The right person
There’s a Norwegian fairy tale called ‘Askeladden’ (the ash lad), in which a seemingly insignificant boy wins both the princess and the kingdom, and they live happily ever after.
Today many people would claim that if they could only find the love of their lives, they would also live ‘happily ever after.’ It’s no longer parents and parents-in-law who decide who should get married to whom, and we take it for granted that marriage is based on a foundation of romantic love.
However, as late as 1863 it was a legal demand in Norway that the parents had to give their consent to two people wanting to get married. In farming societies in a bygone era, other considerations apart from romantic feelings decided who you would marry. The woman needed a man as a kind of life insurance, and the farmer’s son needed a woman to help run the farm. For the man, it was all about who could be his most trusted co-worker on the farm. It didn’t help much if she was sweet and likeable, if she couldn’t work.
God didn’t create Eve first and foremost out of a concern for farming and finances. Adam had everything he needed in paradise and didn’t need to work for his food. Nevertheless, the Bible still says that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. The man needed a woman as God had created him to love. The first marriage wasn’t just a convenient social arrangement. It gave space for passionate feelings and romance between the man and the woman who God had created.
How did Adam find Miss Right? He didn’t need to look around: God created the woman and led her to him. God knew better than Adam himself what kind of woman would suit him. When we teach youths we confirm to them that God wants to, and can help them to find a good marriage partner.
In our society we have a lot of freedom and we can choose who we want to marry. The Bible talks about both finding (Proverbs 18:22) and winning a marriage partner. Choosing for yourself is a big responsibility, and God wants to show us who is best for us. As well as asking God to lead them, we challenge young people to ask themselves some hard questions before they throw themselves into a relationship with someone they are in love with.
For example, what is the other person’s commitment to God? Does he or she accept themselves as they are, made in God’s image? Has the potential marriage partner resolved past problems and do they have a healthy attitude to authority? Is it easy for them to forgive? Have they self-control, and clear goals? Has the person released their finances, their possessions and their productivity to God? Can the person be a good father or mother? Does this person need a boyfriend or girlfriend to get their own need for affirmation met?
No one will score full marks on these questions, as everyone has potential for growth and improvement. However, in the haze of romance it can be useful to use your head, don’t let your feelings be the only foundation for such an important decision. The time you have as a single is also a unique opportunity to mature as a person. We need to ask ourselves the same questions and prepare ourselves to be the best possible spouse for whoever we will marry.
Later on, when you get married and meet problems, it can be tempting to ask yourself whether you’ve married the wrong person. A lot of people think that these problems wouldn’t have occurred if they had married someone else. But it’s not certain that marrying someone else would have been a solution. Zig Ziglar, an American author, puts it like this: ‘I would be the first to admit that you may have married the wrong person. Still, if you treat the “wrong person” as if they were the right one, you will probably end up having married the right one after all. On the other hand, if you do marry the right person, and treat them badly, you will definitely end up having married the “wrong person”.’
So it’s not just about finding the right person, it’s just as much about being the right person for the one you marry.