Choosing a Mate | How to Find a Husband or Wife and Marry Well
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
Summary:Entering into marriage can be one of life’s greatest blessings … or one of life’s biggest disappointments. You can greatly improve your chances of having a lifelong, blessed marriage by following biblical wisdom in choosing your prospective husband or wife. A good marriage will bring joy for a lifetime! A bad one will bring much grief and misery. To those contemplating marriage, I exhort you from the bottom of my heart: choose your mate wisely and biblically.
Genesis 2:18, 22 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” …  Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
•• God arranged the first marriage. Since that time He has involved us in the process of finding a mate (Proverbs 18:22). It is important to ask God for His help to do this wisely. There are a number of Scriptures that will give much sound wisdom as you men seek to find a wife or you ladies seek to find a husband who will be a blessing to you over many years of serving the Lord together. Let’s go see.
Mark 10:6-9 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
•• God made marriage sacred, and He made it to be permanent, for life. Jesus reminded His hearers that it was God who had created us “male and female … a man [and] his wife.” God has blessed this union. Therefore, let “no one separate it.”
•• As you contemplate marriage, remember that it is God’s intention that a couple be joined together, not separated by divorce. So choose your life partner wisely! It is a tragedy that the Christian divorce rate in America is roughly the same as the rate of divorce among unbelievers.
Amos 3:3, KJV Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”
•• Compatibility is very important. God desires that a married couple be “suitable” for each other. Take time in the period of dating and courtship to get to know each other well. Little irritations will not just disappear after the wedding. More likely, they will grow into bigger irritations. Marrying well will head off a lot of potential problems down the road.
•• Do you love him? love her? Good! More on that later. But do you also like him/her? Do you enjoy being in his or her presence? Are you comfortable with each other?
•• Do you have common agreement on important issues? Do you have the same religious values? Do you agree on how you will handle finances? Do you both want children? Do you agree on how to raise and discipline them? These and more are important issues that require much discussion during your courtship.
•• Are you seeking a husband? a wife? Then be absolutely certain that you seek someone of godly character (Galatians 5:22-23). If he or she has major character flaws, then that person does not presently qualify as God’s “suitable” person for you to marry. I understand and am thankful that God can take lowly sinners (all of us without Christ) and make them into shining examples of godliness. But if that sanctifying process is not occurring in the one you hope to marry, I strongly urge you to hold off on marriage until you see genuine, consistent character change from the Lord in him or her.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
1 Corinthians 7:16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
•• The #1 recommendation I will make in this message is this: the most important compatibility a husband and wife can have is a mutual dedication to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
•• I cannot emphasize this strongly enough: do not marry an unbeliever! God calls that an “unequal yoking.” If you do, the stark difference in morals, in values, in worldview, will bring into your daily life a series of conflicts that will get worse and worse as they add up over the years.
•• But, you say, “Surely I’ll be able to lead him (or her) to the Lord over time.” Perhaps, but it is more likely that you will not. Researcher George Barna published a 2004 study showing that only 23% of the saved population had come to Christ after their 21st birthday. The apostle Paul spoke realistically: “How do you know … whether you will save your [spouse]?” Young people especially, consider this: if your husband/wife-to-be is already 21 and is not saved, the statistical probability is that he/she will not ever accept Jesus as Savior.
•• The apostle Paul reiterated the importance of marrying a believer. In counseling widows considering remarriage, he wrote by the Holy Spirit: “…if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). Again, do not marry an unbeliever! You are only setting yourself up for much spiritual heartache.
Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.
•• It seems that the Lord considers it primarily to be the man’s responsibility to “find” a wife. And God calls that a “good” thing that incurs His favor — assuming, as we saw above, that she is a believer.
•• But it’s not all the man’s responsibility. The lovely story of the young widow Ruth, who ended up married to Boaz (Ruth 3:1-13), shows us that a woman can make herself “findable”! She can take good care of her health and her appearance. She can be creative in placing herself in situations where she will be able to get to know godly single men — church would probably top this list! Conversely, a bar might be among the worst places to look for an honorable potential mate.
Genesis 24:1-4 Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”
•• Yes, later in chapter 24 the servant prayed to God for guidance in finding a wife for Isaac. But don’t overspiritualize what happened. Remember that right at the outset (vss. 1-4) Abraham had given him specific instructions on seeking Isaac’s wife — “…my own country … my own relatives.”
