I’ve done a lot of thinking about life, love, and relationships since part 1 of this blog was posted. I reread Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas just for the fun of it. I really like that book. It says nothing new about relationships, but emphasizes one REALLY important point. That point is… being the right person is more important than finding the right person.
First, let’s all agree that finding someone with whom you have chemistry is great. I’m not suggesting that you find a date using a mathematical formula. I do believe it is important to get along well (have good chemistry) with your date/mate. But finding your “soul-mate” does not mean your marriage will last forever. I know quite a few divorced folks and not a one of them told me, “yeah I knew it wouldn’t last forever but I decided to give it a go any way.” No, instead they, like every other non-arranged married couple, thought what had would never end. They assumed the chemistry they felt (that warm, fuzzy feeling that happened when one thought about the other) would last forever and their relationship would be the same forever. Unfortunately, the chemistry does wear off. Scientists have shown that the chemicals that produce these feelings can last as long as two years, and in some cases longer. Alas, if enough time passes they do wear off and “love” has to be found in another way.
Things change and people change. I doubt Heather would want to be married to the 20 year old version of me now in her 30’s. Other things have changed too. We have 3 kids. We didn’t start out with them, thank goodness, but we wouldn’t give them away now. (unless the price is right, email me details if you are interested) We have much more life experience now and I think we do a better job of being a couple and handling trials that come our way. The way we love one another has also changed. We know much more about each other than when we first got together. I appreciate my wife much more than I did when we met. I know a depth to her personality that makes me love her so much more. I have seen her handle the good and the bad with grace and beauty. I truly love her.
When a person says they have fallen out of love with their spouse I almost gag. The chemistry wore off and they did not choose to remain close. Don’t agree? Ask any couple who has been married for a long time how they managed to stay together. You will find that they had to choose “us” (the relationship) over “me” (selfishness) time and time again. How about people who had arranged marriages? Did they have a chance to test the chemistry? No. But I do know a few couples who are happily married. They truly love one another. They stay together by choosing the relationship over selfishness.
Life matters rarely depend on how you start. Being a good kid does make up for the fact or give you the excuse to be a terribly mean adult. Being MVP during Little League does mean you will be a professional baseball player. Keeping to your diet in January does not mean you can eat whatever you want the other 11 months. No! Finishing is what is important.
How you start a relationship is mildly important. You want it to be fun and exciting. But just because you started well does not guarantee a good ending. Choosing to be the right person is what counts. Choosing the “us” over “me” is what is important.