An excerpt from Naked Marriage.
The problem with romantic comedies is that they romanticize too much.
“You complete me” is a fantastic movie moment in Jerry Maguire, but it’s reel-life, not real life.
So many married people buy into the lie, “Once I find The One, I’ll be complete.” Then one, three, ten, or twenty years later, they realize that the void they thought their spouse would fill is empty, and perhaps it had never really been filled in the first place. They suddenly think, “This isn’t working,” but they’re not sure what “this” is or how to get it working again. It’s a frustrating, maddening, defeating place to be. People become disappointed and depressed because they believed the myth that another person was the missing jigsaw piece in the puzzle of their lives.
Those who believe a spouse will complete them are very close to thinking that a spouse will be their primary source of happiness. After all, if he really loves me, a person might think, won’t he seek after my happiness within the relationship? That’s all well and good until what one person wants doesn’t make the other person happy—or vice versa. What should one spouse do if his or her actions fail to make the other spouse happy? Does that mean the love is gone?
If you’re looking for happiness, don’t look to marriage. Married people who’ve ever had a conflict with their spouses—in other words, all of them—already know this. Still, spouses tend to look to each other to be the salve to their own emotional wounds. Husbands and wives want their spouses to fill their empty places—holes that were never meant to be filled by anything other than God in the first place.
Yes, all of us seek completion, but when we look to our spouses for that, we’re asking them to do the impossible.
Now, you would likely never verbalize these feelings, but as the cliché so rightly says, actions speak louder than words.
How you treat your spouse (including what you say to them and what you say about them) truly reveals whether or not you’re looking to him or her as the main source of your happiness. But happiness can only come from within. Relying on another person for your happiness is like riding an emotional roller coaster when you’d only signed up for the merry-go-round.
Even if you’ve been guilty of relying on your spouse as the answer to your weaknesses (and we’ve all been guilty of that), you eventually realize that marriage doesn’t fix your flaws. In fact, your spouse reveals your flaws like the clearest mirror in the world. They strip away the fig leaves you’ve been tightly clinging to for so long. For the most part, you and your spouse don’t do this intentionally or vindictively. Reflecting each other—good qualities and bad– is simply a natural byproduct of living within an intimate, committed relationship where two people spend more time with each other than anyone else. It’s almost as if the problems we experience in marriage are meant to be.
In fact, let me boldly declare it: Marital problems are meant to be. I believe God expressly created and mandated the institution of marriage so that such a relationship could mature us into better humans. Like an artist finds a statue within a block of marble by chiseling piece-by-piece, so too does marital conflict help reveal our true selves—already complete, yet hidden beneath years and years of history.
The question you may be asking yourself now is, “If I can’t ultimately find what I’m looking for within my marriage, what am I supposed to do?”
Well, if I can be blunt, you need to grow up and get naked.
How exactly do you do that?
Pick up a copy of Naked Marriage.