Reading Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage with a group at our church and came across this great quote from Duke University ethic professor Stanley Hauerwas –
“Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that 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 a while 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 problem is….learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.”
Good stuff. Our ultimate fulfillment should be in Christ, in our acceptance by Him and His unchanging love, not in another person. When we are grounded in Him, all other loves will fall into place. We set whole generations of people up for failure when we send them into the dating and marriage world believing they can find their Jerry McGuire “you complete me” soul mate. No such person exists for anyone. You are a sinner and you will only find other sinners out there. Sure, you should use wisdom in getting to know any potential spouse, but agonizing over every little difference or flaw, convinced you’ll find someone who will just ‘click’ with you, is a myth. Even if you have that experience, with time, you will find you are different. No two sinners are created equal and you’ll have difference. Besides, you change as you get older, change your thinking, ideas, likes, dislikes, preferences. Better to be grounded and content in Christ and then seek to serve your spouse. In this is fulfillment.