Finding the Right Mate
Before assuming the responsibilities involved in marriage, young men and young women
should have such an experience in practical life as will prepare them for its duties and
Since both men and women have a part in homemaking, boys as well as girls should gain a
knowledge of household duties. To make a bed and put a room in order, to wash dishes, to
prepare a meal, to wash and repair his own clothing, is a training that need not make any
boy less manly; it will make him happier and more useful.
There are very many girls who have married and have families, who have but little
practical knowledge of the duties devolving upon a wife and mother. They can read, and
play upon an instrument of music; but they cannot cook. They cannot make good bread, which
is very essential to the health of the family. They cannot cut and make garments, for they never learned how. They considered these things unessential, and in their married life they are as dependent
upon some one to do these things for them as are their own little children. 20
What a Young Man Should Look for in a Wife
Let a young man seek one to stand by his side who is fitted to bear her share of life's
burdens, one whose influence will ennoble and refine him, and who will make him happy in
"A prudent wife is from the Lord." "The heart of her husband doth safely
trust in her." "She will do him good and not evil all the days of her
life." "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of
kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of
idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth
her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all." "Whoso
findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord." Proverbs
19:14; 31:11, 12, 26-29; 18:22.
ROLF WAS THE SON OF A LEADING MINISTER IN EUROPE. THE GIRL HE WANTED TO MARRY WAS NOT
SURE IF SHE LOVED HIM, BUT HE WAS URGING HER TO MAKE A COMMITMENT TO HIM.
THERE WERE OTHER PROBLEMS THAT INDICATE SHE WAS NOT READY TO TAKE ON THE
RESPONSIBILITIES OF MARRIED LIFE, EITHER BY TEMPERAMENT OR BY TRAINING. ELLEN WHITE ASKS
SOME QUESTIONS OF ROLF THAT SHOULD BE ANSWERED BY EVERY YOUNG MAN WHO PLANS FOR MARRIAGE.
Great Grimsby, England September 23, 1886
While at Basel I had some conversation with Edith in regard to your attentions to her.
I asked her if her mind was fully made up that she loves you well enough to link her
interests with you for life. She answered that she was not fully settled upon this point.
I told her that she should know just what steps she was taking; that she should give no
encouragement to the attentions of any young man showing him preference unless she loved
She plainly stated that she did not know as she did love you, but thought if she were
engaged to you she might become acquainted with you. But as it was you both had no
opportunity to become acquainted.
I had reason to think that she disliked domestic labour, and I knew that you should
have a wife that could make you a happy home. I asked her if she had any experience in
those duties that make a home. She answered that she had done housework at home in her
father's family. I asked these questions because as her character had been presented to me
she needed special education in practical duties of life, but had no taste or inclination
for these things.
She told me that she was not decided in anything, that you were very urgent and loved
her, but she could not say that she loved you although you were very kind and attentive.
Said I, "Then come to an understanding. Do not lead him on."
I told her she should consider the object of a marriage with you, whether by such a
step you could both glorify God; whether you would be more spiritual; and whether your
lives would be more useful. Marriages that are impulsive and selfishly planned generally
do not result well but often turn out miserable failures.
Now, Rolf, I cannot say that it is my business to say that you shall not marry Edith,
but I will say that I have an interest in you. Here are things which should be considered:
Will the one
you marry bring happiness to your home? Is Edith an economist, or will she if married
not only use up all her own earnings, but all of yours to gratify a vanity, a love of
appearance? Are her principles correct in this direction?
I do not think Edith knows what self-denial is. If she had the opportunity she would
find ways to spend even more means than she has done. With her, selfish gratifications
have never been overcome, and this natural self-indulgence has become a part of her life.
She desires an easy, pleasant time.
I must speak plainly. I know, Rolf, that should you marry her you would be mated, but
not matched. There would be something wanting in the one you make your wife. And as far as
Christian devotion and piety is concerned, that can never grow where so great selfishness
possesses the soul.
I will write to you, Rolf, just as I would write to my son. There is a great and noble
work lying just before us, and the part we shall act in this world depends wholly upon our
aims and purposes in life. We may be following impulse. You have the qualities in you to
make a useful man, but if you follow inclination, this strong current of self-will will
sweep you away. Place for yourself a high standard, and earnestly strive to reach it.
Let it become the ruling purpose of your heart to grow to a complete man in Christ
Jesus. In Christ you can do valiantly; without Christ you can do nothing as you should.
You have a determination to carry out that which you purpose. This is not an objectionable
feature in your character if all your powers are surrendered to God. Please bear this in
mind, that you are not at liberty to dispose of yourself as your fancy may dictate. Christ
has purchased you with a price that is infinite. You are His property, and in all your
plans you must take this into account.
Especially in your marriage relations, be careful to get one who will stand shoulder to
shoulder with you in spiritual growth.
Rolf, I want you to consider all these things. God help you to pray over this matter.
Angels are watching this struggle. I leave you with this matter to consider and decide for
Letter 23, 1886
Questions a Girl Should Ask Before Marriage
Before giving her hand in marriage, every woman should inquire whether he with whom she
is about to unite her destiny is worthy. What has been his past record? Is his life pure?
Is the love which he expresses of a noble, elevated character, or is it a mere emotional
fondness? Has he the traits of character that will make her happy? Can she find true peace
and joy in his affection? Will she be allowed to preserve her individuality, or must her
judgement and conscience be surrendered to the control of her husband? As a disciple of
Christ, she is not her own; she has been bought with a price. Can she honour the Saviour's
claims as supreme? Will body and soul, thoughts and purposes, be preserved pure and holy?
