How to find a spouse is a question that crosses many young [and some not-so-young] minds. While some people prefer to remain single, for a variety of reasons, most want to get married. [Or, should I say, in our modern society most want to be in a relationship.] The heart desire of an exclusive love relationship with another human being is strong. We want to know that we are loved because of who we are, not because of what we do…and we want to love another in this way too.
The ultimate love relationship is between a human being and God in the Person of Jesus Christ. This is a relationship in which there can be total unconditional love and trust. The person-to-God relationship is the core on which a solid and loving relationship can be built with another person. This foundational relationship is not the subject of this particular article, which is written from the perspective of a person who already has the Jesus relationship in place, but if you are interested in more information you can read Introduction To Life or take the short e-mail course Reality Check.
So how do we find a spouse who will be the Godly and loving person of our dreams? As mentioned above, this How To Find A Spouse article is written on the assumption that it is a dedicated Christian person who wants to find a spouse who is also a committed Christian and live a combined life pleasing to God. This means that in the search to find a spouse, we must abide by God's guidelines and directives. He knows, far better than we do, what goes into making a good marriage partner.
Before we begin looking at what God requires in marriage partners, let's dream and have some fun. Get a piece of paper and write down what your vision of the perfect marriage partner would be like when you find a spouse. Make two Columns. Title one column "Requirements" and the other "Desires." Under the Requirement column write down all the things that a potential spouse MUST have before they get serious consideration as a life partner. This could include things like, a committed Christian, honest, loving, employed, etc. whatever is vital to you. Under the Desires column list all the things you would LIKE a potential partner to have but could compromise on them. This could include things like hair colour, like the same books/movies, quiet [or out-going], etc. But remember, while it is great to find a spouse who has things in common, opposites do attract and strengthen each other. Spend some time in prayer telling God about the type of spouse you would like to have and asking that He will guide you and direct you in His will.
Below we are going to take the Ten Commandments and see what they can teach us about how to find a spouse. You've probably never looked at the Ten Commandments this way before!
When working to find a spouse, there is a temptation to look for a person who will place us in the number one position. Certainly our spouse should be [and place us] in the number one human position, but if they take priority over God then there will be problems. If a husband puts his wife in the "God position" then he will expect her to meet needs in his life that no woman can met. Likewise, if a wife puts her husband in the "God position" then she will expect her husband to meet needs that no man can fulfill. Pressure, frustration, disillusionment will follow. Only when Jesus Christ is in the top position can all other relationships reach their fullest and best.
When I was in college, it was the custom when the yearbook came out to ask one's friends to autograph it. Usually they wrote a few words in addition to their signature, and when a girl asked for the autograph of a man she especially admired, she secretly hoped for some clue to his feelings toward her in the words he wrote. Jim Elliot signed his name in my Wheaton Tower and added only a Scripture reference: 2 Timothy 2:4.
"A soldier on active service will not let himself be involved in civilian affairs; he must be wholly at his commanding officer's disposal."
The message was loud and clear. Any hopes I might have entertained, any feelings Jim himself might have had for me that he had not at that time expressed, must give way before the guiding principle of his life. He was not a liberty to plan the future, being at the disposal of someone else.
To find a spouse their priorities need to be examined. Do they have things in the correct order? Is God their first priority? Sometimes the idea, especially if we already like someone, is to accept their word. We think, if they say they are a Christian and they go to church, it must be ok. Christianity is not just doing the actions, it is a heart change - a life commitment stronger than a marriage commitment. Look hard for the evidence of that life commitment. Talk to pastors and other spiritual leaders who know your potential spouse. What is their objective evaluation? Remember, you are making a decision that is going to affect you for the rest of your life. Don't be afraid to check things out as you work to find a spouse.
...in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. [Ex. 20:4-6, NIV]
Again this part of working to find a spouse goes to the matter of priorities. It is so important that God devotes His first two commandments to it. It is so easy to get distracted with the events and problems of life. As soon as we have another priority over God, we have another, and more important god. In examining priorities, be practical. Does your potential marriage partner tithe? What are their priorities for money? Is it the same as yours? If you are getting serious with this person, sit down and discuss a family financial budget. How is the money other than tithing spent? Bills? Possessions? Charity? Savings? Investment? Are you in agreement or can you work to an agreement?
