Courtship: A Practical Model – Part 3

The Preparation Phase

In the last post on courtship, we discussed step 1 of the process: Making a List.

Now we move to step 2, which is to prepare yourself for marriage.  In ancient times, preparation for marriage and the practical side to life was a natural part of childhood.  Children were not separated from their parents through statist compulsory education programs, so young men spent all their days with mature men who were married.  Likewise, young ladies spent all day helping their mothers and other female family members run the home.  This went a long way toward teaching what was required for a successful marriage.  Of course, there was a lot that was not taught, even in those environments, that we can learn today due to the abundance of resources that we have available to us.

One of the reasons that we believe in courtship rather than the modern model of dating is that we believe it gives a much greater opportunity for marital success.  No small part of that is the purposeful nature of the process.  It’s obvious that you are serious about having a successful marriage simply by the fact that you are choosing courtship rather than dating.

 Since that is the case, a big part of the process is to be diligent in preparing yourself for marriage.  This means that you aren’t going to randomly move through the world hoping to bump into your spouse and whenever you meet someone that makes your chemistry light up you marry them.  Instead, you are going to dedicate a season of your life to being relatively prepared to have a successful marriage.  Don’t get me wrong.  In some ways, there is nothing you can do to be fully ready for marriage.  Much like war, nothing truly prepares you until you are in live combat.  (Maybe that’s a bad analogy LOL)

But having said that, it would still be foolish for soldiers to receive zero training.  There’s a lot that soldiers can do to significantly increase their odds of survival and victory in battle.  And that’s why the military spends all of its time training.  Likewise, there is plenty we can do to significantly elevate our likelihood of success in marriage.  And that’s what Step 2 is all about.

There are three aspects of preparation that need to be discussed.  We need to study marriage itself and our specific role (husband or wife).  We need to prepare practically in the areas of finance and the skills needed in a marriage.  And last we need to cultivate a social network so that we have candidates for marriage available when we are ready.

In the next several posts we will tackle each of these areas in detail.  Today we’ll look at the first area of preparation: Study.

Do Your Homework on Marriage

As the old adage goes, the best place to start is the beginning.  This means studying the subject of marriage.  Too many couples enter marriage with only three reference points: their parents, film/television, and their imagination.  Unfortunately for most people, all three are a terrible source of wisdom into a successful marriage.  (If your parents have been great models consider yourself very rare and very blessed.  Go hug them and thank them for me.)
We need real wisdom.  And that only comes from one place: Scripture.  We want to know what the Scripture says about marriage above every other source, because the Word is our final authority on all matters (2 Tim 3:16-17).  We want to do a Bible study on marriage generally.  Then we want to study the specific role we will play in marriage.  So if you are a man, you need to study what Scripture teaches about being a husband and any commands given specifically to husbands.  Likewise, if you’re a woman, you should study anything related to being a wife.
A resource I recommend for studying what God’s Word says about Marriage is the Bible Study: “Marriage without Regrets,” from Precept Ministries.  This is a great study to do with a group of singles so that you can discuss the material from week to week.  It’s a 16 week study and well worth it.
In addition to the Word, you want to read books on marriage and the role that you will play.  Here are some that I highly recommend:

In this well written, easy to read book, Gary Thomas really brings us to understand God’s purpose for marriage.

One of my favorite books of all time, this book makes understanding how to make marriage work stone simple.  I cannot recommend this book or the conferences that were it’s inspiration highly enough.

One of the best books ever written on marriage.  If you’re a woman, this book will help you understand men.  If you’re a man, this book will give you priceless insights into women.  Every couple I know that has been struggling has seen things improve rapidly by just reading this book.

Another terrific book by Tim Keller.  This book will give great insights into the Biblical principles of marriage and touch on things that the previous 3 recommendations do not.

Use this season of your life to prepare.  Study God’s Word.  Read the wisdom of other Christians.  In the next post we’ll talk about two more key ingridients in your preparation.

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