Last October I attended the wedding of one of my cousins, who is also one of my dear friends. As I witnessed the ceremony, it felt surreal. Even though I knew this young lady had had marriage in mind for several years, it was weird to see her actually get married. It felt like just yesterday we were goofing around and talking about our future weddings like they were a distant daydream. Part of me felt relieved that I was not the one walking down the aisle, but another part of me thought, "this all seems so natural, not like some big, scary step." A third, cynical part of me had a bit of a quarter-life crisis, and I thought about all the things still on my "before marriage" list. Almost a year later, I am still in the same place. I know that I'm not at the place in my life for marriage yet, but what if I don’t have enough of a head start to prepare for marriage when I am ready? I debate these issues in my mind, where I can only weigh my thoughts against my own experiences. So, where can I find a guide that stands the test of time? Well, as a follower of Jesus, I know where; I just need to take the time to pause and evaluate the truth.
Marriage isn't an achievement.
Say it again with me^. The Bible makes it clear that marriage is not something we gain a medal for the minute we say "I do." Marriage is both sacred and ordinary. What makes it extraordinary is how God brings two together to become one through His design. Our lives don't begin when we get married, and marriage also isn't the finish line after we prove ourselves capable of surviving dating. The steps we take to follow Jesus may include marriage, but all of the steps are meaningful and can hold amazing opportunities. Everything that fulfills our purpose requires a relationship, and that relationship revolves around Jesus. That fact rings true whether we are single, dating, or married. At the same time, if God places a desire for marriage in our hearts, He does want us to prepare ourselves for that step. We often get direction from the world because it seems difficult to translate biblical relationship advice into modern scenarios. However, once we let go of the pressure to please the world, we can see and act on the wisdom God gives us.
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens..." - Ecclesiastes 3:1
What about the practical stuff?
How much money should I have in my savings? What about my student loans? What about all the things I want to spend money on while I'm single? The idea of sharing my financial responsibility with someone else brings on a vulnerable feeling. I want to have my career and finances in excellent order before I even consider marriage because I see my financial well-being as a reflection of my maturity. But is that what the Bible says?
The Bible tells us to seek God first and not chase after superficial possessions, but we should appreciate what we earn and use it for good. We should seek God's wisdom, and put effort into our work and relationships for His glory. Maybe God's will does lie in that high-paying position, but the money isn't the why. God has a plan to prepare each of us for the future. When we pray and seek counsel, we can trust there's a reason we are where we are. It's not about getting everything together before marriage; it's about living with intention every day. When we live in self-doubt and lack motivation, the thought of marriage will probably not bring us peace. When we make choices based on God's direction, we will have peace that we are working toward God's plan for us as individuals and spouses. If you want to learn more about how to apply intention to your finances, check out this budget guide and these verses.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5
It's all about selfless love.
God looks at my heart and sees the restless wanderer. He gave me this spirit for a reason, and He knows the good and bad parts. And He has a plan for that part of me whether I'm single, married, or raising a family. God also sees the part of me that wants to consistently support the people in my life. He sees the skeletons in my closet, and He sees the selfishness and selflessness in me. The selfless parts are what I need to hone in on. It's so easy to think that I should "fix myself" before I share burdens with someone else, but that's not how any of this works. We live in a broken world, and that reality will continue at every stage in our lives. It's not about reaching peak emotional functionality; it's about choosing truth. The most important lesson we can learn from Jesus is the meaning of love. He calls us to love our neighbors and ourselves in a way that goes against our self-consumed instincts. When we don't put love at our forefront, we slip into habits that make us feel stale, and then we look around and think, "Well, I'm certainly not relationship material." We don't mold ourselves; God does. Our job is to listen, learn, and move forward in faith.
If we pay attention, there are always new ways to become more like Jesus. The more we actively practice grace, the more we push away our destructive patterns, and selfless love becomes a part of our habits. That is how we learn to reflect our relationship with God in all of our relationships. As we grow, we should pray about the types of relationships to pursue. When our hearts are on God and His goals for us, then we can discern if we're looking for romance for the right reasons. God knows that marriage is a life-changing commitment because He designed it with immense value. He's made that clear in His Word, and He continues to make it clear in the ways He shapes us to love through our actions. He wants us to connect with Him in every part of our lives.
Are you considering a big step in a relationship? Talk to God. Did you meet someone you might like to date? Talk to God. Not sure if dating should even be on your radar? Talk to God. We may not get yes or no answers, but God will help us see ourselves more clearly. If we want to know when we're ready for marriage, we should live the way Jesus leads us now.
"If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails." - 1 Corinthians 13:3-8
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.