105-The word of God can direct us as we search for a wife (application of this scripture)

Matthew 7:7-We will find a wife if we seek (application of this scripture)

Joshua 1:8-The importance of God's word and success and prosperity (an application of this scripture)

The point that I want to make is that I believe that a wife is not going to simply drop out of the sky.  It is very unlikely that you can go on with your life and do nothing to look for a wife and then expect one to show up.  I believe the same principle applies to women looking for husbands as well.  How is this so?  Isn't it the man's job to pursue the woman? I don't believe this is entirely true. Yes a man will pursue the woman of his dreams, however, the woman should also pursue the man of her dreams. The man and the woman will respectively pursue in different ways but both will still pursue.

I believe that the spouse must be pursued both before marriage and after the wedding day (as we stated in part 1).   This pursuit is active and involves many things that you may take for granted.   In order for you to find a good wife (or husband for the woman), that potential spouse must somehow catch your attention.  This leads us to the realm of attractiveness. 

Attractiveness

It is first necessary to be attracted to someone or be attractive to someone in order to connect with a possible mate. Now here is were some go very wrong and end up entering a relationship that results in disaster. Many men become interested in a certain woman because she looks "FINE!"  He may like her general appearance, her nice legs, her breasts, her smile, her arms, or her behind.  Basically a man may become interested in a woman because of her physical attraction and likewise a woman may become interested in a man because of his physical attraction.   I must say that the attraction of a man to a woman tends to be different in some respects.  A man does not care what kind of car a woman drives or if she drives a car at all.  However, woman, based on the information that I have gathered, will consider the type of car a man drives or if he drives at all. This is based on what the man and woman want in a relationship respectively.

There is more to attractiveness than physical attraction.  Many men, including myself, find woman interesting who are of course generally fit and healthy and who are intellectually stimulating.  There is also the general aura of the other person.   There is much more to a human being then just flesh and blood.  I believe that there is a life force, which some call Chi or Ki.  Some may think of this life force and associate it with the aura of a person or energy that emanates from the person.   We can sense these things and react to them, usually subconsciously.  I recall Pastor Blumentoe explaining this to us (Bible class students).  She asked us if we had ever met someone and, for no reason at all, felt uncomfortable or comfortable about that person?  She said that this reaction could have been the result of our response to their life force or spirit.  I tend to agree, however, I don't want to get into a discussion on that topic at this time, especially since it is very subjective.

There may be many things that can induce a person to become interested in another in the area of male female relationships.  There is physical and intellectual attractiveness.  Physical attractiveness is more than being pretty or handsome.   It involves good grooming and good hygiene.  A beautiful person does not have to look like a supermodel.  Beauty comes from within and radiates outward.  External beauty is only a cover that does not indicate what's inside.  For example, a brand new body on a car with a corroded engine and torn seats is not a good car to have.  However, a clean car with a good paint job with a working engine and clean seats is more desirable.  My point is not to narrow your scope for a possible mate by looks alone.

It is a very dangerous thing to enter and pursue a relationship with someone because they have a great body and is the prettiest thing you ever saw.  What's inside?   Be sensitive to who the person really is and not just what he or she looks like.   Looking for the tall dark and handsome man or the 36-24-36 women is no guarantee whatsoever of a good and lasting marriage.  Learn to be attracted to the whole person.  Probe the person for signs.  For example, does the guy that you are interested in, ladies, seem to always catch himself before he is about to say what sounds like a curse word?  Does this person always want to be alone and in private with you or always wants to go to a bar?  These are signs of other things that are lingering below the camouflage of the outer appearance and smooth talk.

Attractiveness is a quality of the whole person. What attracts me may not attract you. Some men like skinny women while others like big ones. Some woman like hulk men while others like lean guys. You have to realize that what attracts you may not be attractive to someone else, which means that someone else's opinion about your new found "friend" may be invalid.

There are some general things that you can do to be attractive. Be yourself in good condition. If you are a sloppy person with bad hygiene then you will not likely attract many people. I believe it is important that you take care of yourself by looking your best all of the time. We will see that this is a neglected aspect once marriage has been entered. That is, we may think that it is OK to let ourselves go once we are married. Here are some things that lead to attractiveness.

