Finding Your Wife/Husband
First of all, there is a reason why the Bible says you have to marry a Christian and they should be as mature as you spiritually. You might be asking, "what if they are stronger, shouldn't you find someone a lot more mature than you?" I would say only if you desire to get to their level and they realize you are not there yet. The illustration of a yoke is excellent but one must understand what that is. It is what held two oxen together when they plowed. If one is stronger, they won't work well together. Ideally they are always equal.“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
- 2 Corinthians 6:14
Next, it is clearly best to find an equally mature Christian at your church. The reasons are exhaustive: You can observe each other, get to know each other's friends, maintain accountability, go to church together, people will see you together and the Lord can speak through them, and you will get to know each other sooner by spending more time together, and church is the best place to do this... Now I know many of you go to small churches and rely on singles events or even the Internet to meet someone. That's your choice, and I tried both of those options as well, but I wouldn't do it again. Let me tell you how I think it should be done ideally in the life of a modern-day Christian in this culture. Keep in mind, this also involves a lot of prayer and leading by the Holy Spirit:
I heard an illustration by Tommy Nelson which stuck with me. He said, "You run as fast as you can for Jesus Christ, commit your life to Him, love Him, sell out to Him, and stay devoted to Him. Then you start looking to your right and left and see who is running at the same speed. And you wave at them. And if they stay up with you, after a while, say, "Come on over!" And you're running together."
This is exactly what happened with Yvethe and I. She and I had served in the same ministry for about 10 months until we finally got to know each other. You can read the story here but we never noticed each other until I believe God opened our eyes. I was in a relationship for most of that time so I never looked around. You can read the story but when the time was right, all it took was a 20 minute conversation to spark the interest. She and I have got to know each other serving in the same ministry, going to the same church, now taking a Biblical counseling class together to help us minister to others, and our time together revolves around the Lord and church. I would encourage you to get involved in serving at your church and don't be surprised if God opens your eyes to someone right next to you like He did with me! Regardless, he wants what's best for you, for his will is “good, perfect and pleasing” (Romans 12:2). But to discover his will, you need to be transformed. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, perfect and pleasing will” (Romans 12:2).
Now many of you might already have someone in mind but what do you do when you observe someone you want to get to know? How do you approach them? Generally speaking, I believe the men need to take the initiative. Ladies, you need to be "available" for him to do this. Ideally the men will introduce themselves or someone will introduce you both but it may start with you just saying "hi." But the men need to take it from there as the leaders. I have seen many women taking the initiative and "make the rounds" trying to find a guy who shows interest. Let them observe you and the right guy, with the right heart, will get to know you and take the lead.
How should you get to know each other? Dating? Courting? This is another "loaded" question. After my last breakup, I read several books and papers on this subject to gain perspective. I am convinced of some things. First of all, you always need to start as friends. Get to know each other. What I did with Yvethe was a three-month waiting and preparation time. The Lord led us to do this for a number of reasons but this was one of them, we didn't really know each other. Many will differ, but I believe there needs to be one-on-one time together and in fact, more one-on-one than time in groups. However, I also believe the one-on-one time needs to be carefully considered and never be too private, and never behind closed doors where the enemy could work and you could fall into sin. When you bond with someone on a physical, emotional and spiritual level, the enemy will try to use that intimacy against you to get you to compromise. This one-on-one time could be called "dating" in a sense but you are just friends, and there is definitely no physical interaction. After a couple "dates," I think the man needs to make his intentions clearly known to the woman. I made my intentions known to Yvethe this way and it was in a phone conversation, after our initial 20-minute conversation and going to her birthday party, that I made it known. I essentially told her that she was the one and only woman I knew that I wanted to get to know, and asked her if we could get to know each other better as friends. There are different ways of saying this but you want her to understand that you are interested in getting to know her as friends. It is hard to get to know each other as friends unless you make a point to, especially in a large church like mine. You will meet someone and never see them again unless you find out what they do and where they go.
When should we court? Well, for Yvethe and I, we took three months and worked on a wonderful project together during that time, but that was for a specific purpose and worked great for us, but perhaps isn't for everyone. Everyone needs preparation time before stepping into a relationship and it should never be jumped into. Love is a choice and there is a reason why so many arranged marriages work, but you don't want that if you can have a choice, amen? So take your time but have an understanding you are getting to know them as friends. This is so important. Yvethe and I were "just friends" but we ended up talking every day on the phone after that. We prayed on the phone every morning before we started our day and every evening before we went to bed. We emailed each other every day and started sitting with each other at church. We met each other's families, spent time with each other's friends, went to classes together, ministered to people and couples together... Let God develop it. I have to tell you something: I absolutely loved this time because I knew it was "exclusive" and we told each other we weren't looking around, yet we were friends and there was no pressure. I had the security of knowing I wasn't going to lose her to another guy, yet if we didn't work out, it was easy to exit. This was also an excellent time for the Lord to prepare us for being together as a couple. This is so important! I don't know at what point you should court but it is a serious decision. Just keep in mind this: once you are courting, you are almost engaged and once you are engaged, you are planning the wedding. So don't rush any of this. If done right, the whole process from courting to marriage can take as little as one year and that is what Yvethe and I did, but it may very well be more than a year and that is fine. Be led by the Spirit, not the flesh...
I learned a lot of important lessons but this is the basic framework from which I recommend you let the Lord work. Do not look at this with earthly eyes or think there is a formula. There are principles but the key is to let the Lord lead you and He will. This is the most important decision you will ever make as a Christian, so don't be deceived like I was and think the Lord doesn't want the best for you! The Bible says "don't be foolish but understand what the Lord's will is." He has a "good perfect and pleasing will" for you and it is our responsibility to seek Him to hear it. May He guide you to "the one" for you. :)
“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).
© Todd Tyszka
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