You Always Marry the Wrong Person
“You always marry the wrong person.” -Stanley Hauweraus
The other day I was talking with a good (single) friend of mine about love. We were talking about how he believed everyone has “the one” for them and that a soulmate was out there for him. Now, I am actually kind of a romantic person, but I tried to talk him out of this idea because I don’t think it sets you up for a successful marriage. In fact, I have a hunch that any marriage either gives this idea up, or gives up on the marriage.
I worked as a singles minister for a few years. I’ve done a lot of weddings and pre-marital counseling and I love it. It’s great to see the optimism and hope that young couples have.
It’s also very temporary.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years. Hauweraus is right, you always marry the wrong person. Let me explain:
The Morning After
One of my favorite characters in the Bible is a guy named Jacob. His name means "liar," and he wears his name well. He’s got a hairy older brother named Esau, and a helicopter parent for a mom. He lies, cheats, steals and eventually old Esau/Chewbacca decides to kill him.
Jacob has had to run away and take a job working for a distant relative who has a daughter named Rachel, and Jacob is immediately smitten. It’s some of the most romantic language in the entire Bible. He works for seven years for her hand in marriage, and “the years felt as days because of his intense love for her.”
But in Jacob’s day, people didn’t really marry for emotional love the way we do in the modern western world.
According to one Old Testament scholar, this language, this part of the story is really rough and tawdry. It’s not romanticizing Jacob’s decisions, it’s criticizing them. In the words of Tim Keller, “Jacob is acting [not like a lover, but] like an addict. And Rachel is his drug of choice.
Two Different Things
In other words, despite how poetic it sounds, Jacob isn’t in love with Rachel, he’s in love with how Rachel affects him. And those are actually two very different things.
Eventually, the seven years come to an end, Jacob is giving Rachel’s hand in marriage (he thinks), and he wastes no time in getting down to business.
But then comes the surprise ending:
But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her… but when morning came, there was Leah!
Jacob gets tricked into marrying Leah, Rachel’s sister.
Boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy accidentally marries sister.
It’s a classic romantic-comedy.
Now I know that Genesis sounds pretty sexist, but Genesis is not promoting polygamy, if fact, everyone who has multiple spouses in Genesis is miserable. To be sure, Leah got the worst end of the deal here, but she’s kind of the hero of this story. However, Genesis is making a point here, and all throughout this book: This is what life is like now that God has left the garden. You can’t find in something or someone else what you were meant to find in God.
Happily Ever After
I love the way that C.S. Lewis says this in Mere Christianity:
"Most people, if they have really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, of first think of some foreign country…are longings that no marriage, no travel can satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be called unsuccessful marriages or holidays…I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we have grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality…They were a good wife, they holiday and scenery were excellent, but something has evaded us.”
It’s become cliche to hear about husbands leaving their wives for a younger woman. It’s such a common storyline that we’ve grown numb to it; but never forget these are good men and women who are doing these things. They don’t think they’re doing something evil, they’re just being consistent.
Because if there is “the one” that can fulfill you, and your spouse isn’t her/him, then the only logical conclusion is that you married the wrong “one.”
The most destructive thing about idolizing love is that it actually crushes the person you are supposed to be loving. He or she can’t fulfill you, they were never meant to.
I care about this because I’ve heard the kind of moan and cry that comes from a wife and children who just found out a husband and father left them. I’ve seen the hurt when that same dad realized the consequences of the choice that he had made. That is the nature of idolatry.
You sacrifice for the gods, and then realize only afterward what you lost.
So back to Stanley Haurewaus (an ethics professor at Duke). Here’s what he said in context:
“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 awhile 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 challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.”
In other words, he’s telling us something that Genesis has been saying for thousands of years, but every romantic comedy fails to mention.
In the morning, it’s always Leah.
Learn how to love her.
CC image Millzero Photography on Flickr.
- Andrew MasonUncommon Gratitude http://andrewsmason.com/uncommon-gratitude/ #HappyThanksgiving
- Andrew MasonCreating A Small Group Curriculum Map by Ben Reed http://www.smallgroupchurches.com/creating-a-small-group-curriculum-map/
- Marcella WoodridgeThe longer I live the more I know I need GOD leading my life every step of the way.
- Octavia CarterHello I'm New Here!!
- Octavia CarterHello I'm New Here!!
- Octavia Carter just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost May Jesus Christ Be The Ultimate Treasure We Always Seek by Debbie Harris..
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost Father Who Can We Graciously And Humbly Walk Beside Today Just To Love by Debbie Harris.
- Bryce Johnson just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Bill Reichart published the blogpost 13 Resources For Ministry Leaders Who Struggle with Porn.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Expert Reveals Biggest Concern About Youngsters And Social Media.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Half (54%) Of US Teens Think Life Would Be Better Without Social Media.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Roy Lichtenstein's Most Popular Painting is Displayed.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost After Confronting Campus Bully, HS Football Player Gets Suspended.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Conservative Student Is Victim Of ‘Racist Rape Apologist’ Attack Fliers.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Yik Yak app Putting Teens Behind Bars, Police Warn.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Hearing That Things Can Change Helps Teens Dodge Depression.
- Andrew Shivers just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost GIVEAWAY: Win a Framed “The Fault in Our Stars” FULL SIZE Movie Poster [Winner Chosen].
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost ‘Boxtrolls:’ Incredible Animation, Charmless Story.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Video of the Day: Dad Lip-Syncs Daughter's Tantrum.
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost SOTW: ‘Chasing After The Wind’ by Alan Powell (Free Friday Download).
- Matt Perman published the blogpost The Drive Video: If You Want Engagement, Self-Direction is Better.
- LuAnn Braley published the blogpost BOOK REVIEW/INTERVIEW: The Unexpected Earl by Philippa Jane Keyworth.
- Shane Blackshear published the blogpost Seminary Dropout 55: Gary Black Jr. – Co-author of The Divine Conspiracy Continued.
- Lori Fogleman published the blogpost ‘Believe Me': Alum’s thought-provoking film now in theaters.
- Michael Ramsey published the blogpost Stress Kills!!! Here's 3 Ways To Do Something About It.
- Larry Carter published the blogpost How The New Fall TV Season Reminds Me Of The Gospel.
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm (Seminar Videos).
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Personal Responsibility Paradigm (Seminar Videos).
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost 20 Approaches to Battling Depression-Anxiety as Suffering.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘Hellion’ is A Wild, Family-Driven Ride Worth Taking.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ is Cool, Uncommitted.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost “Kidnapped for Christ” Review: The Terror of Teens.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Pieces Together a Winning Team.
- Ashley Howland published the blogpost Talking about cancer on WFAA’s ‘Two Chairs’ series.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Get Excited: New ‘Believe Me’ Trailer Validates Everything We Thought.