  1. Physically fit (we can't deny the importance of this)
  2. Good grooming
  3. Good language
  4. Good hygiene (don't smell bad and brush your teeth, etc.)
  5. Wear nice and clean clothes
  6. Look your best all of the time

If you are an abrasive person then don't put up a front to appear passive. There are men that find abrasive women attractive. If you put up a front and attract a man that is turned off by abrasive women then you have just created a very bad situation, which began with deceit.

Attractiveness also deals with your character and demeanor. Are you an honest person, hard working person, rude person, etc.? Do you exhibit self-control and are you up front about yourself? The type of person you present yourself to be will greatly influence whom you attract and vice versa.

Compatibility

You must realize that you are looking for a spouse and that spouse will be with you for the rest of your life.  Therefore, you should take special care in entering a relationship with anyone.  The union between a man and a woman is not merely a physical one.  There should be compatibility between the two that indicates the possibility of a successful marriage.  You can see very quickly here that good looks and good sex will not lead to a successful and prosperous life together in marriage.  Do not let sexual or psychological infatuation or romantic delusion lead you to get married.  This may lead to a very unhappy marriage.

The Bible tells us that the husband and the wife form one flesh (Genesis 2:24).   Simply getting married does not form this one flesh. There must be an oneness or unity between the two before the wedding day!  This means that the two has to be compatible.  What is this compatibility?  Consider the following scripture.

2 Corinthians 6:14 through 2 Corinthians 6:15 (NCV) 14You are not the same as those who do not believe. So do not join yourselves to them. Good and bad do not belong together. Light and darkness cannot share together. 15How can Christ and Belial, the devil, have any agreement? What can a believer have together with a nonbeliever?

I choose the New Century Version of the Bible because I really liked the way this scripture was worded, which is consistent with the actual meaning. Basically, two people should be compatible before they enter into a binding relationship whether that relationship is marriage, friendship, or business partner.

The best, if not only, way to determine compatibility is to inquire and observe. Ask questions and observe how your "friend" behaves and responds to situations. What church does he or she attend and what clubs does he or she belong to. Answers to these and similar probing questions will greatly help you determine compatibility.

Born Again

The most fundamental compatibility in a Christian marriage is that both the husband and wife are Christians themselves and not as a result of the relationship.  I believe that your mate should have been a Christian before you met him or her else there may be suspicion that he or she only profess to be a Christian in order to win you over.  A professed Christian is not a born again Christian.  A professed Christian is simply someone who has gone through the motions that the church requires and claims to be a Christian.  So your potential mate should be a Christian already, at least ideally.

Note that finding someone in a church service is no guarantee that he or she is a Christian.  Only examining that person and prayer will help to determine if the person is really a Christian or not.  The Bible tells us that we should not be unequally yoked (joined in any binding relationship) with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14).  Though this scripture is not exclusively referring to marriage, it does apply just the same.  In general a Christian should not enter into any binding relationship with a non-Christian on a personal level (else we would have to leave this Earth).  For example, you shouldn't marry someone that is not a Christian and you should not enter into a business partnership with someone that is a non-believer.

The Family and the Past

What is the person's family like?  What significant events occurred in the person's past that would leave you doubtful of a successful marriage?  Was the person a drug addict right before you met?  Did the person quit drinking or doing drugs in order to be accepted by you?  What does your observation of the family tell you about the person (consider you will be marrying into that family)?  The answers to these questions are clues or information that you can use later when you decide whether or not you want to pursue the relationship for marriage any further. However, just because someone did drugs when they were younger should not be a reason to drop them from your interests.  I know people that did drugs in their youth and are now powerful men and women for God.

I am trying to emphasize the importance of knowing the environment that your potential spouse came from.  Know something about the family.  Know your mate's relationship with his or her family and immediate past.  Having this information can help you plan on building a strong relationship before and after the marriage. 

I believe that there should be some compatibility between the two families. Why is this important? The family that you grew up in has a great influence on the way you operate. Therefore, if you operate one way and your "friend" operates another then many days of misunderstanding and miscommunications are waiting for you. Compatible family helps to ensure that both of you operate in a similar manner. For example, if you grew up in a family that treasures the development of the family unit and your possible mate grew up in a family that thought very little about the unity of a family then there could be a lot of friction between you and your friend if you get married. At the very least you should know what you might be getting into.

