Finding your own compatible, committed, lifelong spouse is tough enough. Helping your children identify their “helpmeets” takes deeper parental involvement and divine intervention.
With a divorce rate hovering around fifty percent, approximately half of all parents experience disappointment with their initial (and possibly, subsequent) spouse selection. Add to that a depressingly few married couples live an abundant, fulfilling life together. Very few couples actually enjoy each other and model appropriate marriage behavior to their children. From this, you can see the relational challenge young adults face.
When my marriage fell apart, I was determined to help my kids avoid what I experienced. I wanted to better position or equip my children in ways I never was. So I started writing down some lessons for them that I had learned along the way. Before I knew it, God blessed that endeavor and my first book was born: Matched 4 Life.
I started talking through the book’s basic premises with my children at every opportunity. Using Mark 12:30 as one of the foundational verses, I began sharing with them the importance of finding true compatibility in all four aspects of life – spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical. For instance, instead of simply accepting someone from the same church denomination or someone claiming to be a Christian, I want them to also consider his or her spiritual passion level and spiritual gift.
I encourage my children to look beyond the doctrinal statements and professions of faith and to the actual behavior and lifestyles of potential dates. Yes, we are instructed to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. However, an unequal yoke can exist within the Christian community itself. For example, someone who is a staunch legalist or Calvinist will not be an equal yoke with someone who believes in God’s grace and freewill.
In addition, each person’s talents and life purpose are incredibly unique. It is critical for young people to first determine who they are and find the purpose for which God created them. Secondly, it is equally important to find someone with a compatible life purpose. For example, if God’s purpose for my son is to be a youth pastor, his potential wife should also feel a similar calling – and actually like young people!
Emotional fulfillment also requires mutual compatibility. Extroversion versus introversion, love languages, personality tests, and emotional equivalency tests are just a few of the many possibilities involved in finding out who your children are while also providing clues for their emotionally compatible partners. From there you move into the physical realm that involves attraction, appeal, body language, facial cues, and many more elements of which most young people today are completely clueless.
When my daughter was still in elementary school, I explained to her some of the nonverbal clues we give with our body language. That fascinated her and she wanted to know more. “People watching” took on new meaning as we started observing nonverbal cues.
Developing a List
While still in high school, we made a list of various characteristics we would both look for in her potential husband. This seemed a little weird at first since my parents never walked me through anything like it. As her dad, I added some non-negotiable characteristics.: He must be a Christian who is passionate about his faith. Though it goes without saying, he must be crazy in love with my daughter and be respectful to her at all times. He must be genuine. You get the picture. She also added some non-negotiables. Non-smoker, no tattoos, not a druggie, no arrest warrants, etc. Then we started brainstorming. He must be taller than her, athletic, funny (humorous, not weird), good looking, have a stable job, a decent car, respect his parents, be emotionally stable, etc. When we were finished, our mutually-developed list revealed fifty or so characteristics.
Now, you may be thinking, “You’re setting her up to fail as that ‘perfect guy’ doesn’t exist.” Not really. We are not looking for someone perfect – just someone perfect for her. As her loving and protective dad, I want to see her married to someone who respects her, loves her, and is crazy about her. It is my God-given responsibility to “give her” to someone who will be loyal to her, provide for her, and take care of her once she leaves my direct protection.
The coolest thing about our list happened when she returned home from college. As we packed up her dorm room, I removed a bulletin board hanging beside her bed. Stapled to it were her class schedule, prayer requests, and family pictures. But in the top left hand corner, there was our list. The number of characteristics had grown to seventy-five items! As she grew and matured, some of the negotiable items had been removed and others added. Honestly, I got a little misty-eyed knowing the impact it made on her. We sat down to create it years ago and, while it changed somewhat, it was still a vibrant part of her life. She may choose quite differently in the future. But at least I will have provided her a strong foundation based on Scriptural support.
Protection from the World
Parents, the world is going to great extremes to push its immoral agenda on our children. Ungodly alternate lifestyles bombard them constantly. “If it feels good do it” mindsets and anti-family messages are everywhere. It is our responsibility to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This includes equipping them to choose compatible spouses so they can live the fulfilling lives God created them to live.
So, become actively involved in this process. Ask God to begin developing the spouse your daughter or son is to marry. Help your children choose solid characteristics instead of settling for whatever bimbo or lame-o excites their immature desires. Encourage them to never settle for less than God’s best. Most of all, model a loving and fulfilling lifestyle in your marriage. These all better equip your children for marital success.