Two of our granddaughters came for an overnight visit on December 28th, which happened to be our 48th wedding anniversary. Jane lightheartedly asked if I had any advice for the girls on finding a good husband. I often speak without thinking, but decided this warranted contemplation.
My first suggestion is to have your grandfather interview any prospects. Parents may be reluctant to ask tough questions, knowing the rascal might attain son-in-law status regardless of their input. Grandfathers are less concerned about decorum.
Secondly, spend time with the young man’s parents. The late Craddock Durham taught a men’s Sunday School class at Vienna First Baptist. He said, “If you want to see what your wife will be like when she gets older, look at her mother.” The same principle applies to men. It’s often true that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The third recommendation is to consider some don’ts. Like don’t rely on Hollywood’s twisted portrayals of finding true love. Fantasy works better at the box office than in real life. There are, however, a couple of movies which feature romances worth examining.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” offers a good perspective on marriage, compassion, and integrity. “A Walk to Remember’’ portrays a solid lesson in decision making during the dating process. A few other films are worth watching, but those two are a good start.
Don’t get married thinking he’ll change to suit you. Slight enhancements may be possible, but if there’s something you see as a dealbreaker, address it early.
Paul offers solid advice for the don’t list in 2 Corinthians: 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Faith needs to be nourished. That’s not easily done if your husband lacks interest, and your children will get mixed signals of what’s important.
Suggestion number four is to ask a lot of questions. Watching the TV series “Columbo” can help you develop that technique, but here are some to ask yourself. Does he insist on having his way? Is he kind-hearted and compassionate? Is he prone to pouting or angry outbursts? Is his biggest priority himself? Does he make you laugh or cause you to cry, dismiss your ideas or help you thrive?
Does he do things that annoy you? If you’re bothered by them before marriage, it will be worse after the honeymoon. Does he like dogs? I generally don’t trust people who dislike dogs, especially those who treat them unkindly. Does he open the door for others or push his way to the front of the line? Does he want you to change who you are to suit him?
Those are random thoughts, not meant to be comprehensive. My point is it’s best to take a critical look at anything that might be a concern. If you have reservations about character issues or personality traits, there may be a reason. Instincts aren’t failproof, but deserve exploration. If something doesn’t seem quite right, it may not be.
Several decades ago, Jane and I attended a wedding that included some unusual vows. The hip-looking minister read what I assume the couple asked him to. “Until death do us part” wasn’t followed by a period. Instead he added, “or love dies.”
They were together a long time but apparently love died. I’m not saying that line affected their marriage, because I don’t know. I believe, however, that if you need to begin with an option to end, maybe you should think again.
My final thought is that if doubts of marital bliss keep popping into your mind, perhaps you should move on down the line. But I’m writing about finding a good husband, a process I have no experience in.
Rather than relying on my advice, a preferable approach might be to ask a happily-married woman who has shown impeccable judgment in that undertaking. I’m referring to your grandmother of course.
I realize “impeccable” may be a slight exaggeration. Some say evidence of her success is sketchy and I tend to agree. But she could provide names of friends whose selections were exceptional. And she could equip you with a plethora of questions she should have asked.
If all this advice has little appeal, at least consider my first point about involving your grandfather. He might steer you in the wrong direction, but not if he can help it. He loves his grandchildren way too much for that.
That’s some good advice Neil. Maybe somebody should have advised me.
Neil, I remember asking my dad about the secret to the success of their marriage. They were married just 4 days short of their 69th wedding anniversary. He said “ What ever your mom wants, if it structural sound and we can financially afford it we try to do it.” I think the structurally sound meant more than just building something.
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Great column and such a sweet ending! You know I like it when you humorously refer to your wife, too!
Great article, Neil! The most important decision any of us make is whether we will submit to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and the second most important is who we will marry. Having a husband that I can pray with and for and who prays for me daily is priceless. I grieve for all the “couples” around us who take their commitments to each other so lightly. Many of them are unmarried and toss the relationship overboard, often with children involved. Our next door neighbor and his girlfriend just did this, and their 5 year old is understandably confused. Diane Dunaway Lake
Great article, Neil!
Wonderful advice, and I love your bits of inserted humor. 😀
I especially like this statement:
“If you need to begin with an option to end, maybe you should think again.”