The French writer Colette captured these passionate conflicting thoughts of a new bride: “The day after that wedding night I found that a distance of a thousand miles, abyss and discovery and irremediable metamorphosis, separated me from the day before.” She captures how marriage transforms you. Somehow you are one person before marriage, and another the day after. The change isn’t slow, but instant and forever.
I remember a similar honeymoon revelation. As a writer for a marriage ministry, I thought I was overly prepared before marriage. But marriage revealed both good and bad about my spouse and myself. And over the years, I’ve found matrimony to be both boring and exciting, tragic and sacred.
But one thing it’s not—predictable.
What you don’t need to know before marriage
That’s the irony of putting off marriage until you’re “ready.” Yes, there are topics a young couple is wise to discuss, like faith traditions, pasts, and expectations. But many worries can be bypassed.
Here are five things you don’t need to know before marriage:
1. How will I know when I meet my soul mate?
The Bible doesn’t address “soul mates.” Yet the soul connection in marriage is automatic. Jesus said it this way: “‘The two shall become one flesh’ … What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:8-9).
But just because your souls are joined doesn’t mean marriage is easy. It takes hard work and fine-tuning, but that’s part of the value. A “soul mate” is someone you intentionally and prayerfully become.
2. Am I ready for marriage?
Job 12:12 says, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” The truth is, no one would get married if readiness was required. Experience itself is a teacher.
A person can take classes on flying an airplane, but until that person gets in the air, is he ever really “ready” to be a pilot? Marriage is the same way.
Who’s ready for the jolt of a life-threatening illness and the fear of loss? Who’s ready for the crash of two cultures and the emotional turmoil of giving up your own desires for the good of another? No one is ready for that, no matter how much training you have.
3. Have I fulfilled my dreams?
Many people might want to cross off most of the bucket list or settle their careers before marriage. But bucket lists tend to grow, never getting “finished.” And careers aren’t predictable.
Instead of seeing marriage as the end of living, consider the beauty marriage adds to life. Proverbs 31:10-11 says, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” Sounds like a fulfilling life to me!
4. Am I financially ready?
The short answer for the average young couple is “no.” But that’s OK! Ben Franklin said, “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. … The more a man has, the more he wants.”
You may have school debt, car loans, credit card bills, and little savings. Those are definitely problems that affect marriage and should be discussed before the wedding. But if you follow a debt management plan and develop healthy financial practices, marriage can be an asset. Learn contentment and trust God to meet your needs.
5. Are my partner and I sexually and domestically compatible?
This is often the reason given for moving in together. But cohabitation is actually harmful to relationships. In October 2018, the Journal of Marriage and Family reported research that cohabitation is associated with divorce. It doesn’t work because, as one writer put it, “[Cohabitators] live like renters without a commitment …” Living together is not the same as marriage.
So, what about compatibility? For centuries couples discovered how to make sex and roles work, even without experience. This is where you learn to communicate and compromise. Through conversations, you get to decide what kind of marriage you want. You figure out together what makes each other feel loved and respected.
Hebrews 13:4 instructs, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled …” Save sex for marriage, not because it’s legalistic, but because it’s better.
You won’t know everything before marriage
Truth be told, no amount of preparation will guarantee a good marriage. Your questions can’t all be answered. And even if they could, life has a way of unexpectedly changing.
The best preparation is staying close to God and praying and meditating on His word regularly. Then you will be equipped to handle unforeseen battles and even maintain a spirit of hope and joy throughout.
Copyright © 2020 by Sabrina Beasley McDonald
Sabrina Beasley McDonald has been writing about God’s plan for marriage and family for over 19 years. Sabrina holds a Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University. She is the author of several devotional books, including Write God In Deeper: Journal Your Way to a Richer Faith.