I get a lot of emails from people wondering if they married the wrong person. Generally it’s because they’re unhappy in their marriage and feel like it would be better/easier with a different spouse. Sometimes it’s because they feel they got married for the wrong reasons and then later realized it. For others, it’s because they went too far when dating, and then felt railroaded into marriage. Whatever the reason, there’s still the same core question: Should I have married someone else?
How do we answer this as Christians? What is the appropriate response?
There is no “right person” for you to marry
First, I think we need to dispel the myth that there is a “right person” for you. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t go too deep into this point. In short, the Bible doesn’t teach that each of us has one person selected to be with. This is a hold over from Greek mythology which taught that humans used to be four armed, two headed, hermaphroditic beings which challenged the gods and so where split so they’d be constantly distracted by finding their soul mate and wouldn’t have time to challenge the gods any longer. Of course, this doesn’t quite fit into Christian theology.
The right person is the one you choose and who chooses you back
In the end, the single defining factor that outweighs all others in determining a successful marriage, is whether or not you and your spouse are committed, not only to marriage, but to each other. Just about everything else can be overlooked, mitigated, fixed or resolved. If you both have the same view towards marriage, that it’s forever, and so you better make it work, then you can figure out the rest.
The key is deciding to love, on focusing on the positives in your spouse, rather than thinking about other possibilities, or how much they need to change. Now, unfortunately, doing this does not guarantee that your spouse will reciprocate, but I do think it makes it easier. I mean, it’s much easier to love someone who loves you first. Even God uses that to His advantage (1 John 4:19).
Love needs to come first
Unfortunately what a lot of people do is focus on the things they like about themselves and on the things they think their spouse should change. Instead of fostering committed love, this fosters contempt, which is, unsurprisingly, the emotion that is most likely to destroy a marriage. Couples that have contempt in their marriage rarely recover.
Now, that’s not to say there aren’t things your spouse can change to be better, or even that you shouldn’t challenge them on that. However, too often, we challenge without a spirit of love. We challenge with a spirit of selfishness.
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:5
First, work on loving them, unconditionally. Then, you will more clearly see your spouse and be able to challenge them in ways that are good for your marriage, for both of you, not just for yourself. And yes, the end result may be the same. You might find that this need of yours is actually a need for the marriage, but I can almost guarantee you that your approach will be different. Because you’ll be challenging them out of love, not out of selfish ambition.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves – Philippians 2:3
Following this formula, you will see your spouse is the right person, because you chose them. God willing, they will humble themselves, as you do, and choose you back.
7 thoughts on “Did I marry the wrong person?”
My grandfather had a mail order bride from Italy. When my grandmother saw him for the first time she wanted to go back to Italy. However, they married and had 9 children. The middle one was my father. They eventually fell in love, and when my grandmother died, my grandfather got on a bus every day to visit her grave.
Preach it brother! More Christians need to hear this message!!
Hey Jay, et al,
I agree completely with you on this point. And I speak from experience.
For probably 15-20 years of our currently 36 years of marriage, we had a major fight at least once a month…and it was always about sex…me saying not enough, and her saying that we had enough and we would get around to it when everything else was finished. I seriously questioned how God could be happy putting two people together who had such differing and antagonistic views on sex and sexual compatibility. For most of that time period, we probably only averaged maybe once a week to two weeks. My frustration was further exasperated by the “bait-and-switch” that I felt had happened when we got married. Enough of that.
What kept me in my marriage was looking at the frustration and heartbreak that so many other people had to go through before getting into a marriage that “did work for them”. All the pain, the tears, the crying, and the gutwrenching pain of trying to split up. I figured it was easier to stay with what I had than to try and plow through that kind of storm.
What I have come to realize…that no matter who you marry, there is going to be issues of some kind, and at the risk of minimizing sex, trying to live with someone who is bipolar, or suffering from fibromyalgia, etc, seems to be far more difficult than having to looks after yourself, if that is required. I must insert this here…we are so happy right now, and things are simply getting better and better.
No marriage is going to be a constant and consistent bed of roses. No one person is going to be the perfect person, and a perfect match. Something attracted the two of you in the first place…build on that.
But why should one have to wait 15 to 20 years to be happily married!? I would rather be happily divorced than miserably married!! I’m 4 years in, (sorry to make it sound like a prison sentence,) and I’m trying to stay committed to making it work, but my patience is slowly waning. I am tired of being disrespected as the head of the home and underappreciated for what I contribute! As a result, on a daily basis, I wish I would’ve married my ex. Would there still be issues? Yes. But at least I would be respected and appreciated!!
Karl, how could you possibly know if your ex would of respected and appreciated you if you married her instead?? The answer is a factual…you don’t! And the fact is that no matter who you marry, man or woman, there is going to be the exact same issues that every marriage faces and one of them is what you are talking about!
Address the issues and seek to understand before trying to be understood is best I can sum it up. It takes day and day work. But love and true intimacy is what you get instead of numbness and wounds not healed with bitterness in hearts. Change yourself before you seek to change someone else and seek to serve and love like Christ before anything else. Try the love dare!! Also remember these thoughts are not from God, but lies you believe and let wound your soul and mind and it takes its toll on the hearts in marriage. Seek God first and work on you and him then help heal your marriage no matter who is the one living in sin because both of you do. See truth and choose love
Agree Jay, even if someone could be the “wrong person” they become the right person the second you say your vows.
I agree. The person you marry become the right person.