How you prioritize your life, including your finances, will effect your children and beyond for either good or bad.
...for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Misusing the Name of the Lord goes beyond simple profanity, although it is amazing how many Christian people have grown careless even with simple profanity using potty words and "oh my God" quite freely.
Misusing the Name of the Lord is being careless of the things of God and/or trying to use them to personal advantage. It is saying, "in the Name of Jesus" without any real meaning behind it. It is doing Christian activities "just because" with no heart involvement. It is using the name "Christian" to try and gain personal advantage in relationships or business. It is misrepresenting the Christian cause. If you want to find a spouse who is Godly and will work together to advance the Kingdom of God in whatever area God has for you, watch the attitudes about God and the things of God carefully. Even consider if they respect the physical building of the church. Are they texting while the preacher is speaking? Do they litter on church property? Or are they respectful of all things related to God?
...Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. [Ex. 20:8-11, NIV]
While this law has changed in the New Covenant age, it still has vital lessons for us including on our subject of how to find a spouse.
In this modern world in which we live many times people are required to work on Sunday, which is the Christian Sabbath. So what we should be looking for as we work to find a spouse is one who is committed to a local church. They should be happy to attend church as much as their job allows them. They should be submitted to the pastor and local leadership, supporting them in word and deed. We should be looking to see the depth of their commitment to church attendance. If it wavers when there is an exciting sports game on, then we have to wonder where their priorities really are. Solid commitment to a local, Christian church should make everyone's Requirement column to find a spouse - if they are serious about a life with God.
In line with this, we should remember that the Sabbath was not originally a day of worship, but a day of rest. When considering a potential marriage partner, we need to consider if they have a balance between church, work, family and personal time. We all need all four, but there has to be balance. A workaholic sacrifices church and family time to met his work goals. A churchaholic may spend too much time in "ministry" and not enough meeting the needs of the family. A familyaholic may end up worshiping their family and not devoting enough time to God and work. There may be short seasons in life when things are out of balance temporary - a work project may require sacrifices in family time, or a special church event may drain the energy levels - but in the overall picture, there needs to be a healthy balance. If your potential life partner is not old enough to have established their own life patterns to judge, look at their parents. Is the family they grew up in well-balanced? They may or may not follow their family's pattern, but that will be their natural tendency. Discuss with them how they feel about their family's balance or lack thereof and what changes they would like to make.
...so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. [Ex. 20:12, NIV]
Respect is a big thing in a marriage and needs to be considered very carefully as you work to find a spouse. Disagreements and arguments will come to every couple. After all, marriage is taking two independent people and making them into a unified team before God. There is bound to be conflict even if both partners hold similar views. The question is, even in the midst of disagreement, will they be willing to treat each other with respect. You want to find a spouse who will react respectfully.
One of the most important ways of being able to judge this vital quality is watching how a potential spouse treats their parents, especially the parent of the opposite sex.
A woman should closely observe how her boyfriend treats his mother. Is it with respect and honour even if she is not around? Does he have a good relationship with her? If she tries to be controlling, does he refuse to be manipulated in a positive and respectful way? The attitude with which he treats his mother, is most likely the attitude he will take toward you as the marriage progresses. Going one step further, watch how he treats women in general, especially women he may not consider overly important. Is he polite and respectful to waitresses, cashiers, secretaries, etc. His attitude to women in general will likely be magnified - for better or worse - on his wife. As you work to find a spouse, never even consider a man who does not treat his mother and other women with respect, no matter how loving he may seem to you at the moment.
A man should watch how his girlfriend reacts to her parents, especially her father. Does she have a good relationship with him? Does she respect his opinions? Is she submitted to his authority or does she go around behind his back doing things she knows he does not approve of? Going beyond that, what is her attitude to men in general? Is she always in competition trying to prove she is as good as or better than a man? Does she make remarks about how handsome other men are? Especially her attitude to her father is likely to be transferred to her husband as the marriage progresses. Note: if there has been sexual abuse healthy relationships and attitudes toward men are likely damaged and the circumstances need to be taken into consideration.
