I’ve been assisting couples and former couples professionally for nearly thirty years. Regardless of who comes into my office, there seems to be one common thread – people are seeking to learn how to better get along with one another. Their usual approach is to inform me of everything that’s wrong with their partner and the proceed to tell me exactly what that person needs to do to fix the marriage. I’ll venture to say that probably 100% of those who enter a till-death-do-us-part union do so in an attempt to get their own needs fulfilled. Let me explain.
Some of the primary reasons people get married are because they want to find someone who will love them and make them happy. Others do so because they’re tired of being alone, they hate being a part of the dating scene, and they want to settle down with one person. Some want to have children within the context of a traditional family. Some do so for financial reasons or to boost their self-esteem.
It’s extraordinarily rare to hear of anyone getting married because they wanted to enrich their partner’s life, or because they want to learn to be a more loving person. Has anyone you know chosen to commit to another for a lifetime as a path to attaining a higher level of spirituality? I’d be hard pressed to find someone who did. And yet to get married for selfish reasons (“I want…”) lends itself to disappointment, conflict, and suffering.
I’m in my second marriage. My first ended through no choice of my own. While I had learned to be happy being single, I realized I wanted to share my life again with someone special. I felt I had a lot to offer and the years I’d spent working through my personal issues would ensure that I would be a great wife. I eventually met and married Mac, a truly sweet and kind man of great integrity. However, the day after we exchanged our “I do’s” I realized our marriage was in serious trouble. He was not what I had hoped for. No, there was no dark side of him that suddenly emerged. I simply recognized that there was a lot lacking in him and in our relationship. So, like any good wife (I say that sarcastically), I set out to fix him and make him the man he was meant to be. (How noble of me! Again, sarcasm.)
Very discreetly I tried to change him into someone who would more suit my needs. The more I tried, the more he resisted and the more resentment built between us. Disillusioned and hurt, thoughts of divorce tempted both of us to end our marriage. But I knew we had been brought together through Divine Intervention and I felt that unless God instructed me to release our union, I was not meant to visit Divorce Court for a second time. But how was I supposed to endure a marriage that did not meet my needs? One evening, while attempting yet another selfish effort to improve my husband (“Truly only because I love him”, she said delusionally), I had a major revelation. God spoke to me saying, “See him as I see him; love him as I love him.” He further went on to state, “I gave you this beautiful man. Stop trying to fix him. He’s not broken. What he is incapable of giving you, I will. Come to me and let me provide for you what is lacking in your marriage. Simply enjoy him for the wonderful person he is.”
These words not only transformed my marriage but also brought me into a closer, deeper relationship with my Creator. By removing all of my demands and expectations from my husband, I was truly able to fully enjoy the funny and caring man he is. Without denying my own personal needs, I turned to God to give me what Mac could or would not provide. My love for my Father intensified and was reflected in every aspect of my life. My focus changed from getting my needs met to seeking and bringing out the best in my partner, to provide for him the love, acceptance, and appreciation he so rightly deserved. My capacity to love as God loves, unconditionally, set me free from the chains of provisional love. And my love for my husband grew in direct proportion to my ability to let go and trust in God to care for me. And gradually, my husband responded to my efforts.
Seventeen years later, I can honestly say I have never loved my husband more. And I was only able to do this through the realization that marriage has little to do with the union between Mac and I. It has everything to do with the relationship between me and God. Mac and I were brought together so that I could develop an intimate attachment with the Divine and through that bond learn to love more fully and deeply. I love who I’ve become in this marriage and am so grateful to my amazing husband for helping me in my spiritual journey to a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father. That is truly what marriage is all about.