Saving Your Marriage Before it Begins
By Mrs. Crystal Paine
In America today, over 50% of all marriages are predicted to end in divorce. With such staggering statistics, it is no wonder more and more couples are opting to live together rather than face the legal hassle to end their marriage when, inevitably—as society purports—things become “unbearable.” However, is living together instead of marrying the answer to America’s divorce problem? I don’t think it is.
What is wrong with marriages today? My personal belief is that it is not the marriages themselves that are so bad; it is the way we go about marrying that makes our marriages headed for failure before one even says, “I do.”
Suppose I told you my parents let me get my driver’s license when I was 16. Okay, you say, that sounds fine and great. But what if I also told you that my parents did not give me any training, nor did they have me take a driver’s education course. Their only contribution was to buy a new car for me and go with me to obtain my license. You would probably be a little appalled that they would be so thoughtless. And it wouldn’t surprise you if, soon after getting my license, I was involved in a serious accident and sustained injuries from which I never fully recovered.
Thankfully, my parents were not as thoughtless as the scenario above describes. Instead, they spent hours in the passenger seat patiently teaching me to drive. It was only after years (yes, I am a slow learner!) of guidance and training that they allowed me to obtain my driver’s license and begin driving by myself.
I know of no parent who would allow his child to drive without some proper training and instruction for fear of bodily harm, yet I know of scores of parents who encourage their children to place themselves in serious risk of emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical or mental ruin without even warning them of the danger.
Let me share with you another scenario. At 16, a young woman is expected, yes, encouraged to have a boyfriend. It is what everyone does (or so most think). Something about her and this guy “click” (maybe he is popular or cute or interested in her life, etc). And so she begins “going out” with him. Whether it’s going to a movie or out for dinner or out for a soda, it doesn’t matter, just so long as she is with him.
These weekly or semi-weekly excursions go on for a period of time. One day, this guy says something that hurts the girl. She gets upset and starts to question whether she really likes him anymore. After all, they’ve been dating for a number of weeks, and he is getting rather boring. Since this isn’t any “serious” sort of relationship, she simply breaks up with him. In a manner of weeks, she can move on to another relationship.
This cycle continues week after week as she flits from one relationship to the next. Some of these relationships may last longer, while others are quickly over with. As she becomes older, she begins to take her relationships more seriously, hoping one of them will actually prove to be more than a “passing fad.”
One day, it happens—she falls for yet another guy, their relationship becomes serious, and he ends up “popping the question.” She is so excited. She begins planning the most elaborate ceremony her parents can afford. Her parents don’t know much about the guy, but he seems “nice,” so they are happy for their daughter and gladly fork out all kinds of money for “the blessed event.”
What is so wrong with all that? Isn’t that the “normal” way people get married? Sadly, it has become the norm, but that doesn’t make it right.
If you analyze the above commonplace scenario, you may understand why America’s divorce rate is so high. Wouldn’t it make sense that the endless cycle of going from one relationship to the next and “breaking up” when things get tough would only tend to foster divorce? No wonder people have trouble staying married! They have been preparing for nothing but divorce all those years. Why is signing a marriage license and saying “I do” going to promise any more stability to this relationship?
Do you also see the obvious correlation between the two scenarios I have shared? Although parents wouldn’t think of allowing their children to drive without proper training, every day, all across America, parents allow their children to date without any guidance or preparation. They don’t question whether their son or daughter is of marrying age or if they are ready for marriage, they don’t usually even know much about the person their child is going out with. And so, just as with the driver who had no instruction, young people who date and marry without parental supervision or direction are setting themselves up for a serious crisis—divorce. The wounds of a car accident usually heal over time, but divorce forever leaves its indelible mark.
Parents need to recognize that the area of dating is never something to be thought of casually. They need to be actively involved in this area of their teen’s life. Young people have not lived long enough to know what’s best for themselves (and they are most prone to irrationality when they are “in love”).
If you are a young person, and your parents are not taking an active role in guiding you in your dating, I am sure they would be honored if you went to them and asked them to! We need our parents’ wisdom, guidance, and direction.
I do not share all this with you because I just think it would be a good idea; I know from experience! Let me share my story.
I am blessed to have parents who have raised me in the ways of the Lord. From my birth, my parents prayed for my future husband. When I was old enough to understand, my parents began to teach me that marriage is a beautiful, wonderful thing. (They taught me this not only by their words, but also through their life.) As I got older, my dad talked to me about the important of “saving my heart” for the one man God had for me to marry. I realized that “dating around” before I was ready to marry was only going to be destructive to my future marriage. And so I gave my heart to the Lord and my father and trusted my dad to direct me regarding marriage.
When I was 19, a young man came to my father, asking his permission to “court” me. By doing so, he was requesting my father’s blessing on our beginning a relationship leading to marriage. This was not something for fun or thrill (although both of those were definitely involved along the way!); this was serious. Neither of us had ever dated before, we were both of marrying age, and both sets of our parents had sought the Lord fervently regarding our relationship before it ever even began.
Because we had never dated, as our relationship progressed (under the direction of our parents), it was a whole, new, wonderful experience—the first “I love you,” the first touch, the first kiss (on our wedding day!). You can call us “old-fashioned,” but we thought it was fantastic! We needed our parents there to help us when we were weak and irrational. We needed their counsel, their encouragement, and their prayers.
Seeing our sheer ecstasy at this whole new experience of falling in love and the happiness we found in each other before our marriage, many people warned us, “Just wait. The first year is always the hardest.” Well, we’re nine months into marriage and still waiting! I can honestly say, though I never dreamt it was possible, I love my husband so much more today than I did when I married him. And our love just keeps deepening.
We are both so grateful we didn’t date before marriage. (Our first real “date”—by ourselves at a restaurant—was on our honeymoon!). We are also thankful for our parents’ willingness to guide and direct our love life. We would not have the relationship we do today were it not for all they invested in our lives.
Yes, marriages in America are crumbling at a horrific rate. But you and your children do not have to be another sad statistic. By being willing to put your love life into God’s hands and wait upon His timing and asking for your parents to help guide you in this crucial area, you can save your marriage before it begins.
Crystal Paine is a 23-year-old homeschool graduate from Topeka, Kansas. She married her beloved husband Jesse in January 2003. They are eagerly expecting their first child in a few months. Crystal and Jesse operate
out of their home--an online business dedicated to promoting God-honoring weddings and assisting parents to wisely prepare their children for marriage. Crystal is the author of The Merchant Maiden: Earning an Income Without Compromising Convictions. You can contact her at:
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