As we think about marriage, we often fail to think enough about, well, about thinking about marriage.  We take for granted certain "facts" about marriage, such as long courtships and loving one another before the service and fancy ceremonies and "needing to know someone before you marry them." We look at marriage as the biggest choice we make in our earthly lives and we do not want to mess it up. Two thoughts cannot be avoided in all this.

First, where did we get these ideas? You certainly do not see them even in the recent history (of, say, the last 200 years). You see marriages made quickly and between men and women who barely knew one another, just as in the Bible times. Remember that Jacob was so unaware that he married the wrong woman and did not know until after the honeymoon. In my own life, I handled a case involving a man who married his wife after meeting her the day before. The family arranged everything and he was supposed to marry her sister, but when he met the two sisters, he decided he wanted the younger one, so that is who he married the next day. 

Marriage was often seen as a business deal. A person found a partner (or their father found them a partner) and they married. The question of love was for after the wedding, perhaps many years after the wedding. The purpose of marriage was to produce children and provide stability. Widows remarried quickly whenever possible. 

Put simply, they did not think about or plan marriages as we do, with young people being engaged for a year or more, attending marriage counseling sessions, and completing all kinds of studies and experiences together. 

Are our ideas Biblical? Well, yes, in the sense that the Bible does not really tell us one way or the other. The Bible does not insist on family-driven marriages or marriages based on emotion or, really, any rules at all, so almost any rule is "Biblical" in that sense. Our rules are probably no more foolish than those that have been used at other times and in other places.

It is the second question that gets us. With all our efforts, we do not seem to be any better at marriage than people who married for money or influence or family or any other reason. Couples who date for years do not seem to stay married any better than couples who were married without knowing one another at all. To a large extent, this is because divorce laws are so free, but, of course, the reason the laws are so free is that so many people want to be divorced. 

So, why are we so bad at marriage? Why, when we know how important it is, do we fail so often? For every unhappy marriage that ends in divorce, there are others that remain married and yet failing, as the husband and wife go off on their own and see their marriage as just something to put up with because it is better than being divorced. 

Why are we so careful and yet so careless? Why do we put up so many roadblocks on the way to marriage, yet still find so many marriages that are failures?

Those are questions that every women needs to consider in her quest to be an Excellent Wife.

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