"I married the wrong person."

I’ve heard that statement a number of times from a despairing husband or wife. It is usually said in sadness and pain. I’m sure many of you have heard it as well. Maybe you have even said it.

Many times when that statement is made, "I’ve married the wrong person," the husband or wife is thinking it is time to end the marriage. It is time for both partners to go their separate ways, divide the savings, share the debt, battle over custody rights, and move on. What else can you do when you are married to the wrong person?

What makes a spouse think they are married to the wrong person? Usually it is because they aren’t happy anymore. The expectations of the wedding day have gone awry. All that initial joy, excitement and hope is gone. Sure, they were happy for some months, even for years. But lately, they don’t communicate much, they don’t date, they don’t celebrate anniversaries, they day dream about what might have been, and they just don’t feel that spark of love any more. All enthusiasm for their mate has waned. Isn’t this a sign that they are married to the wrong person?

Could be. Or it could be that it isn’t the mate that is the wrong person. The wrong person in the marriage might be the one thinking the other spouse is the wrong one. Am I making that clear? The one who says, "I’m married to the wrong person," might be the wrong person. How is that?

For starters, there is no perfect person out there for us to be married to. If there was a perfect person, why would they be married to us? Let’s accept that anyone we marry is going to be "wrong" in someway - imperfect, sinful and struggling. Anyone we marry will be full of character flaws. At first we don’t see those flaws, or we think they are cute and manageable. It is over time that those flaws begin to grate on us and inflame our nerves, but they have generally been there all along.

A second thing to realize is that if we do divorce the "wrong" person we are married to, the next person we marry is going to be wrong as well. We can’t leave this spouse and expect the next one to be perfect! It doesn’t happen that way. The very problems we are trying to escape in this union will surface in the next one. Happens nearly every time.

Thirdly, realize that we are imperfect, sinful and struggling ourselves. We bring our own character flaws to our marriage. Our flaws are likely as irritating to our spouse as theirs is to us! So rather than being too judgmental to the inadequacies of our spouse, we might take the more humble approach of removing the beam from our own eye. It is amazing how much more accepting we can be of another’s imperfections when we recognize our own.

There are two imperfect people in your marriage. Not one, two. There is only one of those imperfect people you can do anything about, and that is yourself. Don’t even try to coerce your husband or wife to be the kind of person you want them to be. That is manipulative and unfair, plus it will fail. Instead, work on yourself. Practice humility and patience toward your spouse’s faults. Learn to be more accepting and gracious. Practice the love of God which says, "I will love you no matter what." Be forgiving. When you do these things you may see something amazing happen: you spouse will practice these same gracious behaviors toward you. In time you might both realize that you are actually married to the right person.

"What God has joined together let man not separate" (Matt. 19:6) is a divine mandate to stay where you are, work on yourself, and let God bring your marriage to maturity, health and happiness.

Warren Baldwin


RCUBEs said...

Great post. Like what the saying goes, "it takes two to tango..." One is always quick to blame the spouse not remembering to look into themselves first. There is nothing like having Christ in the center of any marriage. Because His Word applies to every situation. Blessings.

Karin said...

Excellent post! I am so blessed when I see couples who have been together for 40, 50, 60+ years and have weathered sooooo many storms in life. Even when one no longer recognizes the other due to dementia, they go through that valley together with the Lord's help! Sacrificial love!

Jessica said...

I love how you turned the wrong person thing around! This post is right-on.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

This is an excellent post, Warren. I think all engaged couples need to read it.

I am really enjoying your book, reading it like a devotional.

~ Wendy

missthemtns said...

Another great article, Warren! Keep up the good work!!

christy rose said...

I have heard that spoken many times before too. Great wisdom for anyone in any marriage in this post Warren!

Miss Charlene said...

Awesome article Warren and every word is true! Love is a decision, not a feeling, because feelings will go up and down like a roller coaster! Where is our faithfulness?

Maria I. Morgan said...

Fantastic post, Warren! Thanks for saying it like it is! Wow! While we can't change anyone else, we do have the opportunity to ask the Lord to show us what needs to be changed in our own lives. God bless you!

LuLo Designs/Blue Eyed Tango said...

