This post is for both men and women, but the first paragraph is specifically for the ladies reading this today.
Since we were little, many of us women have dreamt of our big day, when we can walk down the aisle to be given away in marriage to the man of our dreams. But I want to share a word of wisdom with you: as easy as it is for us to get caught up in, wedding planning should not consume the entire engagement. Ladies, seize the engagement period the Lord has given you to really become acquainted with the person you will marry. Wedding planning is important and necessary, but make sure you also spend time preparing for life beyond your wedding day, rather than just the magical moments of the day itself. You will need to be humble, intentional, and patient, which is all possible through Jesus – just ask Him! And I promise you that your honeymoon and those days thereafter will be filled with greater joy and peace!
Back to everyone now: what are specific areas that our carnal minds want to focus on during the engagement?
We all know sex is on everyone’s mind leading up to the day. If you thought temptation was heavy while dating, just wait for the engagement, especially for the Christian couples that are abstaining from sex until marriage. Perhaps because the marriage is soon approaching, compromises get made, and boundaries are pushed. Imagine an oven dial that you turn from medium heat to high. What happens? You get warmed quicker and you also get burned quicker. This is exactly what happens once your relationship takes on a new form in engagement. So, what do we suggest?
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Reestablish your physical boundaries as an engaged couple. New seasons bring forth changes and therefore new parameters. We know a married couple that enjoyed kissing and cuddling while dating, but after they got engaged and the heat turned up, they decided to stop kissing until the wedding day (they waited six months). This was incredibly wise. You too must be very careful, beloved. Sex is important, and if you really want to meaningfully enjoy it, make sure you have the appropriate boundaries to guard it until you’re married. Pre-marital sex (in any form) creates confusion in a relationship because it’s done outside of God’s terms.
“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” Song of Solomon 8:4
2. The Wedding
As mentioned above, the actual wedding is often the “most discussed” item leading up to the wedding day. Totally understandable. You want your big shindig to be extremely memorable, and I get that. But remember that it will not actually impact your future as a married couple. Instead, focus on the areas that will play the biggest role in the day-to-day marital relationship:
- Expectations of each other as husband or wife (specifically in relation to fulfilling your spouse’s emotional, physical, and spiritual needs, or even chores in the home)
- Learning each other’s love language(s) to minimize confusion and disappointment
- Discussing communication styles
- Discussing how you each envision your future together (calling in life, living in another state/country, which ministries to serve in, and number of children)
- Dealing with any and all previous wounds and hurts from past relationships, family members, and circumstances
Make sure you take the right steps to minimize hurt and learn how to love each other well.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
The choice is ours. We can choose to have a good marriage, a great marriage, or an excellent marriage. All it requires is simply Jesus Christ in the center of the relationship and two hearts willing to learn, grow, and work hard. If you include Jesus in your relationship today, then it’s much easier to include Him in your marriage.
Here are a few guidelines that worked really well for us as we were engaged:
- We studied the Word together after dinner every Sunday
- We intentionally never closed my or his bedroom door if we were both in it (to keep us from temptation, to keep others from building false assumptions, and to protect the purity of our relationship). And we never laid on a bed together
- We intentionally explored new places and activities to build memories and have fun together
- We took a 10-week “Dave Ramsey” financial course together in preparation for joining our bank accounts and spending habits
- We prayed a lot together. And we sought wise counsel from mentors, our pastor, and a 6 week pre-marital counseling training. Again, there was a lot of repenting, crying, and divine healing in that season to get us ready for the serious covenant we were about to enter before the Living God. We wanted to be ready!
- We served others in need together. This ushered in a strong foundation on which to fulfill the Great Commission with our Savior and one another
My hope and prayer is that this will offer sweet encouragement to those seeking wise counsel and advice on how to steward the engagement season. Use your time well, beloved. Honor the Lord and He too will honor you!
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