“He who finds a wife finds a good thing”(Proverbs 18:22).
Let’s talk about finding a wife.
The simplest thing to tell you two boys is to do what your dads did. My sons and your dads, Neil and Marty, chose excellent women for their wives and your mamas. I wouldn’t be surprised if they chose better than they knew and that may well have been the result of your Grandma’s prayers.
For a long time, Grandma prayed that God would pick the right women for our sons. He came through in flying colors, as you know.
Now, try to do as well as your fathers did and we’ll be through here.
Background: Grant is about to turn 20 and Jack is 12. Jack lives outside Charlotte, NC, and Grant the same distance from New Orleans. Grant works in Zoes Kitchen, a trendy restaurant near here and takes courses at Delgado Community College, while Jack is doing what 12-year-old boys do.
We’re some years away from either of you choosing a bride, I fully expect
But now is the time to begin thinking about it, particularly Grant. Before falling in love with “the” one and your hormones beginning to smother your brain and blocking out all judgment, now is the time to make some decisions and establish some standards.
By “standards,” we mean you should say “This is what I will will insist on in the woman I marry and I will settle for nothing less.”
The other side of that coin, of course, is that you should dedicate yourself to becoming a husband worthy of her. After all, what’s the use of finding the ideal wife if she decides you are an unfit husband?
But, that’s another article. This one is about you choosing her.
As we did with the “letter to our granddaughters on choosing husbands,” we will begin here with whom to avoid. These are the girls you do not want to bring home and introduce to the family as your future wife….
1) A party girl.
You want a wife who knows how to laugh and loves being with friends, but also likes her solitude, savors a quiet evening with a book, and does not mind staying home tonight or going for a walk with the man she loves. A young woman who loves the night life and is always on the go is not marriageable material, period.
2) A clinging vine.
This one is too needy, which indicates a hole inside her which she is trying to fill with you. And if it wasn’t you, it would be someone else. You don’t need this. Keep looking.
You want a wife who is a whole human being and who enjoys her life the way it is.
3) An airhead. (sorry for the harshness of this term, but it communicates.)
There’s no one at home here. Ask her for an opinion on anything and she doesn’t have one. She hasn’t read a book since the third grade.
Have I ever told you about the first time I saw your Grandma to know who she was? She was 17 and bringing a devotional in front of our youth group at church. Not only was she great to look at, but I was blown away by her intelligence and eloquence. She was clearly “somebody.” Some years later, when she graduated from college, it was “cum laude,” an honor even this know-it-all Grandpa did not attain.
4) A mannequin.
This one is beautiful on the outside but she’s basically a shell. Only immature men want wives who are eye candy. Grownups prefer to marry adults.
5) A religious extremist.
Make a note of this beatitude: “Blessed are the balanced.” It’s not in Scripture anywhere, but is implied throughout. No matter how strong her convictions and how straight her beliefs, she should be well-grounded and clear-thinking and keep it all properly balanced.
A list of the kind of woman to avoid could go on and on, obviously. Perhaps we would do better to talk about the right kind of person to look for as a wife.
1) She cares more about how God sees her than the world.
If she spends more time in front of the mirror than with her open Bible in the morning, this is not a good sign. No, we are not suggesting you time her. Just pay attention to the little things.
2) She has great self-esteem and does not need constant propping up by compliments. She’s outgoing but not attention-seeking. After all, too much shyness indicates poor self-esteem and low self-confidence.
3) She loves the Lord, loves her church, and enjoys getting together with the Lord’s people.
4) Her beauty is both outward and inward.
When I do programs on self-esteem for high schools, I tell the students, “Whatever is on the inside of you will eventually show up on the outside. If you are plain-looking and yet beautiful inwardly, eventually you will be beautiful on the outside too. If you are beautiful to look at but ugly on the inside, in time you will also be ugly on the outside, too. Sooner or later, whatever is inside of you will work its way to the surface.”
5) She’s perfectly happy with who she is and does not need a man to complete her.
6) She’s a happy person and people enjoy being around her.
7) She prays for God’s direction when it comes to marriage and has a high respect for the opinions of her parents and grandparents about men.
This may be the ultimate test, but it’s one I hope you will give thought to. What if you brought a girl home with you, one you really liked, but your parents and sisters warned you away from her?
Let’s say that for reasons of their own, your family does not approve of her and they urge you to keep looking. My question is: How much would that matter to you? Decide now, because if you find yourself in that very situation, it’s one of the most painful things ever. Many a family has been permanently split over this very thing. That was so unnecessary, and could have been avoided had the young man made up his mind in advance how much weight he would attach to his family’s approval of his life-mate.
Let me tell you a story that makes an unforgettable point….
A young couple came to see Pastor Donald Grey Barnhouse, a famous minister of a previous generation. (He’s on youtube, in case you want to check him out, and well worth listening to.)
“We want to get married,” they said.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because we love each other.”
He bellowed, “What’s that got to do with it?”
His question–which I love–surprises your generation as much as it did that young couple back then. The typical thinking has always been that the main issue for marriage is “do we love each other?” It isn’t.
For followers of Jesus Christ, in marriage as in every thing else, the question is “What is the will of God?” After all, no one knows you better or loves you more. No one wants you to get this right more than He. So, ask Him. Then, pay attention to the answer. How will you know what His answer is? In your spirit, through the godly people you trust most, and by His word.
Never forget this: Marriage is not about love; marriage is about commitment.
What this means….
1) To repeat, the main question is not and will never be “do I love her?” For a follower of Jesus Christ, the question is: “What is the will of God?”
2) If I settle that this person is God’s will for me to marry–and if she agrees–then, everything else is secondary. After all, God knows the future and sees a thousand things you cannot. Trust Him. (See Proverbs 3:5-6)
3) If you base your marriage on “do I love her?” there will be plenty of days you feel you do not love her. What will you do then? Build your marriage on a life-long commitment to her because she is God’s will for you. Say to yourself, “No matter how I feel on any particular day, I married her and am determined to love her and make this marriage work.”
4) Lock yourself into this marriage and throw away the key. In the ceremony, you each will vow “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” Say it and mean it. Agree that the “D” word will never be mentioned in your home.
5) Make up your mind up front that certain things are true….
–you will not always be glad you married each other. Some days you will wonder what you were thinking. That’s all right because she’s thinking the same thing. It’s normal.
–you will work your way through problems and come out stronger on the other side.
–throughout your life, you will sometimes feel an attraction to some woman other than your wife. This is normal, but you must not allow the attraction to grow. The best protection is to stay close to your Lord and close to your wife. Then, when this happens, start taking steps to safeguard yourself. Run in the opposite direction, seek God’s strength and protection, and guard your thoughts. Do not play with fire.
–you must work at this marriage, at growing closer and working together, the same way you would tend a garden to have a good crop. If you work at it, you get a wonderful harvest; neglect it and you get weeds.
Suppose you “make a mistake” and marry someone you shouldn’t have. What then?
Answer: From that moment on, that one is God’s will for you. Make the most of it. Work at loving her and bringing your marriage to the Father for one of His patented makeovers. You would be surprised to know that many a marriage that started out in sin and rebellion–and this includes lust and self-centeredness–when brought to the altar of the Lord became a wonderful picture of the love between Christ and His church. (See Ephesians 5:25-33).
God bless you, Grant and Jack.
This grandfather loves you with all his heart and soul.
Your parents and Grandma and I pray for you every day of our lives.
Long after Grandma and I are in Heaven, the prayers we sent up for you in our lifetime will still be kicking in–think of them as “time-release prayers!”–and bearing fruit. You’ll see! (smiley-face goes here)