Who can find a wife with a strong character? She is worth far more than jewels.
Her husband trusts her with ⌊all⌋ his heart, and he does not lack anything good.
She helps him and never harms him all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12 GW)
(Context—Proverbs 31:10-31 GW)
The search for a life partner is a universal and enduring one through the ages. It began, I suppose, when God saw Adam’s need for a companion who would complement and fit him for life—
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him.” (2:18 GNTD)
Based on this verse you could say, it’s God’s plan and His will for everyone to have a marriage partner in life. You could say this and many people have but it’s not always the case.
Some people are better off or choose to be single—the Bible speaks to this also (1 Cor 7:8-38). You could also be a man looking for a wife in China where there’s about 33 million more men than women.
Not everyone is looking for a life partner, just someone to be with for a while. As they say, “there’s an app—or two or three—for that.” Several online resources exist solely for help to find a companion to share life with—whether for the first time or another hoped for go at it.
Arranged marriages are another option still in play for much of the world though not so much in America. Stories abound of arranged relationships and marriage—some good, some horrible, and some just ok.
What’s a person to do?
What’s the key to seeking the right or best soul mate or life partner for you? What criteria should you go by? Is it just a matter of chance, fate, kismet, or is it a matter of prayer and the right timing?
It’s no secret people choose partners for the wrong reasons or don’t know how to develop a healthy marriage once a choice is made. Too often, what attracts people at first later repels them.
So, what should you look for when seeking a life partner?
The answer isn’t a simple method or process or checklist, but the majority of this last chapter in Proverbs is intended to be a guide. Not just for a man to find a wife but also what a woman should desire and expect for a husband.
Some helpful things to note
Before diving into an answer for the previous question, here are some helpful things to know about Proverbs 31:10-31—
There are 22 verses written as an acrostic—each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Sort of an ABC’s for what to look for in a life partner.
This portion of text has many subtitles given to it—The Virtuous Wife, The Ideal Wife, The Woman Who Fears the Lord, The Wife of Noble Character, and so on.
This is not a checklist of expectations a man should look for or require of a woman as his wife—many a marriage has been rocked or ruined by seeing it as such.
This was advice given to a king (Lemuel) by his mother for this reason—
Charm is deceptive, and beauty evaporates, ⌊but⌋ a woman who has the fear of the Lord should be praised. (Prov 31:30 GW)
A simple key
A simple key to finding a marriage partner for life is to know a person’s character. Notice I didn’t make this a one-way focus. A person’s character is essential to consider for a man and a woman when seeking a life partner.
There’s bound to be difficulty and unmet expectations when anyone chooses a partner based on personality or appearance. In fact, idealistic expectations undermine any relationship but especially a lifetime commitment in marriage.
A word to women. If a man doesn’t respect and value you for who you are as a person—you should wait for a better man.
Who would qualify as a better man? A man with similar qualities of character as noted in these verses and a man who wants to be a partner in life with you for life.
God’s design for marriage was always intended to be a partnership. A mutual, beneficial, and fulfilling relationship where each person values the other as their equal, their partner in life.
When other things like appearance or personality—external qualities—become priority over character—a person’s internal nature—unmet expectations and unnecessary problems are bound to come.
An enduring and healthy marriage has its own difficulties because it’s a merger of two persons into one relationship—a unified identity as life partners (Gen 2:24). It requires valuing internal qualities in a person over externals.
Signs of a healthy partnership in marriage are—
Her husband trusts her with ⌊all⌋ his heart… She helps him and never harms him all the days of her life
If you’re seeking to find a life partner, be wise in doing so. These 22 verses can be a helpful guide but make sure it’s a guide for knowing a person’s character rather than a checklist of unrealistic expectations.
God designed marriage as a partnership—a mutual, beneficial, and fulfilling relationship where each person values the other as their equal—their partner in life.
If you’re seeking to find a life partner, ask God for guidance, discernment, and wisdom in doing so. Ask the Lord’s help to guard your heart from making emotional and foolish commitments and for help to see and make a person’s internal qualities your priority.
Would you like a free study guide for Proverbs?
Next week, I plan to start a new series of devotionals in the Book of Ruth.
Stay tuned and thanks for reading!