by Nathan Bailey
Wrap-up: What to do while you wait
and further resources
Strangely enough, I don't believe in waiting around to get married :) If you are ready to get married, then go right ahead! If you're not, then you already know what to do "while you're waiting" -- address your shortcomings.
The years before marriage are a time of preparation. The Bible talks about us being 'consecrated' to God -- that literally means having your hands full of purpose. You need to find out your destiny in life -- how can you be sure your spouse's destiny lines up with your own if you don't yet know what yours is?
Once you have found your destiny, you can start equipping yourself for it, and then doing it. More than likely, you will meet your spouse whilst you are out, fulfilling your destiny. She too, will be there, fulfilling her destiny -- similar to yours, since you will have a joint one together! Those who wait at home "for their prince/princess" to come aren't likely to meet (or attract) the partner of virtue they seek.
More than that though, you need to become a whole person, and then build a dowry. Many people enter in to relationships/marriage in an attempt to fulfill their needs. Pastor Craig Hill uses the example of fleas. One flea marries someone, thinking their spouse is a dog who can fulfill them emotionally, only to find that they are another flea. Pastor Hill says we need to be batteries, finding our source of strength in rechargings from God. (You may like to read my series on Freedom from sin for more about breaking free from the victim mentality.)
Many of us have vulnerabilities and hurts from traumas in our childhood or even adult years. These needs must be addressed in God before you start to seek relationships with others, or you may well find that you have married a flea. Once you have addressed these major issues, you need to get prepared for marriage by building a dowry.
In Biblical times, a man would present a dowry to his wife, both as an expression of value in her, and as a security for her, should he be injured or die. This dowry (according to Jehle?) was usually about three years wages, around $100,000 today! Similarly, the wife (or her family) would bring something to the marriage, like a cow to parent their new herd.
Whilst I wouldn't necessarily advocate requiring such a substantial investment, I would strongly encourage you to get yourself out of debt before considering marriage. According to Bernice Kanner, money is the top cause of marital strife (29% argue about it most, based on a national US survey). If you come in to a marriage financially secure, you will have a lot less stress. If you are in any doubt about this one, just talk to any pastor or marriage counsellor! :)
But there is more to your dowry than just financial resources. Paul Jehle and Lon Stokes also talk of a "character dowry". A character dowry includes things like a good work ethic, home-making skills (yes, guys should know how to cook and clean too, even if they feel it isn't their primary role), financial responsibility, faithful commitment to and service in a local church, etc.
I firmly believe that if you commit to God's plan in relationships, and focus on fulfilling your destiny in Him, He will fulfill His part of the bargain. Emotionally and financially prepared for marriage, as you develop your character dowry, God will surely direct to your side His chosen partner for you!
For further reading, please check the books and URLs listed on my Courtship Resources page© Copyright 1997-2010, Nathan Bailey, All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to print these articles for personal use, in whole or in part, provided the extract references the original URL, http://polynate.net/books/courtship/, so that people can find the latest version. Bernice Kanner's statistic is from her book Are You Normal? (New York; St. Martin's Press, 1995), based on surveys of a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults by Market Facts, Inc., Arlington Heights, IL.