We prepare for all kinds of things; the first day of school, the prom, every January we attempt to prepare for swimsuit season. We prepare for graduating, our parents coming to visit, a friend coming to visit, a job interview or a new job itself. We prepare for meetings, workshops, vacations and the list continues in my mind.
Much of life is spent in preparation. But when it comes to dating and relationships and even marriage, I might say there is a lack of preparation.
Having grown up in the church I’ve heard a lot about one form of preparing for my future spouse and it comes in the singular word, WAIT! The best thing you can do for your future spouse is to wait to have sex until you’re married. And while I do believe this is a great word and one by which I’ve chosen to live, I think it is terribly incomplete. In our efforts to have teenagers and young adults keep their pants on we have neglected to teach men and women the value of preparation.
As I see it there are several ways to prepare for your future spouse. Here are a few of them:
1. Spiritually: Take care of your relationship with God. Abide in Christ (John 15:5) Practice spiritual disciplines (Richard Foster has a great book on this called The Celebration of Disciplines) Pray. Build relationships with people who love Jesus so they can rub off on you. Learn, soak and savor daily!
2. Emotionally: We all have baggage. We all have past hurts and pain that continues to speak into our lives. It is important to face those issues so that they no longer have the same power they once did. We may never fully be free of the memories or even the sting of a lie, we once chose to believe. But I believe, with work, we can quicken our response time and diminish the power those memories or lies once had over us. It takes risk, work, time, vulnerability, and community to face these things. Invite those things into your life.
3. Physically: Yes, waiting to have sex until the wedding night is one way that we can prepare for marriage. But what about working out and eating right? If I work out to look good for swimsuit season, the prom or even family photos, then why wouldn’t I want to work out for my future spouse. I want to give my very best and my very best isn’t a lethargic, heart attack waiting to happen.
4. Relationally: By this I mean, have good friends. Care about developing good, deep, transformative, relationships that mold and shape you. Care about being surrounded by people who will sharpen you and cause you to grow. Care about being with others and giving to others. Intimate relationships come in many forms, marriage is just one of them, develop others.
5. Socially: Care about something outside of yourself and give. Know what makes you angry in the world and seek to do something about it. Give of yourself. You will be amazed by what you’ll get in return and how that will expand your capacity to be generous. (very helpful when married)
This list is incomplete at best. And it is not a list of things to do to make someone choose you, as there is no list in the world for that one. People choose for a variety of reasons. But I think if you were to take on these five areas as a way to prepare for your spouse, I think you’d be surprised by what would come of it. It is my assumption and experience that as I take care of me, I am loving not only me, but those in my life. Therefore, if I, as I was taught in Sunday school, love my future husband enough to keep my pants on, I could love him enough to prepare for him in some other ways too.
What do you think?
Have you ever thought about preparing for your spouse? Are you married and wish you had?