Dear Young Engaged Man,
Opinions are like armpits, most stink and everyone has two of them. And sometimes the odor can be suffocating.
One of the trends I began to notice while being engaged was everyone has a story. Every couple has an experience to tell or a word to give. You may be noticing that every person who has ever thought about being married has something to help you prepare for the rough days ahead.
Most of the advice you will receive is good, but some of it is not. From your last letter, it sounds like you are drowning in “advice”. Friends, family and even strangers have taken it upon themselves to tell you everything someone else told them. Horror honeymoon tales, scary identity crisis catastrophes, and terrible toothpaste/toilet seat fiascos.
The multitude of voices you are hearing are not inside your head. You may be right; they may actually be the crazy ones.
To be frank, I heard some of the worst advice as a young engaged man. Well-meaning, good people practically paralyzed my fiancee with their overcooked nuggets of wisdom. One person told us to beware of the second week of marriage, “The first week is great, but just you wait… week number two gets awful.” Another person said the second week was fine, but we had better watch out for that second month. Then things get really wooly.
We figured we should start ignoring these people when another couple warned us of the dreaded six month mark. Thats when the wildebeests come out and devour all the happy marriages of the world.
I’ve only mentioned the tip of the iceberg. I would be ashamed to write to you some of the counsel we were given; nevertheless, I must also tell you that I received some of the best advice as a young engaged man. Some of the most precious counsel I have recieved was in pre-marriage counseling. I received wonderful encouragement from particular people that almost brings me to tears when I think about them.
So how can you tell the difference between bad counsel and good counsel? My main suggestion is to know the source. Know the well from which you are seeking water and don’t drink from every running brook.
It is true that “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22. Take note when the Scripture says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14
We should be people who seek the safety of many ropes. However, let us be careful not to be strangled among them. The Proverbs also say, “Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.” Proverbs 16:22
For there to be safety among counselors, there must be sturdy ropes. Unraveling ropes will not help but only harm. It is possible to unwittingly surround yourself with fools.
I suggest the best place to find counselors is in the local church. Particularly pick the brains of your pastors. “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17
The Author of Wisdom can only be found in one place – the Bible. Take heed to those who spend their lives in the Scriptures. Value their opinions and compare what they say to what you read in the Bible. Starting this habit now will create a great pattern for your future marriage. Prepare now for a lifetime of seeking the Scriptures and rappelling with those who know them well.
May the Scriptures tune our ears to receive good counsel. Whether we receive advice from our parents, pastors, or peers, let us make sure we have ears to hear.
The content for this post has been expanded into Letters to a Romantic: On Engagement which will be released in 2017 by P&R Publishing.