The Bible does not give us the right time for marriage, neither an ideal age to marry nor a suggested length of engagement. Girls in Bible times typically married in their teens and boys a bit later, but that was cultural, not spiritual. The Bible does give specific characteristics that men and women should strive for in a healthy marriage. It would be best if these characteristics were at least understood and accepted before the wedding took place.
The right time for marriage is when both the man and the woman are prepared to leave their families and join with their new spouse (Ephesians 5:31). It may take time for individuals to feel like they are one in their marriage, that they have developed emotional distance from their parents and really bonded with their spouse. But it's imperative that both the man and woman understand that this is required for marriage, and be willing to see it through.
Men should love their wives sacrificially (Ephesians 5:25). There is nothing like a new family member—spouse or child—to show us how selfish we really are. If a man cannot sacrifice his wants and desires for the benefit of his girlfriend, it's likely not the right time for marriage.
Women should respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). Far too many women marry the man they can boss around. Marriage isn't an opportunity for a woman to arrange things so her needs are met. It's an opportunity for a man and woman to join together and take care of each other. If a woman doesn't respect her boyfriend, she has no business marrying him.
It may be the right time for marriage when both individuals have the maturity to make a commitment and stick to it (1 Corinthians 7:10). God created the marriage commitment (Mark 10:9). God defined marriage. When two people agree to marry, they need to understand they aren't setting the terms; God did.
Men and women should also have the humility and courage to support and provide for their spouse (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 7:4). We cannot be God to our partner—we cannot meet all of his or her needs. If things happen that threaten our ability to love and respect, however, we need the humility to acknowledge the problem and the courage to seek help. That help could come through a counselor (Titus 2:4-5), a doctor, or even simple direct communication with one another. The ability to communicate and the humility to seek help will grow as trust grows in the relationship, but the couple should understand this is a vital part of any marriage.
In addition to the heart issues, practical matters will influence the right time for marriage. Housing, income, and children are all important considerations. Not everything needs to be completely settled, but the couple should at least identify the major issues and how they plan on resolving them. Premarital counseling is vitally important, and should be sought out by every couple who plans to marry.
No one is fully "ready" for marriage, any more than we can be fully sanctified on earth. Good relationships grow and improve every year. But the realities of married life go much more smoothly when the couple's hearts are loving and respectful (Philippians 2:3-4).
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