When You Want To Be Married
“People do not get married planning to divorce. Divorce is the result of a lack of preparation for marriage and the failure to learn the skills of working together as teammates in an intimate relationship.”—Gary Chapman
"House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord." —Proverbs 19:14
It's a worthy aspiration
If you are single and want to be married, this is a noble aspiration. Aspiring to be married is a calling to become both a husband and a father. But it's also a longing for an ongoing relationship. Even Adam the first man, wanted a relationship, and God saw it was good for him not to be alone—therefore God created woman. During your single years, you have an opportunity to develop the character that not only your wife may want in you, but to become the man God wants you to be. I know many married men who wish that they would have taken more time before marriage to prepare, to handle the challenges of marriage with greater success. Even though marriage refines us as men, it is essential in your singleness to not miss the present opportunities for growth and change that increase your potential for a successful long-term commitment and relationship. Here are four things to consider in your singleness.
Four things to consider
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One | Self-leadership
All men need to learn self-leadership. Discovering the value of self-leadership as a single man is a great asset—and by the way, women like it. A man who cannot lead himself is destined for relational issues in other parts of life. Self-leadership is an intentional exercise. It touches many aspects of a man's life. Timeliness. Responsibility. Conflict. Self-care. Grooming. Building healthy relationships. Avoiding unhealthy ones. Setting priorities. And self-leadership involves organizing our lives around priorities and values that lead to purposeful action rather than leaving each moment to happenstance. Here's a potential question that addresses this need and will drive you toward preparing for marriage and family.
"What are my relational priorities and what's my plan for getting there?"
As a man, you need to begin to determine your relational priorities now. Let's say you define them broadly as:
1) A vibrant and growing relationship with God.
2) Occupational fulfillment and impact in the world.
3) Key friendships and relationships that make me a better man.
4) A healthy and appropriate relationship with my family of origin.
5) Mindset for ministry and contribution to things of eternal value.
6) A healthy and committed marriage.
7) God-fearing children.
These are only broad examples, and you can borrow them if you like. But as a single man, naming your relational priorities in this way will point you in a direction where you can begin devising a plan and determining the self-leadership needed for starting the journey. While at present you cannot do much about the last two, (marriage and children) you can devise a plan for becoming a man that a woman and your children will love and respect. And you can give a lot of attention at present to the first five. You can devise a plan and focuses it on becoming the man that God wants you to be. And by leading yourself in the present, you will be more prepared for leadership in marriage and of a family with children. But you have to determine personal priorities first and then take a little time to reflect on how you are going to lead yourself there.
Having identified what's on your priority list, you now need to develop an intentional plan for getting there. This is where self-leadership moves from reflection into action. Perhaps there will be several small steps in each area where you can live out your personal priorities. Leaders are intentional and your intentionality, while you are single, will serve you now, and if you get married, later. So start now by leading yourself.
Two | Determine your values and grow in them.
If you haven't taken the time to articulate your values, you need to. Doing so is a considerable step toward maturation, marriage, and stewarding your unique design. Many leaders declare business values, and requiring employees to live by them, but fail to declare personal values. Determining, stating, and living by your values is a vital step toward finding a woman who shares these values. Just take a few moments to reflect on this question.
"What values do you want to guide your life and how would you define those values?"
If you value honesty, for instance, what are the implications for living a life of honesty? And it's worth considering how that value applies to your work, relationships, and even your relationship with God? Don't make the mistake of thinking of your values as static concepts. Instead think of them as living principles that influence your actions, attitudes, and motives. You might state the value of honesty this way: "In all that I do I will speak honestly, seek the truth, and do my best to live transparently with others." Here your value has become a guiding principle rather than a static idea written on a piece of paper. And as you look forward to marriage, you can aim to find someone who either shares or supports your value of honesty. And if she doesn't, then it might be a deal breaker.
Three | Discover your identity in singleness
Often, men and women get married because they are missing something in their lives and believe that a spouse will fill that void. While there is much to be said about a man and woman becoming "one flesh," many fail to remember that Jesus is the relationship who completes us regardless of our married state. If you cannot come to a place of contentment, joy, and understanding your identity in your singleness, you will not find this in marriage, in fact, it might complicate it. Your identity is not found in marriage because marriage doesn't take the place of one's identity in Christ, it only compliments it. You are a complete person in Christ, married or not. Regardless of popular opinion, your spouse will not complete you, Jesus does.
Four | Get to know yourself
Understanding yourself is a life long pursuit. So begin now. Get to know yourself well now, because you will not be able to hide from your spouse. Here are some questions to consider.
"How are you wired? What's your shadow side? What motivates you? What are the things that demotivate you? How do you recharge? At what times and in what circumstances are you most vulnerable to sin?"
God made you unique, and as a man who lives in a sinful world, you have your vulnerabilities and tendencies. And knowing these as you enter marriage is helpful. You will learn some lessons later on, but willingly getting to know yourself now will benefit you, your future wife, and your marriage in the future.
It should be evident by now that there is plenty of self-leadership to do as a single man. Growing in these areas as an individual gives you time to focus on the very things that will be important if and when one is married. Furthermore, you will grow in your own personal emotional, spiritual and relational health that gives you the ability to influence others at a far deeper level than those who have not done this work in their own lives.
Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.