Religious Doctrine

What is the religious background of your mate besides the fact that he or she is a Christian?  Again it is important that a Christian marriage be between two Christians.  However, even if both are Christians there can still be some major differences that could lead to incompatibility.  There are major differences between denominations and even among churches in the same denomination.  So know as much as you can about your mate's religious convictions and teachings, which could greatly influence your marriage and family life if you were to marry.

Some things you may want to look for are the type of church your friend attends if at all, the beliefs of his or her church, how dedicated he or she is to their church, etc. Don't count a person out just because he or she doesn't attend a church. There could be a valid reason for such since I too was in a state where I didn't want to have anything to do with church tough my love for God didn't waver.

Educational Differences

Incompatibilities can occur between two people with vastly different levels of education.  This lends itself to communications, which we will discuss later in this study.  A highly educated person may find it difficult to communicate with someone not as educated.  For example, a woman that is a doctor may find it difficult to relate to a man that is a truck driver.  This doesn't mean that a highly educated person shouldn't marry a less educated person.  It does mean that there is another opportunity for a communications gap, which can be addressed and resolved if you know about it. 

Culture and Social Environment

Cultural and social differences are yet another opportunity for incompatibility due to difficulties in communicating with each other.  Consider the cultural differences of the family you may potentially marry into and your family.  Cultural differences are a major hurdle in any relationship because of the differences in communication and interpretation of gestures.  Try to be aware of the cultural and social environment that your mate comes from.  This will help the both of you develop a way, for lack of a better word, to get along.

Of significant importance is the type of lifestyle that your mate comes from.  Is he or she a country or a city person?  Differences here might lead to communications challenges in addition to incompatibility is lifestyle goals and family activities.

Nationality differences are very significant when dealing with culture.  For example, I am sure you can see the vast differences between the culture of a black man and a Chinese woman.  Stress may also develop with national concerns as well.  For example, marital stress may develop if the country of your spouse is suddenly considered an enemy of the United States (or your country) and vice versa.  I am sure you can see the stress that may result in this situation both internally and from without.

Does this mean that you should only marry someone with the same culture, social environment, and nationality as yourself?  No!  I am only presenting some things that may cause problems in a marriage later in that marriage.  Knowing these things up front gives you and your mate the opportunity to develop ways to deal with these differences and situations.

Racial Differences

We cannot neglect the impact of racial differences in a marriage.  Racial differences include social, cultural, and sometimes nationality concerns.  Should a black man marry a white woman and vice versa.  There are some who believe that people should marry within their racial boundaries and others believe that it doesn't matter.   I am one of those who believe that race in itself should not be a factor in a marriage relationship or any relationship for that matter.  However, what we must consider is the impact of the racial differences in a marriage.  How do both families feel about an interracial marriage?  Though the man leaves mother and father to be with his wife, it is important that he knows ahead of time the feelings that his family has for an interracial marriage.  The same holds true for the woman.

The only impact that race has on a marriage, in my opinion, is the differences between the races regarding culture and the like.  For example, black people tend to eat different types of food then white people.  A black man who marries a white woman should realize that chances are that his wife will not cook like mom or like himself.  Again, these are only things that need to be looked at before marriage so that they can be dealt with before the wedding day.  However, race in itself should not be a factor in marriage.   You may realize that you may be ostracized or ridiculed by your family and friends.   However, you may decide that you just don't care and will not let their problems with interracial marriages interfere with your love and devotion to your mate/spouse.

In general, interracial marriages can invite trouble.  The trouble usually stems from other people's opinions and perceptions.  As I said, the first line of trouble or milestone is the differences between the methods of doing things between the two.  The second line of trouble is external.  Both can strain the marriage greatly.   However, if the husband and wife are aware of these then they are more prepared to deal with it and not let it affect their love and devotion to each other.  They will work through all of those hard times and they will triumph over the prejudice and snickering by family and friends. 

Personality Differences

What type of person is your mate?  Past all of the infatuation, what kind of person is your mate?  What personality does he or she have?  Knowing this can only come by getting to know your mate personally and intimately.  This is one reason, if not the major reason, that I believe in a long courtship.  Is your spouse carefree and you are cautious?  Know these things up front. 

