Finding a quality husband or wife. Could anything be more difficult or confusing? Even though our experience suggests that finding a quality spouse can be as easy as Leviticus is exciting, with God’s help it absolutely can happen. To you.
I was really, really fortunate. Blessed. I met my wife in college when we weren’t trying to impress each other. In fact, we didn’t even like each other much. For over two years. But then I came to my senses after graduating and… [remove filler] we got married.
But what if that’s not your story? How do you find a godly spouse?
What Not To Do
As with nearly anything, it’s just as important to know about the pitfalls to avoid as it to know about what you’re aiming for.
For guys, the big temptation is to focus on physical appearance, a really bad idea for at least two reasons. First, everyone is going to be very unattractive eventually. Second, focusing on outward appearances can blind you to the much more important, unseen qualities that will give you a fantastic marriage for the long haul. 1 Samuel 16:7 is always a timely reminder: ‘For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’.
Women face a challenge because we’re at a place where there seem to be less solid, Christian guys than there are women. I’ve talked to several women who give up hope and either date people outside of the faith or settle for the Christian Nice Guy.
In other cases, both men and women are insecure and looking for someone to complete and affirm them. While our spouses do complete and affirm us, they were never meant to do this in an ultimate way. If you make this mistake on the road to marriage, you’ll overlook red flags and fail to make an honest assessment of the relationship.
So you’re looking for a godly spouse. What kind of guidance does God provide?
The biggest things, thankfully, are really not all that complicated. Anyone you’re thinking about dating should:
- love God first. It is the greatest commandment after all (see Matthew 22:37). But you’re not going to figure this out by asking a one question survey. You’ve got to dig deeper, beyond figuring out if they go to church, read the bible and pray. For example, do they approach decisions big and small with a desire to do what will honor God? Do they make connections between the bible and their life? Have you seen them set aside what they want when it conflicts with what God wants?
- love the people around them. We’re supposed to love the people around us as much as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:38)! None of us even approaches this standard, but we ought to be trying. Do they generally care about the people around them, or, is it mainly about them? Do they take an interest in others and listen? Can you think of times where they were thoughtful or served others?
These Things Matter Too
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Are your callings compatible? Even if you’re both maturing disciples, what about your sense of how God is calling you? If he’s heading to the mission field in Africa, while she wants to be near her family in the States that might not work out. How many kids do you want to have? If God gives them to you, who will stay home and run point in their day to day care? Many times, these things can be worked out creatively. One couple I know, for example, has decided they’ll both work half-time so that their kids get adequate attention and they can both stay active in their careers.
- Are your beliefs and preferences compatible? Every Christian believes certain core things (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; the Apostles’ Creed), but there are many other beliefs where we can legitimately differ, such as our views on baptism, Christian liberty (things like alcohol and how we interact with the culture), and spiritual gifts. Again, many times these differences can be worked out, but if you can’t do it willingly, it’s probably a sign that you’re not ready to move forward.
- Do you actually enjoy each other? Sometimes, everything looks great in theory, and you feel like you should be attracted to each other, but you’re not. It’s definitely worth asking why and it may be that one or both of you have unrealistic expectations you can move past. But if you can’t, or it’s a ton of work, I encourage you to move on. The most important relationship in your life isn’t supposed to be a chore.
Following these guidelines isn’t a fail-proof guarantee that a relationship will work out, but it should provide a great start.
Question: As you think about finding a husband or wife, what has been most challenging for you and why? (If you’re married, we’d love to hear what you learned on the way!)