These questions have a vital bearing upon the well-being of every woman who enters the
Let the questions be raised, Will this union help me heavenward? will it increase my
love for God? and will it enlarge my sphere of usefulness in this life? If these
reflections present no drawback, then in the fear of God move forward.
True love is a plant that needs culture. Let the woman who desires a peaceful, happy
union, who would escape future misery and sorrow, inquire before she yields her
affections, Has my lover a mother? What is the stamp of her character? Does he recognise
his obligations to her? Is he mindful of her wishes and happiness? If he does not respect
and honour his mother, will he manifest respect and love, kindness and attention, toward
his wife? When the novelty of marriage is over, will he love me still? Will he be patient
with my mistakes, or will he be critical, overbearing, and dictatorial? True affection
will overlook many mistakes; love will not discern them.
Let a young woman accept as a life companion only one who possesses pure, manly traits
of character, one who is diligent, aspiring and honest, one who loves and fears God.
THIS LETTER TO NELLIE LOOKS AT SOME OF THE SAME QUESTIONS AS THE EARLIER ONE TO ROLF.
THE CROWD SHE IS ASSOCIATING WITH IS NOT GOOD. HER SPECIAL FRIEND IS IRREVERENT, LAZY, AND
USES FOUL LANGUAGE AS WELL. OTHER HABITS ARE QUESTIONABLE ALSO. ELLEN WHITE ASKS SOME VERY
STRAIGHTFORWARD QUESTIONS THAT MIGHT WELL APPLY TO YOU AS YOU READ THIS LETTER.
Norfolk Villa, Prospect St. Granville, N.S.W. August 9, 1894
I am thankful to God that you love the truth, that you love Jesus, and I am anxious
that you should press your way forward and upward in order that you shall reach the
standard of Christian character that is revealed in the word of God. Let the word of God
be your guidebook that in everything you may be
moulded in conduct and character according to its requirements.
You are the Lord's property both by creation and redemption. You may be a light in your
home, and may continually exercise a saving influence in living out the truth. When the
truth is in the heart its saving influence will be felt by all that are in the house. A
sacred responsibility is resting upon you, and one that requires that you keep your soul
pure by consecrating yourself to be wholly the Lord's.
Your acquaintances who are utterly averse to spiritual things, are not refined,
ennobled, and elevated by the practice of the truth. They are not under the leadership of
Christ, but under the black banner of the prince of darkness. To associate with those who
neither fear nor love God-unless you associate with them for the purpose of winning them
to Jesus-will be a detriment to your spirituality. If you cannot lift them up, their
influence will tell upon you in corrupting and tainting your faith. It is right for you to
treat them kindly, but not well for you to love and choose their society; for if you
choose the atmosphere that surrounds their souls, you will forfeit the companionship of
From the light which the Lord has been pleased to give me, I warn you that you are in
danger of being deceived by the enemy. You are in danger of choosing your own way and of
not following the counsel of God and not walking in obedience to His will. The Holy One
has given rules for the guidance of every soul so that no one need miss his way. These
directions mean everything to us, for they form the standard to which every son and
daughter of Adam should conform .
You are just entering upon womanhood, and if you seek the grace of Christ, if you
follow the path where Jesus leads the way, you will become more and more a true woman. You
grow in grace, become wiser by experience, and as you advance from light to a greater
light you will become happier. Remember your life belongs to Jesus, and that you are not
to live for yourself alone.
Shun those who are irreverent. Shun one who is a lover of idleness; shun the one who is
a scoffer of hallowed things. Avoid the society of one who uses profane language or is
addicted to the use of even one glass of liquor. Listen not to the
proposals of a man who has no realisation of his responsibility to God. The pure truth
which sanctifies the soul will give you courage to cut yourself loose from the most
pleasing acquaintance whom you know does not love and fear God, and knows nothing of the
principles of true righteousness. We may always bear with a friend's infirmities and with
his ignorance, but never with his vices.
Be cautious every step that you advance; you need Jesus at every step. Your life is too
precious a thing to be treated as of little worth. Calvary testifies to you of the value
of your soul. Consult the word of God in order that you may know how you should use the
life that has been purchased for you at infinite cost. As a child of God you are permitted
to contract marriage only in the Lord. Be sure that you do not follow the imagination of
your own heart, but move in the fear of God.
If believers associate with unbelievers for the purpose of winning them to Christ, they
will be witnesses for Christ, and having fulfilled their mission, will withdraw themselves
in order to breathe in a pure and holy atmosphere. When in the society of unbelievers,
ever remember that in character you are a representative of Jesus Christ, and let no light
and trifling words, no cheap conversation be upon your lips.
Keep in mind the value of the soul, and remember that it is your privilege and your
duty to be in every possible way a labourer together with God. You are not to lower
yourself to the same level as that of unbelievers, and laugh and make the same cheap
The Lord will be your helper, and if you trust Him, will bring you up to a noble,
elevated standard, and will place your feet upon the platform of eternal truth. Through
the grace of Christ you can make a right use of your entrusted capabilities and become an
agent for good in winning souls to Christ. Every talent you have should be used on the
My dear sister, I have written to you because I have a love for your soul, and I
beseech you to hear my words. I have more to write to you when I shall find time.
With Christian love,
Letter 51, 1894