Even the greatest love stories have their rough and tumble trying times in the middle, before the story ends in a, for the most part, happily ever after. Have you considered about your future marriage, “Who am I? And how, I wonder, will this story end?” There’s no way to know for sure what turbulence you will hit along the journey of the unity of matrimony, nor any way to absolutely know how it’s going to end, but you certainly can, even if you have yet to find your boo, begin building a solid foundation starting with you. Focus is frequently so intently on how to find the right mate, when we seldom understand what it takes to be the right mate, thinking that to be ready means to simply want to settle down. There has been times that even I have uttered to myself, “how would I feel being married to me?”, as a way to evaluate my own readiness for a union that God will so graciously bless me with.
A comment I just recently read, and caught my eye, offered by Dennis & Barbara Rainey, “A marriage license doesn’t make a marriage. It only gives you the right to start building one.” That made me think of what Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:25 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the torrents raged, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because its foundation was on the rock.” The idea of a large elaborate wedding and the bliss of a union of newly established love, pleasantly brings thoughts of sunrise and endless days of cloudless sunshine. But, as presented in 1 Corinthians 7:28 NIV, “…those who get married… will have troubles…” Therefore, there will be times you will encounter a muddy puddle you’ll have no choice but to wade through as well as storms to survive, that don’t have to shrivel your marriage but make your tie to each other stronger. Most of what’s about to be shared, you can apply to your life right now, even if you haven’t yet found “the one!“, but maybe you are dating. All, except one that only applies to marriage that will be revealed in part II, can easily be slightly modified to fit, transferred to, and used within, any relationship, such as; co-workers, friendships, siblings, and parents. I say this because the more you practice these tips, the more you’ll be ready when matrimony time arrives, helping you plan & build upon the one and only Solid Rock before you agree to walk the paths of life together.
Tip #1: Stand Strong with the Shining Strand
To insert a caveat, before I get into the reason it’s good to be married, remember that marriage does not always or all inclusively make life easier, nor does it rid or cure you, or your potential mate, the temptations each of you battle or feed before you tie the knot. Though said before the time we had to be concerned about such things, according to God, as He told to Adam in the Garden just before creating Eve, “it is not good for man to be alone.” And as stated in Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV; “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” In Part II, we’ll get into the why and how the two of you can be nurturing for each other under the covering of Christ, who is the third and Shining Strand.
Covenant relationships are vulnerable to division. Division enters by way of unpleasant issues, those known and unknown, about our potential mate and ourselves. It intrudes upon unions that God puts together because the forces of darkness knows that where there is unity, there is strength and power. The intrusion can be apparent or seem very subtle almost unnoticed. It can come by way of large crisis or behaviors that erode core values that are nutrients of the soil your relationship should be rooted in. As you keep Christ, the Pure Strand of Light, as the head of your daily life in word and deed, He is that added strength that will bind you and your mate together, rendering the issues of life and any personal foibles unable to tear apart what God puts together.
Tip #2: Know Yourself Before God
Part of working with God to strengthen your relationship is leaning on Him to understand yourself. And, though it is not impossible to do if you are already engaged, or married, it’s best to begin before you do so. Back in mid 2010, God started me on a four year (yup, FOUR YEARS!) dating hiatus. As any typical, healthy young woman, I too was seeking to find what I thought was my better half. I now know there are no better half’s when you allow yourself to become whole as God fills your spirit-man with what you’ve always longed for, yet without Him, never can truly find. So, as I began my walk with Christ in late 2010 and continued beyond, the prayers for a Godly husband began. But, he hadn’t manifested. And, if your spouse has not manifested, yet, don’t be discouraged. If God hasn’t decided to set you apart especially for Himself, you will connect with your future spouse someday. Be encouraged, because the mate chosen for you may be going through a preparation process to be united with you, too. And, that’s why I want to share with you my very brief story. As I prayed, periodically, for a husband, a couple of times God gently told me; “Be Patient, My child. Come into the fullness of who you are before I add anyone to your life.” After hearing that, I focused on finding myself, knowing myself, understanding who God created me to be and the plans He has for my life.
When you begin to walk in, and measure yourself by, what God says about you, ignoring what others say, you are getting closer to knowing yourself before God. This helps you to know your gifts and talents, so you know exactly where and in what you are to operate in intentionally, with excellence and genuine inward fulfillment. As undesirable as it may seem, you will know and understand more about what you now consider weaknesses. Some you won’t be able to change, but because of what God says you can accept. Others are ones, that with God’s help you can overcome. And, like the Apostle Paul, you can also receive God’s promise, as shown to us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “’My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’…” That is Empowering! Empowering because before the person is added to your life, you are strong, self-sufficient, and secure that you are content with being YOU! Thus, when you cleave with your mate, there’s no loss of core or essential parts of yourself in the effort to put too much of who you are aside to please your spouse. Instead, it is Empowering to be productive, enabling you to communicate, giving the best of who you are to whomever comes into your life! Giving, never losing, because you’re always producing the essence of you!
