Ready for Marriage? When to Tie the Knot

by Roger Barrier

Dear Roger,

My girlfriend and I have been together for nine years. We both believe that marriage is within God’s will for us. However, whenever I raise the question of when, I am told that it is “not God’s timing for us to marry now.” Therefore, my impatience is evidence of ungodliness, and I need to learn to “wait upon God.” Roger, I’m familiar with what you teach about knowing God’s will, but how can I recognize God’s timing? How can I know that it is time, or not, for God’s will to be carried out, when that requires action on my part?

Sincerely, “C”


Dear “C,”

Let me answer your question from a pastoral-experiential perspective and not from that of a professional counselor. First, recognize that your impatience is not evidence of ungodliness. Your “impatience” has little or nothing to do with “waiting to hear from God.” Berate yourself no longer! After nine years you are not waiting on the Lord, you are waiting on your fiancé.


By no means am I demeaning your “waiting on God.” James assured us that God is anxious to give us  His wisdom regarding our future: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does (James 1:5-8).


Your discomfort reminds me of the vacillating misery of the one described in James who is struggling to make a final decision. I as sorry for the discomfort you must be feeling as your fiancé struggles in ambivalence.


When is the right time? When both of you agree that the timing is right. If either of you is balking, then, by definition, it is not time.


If I were you, I would want to know why she is still reluctant after so long a courtship. I think that it’s time for a rational heart-to-heart talk with your finance. Try to discover her real reasons for delaying. My impression is that, “It is not God’s time,” is just an excuse on her part. Perhaps her reluctance has to do with her fear of marriage failure. Perhaps she is concerned whether or not you both had equal levels of commitment to the marriage. Maybe she experienced some traumatic event in her past that needs understanding and healing. My experience tells me that some who have experienced sexual abuse in their pasts may not even know nor understand some of the fears and issues cropping up in their lives. Perhaps she struggles with settling some financial issues between you two. You might consider engaging a wise-professional counselor to see if any underlying reasons are prohibiting her from proceeding.


Make a decision; move ahead; get married. If she still balks, consider whether or not you are willing to continue waiting. If not, consider investing your life with someone else. It is time to move on.


By the way, at the other extreme, I am not a fan of quick marriages. I recommend waiting at least one-full year from meeting to marriage. This wait allows both parties to observe their future partner during four-full seasons. Most likely, any potential marriage-killing problems, or underlying issues, or personality quirks will surface during this waiting period.


I hope my answer gives you some direction for your possible marriage plans. Please email me when you can; I would like to know what you both decide to do.


Love, Roger

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