Are you holding out hope for someone to come along who will fit with you so well that you won’t have to change a thing? Do you think God has one person picked out just for you with whom you can find lasting happiness? Are you deferring marrying your girlfriend/boyfriend on the basis that maybe someone better will come along who will not only be a kindred spirit but also a fashion model? Sadly, our culture perpetuates these myths with staggering frequency. Check out these myth-busting words from Stanley Hauerwas:
Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. The moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.
We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is…learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.*
Such words of wisdom can alleviate the incredible pressure so many put on themselves to find just the right person. Maybe we should look at marriage as the means to become the right person and help our spouse be their best, rather than the result of finding someone that’s already perfect.
*Stanley Hauerwas, “Sex and Politics,” Christian Century April 19, 1978, pp. 417-422, as cited by Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (New York: Penguin Group, 2011), pp. 32-3.