In Scheswig, Germany, a girl proves she is ready for marriage by being able to jump across a certain stream of water. In Nepal, a young girl must hike two miles uphill with a baby on her back to show she is ready to be a wife. In many cultures, however, there are no preparations or requirements that must be met before marriage is entered. An individual must prove his capability to drive a car before obtaining a driver’s license. A person is required to meet certain regulations before he is licensed to fly an airplane. One must complete certain course requirements and a residency before he is allowed to practice medicine. However, many people conclude that letting “nature take its course” is all the preparation needed for marriage. This conclusion is faulty as evidenced by the number of marriages that end in divorce. What are some qualities that need to be brought to the marriage altar?
A firm commitment. A young man wanted duplicate copies of his girlfriend’s picture; so, she took the photo to a photographer to have copies made. The photographer noticed the following inscription on the back of the picture: “My dearest Tim, I love you with all of my heart. I love you more and more each day. I will love you forever and ever. I am yours for eternity.” Signed, Diane. “P.S. If we ever break up, I want this picture back.” Unfortunately, many enter marriage with no firm intention to make it last. Their thinking is that if things don’t go well, the marriage can be dissolved and the same process can be repeated until the “right one” comes along. Zane Alexander wrote a book, the title of which expresses the faulty view many take regarding the commitment of marriage, Till Death Do Us Part or Something Else Comes Up. Jesus affirmed God’s design for marriage from the beginning when He said that a man is to leave his parental ties and cleave to his wife (Mt. 19:5). One husband who understood this commitment said to his wife, “I will never leave you. Others may come and go in your life but I never will. For any reason. Ever. If you wrinkle, I will love you. If you fail, I will stay with you. If you get sick, I will feed you, bathe you, sit up with you – anything – except leave you. I will never leave you.” That kind of commitment produces long, happy marriages.
Adequate financial support. It has often been stated that the number one cause of marital unhappiness is due to the stresses that result from financial strain. It is true that “two can live as cheaply as one” provided one doesn’t eat! Learn to live within the limits of your income. Count the cost (Lk. 14:28) and budget your expenses. Discipline yourself to live within your means. Don’t become a victim of easy credit.
A willingness to forgive. All of us make mistakes. We sometimes make thoughtless comments that injure or hurt the feelings of our mate. The family often becomes the object of our frustration due to problems experienced elsewhere. In such times we need to learn to ask for forgiveness as well as be willing to forgive (Eph. 4:32). One of the most important phrases of a successful marriage is, “I am sorry. Please forgive me.”
When considering marriage, it is important to find the right person. However, it is more important to be the right kind of person yourself. If you will bring that to the marriage altar, you’ll have greater success.