I’ve often been asked, “What advice do you have for someone who is looking for a wife?” Normally, this question comes from a young man who has already somewhat settled in on a young lady and has become more serious about the idea of having a wife for the rest of his life. So, here are some thoughts for that young man, and most of them have to do with you! Not her (I know I switched person there, but I wanted to get your attention.)
The question you must ask before “What should I look for in a wife? is “What, or who, do I need to be in order to take a lady as my wife?” And you should evaluate yourself in several areas including your spiritual, mental, intellectual and financial condition. Of course, you are already capable physically of entering into a relationship with a woman, and if you spend enough time with a particular one and pursue her company and reciprocation, you will develop strong desires to be with her physically. This is what most men do when finding a life-mate: they see a lady that at first consideration seems to be a nice person, so they start spending more and more time with her. They think that since they are feeling physical attraction to a lady, they should follow their physical desires and figure the rest out along the way. And that’s the path they follow. Not too far “down the road,” you are quite attracted to her physically (and she is to you also), and then you begin to wonder if she’s the “one.” So, my first piece of advice is to be “not much” concerned about whether you will be physically attracted to the lady you marry. If you take a biblical and spiritual approach to this process, there will be plenty of time to develop a proper physical relationship in the proper timing.
My second piece of advice: Before singling out a lady to spend extra time with and develop a relationship that has the potential to “end” in marriage, be sure you are spiritually, mentally, intellectually and financially on track to be the man you should be when you take the title “husband.” Please note that I emphasized being “on track.” You don’t need to be completely ready to be married before you begin the process of finding a mate for your life’s work. But you do need to be “on track” to be a godly husband before you start. And this involves a few things. First, you need to understand what a man needs to be in order to be ready for marriage. Second, you need to evaluate where you are now, in relation to the biblical standard for a man in marriage. Third, you need to determine how long it will take you to get on the tracks (if needed) and down to the right spot on the tracks to be married. And finally, you need to gauge where your relationship is presently (if you have one) and determine if IT is further down the tracks than you are. This is most often the case, but sometimes men overemphasize biblical readiness and hold themselves to an impossible standard (or hold the one they are looking for to an impossible standard) and never get around to actually obeying the Bible and taking a wife to be the help God has designed for them.
That last paragraph is the important one, so go back and read it again to be sure that you understand what I’m saying, Okay? Now if this is the second time you’re reading this, I’ll proceed to try to fill in some understanding of what I’m saying. I’m not going to be overly thorough because each of you reading is an individual with differing callings and needs. But by giving some examples, you should be able to make pertinent, practical application to yourself.
To be a married man, you need to be a spiritual man. You need to have established spiritual habits that keep you in God’s Word and obeying the Holy Spirit’s application of the Bible to your personal life and actions. You will not have good spiritual habits without strong character habits, so do the work it takes to develop a strong character which will help you develop a real spiritual life.
You also must understand how authority works with godly men. When a man gets married, it appears to the unspiritual that he has finally become his own man and answers to no one but himself. This is clearly wrong, and you must not desire to be married so that you can get out from under authority in your life. You are not ready for the increased authority and responsibility of being a husband until you are completely submissive to the present biblical authorities in your life. This includes your parents, your pastor, your civil authority, and your employer. If you are still trying to skirt the authority these hold in your life, you are not ready to be a husband. Work on that, for sure.
You also must have a place in your church to serve God. A godly husband is in a church, and he has a way to serve God through his church. This places him under the authority of a pastor and in encouraging communion with other believers.
Second, to be a married man, you must be a mature man. You should not be involved “deeply” with a girl just because it makes you feel good…or because it is enjoyable. Of course, done properly, a relationship with a lady does make you feel good and is enjoyable. But these cannot be what drives your desire for a relationship. You are a man, and you should be more mature than to be controlled by your emotions. Make sure you are growing up before you go seeking a wife.
Thirdly, to be a married man, you must be skilled or schooled. As a man, God has commissioned you to subdue and take dominion over the earth. This manifests itself in a job of some sort. As a married man, he has also given you a lady and, probably soon, children to nourish and provide for. You need income to do that, and normally, a job is the way to get income. A good job pays you well enough to still have time to be spiritual yourself, to be a godly husband and father for your family, and to be involved in your church and ministries. To get a job that pays that well, you need skills or education. Having a job is directly related to finances, but it is not all that is involved with finances.
Finally, to be a married man, you must have a biblical view of money. You should be debt-free when you get married. Many people think that getting married doubles the income-producing possibilities, but I’ve rarely seen it work that way. Couples who postpone marriage (by a reasonably small amount of time) to clear out their debt are much better off in more than financial ways when they get married. But the point of writing this is not to get you to postpone your marriage when you are ready to get married…the point is for you to get rid of your debt while you are still getting prepared for marriage. Don’t get “all involved” with a lady and then figure out that you have too much debt, not enough income, no place to live, a car that scares your father-in-law to death and more expenses than you can handle to get married. Get your finances and your outlook on money straight before you begin to pursue a wife. Again, you should be debt-free; you should have sufficient income (not your or her dad’s level of income, just sufficient); you should have a modest place to live, and you should have your expenses completely under control.
So, where are you in these areas? How long (in months) will it take for you to become ready to be married? Now, how long will it take you to meet, get to know, engage, and marry a lady? The normal engagement time for college-age young people is 10-12 months. Often, couples are in a period of being “quite sure” that the person they are dating is the one they will marry for 4-6 months. They spend that time “getting to know” each other better. And it often takes 4-6 months for a couple “find out” if the one they’re hanging out with more than the others is worth “getting to know.” So, the typical courtship time period from “just friends” (honestly) to “I do” is from 18-24 months. Often, when a relationship is longer than this, the physical attraction is ready way before the rest of the relationship is, and couples put themselves in danger of serious problems.
I welcome your comments and questions on this topic. In another article, I will address what to be looking for when selecting someone as a possible life’s partner. I know that’s what you first asked, but understanding yourself and where you are must be done before evaluating her.