Josh and I celebrated seven years of marriage this week. As we reflected on the awesome and difficult times we’ve shared, I was reminded of a principle we’re both passionate about in relationships. I’ve written about it in the past, but I decided to combine some posts and republish today, because I believe it’s a critical concept for healthy marriages.
Finding “The One”
I once heard someone say, “You don’t marry someone you can live with. You marry someone you can’t live without.”
I hate this phrase.
This mentality about love and marriage led me to confusion and hurt. I was once paralyzed by fear that I’d miss “the one” and be miserable forever.
When my husband and I dated, I didn’t instantly know he was “the one.” But our relationship felt like freedom. I saw he would lead, but also respect and love me. Over the course of two years, I learned this was a man I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.
And I began to love him.
I did NOT say I “fell in love with him.” I didn’t claim to look in his eyes and know he was “the one.” I saw how he handled our relationship, he responded to conflicts, and related to me. I recognized marriage to him would be peaceable and free.
I began to love him. I chose to invest in him, in our relationship. And the feelings grew. I experienced those romantic moments you’re “supposed” to have when you’re with “the one.”
The idea of finding “the one” or someone you “can’t live without” is not a principle I believe in anymore.
My personal experience is one basis for my belief. For years, I thought I shouldn’t get married, because I never met someone I “couldn’t live without.” I’m a realist – practical, analytical to a fault. When my husband and I dated, I knew I could live without him. I had done so for 28 years.
But as my love and respect for him grew, I knew I didn’t want to live without him. My life was better when we were together. We challenged and strengthened each other.
But more importantly, I gave up “the one” mentality because I don’t believe it’s Biblical. We are taught that in Christ, we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Jesus said He came so we might “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). For years I wondered how I could have abundant life in Christ and not be able to live without a man.
Scripture says it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18) and he who finds a wife finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22). But it also teaches freedom of choice. In Numbers 36, God commanded a group of Israelite women to marry anyone they thought best, within their tribe. It doesn’t say “anyone they couldn’t live without.”
The Bible gives some principles on whom we should marry. The most important is that a follower of Christ should marry another follower of Christ. But, aside from some general principles, God allows us freedom to choose.
My husband and I got married because we believed it was best. We had prayed. We’d sought counsel. We’d spent enough time together to know it was a healthy relationship. We had chosen to love each other. Yes, we felt the romance and giddy emotions. But those were the byproducts of a relationship based on Biblical principles, not the basis of the relationship itself.
The One Mentality in Marriage
Our society says we should feel like we married “the one.”
So what happens when we don’t feel the romance in marriage? Let’s be honest. Sometimes we fight. Disagree. Sometimes, dare I say it, spouses don’t even like each other in the moment. Some days we think, “this isn’t what I expected.”
Those are the times we might ask ourselves: what if I didn’t marry “the one?”
A healthy, strong marriage isn’t a result of marrying “the one.” It’s a result of choosing every day to invest in our covenant. If our relationship is going to grow stronger and not weaker, we can’t allow even a hint of “the one mentality.” That mentality creates instability, doubt, even fear. It leaves our joy and peace to chance. It says if I made the wrong choice, I’m doomed to eventual failure and misery.
Just as we choose the person we want to marry, based on the principles by which we live, we invest in a stronger marriage by consciously choosing our spouse every day.
Now, I know marriage takes two people. One spouse choosing to invest every day does not guarantee a strong marriage. But if neither person makes that choice, it certainly will not grow stronger.
Real love is hard, the antithesis of our selfish humanity.
The Bible tells us to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10). We’re to love each other like we love ourselves (Mark 12:31) and the way Christ loved us (John 15:12). He gave His very life to show how much He loved you and me.
This is a love we choose. It’s not something we naturally feel or the result of finding “the one” person among billions who will satisfy us for life. Sure, romance and heart flutterings are part of marriage. But they are the blessings as we choose to love our spouse.
Did I marry “the one?” Yep. He’s the one I married. The one I’m investing in. The one I’m committed to loving every day. And by God’s grace, he’s the one I can’t wait to spend the rest of life with.
If you want to check out the full original posts, you can read them below: