According to the radio, “Love is in the air.” With Valentine’s Day just weeks away, I decided to continue with my favorite topic—”Love and Marriage.”
As some of you may know, Doug and I are well into our 34th year of marriage, and during that time we raised four kids (Well, still working on one at home—but otherwise are now privileged to hold the role of advisors and friends to the three that have moved on out.) We also home schooled all four.
I am not one of those homeschoolers who insists that it’s homeschool or die. Every situation is different and I know plenty of non-homeschooled kids who are amazing people. But one thing is true no matter which route you take. The training of children is the God-given responsibility of the parents.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Anyone who hangs out at our house knows that we Gates are big talkers. We pretty much discuss everything. And purposely discuss many things.
- That is a huge part of the “training up” bit. It’s easy to think we must teach Math and Science, Music and Literacy. But we often forget to teach our children about what to look for in a spouse—something that will affect their future even more than the career the follow.So, here are some of the things we thought important in the training up of our kiddos.
- What to look for:
- Do they love the Lord? It is a real challenge to have a Christian home and raise children who love God, if only half their parents do. It is hard to hold onto each other when your world views clash. It is really hard to love the unlovely (which will inevitably happen on occasion) if the love of God doesn’t override our sinful nature. The determination to honor God gives courage, hope, and the ability to do what the world thinks impossible.
- Are they happy? If they are not happy when you meet them, you will not make them happy. Bitterness and anger will be like acid rain, and homes rained with acid will corrode every trace of peace for the people growing inside. Along with “happy” I put in “content.” Content means not whining and complaining about the situation you are in, happy despite hardships, not necessarily having no drive to improve. If the girl has grown up in a well to do family, will she be content with the income of a factory worker? Or if it was the guy who grew up with everything, will he have the sense to not put his family in financial distress buying the latest and best toy?
I can almost end there and a good match would be made, since much of the rest are subcategories of the first two. But since children often need specific ideas to guide them, I will continue.
Good sense of humor? This is like grease to an engine. Keeps the heat from breaking things down. Laughter is called the best medicine for a reason.
Does the young lady you are interested in have a good relationship with her father? That will go a long way in how she trusts and treats her husband. If her father is a challenge, is she able to show him respect or does she refuse to do that? She will treat you likewise. Does the fellow treat his mom and sisters like the treasures they are?
Is she educated? This may be in the form of formal education, or it may be self-educated. If a woman is to be her husband’s help-mate, what help is she to him if she is ignorant? How can she advise or encourage wisely? How can she train her children wisely? I go as far as saying that an ignorant wife is like having another child, but this one can bear his children and be his maid. Yes, a wife should desire to have children and keep her home, but she is so much more than that. Whether the wife has a career outside of the home, works from home or is focused on her family is a matter between the husband and wife. She should, however, realize her greatest calling is to God and then her family, not her career.
- Does the young man have a good work ethic? Does he have the skills necessary to support a family?
I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen young women who rejected the warnings of family pointing out how the guy couldn’t (or wouldn’t) hold a job. “What am I to do? I love him.” Five years and two kids later, she is still holding a responsibility she wasn’t made to carry: that of supporting a whole family. She is exhausted, frustrated, feels used (because she is) and oddly, is not so in love. Ladies, look for someone who can and will take care of you and your children. If he doesn’t have that attitude before marriage, he isn’t likely to change.
- Is he willing to commit and is he reliable? Does he treat her well? Does he open the door for her, carry her bags, desire to protect her both physically and emotionally? This includes the willingness to postpone to marriage what is supposed to be for marriage only. Is she appreciative of him doing these things for her, or does she find it offensive because she “can do it herself?” A man being a gentleman doesn’t mean you are unable to do for yourself. It means he desires to be there for you. What is offensive about that? Besides, just because I can “take care of myself” doesn’t mean I always want to, or should. We all need someone who is willing to and desires to spoil us, help us, love us. Die for us if need be.
- A good marriage is one where each serves and is willing to lay down their life for the other.
- Today, I found a piece written by my favorite writer. She happens to be my daughter. (Do you hear those proud buttons hitting the wall?) Her article goes well with mine, so I will attach it! Click here.