I’ve written a good amount of anniversary and birthday cards over the past 20 years of being married to Star. Don’t tell her, but I have a couple phrases that I’ve used in those cards more than a few times over:
- “I’m so glad I’m married to you”
- “I’d marry you all over again”
- “What we’ve gone through has been worth it to have what we have”
- “I’m a better person because of you”
- “I thank God for you”
And on and on…(I’ll spare you the more intimate ones)
One phrase that I’ve been tempted to include ever since the late 90’s is, “You complete me”. Yes, the famous scene you know so well from Jerry Maguire stuck with me.
As romantic a phrase as this is, and as many people that may well intentionally use it, I’ve chosen not to. Here’s why…
I’m not trying to be nit picky here, but I think this small phrase represents a subtle lie that when lived out is setting many marriages up for failure. Let me try and explain…
Shortly after God created Adam there was a problem. Adam was alone. But, why was it a problem that Adam was alone? Consider…
- Adam was living in a perfect place – Eden
- Adam had the perfect position – God gave him dominion over all the animals
- Adam had a perfect relationship with God
- And, at this time sin wasn’t yet present in the world!
Everything was perfect. Yet, God said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone.
First, notice that God’s solution for Adam’s aloneness was a person (and a very appropriate person I might add)!
Some would say this proves God isn’t all we need. If God’s solution was a person and not more of himself, than what other conclusion could there be?
Although at the surface this might seem true, we have to look at the entire context of scripture to make such a claim. Consider how 2 Peter 1:3 proves this conclusion faulty:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
This still leaves the question, if Adam had everything he needed in Christ, why wasn’t it good for him to be alone?
The problem with Adam’s aloneness was not that he lacked something he could only get from Eve, but rather his aloneness prevented him from doing something that is at the core of God’s very image: Sacrificially loving someone.
It wasn’t good for Adam to be alone because without Eve he didn’t have anyone to sacrificially love!
We don’t love our spouse because they are empty and need love, but because love is the way in which we imitate Christ and bring Glory to God. And we love because he first loved us.
See the difference?
If we approach marriage believing that our spouse can “complete” us, or that their primary purpose in life is to meet our needs, do you see how that might result in some problems when our needs aren’t being met?
But, if we approach marriage recognizing that this person has been hand selected by God for me to care for and sacrificially love we can expect a much more pleasing result.
How do you see your spouse?
Winston Smith asks the question this way,
Do we see our spouse primarily as an object to meet our relational needs, or as one of God’s possessions to sacrificially love?