I firmly believe that the strongest factor for wanting a divorce is entitlement. You’ve done your part, you’ve spoken your spouse’s Love Language, you’ve been patient, but your spouse still won’t change. They won’t do what you want and you deserve better. In the end, you conclude that you married the wrong person and it’s time to move on.
The idea that you married the wrong person implies that there is a “right” person out there for you. This concept isn’t new. The idea of “The One” or a “soul mate” or “Mr. Right” or “Mrs. Right” is one that has sold billions of movie tickets and romance novels and will sell billions more.
Research shows that three-quarters of Americans believe in the idea of soul mates: that there is someone out there who provides a perfect fit. So if three-quarters of Americans believe in soul mates and half of marriages end in divorce, does that mean that 25% of Americans have actually found their soul mate and the other 75% are still looking?
The truth is, the idea of a soul mate is not only pretty silly if you sit back and think about it but it’s also a cancer that dooms many marriages to fail before they begin. If you believe that the person you are marrying is “The One,” what is your first thought once problems begin to rise in your marriage? Once the butterflies have moved on? Once you realize this person has more flaws than you thought they did when you were dating?
Maybe this person isn’t “The One” for me after all?
Maybe “The One” for me is that person I work with that I click with so much better than my spouse?
Or, what if you went into your marriage knowing and expecting problems? Knowing and expecting your spouse would let you down, would have more flaws than you thought and that you were committing to be with them for better or worse, through richer and poorer, in sickness and health, til death do you part.
What type of results would this mindset bring in comparison to a “The One” mindset? In a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (Lee & Schwarz, 2014), psychologists Spike W. S. Lee and Norbert Schwarz compared two different mindsets about love: One being perfect unity, that two people are made for each other and are meant to be together. The other being that a couple are on a journey with many trials and tribulations along the way. Dr. Lee explains their findings:
“Our findings corroborate prior research showing that people who implicitly think of relationships as a perfect unity between soul mates have worse relationships than people who implicitly think of relationships as a journey of growing and working things out.
Apparently, different ways of talking and thinking about love lead to different ways of evaluating it.”
Dr. Jeremy Dean sums up the research findings with a line to remember: Thinking about this helps emphasize that love is not a destination but the journey itself.
So how does this hit home for you? For some, this should be a radically different way to look at your marriage or your future marriage (if single). If you think your spouse is “The One” for you, your expectations for them are extremely unrealistic. In my heart personally, it goes back to the problem of idolatry. I’ve made women into a god. Sometimes this is the women outside of my marriage who seem like they must be “The One” for me. Other times, it’s when I put godlike expectations on my wife and she isn’t able to meet them.
It comes from the same place: a longing to be accepted, approved, and validated; all things only God can give me.
“The One” you are longing for is not an hourglass-figured babe or a charming hunk, it is Jesus Christ.
This romance story hasn’t sold billions of movie tickets, but it has sold a lot of Bibles.
In fact, it’s the most compelling love story of all time.
It’s only when we know how deeply loved we are by Jesus and have received his mercy upon mercy in our lives that we are able to appreciate our spouse (with all their flaws) as a gift we don’t deserve.
Marriage is a journey. A journey to learn what the commitment of true love and sacrifice really is.
And the love of Christ is the fuel we need to make it a successful one.