Finding ‘Till Death Do We Part’
Wise words on how to find God's best for a mate.
by Jennifer Slattery
Choosing a future spouse is one of the most important decisions we will face. Consider the well-known phrase included in most marriage vows: “Till death do we part.” Marriage is supposed to be a life-long commitment to love, cherish, and honor one another above “all others,” besides God himself.
With so much at stake, how can we be sure that special someone truly is God’s best for us?
Marriage is a beautiful gift from God designed to fulfill one of the most basic human needs: intimacy. It is also designed to be a vibrant picture of God’s love for humanity. God doesn’t want us just to find a mate. He wants us to find our helpmate — the person who completes us, understands us, and brings out the best in us.
No human relationship will ever be perfect, but by seeking God’s will in marriage through four biblical steps, we can find God’s best for us.
Pray. God loves us deeply and longs to guide us to His very best. He also longs to help us avoid painful and costly mistakes. When seeking a future spouse, it is important to take sufficient time to pray, allowing God to speak to our hearts.
As we pray, God may bring certain things to mind — perhaps concerns we hadn’t thought of or issues we need to address. Or He may provide words of encouragement, reassuring us that the individual we are thinking of marrying truly is His best for us. Either way, He longs to be closely involved in this decision.
Evaluate the partner’s character in light of clear biblical guidelines. We must not rely on our feelings alone, for feelings can be faulty and misleading. Therefore, we must take time to study the Bible.
We know we have found God’s “best” when our future spouse displays the godly characteristics laid out in Scripture. Is he honest? Does she honor her commitments? Is he hard working and responsible? Most important, does she long to know and obey God? If not, then perhaps this individual is not our future helpmate.
According to licensed marriage and family therapist Jeannie Campbell, we should be better off with our mate than without. “This is more than just a feeling,” Campbell says. “It’s the accumulation of loving actions as laid out in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient, kind, it doesn’t envy or boast. It is not self-seeking or easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.
“If you were to take any of these words and magnify the opposite, you’d have all sorts of marital problems, like abuse, adultery, infidelity. So if you see even faint evidence prior to marriage of pride, disrespect, or impatience, years of marriage will magnify those behaviors.”
Campbell stresses, “You should marry someone the way they are, not the way you hope they will become.”
Honestly evaluate emotions in light of Scripture. How do we feel when we are with this person? A sense peace or an abundance of conflict? Is there a sense of excitement, of rightness, when we think of spending the rest of our lives with this individual? God is the God of peace and order, not of chaos and confusion. When we are centered in His will, we often sense a deep peace.
Seek wise counsel early. Oftentimes our judgment is in error. Perhaps we long for a spouse so badly, we begin to overlook potential problems or concerns. Perhaps our physical desires for a person have blinded us to some character faults. Or maybe we are not ready for marriage. Whatever the cause, taking time to seek and listen to the advice of knowledgeable, godly men and women can help us avoid making a costly, painful mistake.
According to Chuck Rife, a licensed family and marriage counselor, pre-marital counseling is imperative. “How sad to see a couple spend thousands of dollars on the wedding, reception, and honeymoon,” Rife says, “and nothing to little on marriage preparation, only to find themselves divorced after six to twelve months.”
Dr. Hal Threadcraft from Threadcraft counseling agrees. “Pre-marital counseling is crucial, and study after study backs this up. Pre-marital counseling allows couples to consider the challenges they will be facing after the wedding and access the tools to help them when they do. For many couples, [it also] brings before them issues perhaps few if any have discussed with them.” In some cases, this leads to canceling the wedding.
Selecting a future spouse can be challenging, but God is ready and able to help us find His absolute best. Marriage is a sacred institution designed by God to bring fulfillment and intimacy. Our decision will likely be initiated by our feelings, but we mustn’t stop there. We should prayerfully evaluate our feelings and our future spouse in light of the clear guidelines revealed in God’s Word. We must also take time to seek wise counsel, allowing God to speak to our hearts and situation through others.
When we bring our decision to God and take time to seek His will, we place ourselves in a position to receive a beautiful blessing: that of “till death do we part.”