Tuesday, my wife Lindsay and I celebrated our two year anniversary. Two years ago, we tied the knot and took the plunge. Two years ago, the cutest girl in Indiana was taken off the market! Two years ago, we launched the beginning of the rest of our lives. Two years ago…
And after two years, there’s no hiding behind the dinner-and-a-movie façade of dating life any longer. I can’t buy enough flowers to conceal it. I can’t open enough doors. I can’t say enough “I love you’s.” She knows (and painfully, so do I) that she married the “wrong” person.
So I blogged about it. And people read it. Uhhhhhh, a lot of people read it. Like, way too many people read it. Proving to me two things: (1) most of you are really bored at work and (2) most of you really care about marriage. And that’s awesome. It’s kind of a big deal.
So in light of the tremendous interest the first post drew, I’ve decided to post a series of follow-ups. Each one will address, point by point, the four “solutions” I listed in the original blog, and hopefully you’ll care enough to read, or share, or sneer, or, at the very least, sympathize.
With that being said…
*** How I Know My Wife Married the Wrong Person (Part 2) ***
Sin’s presence in the world guarantees that we all marry an imperfect person. It just is what it is. Take it up with Adam and Eve. And when we discover this painful reality, different people react in different ways, some more destructive than others. In fact, I listed four of the most popular ways I’ve noticed in the last post (for the record, #5 was “Binge on Cookie Dough” – but that didn’t make the cut).
So let’s talk through the first one today:
“So what then is the solution? What do you do when you find yourself in a relationship with the “wrong person?” Well here are a few things you could try:
(1) Every time your significant other falls short, find another. On to the next one. Then when they fall short, and they will, do it again. And again. And then again. Forgiveness is futile. Reconciliation, pointless. If they were your soul mate they’d never make those kind of mistakes. If they really loved you, they would’ve thought before they acted. Of course, there will be significant emotional baggage to carry with each new sexual partner. Or there will be financial fallout from dividing your wealth over and over. Or your kids may grow up with a distorted view of parenting or marriage. But sooner or later you’re bound to find Mr. or Mrs. Right, right? And they’ll be perfect, right?”
Fact is, marriage is dangerous for you. Proceed with caution. Count the cost. Because when you step into it, you agree to broadcast the deepest darkest corners of your life to the same person, every day, all the time, uncensored, no make-up, all sweatpants, up close and personal. (Unless you’re just really good at hiding the truth… which most people call dishonesty… and many think to be the root of almost all relational problems. But I digress…)
So when you shack up with your spouse, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Just give it time. It won’t be long. No matter how sweaty they make your palms, even if they Facetime you every night, even if they write sonnets on your Facebook wall, even if those sonnets rhyme, even if they’ve never had a recorded instance of morning breathe or bad hair, and even if, I know this is hard to believe, but even if they play the acoustic guitar, just stick around… you’ll find out! They have flaws. Plural. It might not be their hair or breathe, but it’s something.
Look, as long as you limit the field to humans, you’ll never marry the “right person.” Because there are no 100% “right persons.” Sin’s presence in the world guarantees it. There are only wrong people who pretend to be right and wrong people who are becoming right, through Jesus. And no matter which of the two you are, they’re still both wrong.
Now for many of us, when we discover how wrong our significant other can be, our first reaction is to run. When we can’t shake their secret, or feel the grind of their annoying habits, or live through some sort of betrayal or conflict, our first thought is “Abandon ship! Save yourself! Get out while you still can! Ain’t nobody got time for that!” And we walk. Usually way to early.
Maybe our vows should’ve been “till we do us part” instead of “till death do us part.” Less romantic, but at least it’s honest.
Now I’m not saying that there aren’t some situations that necessitate separation (as many of you have pointed out), but what I am saying is that too many of us opt for the easy way out far too early, and far too often.
And why you ask? Because 99% of the time, the marriage was never about “us” to begin with. It was about “me.” It was never about committing to the task of one another, for the sake of one another. It was about you committing to the task of “me”, for the sake of “me.”
Sorry, I know. Hard words to swallow. I’ll get some hate mail for that last statement. I’m cool with it though. And I bet if you think back to your last fight, “me” was at the root of it.
In short, what we’re doing with marriage is the same thing our culture is doing with just about everything else, individualizing it. We’ve privatized marriage and redefined its purpose as self-gratification. We think: “Marriage is about my happiness.” “Marriage lasts as long as it fulfills my expectations.” “I’ll work on this as long as it still benefits me.” And this is why I believe we see so many relational splits. Because “I’m for me.” And the tension just mounts and mounts and mounts.
And then all the sudden “Our marriage conflicts with my career.” Or “My money is my money.” Or “Your body doesn’t meet my expectations.” Or “Our marriage just can’t meet my needs.” And curtains. Exit stage left. Game over.
So what do we do about this raging sense of “me?” Well if you don’t mind it, then nothing. And that’s fine. I can’t make you. And I still love you. But if you’ve felt or seen or fear the pains of relational split, might I suggest a biblical perspective on marriage, which paints something so much more beautifully realistic?
It paints a portrait of two sinners, committing to the task of one another, for the sake of one another, until death do them part. It’s two imperfect people, committing to the sanctifying work of expressing Jesus’ self-sacrificial love, to their lover, so that they might see him or her become the person God has always intended them to be, knowing full well that neither of them have yet to reach this goal, nor will they this side of eternity.
With this mindset, forgiveness isn’t futile, it’s first. Reconciliation isn’t pointless, it’s daily. And sin isn’t a denial of their love for you, it’s an opportunity for you to show your love for them. This mindset doesn’t ask you to settle, it asks you to sacrifice. Because that’s what cross-shaped people do.
This may not be the only way, but I believe it’s the best way. And the cross-shaped way.
And for those of you dating, you’re not off the hook here. Because, even before you’ve tied the knot, this approach to marriage forces you to start the process (yes, right now) of becoming the kind of guy or girl the person you want to marry would actually want to marry. The kind of person that will love their spouse like Jesus loves them.
See the previous post here:
Tyler McKenzie is the Teaching Pastor at Northeast Christian Church and Blogger at CrossShapedStuff.com
Online Link w/pictures included: http://crossshapedstuff.com/2013/06/07/how-i-know-my-wife-married-the-wrong-person-part-2/