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  • Writer's pictureAli Kennedy

Can You Marry the "Wrong" Person?

I came across an article entitled, “How We End Up Marrying the Wrong People” and it got me thinking.

Can we really marry the "wrong" person?

Eventually I came to the conclusion that it is neither helpful nor healthy to try and put marriage choices into the overly simplistic categories of "right" and/or "wrong." Why? Because it makes it too darn easy to give up when the going gets tough, throwing up one's hands and letting out a defeatist sigh, "Oh well, I guess I married the wrong person!"

As if it were that simple.

I have only been married 7 years, but it is enough to know that the marriage relationship takes continual nurturing to keep things going in a trajectory of strength rather than strife. I remember thinking early on in our marriage in a period of working through some differences:

I can see how people can get divorced.

Gulp. It was a big slab of humble pie I didn't expect to have to stomach so early on. I had the awareness then--and still do now--that unless you are actively investing in and committed to working out the long and mysterious "two becoming one" process, it can easily become "two becoming two" while living under the same roof. I don't think anyone gets married wanting to end up in that place. Sadly, many do.

It is this awareness of the sheer sacred delicacy of every marriage that was brought to light in the midst of my own imperfect marriage that has given me such a tender heart and compassion for any and all married people. Taking the courageous step of entering into a lifetime covenant together and honoring it throughout the ups and downs of life is not easy.

But I do continue to hold out hope that just like planting a seed and cultivating the soil around it to make it grow into something beautiful, our marriages--no matter what the unique blend of strengths, weaknesses, flaws and quirks--can grow into beautifully bright and thriving "gardens" as God intended them to me.

But how?

I am no expert, not even close, but one observation I've made over the years is that in our modern culture, it is easy to focus on things that our society values when it comes to finding a life partner: good looks, athleticism, wealth, fame, leadership skills, etc. While these things may be part of the picture, these are not the things that really matter for a marriage to be enriched and sustained over the long and mysterious journey of two very different souls becoming one.

I've always been struck by a little verse nuzzled within the Old Testament, which poses a rather countercultural perspective on what to look for in a mate:

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” --1 Samuel 16:7

So what might a good 'heart' look like if we were to see it lived out in the flesh of a real person? Many traits may come to mind, but here are a few things to get us started in terms of what to look for in a mate, or to seek to develop in yourself if you are already married, that are surely to get you on a track towards a faithful and fulfilling marriage:

  1. Humility. This means one is willing to admit when they are wrong or mess up. They know they are not perfect and must rely on God for wisdom and strength. If neither partners have learned how to admit wrongdoing and sincerely apologize – and mean it – then marriage will be a rocky and resentment-filled road.

  2. Vulnerability. This entails being able to admit when we are weak and we don't know all the answers. When we are able to open up and share with one another what is going on in our inner world--such as hopes, fears, dreams and disappointments--this is a key ingredient for an enriching and fulfilling marriage.

  3. Adaptability. This is being open and willing to change, adapt and grow over a lifetime. Someone may counter this and say, "If a person truly loves me they will accept me for who I am." Part of that may be true, but unless two people are willing to examine their flaws and seek to make meaningful adjustment for the sake for their partner, the marriage will fail to be as deep and rewarding as it could be.

Humility. Vulnerability. Adaptability. How's that for a "wish list" for finding or becoming the ideal spouse? These character traits are rare treasures of the human heart that – when possessed by both partners – will make your relationship wonderfully rich, fulfilling and worth fighting for. Who knows, you may just become the "right" person for your spouse after all.

*Working with a Life Coach can be a wonderful way to give your relationship a "tune up" and check in with how you're doing in the role of spouse and help you move towards where you want to be. If this sounds intriguing to you, book a free consultation and let's have a chat.

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