There are so many books and articles telling us how to prepare for marriage. I’ve read (and written) many of them. But if we could distill this information down to just one thing, what would it be?
I think it would be helpful to know. At the end of the day, when marriage is hard, we need a place to return to. We need a point of reference to help us both prepare for and navigate marriage. Fortunately, that’s exactly what God gives us.
In the Bible, marriage is always described in terms of sacrifice, usually using Jesus as the model (e.g., Ephesians 5). Jesus laid down His life for His bride, the church, giving us a model for our own sacrificial love. Both husbands and wives are to show love and respect to one another, to put one another first even when it’s difficult (and it will be!).
So how do we choose selfless love? How do you prepare for a relationship in which the other person will see your worst? How do you prepare to watch your spouse change from the person you married, and love them through those changes?
You need faith.
Faith is “the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith and love are tied together. We cannot love someone if we don’t trust them, if we don’t believe in them, at least to some degree. We see this in 1 Corinthians 13 when Paul says love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (v. 7). To love well in marriage, we must be ready to trust our spouse, hope for their best and persevere through their worst.
But simple faith in your spouse will not always end in happiness. They are human, and they will fail. So while believing in them is important, it’s not the most important thing. The one thing you need to be ready for marriage is a vibrant faith in God.
Your faith in God is the foundation on which marital love is built. And not just built, but thriving. When your spouse fails you, you can trust that God is still working. When your spouse doesn’t understand you, you can trust that God sees your heart. When you are not communicating well with your spouse, God will convict and show you how to grow. Your belief in God’s love, goodness and presence in your marriage relationship will be THE thing that transforms it over time.
Too many couples think faith in God is just something to check off a list: “Marry a Christian.” But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Following Jesus is what makes the difference, not just presently, but eternally. Do you want a marriage with eternal impact? Follow Jesus. Follow Him completely. Listen and obey.
Your love will grow, change and thrive over the years if Jesus comes first. That starts while you’re single. While it’s helpful to know how to cook and budget and track your oil changes, those things are much easier to learn than trusting God. Lean into Him now so it’s a habit when you meet the love of your life.