You always marry the wrong person

I thought this was really interesting:

Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.

We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, [being the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

-Stanley Hauerwas, Stanford University Ethics Professor

Now I always worry about people’s marriages. I think because I know how fragile marriage is and how much work it takes to make one work (and how the reverse is also true). Someday I hope to have the chance to do it right with someone who is as dedicated to making it work as I am. But in the meantime I pray for the marriages around me. That the spouses surrounding me will be dedicated to doing what it takes to make their marriages work and that they will know that feelings don’t usually dictate reality. And that they will always choose love.

Category: marriage 4 comments »

4 Responses to “You always marry the wrong person”

  1. judyktw

    I was young and married whom I thought was an excellent mate….his world tours in his musical profession made it difficult for us… was right for us to part. How true, you never know who you marry you just think you do……
    After moving away and some years on, I prayed for, and found, a soul mate. I often think about the “what ifs”—fortunately for the 1st one, we didn’t have children, and as for my new love, his children are grown. I find peace in the comfort of knowing that we continue, both wanting to have a good marriage and make it work, going on 8 years. It will happen for you, I know.

  2. Brooke

    Thank you for that (praying for B and I).

    This just reminds me of the old “grass is greener” saying. When you choose to be married, this relationship is the closest person to you. Because of that you see their faults, I bare way more of my shortcomings in character to Brian than anyone else. You also see how they are different than when you were dating (or maybe you realize the things you thought would change, won’t). But we still make a choice to be married, and that choice is completely indepentent from feelings, and wholy dependent upon honoring commitment. Because the grass isn’t greener, when you walk over there you see their weeds and barespots too.

  3. Lula

    I’m not even married to the man I adore and love and treasure and cherish…and it’s still unbelievably hard. I think it takes both partners working full-time to make the other happy, and that’s not always possible. Or even feasible. Or even workable. I like your insightful posts, though, and I think you are incredibly gifted with an ability to look at things from both sides…that’s so hard to do during a divorce and when you’re dealing with someone who’s no longer in your circle of influence. I’m so impressed with you, Alison. High five! :)

  4. Elaine

    I’ve been married for almost 12 years and sometimes it feels like I am brand new to all this business of living with another human. It’s hard. And sometimes it sucks. But mostly, it’s wonderful and supportive and home. With marriages failing all around me, I just have to hold on to what works and have faith that it’s right. Scares the crap out of me. And yes, sometimes I wonder what kind of world we live in that this is sold as happily ever after. People need to know it’s hard and you can lose track.

    All that said, my BFF is recently remarried after what turned into a very crappy first marriage. And this marriage? This marriage is not taken lightly. These two know what they have and they honor the hell out of it. It’s amazing. I really do hope that if another marriage is what you want, you’ll find what they have.

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