Thanks to Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, we will never forget the title of “Runaway Bride.” The movie follows Julia who freaks out in epic fashion and ditches the groom.
Three different times she runs away from her wedding.
Enter Richard Gere. He plays the journalist who covers her fourth wedding. There is something about his presence that forces Julia to reconcile her fear of marriage. Obviously the “Hollywood” ending is perfect, and they end up together–but it’s the process I found fascinating.
So I have a question for you. What about marriage are you most afraid of?
Recently, I received a message on Facebook asking me the very same question:
“Did you have any fears before getting married? Do you still have them now? If yes, what were/are they?”
Before I could respond, she posted a fabulous blog “Why I’m Scared of Marriage.” I love how honest she was about her fears. Some of them reminded me how I felt like when I was single.
As a single person I had many fears about marriage, as well as when I was engaged to Marc.
Thankfully, God says not to have a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7-my favorite Bible verse).
Did you know there is a distinction between anticipation, expectation, and fear?
Don’t be afraid to figure out which you’re struggling with. Ask your significant other for help–that’s what he or she is there for.
Today–if you find yourself afraid about your soon to be engagement, here are some tips for you.
Fear #1 – I’m afraid I’ll lose my identity and independence in marriage.
Truth #1 – Fact. With any life transition–like a new job or relationship–you will enjoy the change–at first. It’s going into the relationship knowing that giving up a part of yourself for someone else is good. The bad part is seeing your pride in the mirror. A good relationship reveals someone’s character. The question then becomes, “Are you willing and brave enough to face what you might see?”
Tip #1 – Take the time to develop your relationship with God so you know where your real sense of self comes from. Ask yourself the question, “Are you clinging to the hope of marriage because you think this person will make you feel loved?” Instead of zapping your partner of all his of her strength, learn to rely on God’s grace before getting engaged so you can help keep your future marriage healthy.
“When we put as much effort into discovering the heart of God as we do examining our love lives, we become the best version of ourselves.” (Not Another Dating Book, page 88)
Fear #2 – I’m afraid I won’t be able to provide enough for my future husband or wife.
Truth #2 – God’s economy is bigger than you, your job, and the world. Thank Him today for taking care of today’s needs, and don’t worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:33-34).
Tip #2 – Set up a budget with your significant other ahead of time. The more realistic you are about your financial future, the better you’ll be able to plan for that small or big wedding, honeymoon, future home, and the things needed to furnish it.
Don’t be afraid to pray about everything and leave room for God, after all, it’s His money anyway.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have,because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV84).
Fear #3 – I’m afraid I won’t please my husband or wife sexually. How will I know if he or she is good enough to satisfy my needs in marriage?
Truth #3 – First, fatalistic thinking is probably not the best way to approach marriage. If God designed sex inside of marriage, then shouldn’t you be asking why? Replace the lie of “I need to test drive the car before I buy it” with the truth that God created sex to bond two people into one–and that is what marriage is all about.
“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:5-6, NIV84).
Tip #3 – Each person is created with an individual sex drive. Talk openly about what your expectations are. For instance, what might be reasonable for one may not be with the other. Remember–sex is purely notjust a physical act–it’s spiritual and emotional. If you’re worried about the sexual past of your significant other or yourself–don’t be afraid to seek out the council or advice of a trusted pastor. Don’t forget to have grace!
Fear #4 – I’m afraid I won’t have anyone to talk to about my fears and insecurities of marriage.
Truth #4 – Finding someone you can trust to talk about the personal details of your relationship is tough. You don’t want to tell everyone about the intimate details, neither do you want your relationship to become gossip. Thankfully, God can bring the right people into your life before you get engaged whom you can trust.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV84).
Tip # 4 – It’s okay to need extra encouragement, love, and support in a relationship headed towards marriage. Ask God to show you who is trustworthy–whether that be a family member, accountability partner, or friend. Then create a safe space for you to meet regularly with him or her as you approach the big day for advice and support.
Fear #5 – I’m afraid my husband won’t be the spiritual leader of our marriage.
Truth #5 – Actions speak louder than words. If you are a woman seeking to have a godly relationship–then look at his actions. Does his fruit stink? Can he be trusted? Is he more than the title he gives himself? Being a spiritual leader isn’t about slapping on a title over a man’s chest and expecting him to be Mr. America. It’s about sacrifice and grace. Can he do what Jesus did? Submission goes both ways. The church may have taught you growing up that submission is an all-male character trait, but it’s not. It’s both male and female.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:25, NIV84).
Tip #5 – Establish a devotional time together as a couple. I believe it’s vitally important to be on the same page spiritually.If you find yourself in a dating situation with a guy or girl where you’re not sure if they are spiritually on the same page as you–ask yourself–does she or he resemble Philippians 2:1-11?
Tip #6 – I’m afraid some question may be considered offlimits?
Truth #6 – If any question becomes taboo to you or your significant other–ask why–and quickly. There shouldn’t be any questions off limits. For instance, is he or she hiding any skeletons in their closet? Although it may be painful to revisit past failures–it’s what you and your partner do with the information that has the power to heal or destroy a relationship.
Tip #6 – Only you can control how you respond. This has got to be the single, most important tip of this entire post. No matter if you are into the relationship, your significant other may choose to walk away. It can be devastating and so painful when that happens. Nobody wants to experience the pain of a broken heart. Give yourself time to heal from past relationships, and no matter what was said or done in the past–Jesus’ blood cleanses you from all sin.
Fear #7 – I’m afraid I don’t know what I want out of marriage?
Truth #7 – Marriage is meant not only to make you happy, but holy. The main goal of Jesus was to show His followers that humility and sacrifice is the answer. Multiple times Jesus told anyone who wanted to follow Him, “deny [yourself] and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, NIV84). Of course there are things in marriage that will leave you ridiculously happy satisfied (sex, HELLO), but our main reason for entering marriage should be about following after the example that Christ set for us.
Tip #7 – Read Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Marc and I read it before getting engaged and toughly enjoyed our discussion together, which I believe better prepared us for marriage.
Fear #8 – I’m afraid that there will be too much suffering in my future marriage, and that it will end in divorce.
Truth #8 – Hopefully no one goes into marriage by thinking when times get tough–they can just bounce! Peace out. Deuces. Marriage is obviously more than a piece of paper. It is a covenant between God, your spouse, and your community. It says that you are committed to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
Tip #8 – Yes. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). That doesn’t mean that He wants you to stay in an abusive relationship or that you’re going to hell if you’re divorced. If you or your significant other is divorced, spend some time in prayer with just you and God. Journal and write down anything that you feel is hindering you towards moving forward and having a healthy relationship. Lastly, thank God and praise Him for making you into a new person. Praise precedes blessing!