Preparing for Marriage For Singles, Dating, & Engaged
Over the “break,” we took our time time to pray and think about the future content of what our next blog posts/podcast episodes to focus on. Lianna and I (David) had this feeling to write about how to prepare for marriage. We also wanted to be sure that when we talk about preparing for marriage, we wanted to speak into the singles, dating, & engaged couples.
We talked to many people from all walks of life and we really wanted to share a little bit about our personal experiences and lessons in hopes to help, encourage and inspire you.
Writing/talking about discovering the mission that God has planned for you is what we love to do. We are not perfect, but we have passed over a few speed bumps along that way that we want to share with you all in hopes that you may not pass over those same ones.
We did do a blog post on 10 Marriage Tips We Have Learned As Newlyweds that is similar in this subject. However, for this particular post, this is more for single/dating/engaged who are preparing for marriage, a godly, Christ-centered marriage.
For the Single:
During your single life is it important to try to discover and pray about what page you are on in life. There are sometimes when we really know what we are doing or why we are in the place that we are in. It is important to gain clarity and direction in your single life.
We have spoken to several single folks, including ourselves at one point in time. We are discovering that it is super important to have that time of singleness to really understand what you are looking for in a spouse and you are able to mentally clarify that area to pinpoint that characteristics you are looking for and who God has called you to be with.
First and foremost, build a stronger relationship with Jesus.
During this opportune time in your life, whether you are an adult or a teenager, take the necessary time to pray and build that relationship with the Lord. As you get closer to him, you will begin to understand your mission. You are single; embrace it! You have all the time in the world to invest in yourself, do whatever you want, be independent. So, take advantage of your undivided attention and spend more time with Jesus. This ties into the next main point…
Singleness is a gift, not a curse!
We know how difficult singleness can be, and in this world, being single equals being alone. We know that God created us not to be independent but to depend on Him. However, He also created man and woman to not be alone; He created us to crave community (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) and also one day hopefully to meet someone and fall in love. (Genesis 2:18)
We are wired that way to seek and to find love. However, don’t underestimate your season of singleness. Being single, like we stated earlier, is a gift, not a curse. We have more time on our hands to do what we want and serve God with all that we have. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, on the gift of singleness and hopes that you stay single so that you can devote all your time with the Lord and enjoy the single season.
“An unmarried man [or woman] can spend his [or her] time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33 But a married man [or woman] has to think about his [or her] earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife [or her husband]. 34 His [or her] interests are divided.”
Basically, He is saying that when you get into a relationship or get married one day, you will be limited in your time to devote to God because your interests are all over the place. (Which is fine!). Taking care of yourself, your spouse, (one day) your family, and God. He is saying take advantage of your gift of singleness and if you can, to stay single. But, you don’t have to stay single if you are not called to singleness. And if you are called to singleness or celibacy, that is a whole ‘nother topic that we do not know too much about. Maybe we will have someone on the podcast someday that is single to talk more on this.
Only Jesus Will Satisfy You, Not Your Future Spouse.
Many of us tend to believe that if we meet the one and get married, we will finally be happy and meet all of our dreams and hopes. Whether you are single, dating, or married, we naturally put our hopes and expectations on something. Is it on Jesus or is it on people that you know, like friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, family members? However, if one of them lets you down, it is challenging for us because our hopes on those people did not last.
This kind of behavior, if not dealt with in our single season, can be carried over into our dating life, engagement, and marriage. Romans 3:23-24 states that, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
It is by grace through redemption of Jesus Christ that we are made whole again, so why not put your hopes and expectations in Jesus Christ? He never leaves you nor forsake you. He is always there and always will be. Jesus Christ is our rock and foundation that will keep you grounded. But, he did give us free will and a choice to take up the daily cross and follow him or not.
Speaking from my (David’s) past, when I relied fully on someone or something, I was let down at some point in time. We all can think of a time when someone let us down. However, God’s plan and mission for your life is perfect and timely according to Him. When you are in need of something or someone, you can always go to Him, and He will always be there to love, guide and help you beyond your wildest imagination.
We wanted to clarify and really make sure you understand that even if you meet someone and you get married, they will never satisfy you like Jesus will. Your spouse will let you down because they are only human and are a sinner like you and me. But, Jesus is the most perfect being, He died on the cross for you to take away everyone’s sins and defeated death on the third day. There is no greater love than the love of Jesus Christ.
Dating Is Okay to Do…Mostly
One thing we wanted to point out is this: dating as a single person is okay. There are things to make sure you have in place to ensure your dating style is going in the right direction, not taking you to a bad place.
It is okay to date, be single, and still be a Christian. We just want to make sure you know that we believe this. However, if you are dating a person week after week with no avail, maybe it is time to change up your dating style and figure out why your dates aren’t so good for you. Maybe delete the dating apps, or change up the location (i.e. bars or clubs) in which guys or girls ask you out.
