A girl who dreams of the man that will sweep her off of her feet, complete her emotionally, and fulfill her every dream. A boy who searches for the woman that will make him feel whole and cared for, who will fulfill his every desire, and complete his vision of happiness and contentment. They meet. They fall in love. They plan their future, marry, and ride off into the sunset. They pay no mind to the short comings of the other, they see only the beauty, and strength in one another, side by side they set out to conquer the world…..
Then they wake up. They realize that 5 years into marriage, they are no closer to the goal of the perfect life then they were when they met, in fact they are further from it, their dreams and love for one another have been dimmed by life, bills, kids, dogs, laundry, arguments and that clump of toothpaste that lies forever in the sink; stranded with no one to care enough to just wipe it off and send it down the drain.
You see what these two perfectly imperfect human beings DO realize is their need for completion, their need for wholeness, for fulfillment. What they don’t realize, until years after the honeymoon, is that the person they married is just as incomplete as they are and that there’s no way for one person to fulfill every need to complete the other. They realize that they are each half a person on their own, but joined together their two halves don’t make a whole.
Now before the logical type A’s jump all over me, I want to clarify that I am not implying this theory in a literal mathematical sense; yes, I know that 1/2 plus 1/2 equals 1 whole numerically, you can stop worrying about the future of my poor homeschooled kids… what I am saying is, as it pertains to relationships, you cannot join together two imperfect, incomplete people and expect to make a whole person, in my opinion it doesn’t work that way. I believe when men and women have the expectation that “if they could just marry that right person then they will be complete and lacking nothing”, they are setting themselves and their marriage up for failure, and here’s why…
You can’t force pieces that don’t fit
I marveled at the determination of one of my sons when he was 3 as he would sit down to put a puzzle together. He would take a puzzle piece that looked as if it fit into a specific spot; same color, almost exact shape, but because it wasn’t the correct piece, it would just refuse to interlock with the other pieces in that area. He would grunt and push, and press, and growl, and rip the piece to almost shreds until finally he had forced the piece into the incorrect spot. His desire to fill the space superseded the will to find the right solution to the puzzle.
We often times look to our spouse to fulfill empty spaces in our hearts and lives, we so long for fulfillment that we try to force the imperfections and short comings out of the other person and begin to force our spouse to fit into and fill that space in our heart to make us feel complete and whole, we begin to play the “If/Then game”, it looks something like this; “If you would just lose weight, then I would be affectionate”, “If you would take me on more dates, then I’d feel loved”, “If you kept the house picked up, then I’d feel at home here”, “If you help me with the kids more, then I would respect you”, “If you ironed my shirts, then I might have a better attitude about you behind your back”, “If you listened to me more then I wouldn’t feel so alone”, “If you didn’t nag so much, then I would feel more loved”.
Maybe you’ve said something along these lines in your marriage, or have heard it said in a friend’s marriage, either way the fact is that our needs for wholeness are unique to each of us individually and it is an impossible burden for another person to take on the responsibility of fulfilling something in us that they are incapable of fulfilling.
It is impossible for another imperfect human being to fill a God shaped space in our heart…
Iron Sharpens Iron
“Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
The purpose of relationships are to reflect our strengths and weaknesses in a way that encourages us to become all that God intends for us, and to support us on our journey. The intent of relationships has never been to fulfill the spaces in our hearts, but to support us as we become. God places the people in our lives that specifically connect with us and possess qualities that will sharpen our strengths and support us as God is made perfect in our weakness.
It is often our instinct to see the imperfections of another and want to change them, to perfect them, because we think we see the solutions to their problems. On the contrary when we focus so much on the short comings of our spouse we forget to examine our own hearts and realize, though our problems may look different, we still have just as much to work on as the other person does. When we begin to have a humble understanding of our own need for salvation and growth, we can have more grace and patience with others especially our spouse on their journey of growth. They may grow A LOT slower than we would hope for, but to understand that it’s NOT YOUR JOB to fix them, nor do you have the capacity to do the job only God can do, you will begin to find peace in releasing the bitterness towards them for their imperfections and really begin to dig deep into your own journey.
Your purpose to your spouse is to sharpen them, to reflect grace, humility, and patience to them so they can see for themselves what needs to be worked on. Your spouses purpose is to do the same for you, NOT to fulfill your every need and desire, but to sharpen you by reflecting that grace that’s needed on the journey.
The Source of Wholeness
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17
He possesses every single thing that you could ever possibly need. He has the plan, the strategy, the solutions, the victory. He has authored your life, and He WILL finish the good work according to His purpose (Philippians 1:6). You can let go of all of those expectations that leave you disappointed and lonely, the expectations that have tricked you and left you feeling unloved, unattractive, insecure, angry, bitter, and on the verge of divorce or insanity. You can leave those in the dust and have peace knowing it’s not your burden to bear your spouse’s imperfections, it’s God’s job to work with him/her.
In addition to that and most importantly, stop burdening your spouse with the responsibility of “completing” you, eventually that castle will fall and all of the hope and stability you’ve placed in them, and rely on them for, WILL crash down, because they are human, and you will be left standing alone.
Fix your eyes and heart on your own journey, draw close to the only One that can truly fill all of those spaces, heal your hurts, and complete you, He is a solid rock on which your foundation is secure and you’ll NEVER be let down, NEVER. The world may crumble around you, your spouse will show their uglies and society’s ideals will cast you out and give you death by comparison, but God will be constant, He is the one gamble you can afford to take.
Listen; relax!! Enjoy your journey together; no pressure, no lofty expectation of one another, just freedom to become all that you’re meant to become. Have fun with your spouse; laugh, play, lighten up and LIVE!!! Equally importantly; start your personal journey, work on you, and appreciate the process because when you can each individually become a whole person in Christ; lacking nothing, you will begin to see unity and fullness in your marriage, then you will watch the greatness unfold and true purpose working in and through the two of you!
Blessings on your journey to becoming whole, by the power of the Spirit!