“Mommy, can I read the Bible?” My daughter had just learned to read, and my heart swelled over her pious request. I quickly consented but then asked why she was so interested in reading the Good Book.
She simply replied, “Because I want to know who to marry. Doesn’t the Bible tell you that?”
The Divine Word certainly instructs readers on desirable characteristics to seek in a lifelong partner. But alas, it does not include any lists noting who is to marry whom.
The Big Question
Over the years, I have watched my determined little girl blossom into a compassionate young lady. She recently celebrated her 18th birthday. The smoke from the birthday candles had scarcely cleared when she asked, “Mom, when is the right age to get married?”
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I was unaware of any young male prospects to prompt such a question. My daughter had just finished her first semester at an out-of-state college, and I had done my best to keep up with her new circle of friends. Still, long-distance parenting proved challenging.
The temptation arose to dismiss the conversation with a quip. Yet, I resisted. She was living apart from her dad and me now; we should discuss the subject seriously. “Do you think you were too young when you married?” she asked, pricking the pensive silence.
Maturity Matters More
Age does not matter as much as maturity, I answered. Some couples marry young and are willing to offer loving service to one another. Conversely, others marry later and find it challenging to embrace the intimacy and sacrifice that marriage requires.
The right age rests somewhere between ‘old enough to make your own decisions’ and ‘not so old that you cannot live with someone else.’ While this may not be a precise age, Psalm 37:4 implores,
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Admittedly, there were things I lacked going into a marriage. However, delaying the union would probably not have improved my unreadiness. Maturation grows not necessarily over time but rather through experience, reflection, insight, and healing.
For instance, growing up as an only child in a single-parent home hampered my negotiating skills. I rarely questioned my mother’s way of doing things. There was no sibling to affirm me when I deemed my mother’s reprimands unfair. Nor did I ever witness my mother entrust herself to another’s council or deliberate with a spouse over decisions. She decided, I complied. That’s just the way it was.
When beginning the marriage journey, I did not know how to properly discuss things. If my spouse had an opinion other than my own, even about something simple like loading the dishwasher, I immediately felt he was accusing me of inadequacy. Or, if my husband checked the stovetop pot and gave it an unsolicited stir, I would become incensed, assuming he considered my dinner efforts insufficient, compelling his takeover.
Fortunately, I married a very patient man willing to suffer through my resentment and tears until I revealed the skewed thinking causing my indignation.
The Right Tools for the Job
While the saying goes that we enter marriage with our own baggage, we also enter marriage with our own toolbox. Some of us tote a complete set, offering a range of specialized items to expertly handle every need. Others of us clunk along a case with rudimentary basics—hammer, saw, duct tape—which might manage troubles, just not very well.
As a mother, I have undertaken the mission to endow my children with a few more marriage-handling tools in their case than I arrived with. And hopefully, their children will be left with even fewer gaps in their toolbox.
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We work with what we have and learn along the way. The point is that you find someone willing to work with you as you live out the marriage covenant.
My daughter soon boarded a plane to continue college life apart from us. Perhaps during one visit home, she will introduce us to a young man, a marriage prospect. I pray she will remember the tools her father and I have given her and all that the Good Book says. Then by God’s grace, she shall receive the desires of her heart.