“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford
A few weeks ago, Rocket and I had lunch with two friends, one married and one single, after church. Our married friend asked us questions pertaining to our first year of marriage, which proved to be the start of an interesting conversation (see Intentional Love). Perplexed by the quest for intentionality in our relationship and preparation for marriage, our single friend asked:
“How do you prepare for marriage if you don’t know who you are going to marry?”
This was a very good question requiring Rocket and I to think for a while before answering. How do you know what to improve upon, if you don’t know the personality of your future spouse? How patient is patient enough?
Upon reflection, I realized that my views on marriage started with my strong Christian foundation as a child followed by my decision to wait until marriage. The process of actively preparing for the commitment of marriage started my sophomore year of college when a Christian fellowship on campus hosted Jackie Kendall, author of Lady in Waiting, as speaker. She explained the idea of working to become the best version of yourself during your “waiting” period. Instead of worrying about when you will find “the one,” concern yourself with maturing into the person, “the one” would want to marry. Stop making your list of the perfect spouse and start making a list of your shortcomings as you work to overcome them. Jackie Kendall described that the waiting period should be filled with becoming a person of devotion, faith, and conviction to become the best version of yourself.
For me, that meant spending more time with God and cultivating good friendships. I learned to embrace singleness because it provided time to focus on my relationship with God, teaching me confidence, while remaining humble, patient, and open to forgiveness. I learned the areas in my life that ultimately needed the most work: my insecurities, pride, selfishness, willingness to compromise, and response to emotional situations.
I began to understand the idea that your spouse is not meant to complete you, but to compliment you. I had to learn how to be complete in myself and my relationship with God. This means being secure in who you are. It wasn’t easy and still a work in progress (I’m not perfect!!!), but I know without God’s help I wouldn’t have been able to get this far.
When I reflect on my life before marriage, I notice trends that helped me truly understand these principles and mature along the way:
- I surrounded myself with like minded people who could support me in my walk. I became more active in my bible study groups and church activities.
- I challenged myself to think critically about other viewpoints that differed from mine instead of rejecting them or judging the source.
- I volunteered more often helping those around me.
- I practiced forgiving and removing pride as I initiated reconciliation.
This didn’t all happen at once. In the end, I was happy to have a waiting period, as it prepared me to be the type of woman that Rocket searched for. Rocket had his own preparation tactics and instead of telling you his side of the story, he will share his thoughts next week in his first guest post!