A little while ago Stephen Altrogge wrote an article addressing an always-pertinent topic: married folk who may one day wake up and wonder, "Did I marry the wrong person?"
I think most married people wonder that at one time or another. It may not be a question filled with true angst and regret, but one that may persist at the back of their mind.
At such times you can find great comfort in this simple reality: I guarantee that you have married the wrong person. We all marry the wrong person. Perhaps I should say it like this: we all marry the “wrong” person. We all marry a person who sins against us, who sometimes exasperates us by helping us worship our idols and at other times irritates us by smashing them to pieces. We all marry a person who has stinky breath and physical blemishes and bad moods. We all marry a person who is apparently incompatible with us on all kinds of levels.
In his piece, Altrogge turns to Paul David Tripp's "What Did You Expect?", which offers some valuable, Biblical counsel:
"As you struggle, you must not view your marriage as bad luck, or poor planning, or a mess that you have made for yourself. No, God is right smack-dab in the middle of your struggle. He is not surprised by what you are facing today. He is up to something."
This is comfort in the sovereignty of God, that God has ordered all things and that he means to work in and through you. Your marriage to this person at this time falls well within the scope of his sovereign plan. God simply won’t allow you to entertain thoughts of regret or of escape. (Obviously there are some exceptions, such as marriages that are physically abusive. Such cases still fall within the sovereignty of God, of course, but require great care and great wisdom.)
The wrongness of our spouse is one of the great formative influences on us. The wrongness and the apparent incompatibilities are the very things God uses to mold and shape us. A few years down the road you will look back on all of that wrongness, all you declared to be wrong about your husband or wife and find that God was not wrong at all. He knew exactly what you needed.
When someone fears that he has married the wrong person, or when he fears that he is about to marry the wrong person, he is often looking at the differences between himself and this other person and lamenting that this other person is not more like him. He may describe her personality or preferences or passions, but what he is really doing is showing that he wants this woman, this potential wife, to be more like him. If only she was ... me! Too many men, too many women, truly want to marry an image of themselves. And why not? You tend to like your preferences, to like your idols, to like your likes.
But ask any married person what his life would be like if he had married someone who was just like himself and you’ll see the folly of it. Her talkativeness was just the antidote to your quiet nature, drawing you out, filling your home with godly words. Your sexual freedom was just what she needed to release her fears and teach her how to express love in a whole new way. In all these ways and so many more, God uses incompatibilities to produce godliness. These differences are truly glorious, the means by which God helps us put our own sin to death.
So did you marry the wrong person? Yes you did. Embrace it and thank God for it. Your spouse's wrongness is just right in God’s eyes.
(Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.)