Tip #3: Circulate the 4 C’s
Usually, I go deeper into these in group coaching workshops, but these are a good start to help you on your way to prepare for your walk down the aisles of life with your potential mate. These are bricks or layers of your foundation where one builds on top of another. Consideration must be present to have the desire to communicate properly. Communication must be present in order to know what you need to compromise about. Compromise is what you will plan with your future spouse to do together in collaboration. And, Collaboration is what actions you both will carry out based on your plan.
Consideration for another, done so on a regular basis without begrudging, is an indication that you have made room for that person in your heart and all that matters to you. Romans 12:10 NIV says to, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Think back to a time when someone was considerate to you regarding your time, your feelings, your dreams and desires. How did that experience make you feel? What did you think about the person who wanted to hear your thoughts and ideas? Think about how you would feel at the moment of a sense of belonging and significance you would have when you are welcomed into the wholeness of another’s world. It is something that can make you smile! Imagine that for a lifetime, even through up and downs that can make it easier said than done, yet does not excuse the practice of consideration. Thoughtful acts fueled only with your desire to include and integrate your future spouse into your daily activities and long-term plans, plus taking into account their wants and needs, can remove much of the clutter that could possibly cause some trip-ups that were never meant to be inevitable.
Communication is a fundamental foundation to a successful friendship, partnership, or romantic relationship. Even non-human species have a life dependent lean on communication through the clucks, crickets, and cries they use. On a higher level, there is a needed and available bidirectional Divinely created communication plan set up for our relationship between God and us, which is prayer, through which we speak to Him, and what we often forget when it comes to Him, there is listening. What allows us humans, placed between the wild and the Wonders of the Heavens, to be exempt from communicating with each other?
Here’s why communication is paramount to relationships, based on some of its Greek root meanings. To communicate is to be ready and apt to socially maintain communion, which in Greek has been used synonymously with fellowship. Communion or fellowship means being in participation or in partnership with others. And, to communicate within a partnership is to make those around you, in the context of this topic the spouse of your dreams, a sharer in, not only your physical possessions, but also the impartation of what you freely give from who you are on the inside. The word impart stresses that the giver gives something precious to the recipient, as if part of the giver resides within what’s being shared.
There are many reasons, none to be ashamed of, why some find it difficult to communicate, but it is possible to do and to improve. Additionally, it is extremely necessary. For, without it, intrudes the division touched upon earlier, causing consistent misunderstanding and conflict due to confusion, which is not of God since He is a God of order. A perfect example of how powerful communication is, is seen in Genesis 11:1-9, which starts out in the first verse, “Now the whole world had one language and common speech.” This indicating everyone could communicate and understand each other. But, they began to take pride in themselves, cutting God out of their decisions, and started to build a tower to reach the heavens and make names for themselves that God did not want them to build. In Genesis 11:6&7, God says as He sees what they are doing, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come,… garble their speech so they won’t understand each other.” In this scenario, God was not the enemy, but the loving guardian, keeping them from doing something non-beneficial to them. As an example of how not communicating can cause division, as told to us in Genesis 11:8, they were scattered “…all over the earth and they stopped building…” A marriage, however, is something you want to keep building upon over your time together, and absolutely possible because God said that with communication, we can do anything! Think about how strong and powerful your marriage can be! This is a wonderful testament to the power of communication.
To achieve this as much as you can, there needs to be a willingness to discuss anything, even the difficult things, by allowing your mate to express their feelings, thoughts, and mistakes, without judgment or interruption, because it’s your turn to listen. Listen with your heart, not just your ears, but with a genuine desire to understand. Your future mate will want to truly feel like their feelings and concerns matter to you. At your opportunity to express, your willingness to set aside your own fears or hesitations will need to be exercised so you can share your feelings, thoughts, and needs in a peaceful loving and kind way. As I, myself, had to learn years ago as I began my walk with Christ, you have the right to speak the truth in love. Proverbs 15:1 reminds us, because “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Then, you will be ready to plan, problem solve, and make progress through whatever it is the two of you face or endeavor to accomplish!
Yes! I promised you FIVE tips, but you only read two and a half in Part I! So…
Read the rest in 5 Tips on Readying Yourself for Marriage – Part II!
Love you with the Love of God!
LuKeisha Carr Ministries International