I’m 16 years into my second marriage. If you and I had some time together in a coffee shop to chat about your hopes for marriage and what I’ve learned from one failed marriage and this one, this is what I’d say:
Praying for yourself is the most proactive, effective thing you can do to prepare for a great marriage.
The One who created you and knows every nook and cranny of your heart also designed marriage. He alone knows what you need to be the husband or wife who will remain faithful in the hardest days. He knows what your heart expects marriage to do for you. He knows what you fear marriage will do to you.
When I married, I I felt sure that the deep well of love within me was all I needed to be a great wife to David. I had very little awareness of my pride, my desperate need to be loved, my lack of honesty with myself and others, and so much more.
Do you believe there is more to your longings, your motivations, your desire to be married than you are aware of today? It’s a question worth asking. It’s a question worth humbly presenting to God.
Humility. That’s a great place to start praying. Your ability to admit your own faults will be exposed in marriage. Yes, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you have faults. And your pride is very skilled at deflecting this truth and defending your honor when you are exposed. You can start preparing your heart and your mind for a healthy marriage by asking the Lord to slay your pride.
Last year, the Lord whispered these words into my heart: “Ask me to slay your pride.” I didn’t feel shame at His request. I felt more like the woman at the well when Jesus confronted her sin and offered her so much more. I’m really thankful for His intervention. But wow, how much more intimate and joyful could our relationship have been if I had begun praying that before I said “I do”?
The greatest benefit of humility is dependence on God. While pride encourages you to have all the answers (or pretend to), humility will ask God questions and look to God as your Sustainer and Defender. Your willingness to admit your need for God’s involvement in your marriage will prove to be your most reliable insurance to a love that outlasts the trials and temptations that will surely arise.
Maybe you are thinking, this woman is a bit of a “Debbie Downer,” talking about the trials, temptations and really hard days of marriage. Give me a chance to redeem that here. The mystery and magical moments of loving your spouse for a lifetime is an extraordinary gift! It is God’s gift to be enjoyed. He gave life to be enjoyed abundantly (John 10:10).
The extravagant beauty of marriage can be marred by our humanness and desire to serve ourselves instead of God. A beautiful marriage is what God says it is. And God’s intention for marriage is strategically opposed by His enemy. Jesus showed us the meaning of marriage with His downwardly mobile, selfless life. Satan’s battle plan includes you having it all your way. Jesus, our Bridegroom, left Heaven—where He enjoyed the perfect life—to serve you and me. The enemy of every good marriage exalts image, possessions and many other “look at me” opportunities as a “delightful” counterfeit to the real beauty of married love.
Inviting God to help me has been the most fruitful prayer of my marriage. It resulted in learning to pray His will by praying His Word back to him. He is faithful to His Word. It will always accomplish His intentions. This is great insurance: knowing my selfish intentions take a back seat to His.
With Jesus as our Lord, His Spirit is infixed within us. He empowers us to pray and act on God’s will for us. That is the key to God’s mighty power working within you as a wife or husband, to accomplish more than your prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes and dreams (Ephesians 3:20).
Are you already prayerfully preparing for marriage?