•• Genesis 24 shows us the proper blending of two perspectives in seeking a mate — (1) using natural wisdom (vs. 4) and prayerful guidance from the Lord (vss. 12-14).
•• Also not to be overlooked in this story is that the young woman Rebekah (vs. 58) still had free will to accept or decline the marriage overtures. Young people, don’t ever feel “pressured” into marriage. I was 29 when I married my wife Mickey, and we were blessed with a 38-year marriage before she went on to her heavenly reward. (P.S. God was once more good to me in my widowed state, and my wife Linda and I are now enjoying our third year of marriage.)
Genesis 29:20-28 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her … [27-28] Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.
•• The point I draw from this biblical story is this: if you believe you have found a potential spouse worth pursuing, do that! Don’t be half-hearted; don’t get weary. If you’ve found someone that you believe God would be pleased to have you marry, then go for it. Men, “find” a wife. That speaks of effort. Ladies, proactively live in such a way that you are likely to be “found” by a good, godly man.
Genesis 29:17-18, Amplified Bible Leah’s eyes were weak and dull looking, but Rachel was beautiful and attractive. And Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, I will work for you for seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.
•• Physical attractiveness alone is not enough. Recall the words of the Proverb: “…beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (31:30). However, it is important that you do feel a genuine attraction to the person you hope to marry. Jacob noticed Rachel’s beauty and attractiveness, and it was part of the reason that he “loved Rachel.” Otherwise, you can end up in a marriage that quickly turns platonic and will lack the full measure of fulfillment that God intends for marriage — compatibility in body, soul, and spirit.
Some specific hints for the man seeking a godly wife:
Proverbs 31:10-11, 28, KJV Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil …  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
•• Men, get to know her before you commit. Be sure that she shows herself to be someone you can totally trust and whose character you can praise to others and to God.
Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
•• Men, is this a woman you can truly love? What about if she’s grumpy today? How about if you have a disagreement? The ability to willingly choose to love her, in good days and not-so-good, will be one of the absolutely most important contributors to your having a victorious marriage. In fact, my personal opinion is that this verse may be the bible’s most important key to a happy marriage — after, of course, the preeminent issue of both of you together serving Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
Ephesians 5:28-29, KJV So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.
•• Men, determine to “cherish” her. Treasure her, show her love and sincere affection, and you will be amazed at how greatly she will love you in return. So ask yourself: is this a woman I can truly cherish and treasure?
Some specific hints for the woman seeking a godly husband:
Titus 2:4, KJV …that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children.
•• As with women, men thrive on being genuinely loved. Ladies, is the man you are considering someone you can love sincerely and deeply? Or is he simply a “good guy” who might provide you some security in life? That’s not enough. Marriage is a covenant of committed love between a man and a woman. Examine your heart to be certain that you truly love him.
Ephesians 5:22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord...
•• Although this idea is repugnant to modern Feminists, it is thoroughly biblical. Ladies, is your intended spouse a man to whom you can willingly submit as head of your home? Are you and he “equals”? Of course you are, in value to the Lord and love by Him. But as far as God-assignedhuman roles, do you feel comfortable pondering submitting to him as the future head of your home? If this makes you uncomfortable, I would suggest that you are not ready to marry this specific man.
Ephesians 5:33 …and the wife must respect her husband.
•• Do you truly respect him? If not, don’t marry him! Don’t! It will only lead to heartache for both you and him down the road, as this lack of respect erodes other areas of your relationship.
1 Timothy 5:8, KJV But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
•• Is he qualified to be a good provider for you and the future children of the marriage? Does he have either a marketable degree or a marketable skill? If not, you are increasing the likelihood of your marriage experiencing the potentially disabling effects of poverty within your family.
In closing, let me repeat: marriage is a wonderful thing to pursue. I have been happily married, then widowed, and now happily married again. Both relationships have been of immeasurable value and blessing to me. The biblical principles I’ve shared above have been the foundation for both successful marriages. And they will be for you, too! Don’t just settle! Follow God’s blueprint and you will greatly increase the likelihood that you will have a lifelong, wonderful marriage. May the Lord bless you in this godly pursuit.