How Do I Know If I Am Ready for Marriage?

The last post in this series explored what the goal is for marriage (a husband specifically, since I am a man). My last article detailed what it is I should be aspiring to be ashow know marriage ready a future husband.
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This post is for exploring how I know when I’ve “made it” so to speak. The only problem is I’m never going to “make it” this side of eternity. As the common expression goes, “you’ll never be ready for marriage.” Well…if I’ll never be ready, then how do I know if/when I should get married?
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I have never really liked the expression, “No one is ever ready to marry.” Even if this is true…it’s not a very helpful statement. This statement seems to imply that because no one is ever ready to marry…anyone who is anyone can get married at any time (provided it is legal of course). This extreme doesn’t seem right either.
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Thinking more, however, I came to the realization that it really is true that none of us can ever be fully ready for marriage, but I think I can explain why in a more helpful and Biblical way. The reason why no one is ever ready for marriage is because marriage was created for perfect people. It was created before the fall, and therefore, the intent and purpose of marriage can only be perfectly fulfilled by perfect people. We can only perfectly reflect the image of Christ and the Church if we are perfect, because Christ is perfect, and He will make us perfect when He returns for us His bride. Marriage requires perfection, and we all fall short of that requirement.
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How does Christ love the church? Perfectly. The husband is supposed to reflect Christ in the metaphor of marriage; therefore, in order for a man to be fully ready for marriage, he has to be able to love his wife perfectly, and at all times, like Christ does for the Church.
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Well, this doesn’t seem to leave us off any better, does it? I don’t know any perfect men.
The beauty of the Gospel is that we are freed from sin, and we have the Helper of the Holy Spirit, so we can improve and we are capable of taking on Christ. Christ can act through us, but this is beside the point.

The point is if we waited until we were this perfect before marriage, no one would ever marry, and ironically, marriage is perhaps the best medium for shaping us into the image of Christ (or so I’ve read and been told).

One could say that in order to be ready for marriage, you have to get married.

But where is the cut off? Is there a threshold we need to cross to be “good enough”? Or is there no line since none of us can be perfect?
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The Bible doesn’t have any set of requirements. We don’t find any lists in the Bible stating that someone needs to be “This, this, and THIS,” before they can get married. We do see the Bible talk a lot about what marriage is though. We see that husbands are told to love their wives, and wives are told to submit to their husbands. These are just a couple of things the Bible attributes to marriage, but you get the point.
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What is more, marriage is a covenant, which is like a contract, but it’s not conditional. In other words, a contract only lasts as long as both parties hold up their end of the bargain. If one party does not fulfill their end of the bargain, the other party doesn’t have to hold up theirs. Marriage has been reduced to a contract in our culture, but this isn’t Biblical. Biblically, marriage is a covenant, which means even if your spouse doesn’t “hold up their end of the bargain”, you are still required to hold up yours. Yikes!
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And this is what God does for us. Though we sin, and though we are unfaithful to Him again and again…He still holds up his end of the bargain. He still loves us. We do not lose our position in Christ, and again, the husband is supposed to represent Christ in the marriage covenant.
So, what has all of this got to do with marriage readiness? Well, I have come to the conclusion that one is ready for marriage if they can maintain this covenant.
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In order to be ready to drive a car, you have to able to pass the driver’s test to get your driver’s license.  To be ready to drive, you have to actually be able to drive. The same applies to marriage.

It sounds obscenely simple, but to be ready to marry, you have to be able to marriage.

Yes. I did just make a noun into a verb. It’s okay. 
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What does it mean to marriage? Well, what are you promising to do when you enter a marriage? It’s written right in your marriage vows!
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“I, ___, take you, ___, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.”
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When you marry, you are agreeing to love your spouse no matter what. It doesn’t matter what your spouse does, it doesn’t matter what your life circumstances are…you are promising to love them no matter what. If you aren’t prepared or able to uphold your marriage vows, if you aren’t willing or able to uphold the covenant, then you aren’t ready for marriage. However, if you can, if you are willing and able to carry out your wedding vows…then you are ready to marry.
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Unfortunately, we run into the problem of imperfection again. We are sinful people, so we’re not going to be able to fulfill our wedding vows perfectly. We may have the vision, and we may get on our stead and shout, “Charge!” as we ride into the fray…but we’re going to get knocked off. We’re going to fall in mud, dazed. We’ll fall short of the vision. What marks readiness is what we do in that situation. Do we say, “This is too hard! How can anyone live this way?” and walk away? Do we give up on our vows…or do we get back up on that stead and shout, “Charge!” When we fall down, do we keep getting back up?
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I believe if we are the kind of people who keep getting back up, and who understand that it is only through Christ that we have any ability to fulfill our covenant…then we are then ready for marriage.
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Certainly, there are a lot of practical skills and knowledge it would be good to possess, but none of that matters if you aren’t willing or able to uphold your covenant. So what if you know how to do electrical work, or plumbing? You could know how to immaculately build your whole house on your own…but if you can’t love your wife, or can’t love her even when she isn’t loving in return…you aren’t ready. Money, status, skills…they don’t really matter in the end. They only matter in so much as they enable you to uphold your wedding vows. You just need to have enough money and/or skills to be able to uphold your promises, your wedding vows. 
This is the bare minimum though. Our goal shouldn’t be the minimum, but the maximum. We don’t just want to be able to uphold our vows, but to blow them out of the water. We don’t just want to be able to survive marriage, but to thrive!
 
What it takes to thrive, though, this I am still learning, and I’m sure my education will be greatly expedited if/when I actually get married. But what I do know  is that a thriving marriage will take a lot of intentionality, practice, and most importantly, God. 
 

Are you ready for marriage? If not, why not? What are you doing to become ready?

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