Isn't it ironic that a plumber's license requires four years of training, but a marriage license requires nothing but two willing bodies and sometimes a blood test?” (Gary Smalley with Steve Scott, If Only He Knew, 1988, p. 12). Marriage is more important, more challenging and more fulfilling than just about any other activity in life. But where do you find the training program to help you prepare to be a successful husband and father?
What do you need to know before marriage?
Do you want to get married? Why? Why not? When? What do you want to accomplish before you get married? What do you want to accomplish in your life after marriage?
If you don't know what you want in life, how will you know if you have found the person to join you on this journey? Girls who are thinking about their own goals in life are going to be more interested in a man with goals and direction in life, rather than a drifter.
What about your religious beliefs and commitment? Knowing God and developing that most important commitment in life is a prerequisite to preparing for the second most important commitment—marriage.
You think that in this short article I'm going to be able to give you the answer? “A famous psychiatrist once said, 'After thirty years of studying women, I ask myself, “What is it that they really want?”'” (Smalley, p. 13).
One way to find out what women want is to ask them. One of our Vertical Thought writers, Randy Stiver, did just that, and recorded the answers in his article “True Dating: What Guys and Girls Want” in the January/March 2004 issue. You'll want to read it.
There are many books on how men and women think and communicate differently. A classic book that attempts to help men and women understand each other is Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray. Though it can sound a bit stereotypical (in a humorous sort of way), it does point out some general differences that can be good to know.
For instance, Dr. Gray says the most common mistake men make in relationships is: “A man tries to change a woman's feelings when she is upset by becoming Mr. Fix-It and offering solutions to her problems that invalidate her feelings ['you shouldn't feel that way'].” We guys think we're helping, but the girl likely just wanted to share her feelings and have them understood. She'll ask for a solution if she wants one.
Talk to your parents, minister and adults you know with long-lasting marriages. Get to know a variety of girls. Trying to understand the opposite sex is worth the struggle. Depending on your attitude, the differences can lead to a lifetime of misery or a lifetime of exploring the mystery.
When you go from wanting to understand women to wanting to understand a particular woman, take your time and get to know her in many different circumstances. Ed Smith, a minister who has been happily married for 63 years now, recommends getting to know each other well:
“Even play some type of competitive game in which there is a winner and loser and see how the prospective spouse controls or loses his or her temper or composure. Look for extreme mood swings. Observe how the prospective mate handles her relationship with her parents, siblings, friends, etc. Chances are you will be handled in much the same way.”
Before marriage you need to know the responsibilities of this God-plane relationship. God created marriage, and He explains what he expects of husbands in the Bible. One such expectation is found in Ephesians 5. After showing that human marriage is actually a type of the divine relationship between Christ and the Church, it concludes, “Let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (verse 33).
What does it mean to really love your wife? And how can a husband make it as easy as possible for his wife to respect him? These are advanced subjects in the science of husbanding. Our free booklet Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension will help you in understanding and applying the required textbook, the Holy Bible. VT