Letters to Young Lovers


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 her love. LYL 20.1

“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. LYL 20.2

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. LYL 20.3

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. LYL 20.4

Great Grimsby, England,

September 23, 1886

Dear Rolf,

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 him. LYL 21.1

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. LYL 21.2

I had reason to think that she disliked domestic labor, 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. LYL 21.3

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.” LYL 21.4

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. LYL 21.5

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? LYL 21.6

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. LYL 22.1

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. LYL 22.2

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. LYL 22.3

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. LYL 22.4

Especially in your marriage relations, be careful to get one who will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in spiritual growth. LYL 22.5

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 yourself. LYL 22.6

Ellen G. White.

Letter 23, 1886