"Everybody Marries The Wrong Person." I saw this statement as a book title and it got me thinking. It sounds pessimistic at first, but to me it was a refreshing thought in its own way. There is so much pressure to find the one person in the world who is right for you. But that is the problem. There is something wrong with everybody. If you don't see their quirks and flaws right away, then time will tell all. Our thinking is riddled with contradictions. We know that nobody is perfect and yet we search for the perfect husband or wife. And if that's not enough, many of us feel the pressure of becoming perfect before we get married. But how can we really expect to be a crack shot at something that we've never done before?
I read an article in this month's Psychology Today that challenges the idea that there is one right person for everyone. The article said that that sort of thinking sets couples up for disenchantment and disappointment and often divorce follows. The reason is because it excuses you from taking responsibility for the problems in the relationship because your first thought is "I married the wrong person, it's all her fault, I need to get out of this and find the right person." Now, there are extreme exceptions. For instance, being married to a meth addict would pose a lot more problems than being a married to a person with a full set of teeth. But the point is that when people hop from relationship to relationship looking for the "right person" then they are merely trading old problems for a set of new ones. Why? Because you and I are part of the problem. We don't necessarily need to change partners we just need to mature.
Regardless, it seems that many Christians think that there is one right person for them. I'm not sure where they got this, because it's not in the Bible anywhere, unless you have the Disney translation. Of course, God is involved in the whole process of two people coming together but I'm not convinced that it's predestined or written in the stars somewhere. It sounds more like a lot of singles are looking for an easy marriage, and all the married people are telling us that marriage is challenging no matter who you marry. Maybe we should listen. It's interesting that statistically speaking young people are getting divorced more than anyone else. An article in the NY Times reads "more marriages dissolve before the age of 30 than at any other time." I bring this up because I find that youth and idealism often go hand in hand. Don't get me wrong, I am a glass-half-full optimist, but idealism is a little different. Optimism sees the good side of reality. But idealism is fueled more by fantasy and sets us up for disillusionment, because we weren't seeing the world clearly in the first place. Idealism doesn't equip us with the tools we need to face reality.
Yesterday, in our church staff meeting, a pastor's wife was talking about how blessed she was by her husband. I hope that my future wife someday boasts about me. I think that would be the highest compliment, to hear that from the one person who knows you better than anyone, who knows about your shortcomings and yet brags about you to others. It doesn't seem to happen very much these days, sadly I hear so many wives badmouthing their husbands. Maybe some of it is warranted and maybe some of it is a little harsh. I don't want to fuel the battle of the sexes and there is always two sides to a statistic, but it is interesting that statistically women file for divorce twice as much as men. However, this is not necessarily a point for the guys, because generally speaking guys tend to be less eager to work on their marriages.
If we want an actual Biblical model for marriage, then here it is: Christ didn't marry us because we were the "right person," Christ loved us while we were still sinners. This is the divine blueprint for a divine marriage. A marriage that is alive is a marriage that grows out of the dirt into something lush and beautiful. I think that compatibility is not static, but that if two people are willing then they can grow more compatible over time. In short, you will marry a sinner and so will she. Mistakes are inevitable, but forgiveness will make a relationship invincible.