Hello, good to hear from you, Warren. I hope to get started on some of these horse paintings after my January clean out that I do in our house every year! The bad weather keeps me inside! The blame game is so easy but true determination/commitment to understand your mate seems to be much harder and most people just want to give up and throw in the towel so to speak. Thinking all the while the perfect mate is out there and their problems will all just go away if they just leave the marriage. It's a lie.....what happened to in sickness and in health....for richer OR POORER etc.? Great encouragement/wisdom in this post.

Sande said...

From the moment we were born, we started a collection of wrong beliefs, a collection of lies that cause our own lives to be less than what we would anticipate. Connect that to another of the same and we have double trouble.

Then isn't marriage a perfect 'double edged sword'? The desire to love someone, to be enjoyed and to belong yet a clash of our expectations based on a plethora of lies.

Sounds like a perfect place to learn what Grace is right there propelling us to the Father who can 'renew our minds' and clear the way for more depth and connection way beyond what we could have hoped or dreamed.

Cindy said...

A good post, Warren, and very true. I agree with Wendy's statement that engaged couples should read it before they get married. Sometimes expectations get way too high and it's hard to see past what you want instead of what is actually there and what is right.

Russell Holloway said...

Warren. Thanks for post. As a counselor I see the "wrong person" trap A lot, and it breaks my heart.

Barbara's blog said...

We may not marry the wrong person but get married for the wrong reason. When that happens, the marriage is doomed from the beginning.

hope42day said...

And sometimes, fortunately or unfortunately it takes a wake up call from God to learn the person you are beside is really the right one after all. This happened after my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer 2 years ago. Both of us realized we really loved each other and wanted to be with each other. And how our relationship and our marriage has changed for the better!

lisasmith said...

My own story is one of redemption, miracles and even true love!!! Thanks for the thought provoking post, Warren.

Katie said...

My hubby and I were talking today about ways we are different from when we were first married. We had agendas and preconcieved notions of "I deserve this or that." and "I am owed this or that." Oh, how things have changed in such a short five years. Not only have we gotten better and putting each other first in the serving area but we have gotten better laughing at ourselves a lot more than we take ourselves seriously.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Great post, Warren! And so true. There ARE 2 imperfect people in a marriage..we just have to try and remember that.

Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

Eileen Astels Watson said...

How we tend to point fingers when we should really be turning it back on ourself. And, really, it's so much easier to fix ourself than alter anyone else. Isn't it?

P.S. My 36 in 12 2010 reading stack is growing as I have time to update it. Roaring Lions is up there now with a link. I'm into section two now. Parenting--You're reminding me of how I should act as the mother!

septembermom said...

Very good post Warren. It's so true that we are too quick to judge our spouse in the marriage before looking in our own mirror. As I get older and my marriage matures, I do see how marriage has its ups and downs, but it also has amazing moments of growth and insight. Thanks Warren for reminding us of how marriage is another area where God wants us to nurture and tend to our marriage relationship. Living is not supposed to be easy or smooth sailing. We grow when we stop to evaluate where we are at any given time in a relationship. It's healthy for the individual and the couple.

Lori Benton said...

Great post Warren. You've made so many good points here I wish new couples could grasp.

I had a conversation about this recently with a writer friend who is a pastor's wife, who together counsel couples through issues like this. For me, it always comes back to the condition of MY heart, and my relationship with God. If that isn't right, then of course my attitudes to the people around me, husband, friends, whoever, isn't going to be right. I'll get selfish, I'll expect them to fulfill me in ways that they can't.

I agree completely that there is no "right" person. Some other potential spouse might be right in the areas a present spouse is wrong but they are going to be wrong in some ways that your present spouse is right! By making God first in my heart, falling in love with him (over and over again!) and seeing His love for me, His goodness, I find fulfillment that no earthly relationship can provide. And in those areas where I'm still not fulfilled? They don't weigh on me so much in light of knowing that very soon I'll be sitting at a marriage feast where I am the bride, and my husband WILL be perfect in every way. This world and our relationships can't be perfect, but I want those imperfections to make me that much more longing for the One my soul is truly "married" to.

Warren Baldwin said...

RCUBES - You are right, and several made the point that if Christ is not at center, everything else will be out of balance.

Karin - Amen! Long enduring marriages are an encouragement to us all.

Jessica - Thank you!

Wendy - Thanks, and glad you are enjoying the book.

Mssthemtns - Thanks Carol. See you guys in February.

Thanks for the visits and comments. wb

Warren Baldwin said...

Christy Rose - Thank you.

