We see it so often in movies and books; a couple meet and their romance is culminated when they express their feelings in a “you complete me” or “you are the world to me” moment followed by a life of bliss. While I’m sure we all realize this is unrealistic (the technical/historic definition of the word romantic is exaggerated liar) I think many of us still live in view of the idea that our needs will ultimately be met in our spouse. I definitely bought into that idea and never knew it was wrong until many years into marriage. But why is this not true?
In the beginning, God created man in His image to take care of His creation and also to commune with God. Then He created woman to be a helper to the man, for the mutual benefit they would have in each others company (and also to create more humans but that is beside the point). Before sin came into the world, humans enjoyed an intimacy and communion with God that has not been known since. Not only was life perfect from a lack of evil, but also because they had God. Nothing separated them. We were created for that unity with our creator, but we don’t have it now because of sin, both ours and theirs.
It is not necessary to list any of the consequences of sin in general because it is rampantly evident in our world and society, and probably even in our own homes. But one result of that disunity is our insatiable desire for connection, to repair that void left by separation from God. Even believers feel it and long to fill it. Unfortunately, most people look around them for the cure, and that often manifests itself in the idea that our spouse will fill that void. We feel the need to “be completed” and expect that to happen when we get married.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Why? Because it wasn’t made to. We were made to be completed only by God and when we look to another human to fill it we will be disappointed. Marriage was made to be a union of 3 not two; man, woman and God.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
I heard this verse used in a wedding and the imagery was so beautiful. We may be able to make it without God, but it is much better with Him. That emptiness we feel when we are single will never be completely filled by getting married. The only way we can fill that void is to find your identity and completeness in God, and it is both unrealistic and unfair to expect it from your spouse. It will only lead to disappointment, frustration or even codependency.
It is not humanly possible for our spouses to fulfill all of our needs all of the time. This is not only because they are sinful humans, but also because they are different from us. Men and women are both human, but they are both different in many ways because of their individual make up and also because of their gender. Men in general have different needs than women and vice versus. While we should look to God for fulfillment, we should also seek the companionship of others of the same sex. Even the most understanding and compassionate of husbands probably could not fully empathize with his wife’s passion for wedding dresses, or flowers, or pedicures, or whatever else tickles her fancy. And it is not because he doesn’t care, he is just a man. In the same way most women could not share their husband’s enthusiasm for fishing, or mechanics, or the fine art of arm farts. That does not make those things bad, or us uncaring. We are just different, and it is not only ok, but also right for us to seek friends who share those passions. That is not to say that our spouses should be completely indifferent or unsupportive of our passions and hobbies, but we can’t expect them to share our enthusiasm.
So if you are feeling unfulfilled, unknown, or misunderstood, first seek God. He is the ultimate source of all satisfaction and our identity and if you are not spending regular, daily time with Him, no amount of time with spouse or friends will help. Second, seek friends, of the same sex, to share and have companionship. Give your spouse a break from your expectations and allow him to share the load with some girlfriends. Go to a spa, get coffee, do something “girly”, i.e. with the girls (whether it is technically girly or not, my friends and I converge to go to antique shops). And allow your husband the opportunity to go do something manly with the guys. You will both come back refreshed and better able to focus on each other.