This seems obvious. No one wants to marry a murderer! However, as we consider Biblical Law in relation to how to find a spouse, we need to remember that the Ten Commandments are summary laws and cover more than just the simple statement.
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. [1 John 3:15, NIV]
Hatred, bitterness, uncontrolled anger, overly possessive jealousy, etc. are all negative emotions which destroy the person who has them and works to murder every relationship they are in. When working to find a spouse, who will be the Godly partner you want them to be, you must look out for destructive passions especially when they burst "out-of-control." You need to know now because nothing will bring them out faster and harsher than a strong disagreement in a marriage. How he or she reacts to problems and negative situations now will only be amplified in a marriage.
Note: If you have grown up with a person you probably have a good idea of their personality, character, values and attitudes. While you still need to seek outside advice from reliable people, there are a lot of things you already know from experience. The shorter amount of time you have known someone the more you need to investigate. It is easy to hide the "true you" from someone you have recently met. Remember, this is a decision that is going to make your future life a heaven on earth or a hell on earth. As you work to find a spouse, take time, and be sure. A reasonable potential spouse will not mind being "checked out" and will be willing to give you the time you need to be confident they are the right one. If there is a negative reaction, that in itself is a large warning sign.
We should note that, although the emphasis is often unfairly put on the woman, the Biblical standard for sexual purity is the same for both men and women.
In our sex-crazed modern society even many Christian youth and adults fall prey to sexual temptation. They begin to think that the Bible is old-fashioned and since "everybody" is doing it they can too. Some "Christian" people have recommend sex before marriage to make sure you are getting a good partner in direct contradiction to God's value system.
Before we go on, we should define what we mean by sexual activity. Some people deceive themselves into thinking that as long as they don't have intercourse until marriage then everything is fine. All sexual activity before marriage is sin, This is not just intercourse, but includes touching "private" areas, viewing pornography, and explicit conversations. Kissing does not necessarily fall into this area; however, it is the first step to more intimate contact and I believe it is safest to leave even that to the marriage day. There is something special about the line "You may kiss the bride" in the traditional wedding ceremony when that is the first kiss.
As we work to find a spouse, it is important to realize that men and women bond to each other in different ways. A woman bonds through giving herself sexually to a man she loves, especially the first man. Sometimes a woman feels that a man bonds the same way and so is tempted to give herself to him before marriage to get him to commit to her. This actually sabotages the way a man will bond to a woman. It devalues her in his sight, even if he pressured her into it.
Strong suggestion for women if you want a Godly husband: If your potential marriage partner suggests sexual activity before marriage in anyway end the relationship immediately. It will only bring you heartache latter on.
So how does a man bond to a woman? Men are action and goal orientated. To value and bond to a future spouse he must earn her respect and acceptance. He must "pay the price." This price includes controlling his own sexual desires by keeping himself pure for her alone [often he begins paying this price long before he even mets her], facing her father, being able to provide for her needs, etc. If there is no "cost" for gaining her love, then she is "cheap" and the bond is weak at best.
Strong suggestion for men if you want a Godly wife: If your potential life partner tries to tempt you sexually end the relationship immediately. Yielding to such temptation will give you immediate satisfaction, but long-term grief.
Sexual temptation is strong so this is one area where both the potential marriage partners need to be extremely pro-active:
1. Do not be overconfident. Do not assume that you are too strong to fall into this temptation.
2. Get to know each other in group settings.
3. Try to avoid being alone with your potential marriage partner in "private" places where it would be easy to give into temptation and "nobody would know." You will have plenty of private time when you are married.
4. Develop good friendships with people who have the same Christian values.
5. Remember doing what feels right is not always right. Only the Word of God defines right and wrong, not our emotions.
You want to find a spouse who can work together with you to accomplish God's purpose for your lives. The opposite of stealing is working [Eph. 4:28]. In looking to find a spouse, you want someone with a good work ethic. Adam had to tend the Garden of Eden before he was given a wife. In the Old Testament a man had to save about 3 years wages before he could get married [dowry system]. Even the modern idea of the groom paying for the honeymoon is based on the idea that he must be able to provide for his wife.