If you are dating people who never want to get married, are unbelievers, party all the time, don’t align with your lifestyle or beliefs, or you can’t see yourself marrying, get out of those dates quickly. It is a slippery slope to nowhere if you want to prepare for marriage one day. Date with the right intentions and try to be honest with yourself and others.
Be Sure You Are Humble To Work On Yourself
The point is that you can be single, dating, and still be preparing yourself for marriage whether you are in a committed relationship or not. It is never too early to start preparing for marriage as a single person; it is not just about praying for your future husband/wife (that is important too; we are not ruling this out.).
It is about preparing yourself, your heart, your mind, and your soul for marriage. It’s about working on what you maybe have to work on in yourself, and that means to be self-aware of everything you say, do, or react to certain people and things.
If this is hard to figure out, maybe ask a friend or family member about how you are as a person and see what things you have that need working on. Now, this is difficult because it takes humility to allow people to give helpful criticism and you may want to defend yourself. But, in the end, it will be worth it and you are way more prepared for marriage before even meeting the right person or being in a relationship!
Pray for them.
Last but not least, pray for your future spouse. This is something that is overstated many times but this is important. Pray OVER your future spouse, not what you are looking for in a future spouse in a physical or superficial way. Obviously, it’s okay to have ideals or non-negotiables, such as kindness, generosity, has a strong relationship with the Lord, and so forth. But, don’t focus on physical aspects such as eye color, hair color, height, rock-solid abs, and so on, you get the point.
But, pray for them to help them in their walk with God, no matter where they are at. Pray over their situations that Jesus is always there in their darkest times. Pray that they will be an intentional & loving husband or wife, whose worth is found in Jesus Christ alone, that they listen and are guided by the Holy Spirit, and, one day, be strongly founded in your marriage with God at the center.
For the Dating & the Engaged
Before You Go On, Answer These Questions First…
One thing I wanted to really emphasize here before I move on is this:
Are you ready to date or to be engaged one day to be married?
Are you with the person you can see yourself marrying one day or not really?
Do you truly want to be with someone for the rest of your life or do you feel like you are missing out on living life as a single or dating person?
Are you with someone because you don’t want to be alone?
If you answered any of these questions with,
“I don’t think I want to date to marry yet”,
“I want to live out my single life,”
“I am not with the person I actually see myself marrying one day,”
Then it is time to go right back to the “Single” section of this post, and read.
But, if you answered that you think or know you are with someone that you see marrying one day…keep reading along!
Be Sure You Are Both On The Same Page
The first thing you have to do is make sure your boyfriend/girlfriend or fiancé/fiancée is on the same page with you. If you are a Christian, and looking for a relationship with another Christian, make sure that they practice what they preach, meaning they live out a life of faith.
Remember what we wrote in the single section about if you are casually dating the wrong people, to get out of those dates? This is why. It is harder to get out of a longer term relationship when you know it is not the right person for you to marry. But it is never too late.
If you desire a successful and a long-lasting Christ-centered marriage the person you are with has to have the same desires and values that align with your own. For example, if you want to save sex for marriage but your partner does not and keep pressuring you, it is time to move on. Or, if you want to attend church, read the Bible, and follow Jesus Christ, but your partner does not want to, it is not too late to get out of the relationship.
You Cannot Change Your Partner, Only God Can.
It is not your job to change or convert your partner…the only thing you can do is pray for them, for God to change them. Sometimes, staying in the relationship will not change them; there are rare cases in which God brings miracles and the partner believes, but it truly comes at a cost.
But, in the meantime, it is okay to take a step back, let them go and pray for them, and go back to enjoying your life as God wants you to. Maybe one day, God will bring them back if it is a part of His plan for you to reunite with them but know that there is a chance you aren’t meant to be with them and that’s okay.
If you are not on the same page or you constantly remind them or plead with them that you want to do things right in God’s eyes, then it may be time to take a step back from the relationship and reevaluate. You may have to pray over the relationship, for God to open your eyes to see if this person is truly a Christian or not.
Never Compromise In Order To Be Happy Temporarily
God never wants you to settle. He does not want you to compromise on anything that brings you further away from Him. This is never God’s intention: if you have to do certain things that go against God’s Word in order to make your partner happy, chances are that they are not the person for you.
Of course, people make mistakes, and that includes your partner and yourself. But, if you catch yourself or your partner compromising or overstepping boundaries over and over again, this is the time to step back, reevaluate, pray, and see what to do next.
One thing that David & I (Lianna) did in our dating/engaged relationship was to set boundaries: we decided to save sex until we got married. Y’all, it was totally not easy. We are two broken people with our own past, but we knew that God called us to purity and not to impurity. We have made mistakes during our relationship, but God gave us the strength to start over, remind us of our call to purity, and made it down the aisle saving sex for marriage.
Here is one section of the Bible that we always turned to read together as a couple every time we were tempted or convicted of our wrongs: (We did a little mini-series through Instagram on conviction and what that means if you want to check that out!)
