In order to keep the marriage strong, we first have to find the right partner in life. There is nothing harder than trying to keep a marriage strong, when it did not start out on the right foundation with the right person. "How do you know you want to spend the rest of your life with this person?" "How do I find the right person in life".
These are some of the questions our generation face today when determining our life partner. I am in no means a relationship expert, but I will try my best to explore these questions and more, based on my experiences and upon what God would want us to do.
Based on an article I recently read (Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America), in America today, one of the most important social developments of our time is the recent rise in age at first marriage, which now stands at 27 for women and 29 for menâ€"a historic high. This is concluded to be due to a variety of reasons, some of which include the fact that more women are obtaining college degrees, entering the workforce and not wanting to start a family or get married until much later in life. The trend is also for couples to co-habitate together and have children but not get married.
From a sociological point of view, delayed marriage and delayed parenthood is a cultural phenomenon as young people now see marriage and parenthood as something to do only when they have all their "ducks in a row" rather than a foundation for launching into adulthood or parenthood. Ninety-one percent of young adults believe they must be completely financially independent to be ready for marriage and over ninety percent of them believe they should finish their education before taking the first step.
These sociological reasons are understandable given our unpredictable economic times now and rise in the cost of living. However, in retrospect, I believe that there is a more paramount issue here. Maybe we don't have the confidence in finding the right partner, hence the delay in marriage or parenthood. This is because I believe that if you have found the right partner, these issues though present, does not affect you as extremely as it would if you weren't with the right person.
I say this because, even though my husband and I have to go through issues of career development, childbearing, finance and intimacy, we can work through these issues one by one confidently, knowing we started off on the right foundation. Here are a few things that I did to help me determine if my husband was the right person for me.
1. Ask God to help you find the right person
This may be counterintuitive, or even a foreign concept to people, but to me, this is the first step in laying the right foundation. By trusting and asking God to lead me to the right person, I am placing my trust in God. Who else would know who the right and best person for me if not God Himself, who created me and knew of me even before I was born. In Jeremiah 29, verse 11: "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." And in Proverbs 3, verse 5-6: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take."
2. Do not be with someone just to fill an empty void
So many times, I see failed and broken relationships because people only want to be with someone to avoid feeling lonely and to fill an empty void in their hearts. They are not ready to love or be loved. In 1 John 4, verse 19: "We love because He loved us first". We cannot expect to be able to love others if we first don't understand that God loved us first. Because we only know love because of the love God showed us through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins. Perfect love comes from God, so love God first and then love ourselves, before loving someone else. That way, we can find someone who complements us, not complete us.
3. Communicate your innermost soul to your potential partner
If we want to spend our lives with this one person, this person has to be someone I can talk to about everything. My struggles, my sins, my hurt, my happiness, my joy, my hope and everything else that makes me who I am as a person. In Genesis 2, verse 18; "The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him". He/she has to be the one that can help you through everything in life, help with your struggles, your sins, your addictions, your downfalls, your hopes, dreams and goals. And it must be suitable for you. After I dated for a while, before meeting my husband, I never found one suitable for me, someone who could help me with my life. And I only realised how much I needed that when I met my husband. Being with the right person should help you want to be a better person. Talk to him/her about the big things, finance, children, faith, and intimacy and find one suitable for you in all aspects of life, not just for fun or convenience.
4. Looks and materialistic things fade, so look for the one that has beauty within
In Proverbs 31, verse 30, it says: "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised". Although it says "woman", I feel it applies to those of us who might only be with someone for the exterior, looks, money, a big house, charm et cetera. These things fade away and can be gone or lost in a split second. Will you still be with this person if these things were stripped away from him? Look for what is within, not what exterior things he can provide for you. If he/she fears the Lord and wants to do what's right in the sight of God, he is blameless and lives a life of purity. He will hence lead your relationship in purity and holiness and bring the relationship to God blameless and clean.
In finding the right partner in life, we first have to find the right person to build the right foundation and there is no foundation stronger than God himself. In Psalms 18, verse 2: "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold".
Make God the centre and foundation of your relationship and this will be the basis of a strong marriage.
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa completed a BSc. in Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia. She is now working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Western Australia in the Tumour Immunology Group. In her spare time, she runs her small home-based Perth Cake Pop business, Lollicakes.
Clarissa Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/clarissa-yates.html