Lust of the Flesh?

Do you lust after your mate?  Are you more interested in the other person's body or the prospects of sex than in a personal relationship?  Is your goal the body or the person?  Do you see yourself being satisfied sexually, economically, emotionally, and securely by this other person?  If these are the reason for pursuing a relationship then you are headed straight for trouble.  Soon the infatuation WILL wear off.  Soon your mate will not look as great as she or he did when you first met.   Soon you may see someone else that you lust for.  Then what will you do?   You will begin to think of your marriage with contempt because you are not happy and your happiness resides in that other person that you lust for.  Lust is not a viable reason for marriage. 

The word lust means to have a strong craving or desire for. Lust usually refers to a strong sexual desire or craving for someone (of the opposite sex). In itself lust is a great thing in a marriage, assuming it is not the foundation of the marriage since your great craving is for your own spouse.  It is great when you see a beautiful looking woman that has a great body and at the same time feelings for your wife arises.   That is the greatest feeling in the whole world and it takes quite a bit of effort to get to that point.  There is a saying that men use when they see good-looking women and gives her a second glance and at the same time someone is commenting on his noticing the other women.  The saying is "I am married not dead."   There are many beautiful people on this earth both men and women.  There are many women that simply look great and there are men that simply look great to a woman.   I would be foolish to say that my wife is the only good looking woman on Earth.   That would be a lie and it would set me up for a lot of trouble when a good-looking woman is in the area. Since your relationship is not based on lust and you don't base your relationships on lust, then seeing someone that looks good is not a problem. Just remember Matthew 5:28.

Therefore, what I have done is to learn to lust after my wife--if I can say it that way without seeming sacrilegious.  I desire her and no one else.  Any sexual stimulation that may arise in my flesh from observing any woman is automatically diverted to my wife.  I worked hard to develop a strong sexual relationship with my wife so I have no problem knowing that there is good, fresh, and safe water in my own cistern (See Proverbs 5:15).  My point is that lust should not be the reason for marriage.

The Perfect Mate--NOT!

It is easy to believe that you will marry the perfect spouse.  You will marry that tall dark and handsome--and rich--man that will take all of your troubles away and you will live happily ever after.  If you pursue that FANTASY then you are setting yourself up for a great marital failure.  You may not even survive the courtship if it is long enough.  A man may think that he will find a wife that is 36-24-36 and will give him great pleasure in bed and looks like an angel.  Again.  You too are setting yourself up for marital failure.  Yes it may just so happen that you marry an aerobics instructor or someone who looks like one but that has nothing to do with a successful marriage except in compatibility issues (A health conscious person may find it difficult to relate to a health apathetic person).  In general do not pursue the perfect mate.  He or she does not exist.

Humans are not perfect.  Therefore, you will not find the perfect mate.   Humans have flaws and you will have to learn to live with personality flaws and other perceived flaws.  Perfection is relative anyway when we consider the level of perception we normally operate at.  A man may consider a woman to be a perfect 10 if she has a great body and a great face.  That is so far from true perfection that it is pitiful that people are judged in such a way.  I have seen couples where the woman looks absolutely great and yet she and her husband do not get along.  One would say that good sex should solve the whole problem.  One would think that the fact that she looks so good would give the husband reason to compromise to keep her.  However, the looks are unimportant after disillusionment sets in.  That is why her great looks aren't enough to sway him consistently.

So again there is no perfect person.  There is no perfect mate so you should not look for him or her.  Perfection is relative.  Therefore you should try to find, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the right mate FOR YOU!

Conclusion

Actively look for your mate. Don't expect him or her to drop out of the sky as a gift from God. Seek and you shall find. Present yourself attractively at all times. Always look your best and be yourself. Don't put up fronts because you may attract the wrong person. Seriously evaluate compatibility issues before you commit to a relationship. You may find that your friend is not compatible enough for a life long commitment.

Make a decision of whether you want to pursue a serious relationship after you have gathered information about your potential spouse. The relationship may end at mere friendship or it may blossom into the desire to marriage. Know as much about the person before you commit so as to greatly improve your chances of having a prosperous marriage. Again, find your mate and don't just expect him or her to just show up at your door one day.

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