“God’s will is for you to be set apart for him in holiness and that you keep yourselves unpolluted from sexual defilement. 4 Yes, each of you must guard your sexual purity with holiness and dignity, 5 not yielding to lustful passions like those who don’t know God. 6 Never take selfish advantage of a brother or sister in this matter, for we’ve already told you and solemnly warned you that the Lord is the avenger in all these things. 7 For God’s call on our lives is not to a life of compromise and perversion but to a life surrounded in holiness. 8 Therefore, whoever rejects this instruction isn’t rejecting human authority but God himself, who gives us his precious gift—his Spirit of holiness.” —1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 TPT
Another huge way that really saved us from giving into temptations was we shared the same strong conviction of the Holy Spirit to treat each other with respect, honor, and remain pure. See each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, not as fiancé or boyfriend/girlfriend, if that makes it easier for you to honor and treat them with the respect they deserve, not using their body to satisfy your desires.
We are shifting gears from the depressing and seemingly ruthless tone here. Even though this journey of seeking purity and holiness is a serious and difficult one, this is the time to get creative! Do other fun activities outside of the bedroom, like hiking, going to the beach, hanging out with godly friends, hang out with an older, wiser married couple to gain wisdom for your marriage. Fall in love with your fiancé or partner for their mind, their personality, and their love for Jesus.
Here is a funny (maybe not so funny back then!) line that we would say to each other to slow down when things were getting too “heated”… “Remember the Pure & Holy Challenge!”, referencing the 1 Thessalonians passage from above. It may or may not work for you, but it did for us to remind each other that God is present everywhere we go and cannot hide from Him.
Save The Privileges For The Marriage Bed
So, this ties into what the next important tip is this: do not give your partner or fiancé the privileges that only your husband and wife should have! I know this can be a touchy subject for many people including Christians; however, we feel that God has called us to gently teach and share this tip in love and gentleness.
“Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” – 2 Timothy 2:25-26 NLT
Just because you are wanting to get married or are engaged, does not mean they have the rights or privilege that only your true husband and wife should have…we are saying this hard thing because this will prevent many problems down the road. And we do not want you to have these problems because Jesus love you too much to not share the truth.
We’ve had many people in our lives that wish they had waited, many couples we’ve known have said they were going to get married someday, some lived together for years as engaged couples and never tied the knot; some couples that everyone assumed they were going to get married because they were “perfect” for one another, or some couples who were engaged and shockingly broke up. And these were Christian people raised in the church.
There were many issues in their relationship that they did not work through or were not founded on the right foundation until it was too late. They were following their own desires and plans together and not placing God first and not follow what He says is right.
We are writing this not to scare you or to make you feel bad, but this is your life. We want to truly help you prepare for marriage, to have a beautiful, Jesus-centered marriage, free of any deep sin, baggage, and problems being brought into your marriage.
If there is an issue, sin, behavior, or habit that is not dealt with outside of marriage, it will be amplified to extraordinary levels within marriage.
Small, little concerns outside of marriage usually turn into big concerns within marriage that can strain the relationship if not dealt with.
I (Lianna) have heard a quote or saying that I am not sure where this is from but it is SO true:
When you are dating or engaged to someone, the devil tries everything to get both of you to sin and do wrong in God’s eyes so that you can be ashamed and be in a toxic cycle. But, when two people get married under God, the devil will do anything and will use anything you have to break you two apart.
Just because you reach the end goal of getting married, but now what? In actuality, you still are the same person and your husband/wife is still the same person, but you still have all the same problems, baggage, and sin that was not dealt with before you got married. Even if you got married, those problems and sins do not magically go away. It may be suppressed and placed in the back because you are blissful from the wedding, but when reality sinks in, it will come back.
God Will Show You The Way Of Restoration
However, we are not perfect and everyone has their own list of problems and concerns but we have to work through things together and with the Lord so that we can move forward. Go to God together in prayer, as an engaged or married couple, and repent and ask God to open your eyes to how you both should proceed from there. And God will show you the way. He will never condemn you or forsake you. He is a good God that wants us to be reconciled and the only way we can do that is THROUGH Him!
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” – 1 John 1:9
We always reference Psalm 51 but it is one of our favorite passages to use for prayer for repentance and forgiveness:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” -Psalm 51:1-2; 10-12
In order to help you prepare for marriage, we have to say the hard things that no one else is saying or is comfortable saying. But, when you work through these issues with God, with your partner or fiancé, it is so worth it. It is so worth not having to bring these deep problems that you have to deal with one day in your marriage.
If this is a deeper issue that you both need to work through and gain more guidance, never underestimate the power of telling a trusted older person, married couple, pastor, or counselor, preferably Christian and have godly counsel and influence in your life. Sometimes, in order to prepare for a great, Christ-centered marriage, you have to have more guidance through God, prayer, and community for accountability. You both do not have to be alone in this; it may be a long journey, but in the end, you will be grateful you both did it.
So, if you are single, dating, engaged or married, it is never too late to start doing what is right in God’s eyes in preparing and having a great, Christ-centered marriage.
Thank you for reading,