Love is a vital ingredient in a marriage, but it is not the only ingredient. You cannot eat love or pay the rent with love. If you are a woman, as you work to find a spouse, you need to consider whether your potential life partner can provide for your needs and the needs of your future family. You need to evaluate if he is a hard worker or lazy. [Is all his spare time/money spend on video games or entertainment?] There may be other factors to consider - extending schooling for a better job in the future, a low paying job as he "works his way up the ladder," a Christian ministry job, etc. - but do not enter the situation blind to possible consequences. Money is not the most important thing in life, but it is important.
If you are a man trying to find a spouse, consider how you will provide for her. Also, consider whether your potential life partner is someone who will "steal" your energy and provision to consume on herself or whether she is a worthy partner who will work along side of you in life to achieve your team goals before God. A pretty face can quickly become ugly if it is not backed by Godly character.
To find a spouse that will build your life and not tear it down, consider how they talk about people. Are they honest in their dealings? Do they gossip and backbite? [If so you will probably be a victim later in the marriage. More marriages would probably break up if wives knew how their husbands talked about them at work!] Do they lie to get out of trouble or to get someone else into trouble? What is their integrity level? Are they honest with their employer or do they phone in sick when they are not really sick?
...You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. [Ex. 20:17, NIV]
One of the great temptations of the modern age is to have everything that everyone else has [or better]. It is tempting to measure our worth by our possessions and how they compare to the possessions of others. It is a trap, but one that needs to be considered when working to find a spouse. Are they caught up in the materialistic way of life. Is their focus on things or God. Are they promoting themselves or the cause of Christ. Would they, like Paul, be content in whatever situation of life God placed them? Or will they whine and complain whenever things don't do right or they don't get what they think they deserve. Life with a complainer is never nice. You want to find a spouse who can go through the hard things of life without a whine.
None of us are perfect. We all have flaws that God is working on. That is why when trying to find a spouse it is important to think about your Requirements and Desires columns. What faults are you willing to accept in a potential spouse and which ones can't you live with? When you find a spouse, do not count on being able to change a person after marriage. Look at them now with open eyes. Are you willing to live with them the way they are even if they were never to change?
I know I have placed a lot of emphasis on evaluation and even investigating a potential life partner. [You might think I don't believe in love when you find a spouse! Not true.] I did not do that to bring fear of relationships into your life. Fear is not from God. The right marriage relationship is a fantastic thing - a picture of heaven on earth. But I also know there are people who wear masks. They are not who they portray themselves to be and they can be very convincing. For whatever reason, they may have set their sights on a Godly man or woman although in their secret lives they are walking a far different path. As I said above, the shorter the amount of time you have personally known a potential spouse the longer and deeper your investigation needs to be. After accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, this is probably the most important decision you will make. Get good counsel. [This is one reason why God kept sex until after marriage so that you could evaluate the potential spouse before being totally committed emotionally.]
Don't operate in fear. Fear of making the wrong decision can paralyze you from making the right decision. If you have honestly evaluated the person, if you gotten good counsel, and if you have peace in your heart after praying about it, move ahead with confidence.
The above is great if you have someone in mind, but what if you are looking to find a spouse and the horizon is empty?
1. Don't panic. In our modern society everyone wants to be in a "relationship" to feel they are somebody. They draw their identity from their partner and are crushed if they are rejected. Find your identity first in Christ, then you will be ready to find a spouse. I know this is a hard saying but, it is better to be single than married to the wrong person.
2. Pray about it. Tell God about your hopes and fears and desires. He knows how you feel and He understands and He knows where to find a spouse for you.
3. Develop your own relationship with Jesus. This is the primary relationship on which all other solid Godly relationships will be built.
4. Keep your eyes open. Where would you find a spouse that you are looking for? Your church? Another church? Bible School? Family friends? At work? You never know.
5. Measure yourself honestly. Are you the type of person that someone trying to find a spouse who is Godly would look for? Work on developing your own character.