An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. – Proverbs 31:10
Which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. – Ecclesiastes 7:28-29
Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. – Psalm 12:1
On this subjects much advice is given—and very little taken. If asked at all—it is generally not until the mind is made up, the affections engaged, and perhaps the hand already pledged.
Here are some simple questions to ask before get engaged:
1) The first question that may seem old fashion and is yet full of wisdom is, “Have you consulted your parents? What do they think of it? for you cannot expect happiness if you marry without the full consent of your own parents and the parents of your intended partner.”
2) Are you in a hurry, when you’re not ready? Don’t be too hasty, young man; ’tis easy to marry in haste, and repent at leisure. I would advise you not to think of marrying until you are settled in a fair way of getting a living. You don’t wish to be a burden to your parents, but to be able to provide for yourself, and those dependent on you; and for some years to come it will be much better for you to have one plough going than two cradles. You may think that ‘love and a little’ will be quite enough, but let me tell you, love and nothing will be but sorry fare; and, ‘When poverty comes in at the door—love flies out at the window!’ You think, perhaps, that no such thing can happen to you: then let me tell you, that, if you think your love strong enough to bear poverty after marriage, you had better try its strength in waiting beforehand. If you do really love one another, I think you will find it easy and pleasant to work and save, that you may have something to make your home comfortable, when it is prudent for you to marry.” But what if she won’t wait? “By all means let her go and reckon it a very good miss for you. If she is tired of waiting, let her go on without you; and when she is gone, comfort yourself with remembering that there are as good fish left in the sea—as ever were caught out of it.”
3) A third question to ask is this: “What is it in the person of whom you seek, that makes you think you should love him (or her) better than all the world beside? You ought to be able to do this; for it is a very foolish action either to marry without love, or to love without reason. Is it beauty? Beauty is only skin deep, and sometimes covers a heart deformed by vice and ill temper. Beauty is a poor thing, unless it accompanies something far better than itself, and that will long outlive it. To marry only for beauty, would be like buying a house for the flowers in the windows. ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised,’ and chosen too by the wise man who seeks a godly helpmate. Would you marry for money? ‘In seeking after a comfortable partner, good character more to be sought for than a great dowry.’ ‘Better have a fortune in a wife than a fortune with a wife.’
“Is it for genteel, attractive manners and great accomplishments? Don’t be imposed upon: ‘all is not gold that glitters.’ Beauty, and property, and pleasing manners, and great accomplishments, are all very good make-weights to a bargain, which is good independently of them, but would made a wretchedly bad bargain of themselves. In marrying, you need not only what will look well, and excite admiration when all goes on smoothly—but you need what will afford real comfort and support in the time of adversity.”
4) The fourth question to ask is: “How does the party behave in present relationships? Is he (or she) remarked as a dutiful, affectionate, attentive child; a kind brother or sister? for never yet was it found that the disobedient, rebellious son, or the pert, undutiful daughter, was fitted to make an affectionate, faithful, valuable husband or wife.”
Then again, “Is the intended party of age, temper and habits suitable to your own? for people may be very good in themselves—who are not suitable to each other; and two people who have been used to different ways of living, must have an uncommon share of good temper and forbearance, if ever they make each other happy in the married life. Remember, ‘Marriage with peace and piety is this world’s paradise. Marriage with strife and disagreement—it is this life’s hell.’
“Is the person humble, industrious, and contented? If not, your present lot will not satisfy her; still less will she be willing to descend to a lower state, if such should be the appointment of Providence.
5) “And then, how is it as to the one thing needful? Whatever you do, don’t let this be overlooked. Without true religion, you lose the best sweetness and relish of prosperity; and you have no provision whatever for meeting trials and afflictions! Besides, if you could live together a century in the tenderest affection, and the most unmingled comfort, what a dreadful thing to think of death coming and separating you forever! Be sure, then, you remember the scripture rule, ‘marry only in the Lord;’ and expect not the blessing of God if you violate it. Ask the blessing of God on all your engagements. ‘A prudent wife is of the Lord.’ ‘In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.’
“When all these matters are satisfactorily settled, and your choice is fixed, be steady and faithful. Never act with levity, or say or do a thing that would give each other pain. Be very prudent and circumspect in your fellowship with each other. In this respect, your future comfort and confidence are at stake, as well as your fair character in the world. Let nothing which occurs now, furnish matter for reproach or regret at any future time.”
Gorham Abbott, The Family At Home