In a quiet English village a little girl grows up, goes to college and meets a prince. Several years later they marry and she becomes a duchess. Their marriage ceremony is viewed by billions of people and she begins a lifetime of high-profile media scrutiny.
Early this year Prince William of England married commoner Catherine Middleton, and this modern-day “fairy tale” took place. Millions of people were drawn into the national fervor and joy of the event. But does getting married really seem like a fairy tale? Does a young woman prepare her entire life just for this one event?
Bursting the bubble
Instinctively we say, “There is so much more to a marriage than just the wedding!” We list: everyday life, paying bills, learning to put up with someone else's faults, eventually dirty diapers, etc. We go to great lengths to debunk the fairy-tale ideal so that young women can prepare for the tough road ahead. But doesn't it seem to drain the joyfulness from anticipating marriage?
There must be a way to preserve hope and joy yet face reality. The celebrity world, however, doesn't seem to have discovered it. Hollywood romances and marriages, often built up in entertainment news coverage, are just as gleefully dissected and torn apart when they fail. It seems the popular culture personified by these individuals is always looking for love but never finding it.
The real deal
So how should a young woman anticipate marriage? What is expected of her?
The book of Proverbs contains a final chapter (Proverbs 31) that beautifully and poetically expresses the attributes of a stellar lady. She is, depending on which translation of the Bible you're reading, a “virtuous” or “valiant” wife.
Her husband prizes her proven trustworthiness. She is a faithful friend.
She is also an active, productive lady and never at a loss for industriousness to benefit those around her. She is skilled at everything from sewing and thrifty shopping to having excellent taste, keeping fit, cooking, wise household planning and so much more. She is also, most pointedly, a businesswoman of good repute. She runs her own business, helping to support her household and contribute to her family's good standing.
The valiant woman's checklist seems daunting, but she didn't come by her abilities overnight. It takes time and effort to learn those skills—a tradition historically passed from mother to daughter but less so today. Sometimes we must seek opportunities to learn skills society doesn't emphasize. Gaining expertise in home economics is inherently practical for when you marry.
But what if I'm not married yet? Is it still worth it to prepare to be that virtuous wife?
Absolutely! Fundamentally the woman of Proverbs 31 is an outward thinker—wise, strong, honorable and kind. She lovingly serves others through outgoing acts of service. Those traits are elements of the character of Jesus Christ, and we all, man or woman, married or not, strive to be like Him!
Dreaming of marriage isn't foolish fantasizing about a one-day wedding blowout. Nor is it an exercise in futility. It is actually a beautiful part of fulfilling our destiny to grow to become like God, reflect His love and eventually be made immortal in His divine family.