I’ve only been married for a few short months, but with each new day it becomes increasingly clear to me that you shouldn’t marry anyone.
This is what I tell all my single friends and those wanting to give up on love because they haven’t found the right person. I tell them that marrying anyone is the quick path to divorce and an unhappy life. Then they usually raise their eyebrows, refer to my Facebook statuses on bring happily married, and wonder where I have ever learned such advice. They wonder if I should follow my own advice.
Well the truth is, I already have.
We all have wondered “who should I marry?” at some point. We wonder whether we should marry our soulmate or anyone who loves us. Well, I hope this story of mine can tackle that question for you in a rather unconventional way:
I grew up particularly cautious about love. I’ve seen heartbreak on television, in the news, in my friends’ petty relationships, and even in my parents’ relationship. I was all too familiar with how sour love could become. As a result, I didn’t date much growing up.
I mention this because I knew at an early age that if I ever did fall in love and get married, it would be with someone special.
But let me explain a bit more about myself. I grew up with one foot in the Christian culture and one foot out of it. Because of this, I knew of something called a “soulmate”—or the one God has destined you to be with. For a good portion of my life, this left me thinking that I would somehow magically know which girl would be my wife the moment I laid eyes on her. I wouldn’t have to date around to find her. Like the evangelicals 90’s book, I kissed dating goodbye.
Problem was, this didn’t stop my search for love. I kept looking for it everywhere I went.
I wondered what was wrong for me. I wondered if it was a sin to still want to date people, like I didn’t trust God or something.
But then, something happened as I entered college. People got oddly weird about the concept of soulmates. Blogs and articles started saying they didn’t exist.
This gave me a bit of apprehension, but also a bit of joy. You see, without God in the picture, I felt the pressure of having to choose someone to love for myself. But then, I also felt the freedom of being able to date anyone.
I feel like this is a response of the whole “there’s no such thing as soulmates” movement. Since God doesn’t have a special person set out for us, people can believe they can make love work with anyone.
At the beginning of college, I honestly took God out of my dating life. I liked plenty of girls, but no one struck me as being the “someone special” I was looking for.
So then, after strings of failed attempts with girls, I decided to do something drastic.
I chose to not move forward with women until I worked on fixing myself.
I had a lot of emotional baggage then. I felt I was desperate for a relationship because it would somehow validate my ego, make me feel special and valued. I wanted another person telling me I was worth something, and that’s the main reason why I wanted the freedom to date whoever. To me, it didn’t matter who I dated—just as long as they made me feel special.
I knew this wasn’t right. Something was wrong in my character. So I told myself I wouldn’t date anyone until I fixed myself the best I could.
And the results were astonishing.
Surely enough, soon after focusing on fixing my character, I met my wife. She was the girl next door, and she had a radiant personality, mixed in with convictions deeper than the Atlantic.
She wasn’t just anyone. She wasn’t my “soulmate” either. Instead, she was someone of similar character. She was someone whom I knew I could build a healthy relationship with. Why? Because our convictions were the same. Once I fixed my character, I saw that our character lined up. We held the same values and outlook on life.
Here’s what I getting at with all this: I wanted to make love work with just anyone, but I soon realized I couldn’t.
Just because soulmates supposedly don’t exist, doesn’t mean you can choose just anyone to love. I thought it did, but it doesn’t.
Instead, what I found was, once I focused on fixing my character, I was able to find the person who matched my character.
And this is what I believe stands in the way of many healthy marriages and relationships: too many people believe they can simply make love work with anyone. They believe love is their choice to make. They don’t want to believe in soulmates because they want to justify the choice they made.
But we’re too focused on who we choose to love and not focused enough on who we should love—the person of similar character.
The truth is, love isn’t as flexible as we want it to be.
There are certain factors that need to line up if the relationship is going to be healthy. We can’t will for love to be life-giving in any situation. In most cases, love only works went built off the foundation of similar character.
You can’t make love work with anyone by simply making the choice to love them despite their differences. If that person is different from you in their very core, the relationship might last for a while, but it won’t be a happy one.
So here’s my suggestion: instead of putting yourself out there and continually trying to make the best choice for who to love, focus first on making yourself better, because something strange happens once you do. Once you focus on fixing yourself instead of making a choice, the right person to love shines out from the crowd. Like neon lights in the night, the person of similar character is revealed.
I did follow my own advice. I didn’t choose to marry just anyone. Marriage is too valuable of a commitment to perform with just anyone.
Instead, marriage is meant for someone special—and no, I’m not talking about a soulmate. I’m talking about the person who matches your character, not the person who is destined for you or someone you simply choose to love despite your many differences.
That someone special does exist, but you’ll only find him or her once you place the spotlight on your character. Quit worrying about choosing someone, and focus instead on your character. In doing so, you’ll know who’s right for you.
A friend once told me that marriage is a refinery, where each person works to better the other. But this only works if both are just as messed up as the other. I now understand what he meant by this. Because my wife and I have a similar character, it doesn’t appear as if I’m trying to fix her or she’s trying to fix me. Instead, it appears as if we’re both on the same team, working to better the other.
That’s my hope for you: that you’ll be in a relationship with not just anyone, but someone you can work and grow with, someone who won’t drag you down but rather lift you up.
So my advice to you remains the same. Don’t marry just anyone. Marry someone who’s right for you.