If you’re in a dry season of your marriage, you’ve more than likely thought about any number of the following:
What if I married one of my ex’s instead of my spouse?
What would life be like with the man or woman at work? (or at the gym? Church? Etc.)
What if I had married someone with more of the same recreational interests as me?
If only I hadn’t felt pressure from my family to get married.
If only I hadn’t gotten married so young.
If only I hadn’t gotten my wife pregnant, I could have left her.
If only my spouse gave me compliments the way other men or women do.
If only my spouse had more of a sex drive.
If only I had married someone who was more attractive.
If only I had married someone who kept themselves in better shape.
If only I was single so I could flirt with and pursue this other man or woman.
If only I was single so I could manage my house, schedule, and finances the way I want.
And the list could go on and on.
All these thoughts have one thing in common: none of them are real! Each one is a fantasy, a false reality. Each time you ask that question, you are only depriving your actual reality of much-needed investment. The grass is not greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it.
And even if you acted on one of these, making it actually real, it would have consequences and pain well past what you’re picturing in your fantasy world. Acting on these questions is acting as if time travel is real. Even though the 1980’s Back to the Future movies predicted Donald Trump’s presidency and the Cubs winning the World Series, I’m pretty sure time travel is still out of our reach.
The deception beneath all these fantasies is we are convinced we married the wrong person. There was some sort of error made and we need to go back and fix it.
The truth we must realize is no one marries the “right” person. There is no such thing as the “right” person in reality. This is only an illusion fed to us by pop songs and Hollywood love stories.
Leading marriage therapists Drs. John and Julie Gottman say when you choose whom you will marry, you are choosing the set of perpetual problems you want to deal with for the next 50 years. You could have an affair or get divorced and marry someone else and you’d simply be marrying a different set of perpetual problems. The Gottmans’ extensive scientific research shows perpetual problems are as much a part of marriage as wedding rings and anniversaries are.
It is ironic that we are so infatuated with Hollywood romance movies starring our favorite celebrities. These movies include fun and sexy women who fall in love with handsome and charming men. They go on exotic dates, have passionate sex and of course, get married and live happily ever after. The wedding (with corresponding group dance scene during the credits) is always at the very end of the movie. Movies about marriage itself are boring, but movies about falling in love get our juices flowing. We watch these movies then wish our love lives more resembled what we see on the big screen.
The irony of this is in reality, celebrity actors and musicians are notorious for having the worst track records for success in marriage known to man, yet we get our relationship modeling from the fictional characters they embody. They make gossip headlines for their 55-hour marriages and their constant break-ups and cheating escapades. In fact, if it weren’t for the ineptitude of celebrity relationships, the $3 billion dollar celebrity gossip industry would assuredly go bankrupt.
Yet despite these impressive records of relational shambles, these are the very people we fantasize about being with and crave the illusions they depict in movies and songs. The relational patterns these celebrities display are the patterns we strive to emulate, convincing ourselves we’d be better off with someone other than who we made our vows to.
One of Satan’s biggest lies is that you married the wrong person. What he wants most is for the life to be slowly sucked out of your marriage and your life and he is more than happy to offer you fantasy after fantasy to ensure this happens.
A year or two into my now 12-year marriage, my wife and I were having a hard time agreeing where to go on vacation or what to do together in our free time. We realized we didn’t have as much in common as when we were gushing with butterflies during our dating and engagement years. We decided to take a “compatibility test” that we found in a pre-marriage resource. It was one of the surveys with around 100 options of things you liked to do and you were to check the boxes that applied to you. Each spouse was to do this exercise in private, then compare answers together to see which things you had in common together. We had zero matches! Proof that we married the wrong person, right? Sadly, in the world’s metrics of relationships that answer would have been yes. Thankfully we were operating under a higher authority than ourselves and what the world was telling us and we did not see our marriage as doomed. We intentionally invested in each other and in our marriage but honestly, what ended up saving our marriage was finding our individual fulfillment in the love, acceptance and approval Jesus had already shown each of us on the cross, rather than looking for these things in our spouse. When we say we married the wrong person, we are only saying that because we finally discovered our spouse couldn’t give us what only Jesus can!
There is no such thing as marrying the wrong person. There is only marrying the person you married! Love them and invest in them.
And when it feels like you’ve married the wrong person, get married to Jesus (or “renew your vows” with him!), as he is the only one whose love will truly make you whole.