Happy Valentine’s Day! This is the one day that universally celebrates love and marriage! Yay!
I read with interest this week an article entitled “Your Spouse Should Complete You — What it Means to Become One.” You can read it here. Humbly, I must take exception to this common misconception that sounds good in theory but can be harmful to Christian marriages.
There’s a new book about marriage written by Greg Smalley and Robert Paul. You can find it here. It’s called “9 Lies That Will Destroy Your Marriage And The Truths That Will Save It And Set It Free.” This book has turned a bright spotlight on falsehoods that many of us have believed for years … lies that have led to confusion about the expectations we all bring into marriage.
God wants us to have a thriving, life-giving marriage! Yet many find it a challenge to get there. Why? Because it’s impossible to live up to the myths noted in the book, such as “they lived happily ever after” and “you must meet each other’s needs.” When couples realize they cannot fulfill these expectations, it leads many to doubt the success of their own marriage. It sets them up for unnecessary disappointment.
I’m not a marriage counselor. My wife and I have been married for 32 years. We’ve enjoyed our marriage, but we have also subscribed to some of the myths highlighted by Smalley and Paul.
I was in full time pastoral ministry for a number of years and had the honor and privilege to perform many weddings. As a component of the wedding ceremony, I frequently suggested the lighting of the “unity candle.” This is where the bride and groom take their respective candles and jointly light a new candle together. You may have done this at your wedding. This is a nice picture of the “two becoming one” theme. But then, here’s the lie that I didn’t realize I was promoting: The couple blows out their individual candles. To me as a pastor, it was just an element of the 30-minute marriage ceremony. But looking back, I see that that simple action might have subconsciously suggested to the new husband and the new wife that they were expected to extinguish their own identities for the sake of the new marriage.
That is far from the truth of what I believe is God’s intent for a healthy marriage. A husband and wife complement each other, certainly. They fulfill dreams together, yes definitely. But should marriage ‘complete’ them? Not at all. Each one of us is completed through our own individual relationship with Jesus.
“For in Him lives all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all authority and power.”
Should I be expected to ‘complete’ my wife? No. It is in Christ where she finds her completeness. I am a sinner. I make mistakes every single day. I’m not divine. God help her if she has to find her ‘completeness’ in me.
And how about singles? What about the 15-year-old who is radically on fire for Christ? Is he incomplete because he is not yet married? How about the 90-year-old prayer warrior and Bible scholar who has been widowed for more than 35 years. Is she incomplete? How about the 32-year-old Jesus follower whose husband just died in a tragic accident. Is she suddenly incomplete?
No. No. No.
My wife’s Godly responsibility is to encourage me, pray for me, love me, help me bear my burdens, walk with me, and help me understand that I am complete in Christ alone. And to be clear, my responsibility as her husband is to do the same. On her own she is a child of God (John 1:12). She was created in His image (Genesis 1:27). She is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). She has a beautiful inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). We lovingly affirm these truths to each other.
With all humility, I suggest we stop promoting this narrative that insists that spouses are the ones that are responsible for ‘completing’ their mates. We each find our completeness only in a relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
(c) 2021. Rich Ronald.