You ... Complete Me?
By Janel Breitenstein
I have two teenage boys in my house now. Which means there are a lot of some things, and not a lot of others. We have a lot of laundry, testosterone, jeans perpetually one inch short, weird jokes, and deodorant.
We do not have a lot of groceries. In fact, I have found that if I buy one bag of tortilla chips and one jar of salsa, it gets eaten. If I buy five bags of chips and two quarts of salsa, it is also consumed, as if by locusts.
I find an analogy for marriage within my consistently emptying fridge. About six months after we married, I needed to recognize my husband could not fill all my gaps. No matter how much time we spent together or how fantastic he was, I would always be hungry.
And in a sense, I should be. He wasn’t created to be my satisfaction, or even to “complete me.”
Part of it is that marriage isn’t designed to pull all my emotional weight. For millennia, women have been grinding grain, working in the fields, interacting in the village—as opposed to milling through a grocery store full of strangers and driving home in silence with the windows rolled up.
Men, too, have historically been hunting, harvesting, collaborating. We need friendships!
But there’s more. Even when God Himself was the only one hanging out with Adam, He declared that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. We need community, and the most intimate, naked, and unashamed context for it is marriage.
But God created us for Himself. My spouse will never provide sufficient life and light.
Author and pastor Ray Ortlund explains that your marriage can be either Christian … or idolatrous:
The difference between Christian and idolatrous is giving versus demanding, enjoying versus using, sharing versus manipulating. It’s the difference between humbled gratitude versus undiscerned selfishness.
When I expect my spouse to sustain and fulfill me in a way only God can, my spouse becomes an idol. And any idol leaves us wanting, clawing, demanding—and punishing when our expectations don’t materialize.
The good stuff: For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
Action points: What unfair expectations might you be placing on your spouse? How could you release those expectations—and find healthy fulfillment elsewhere? Could nurturing friendships help you toward a healthier marriage?
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