Charlene - I think that is true, feeling is a decision, even a commitment, that never changes.

Maria - Right! We can only work on ourselves.

LuLo - Good to connect again! You are right, this attitude can lead to the "blame game," which is extremely destructive.

Sande - Good analogy, comparing marriage to a double-edged sword. Marriage is a two-sided coin, one side holding the things we want, the other things we may not want. But we get the whole package. And somehow, this fits perfectly into God's plan for us (I like your point about grace).

Thanks for visiting and commenting. wb

Warren Baldwin said...

Cindy - I think you and Wendy are right, that engaged couples should be exposed to some of these ideas BEFORE the marriage. But who wants to think of these things before the marriage?! Too much anticipation and excitement. That is where we hope the commitment makes them stay around long enough to learn and grow.

Russell - Thanks for the confirmation. I'm sure you see this a lot in your work, too.

Barbara - To often this is the case. But, hopefully, whether the wrong person or wrong reason, if we are committed and will hang in there, most things can be worked out.

Hope42Day - Great wisdom here, thank for sharing!

Lisa - It sounds like an encouraging story. Have you shared it on your blog?

Thanks for visiting and commenting. WB

Warren Baldwin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Warren Baldwin said...

Katie - Good illustration from your personal life about how staying together can bring spouses closer together.

Elizabeth - you are right, remember that we are one of 2 imperfect people can keep up humble.

Eileen - pointing fingers and blaming is a dangerous game to start! I'll check out your update books to read list, and thanks for including mine in that!

Septembermom - One of the good things about marriage is that we help someone else and we receive their help to grow as God wants us to. Thanks for sharing.

Lori - Thanks. Selfishness is a killer. I agree, if Christ is at the center, and if we are pursuing him, other relationships will tend to be healthier, and we won't expect more of them than they can possibly fulfill.

Thank you all for the visits and comments. WB

Kathy S. said...

Too bad feelings have trumped covenant and commitment. I have felt that way at times (wrong guy??), but know it is just a self-protective, devil inspired thought. Love is a choice, not a feeling!
Glad you are building families!

LuvtheWord said...

Warren, SO glad you linked this to Marriage Mondays. I really appreciate having a husband's perspective, and your insight adds so much to encourage godly marriages.
- Julie@comehaveapeace

LisaShaw said...

Amen! Thanks for your message Warren. Powerful!

Dionna said...

Good reminders. I often find when I'm feeling unloveable feelings towards my spouse that it does truly help to ask God to help me see him as HE does. What you said about working on ourselves...truly a good answer and I've found it to be true so many times.

Edie said...

Excellent post Warren! This is one of the truths that makes being single much easier to bear. Sinners marry sinners, you can't get past it.

Genny said...

This is such a great reminder. I love how you point out there are two imperfect people in every marraige. Thank you!

Suko said...

This is a lovely post, with great reminders for married couples.

I've reviewed Warren's book Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, on my book blog. Please stop by! :)

Julie Ferwerda said...

Warren, I used to believe that there was God's perfect will and God's permissive will about a marriage partner. But this kind of thinking is so erroneous and would almost give a person the license to divorce by the natural conclusion, "I married the wrong person." Today, I believe that everything we choose IS God's will for us because every single thing we do is the perfect school for learning what we need to learn about God--namely that He is all we need! Having said all that, I certainly never advise divorce, but if a woman is being physically or severely emotionally abused and she is unable to honor God above all else because she is in survival mode, then a separation with intent of reconciliation might be in order.

What do you think?

Julie Ferwerda

Faith Imagined said...

Great post Warren! A great marriage takes a lot of time and effort and I think some people don't realize that.

-Alisa Hope

Warren Baldwin said...

Kathy - Thanks for the note from personal experience, and for the encouragement to keep building families. I know that is what we are all working on!

Julie - I read some of the other articles you had linked on marriage and they were very good.

Lisa - Thank you!

Dionna - I agree - working on self is priority #1. But it is easier to work on someone else, or at least try to. I fall into that trap :)

Edie - "Sinners marry sinners." That is so true!

Thanks to everyone for visiting and posting.


Warren Baldwin said...

Genny - Thanks.

Suko - Thanks for the visit, and for the review of Roaring Lions!

Alisa - You are right. In fact, a great marriage takes a lifetime!

Julie - I agree. If we say God has a "permissive" will for us, then who determines what that permission is? I know some who opt out of a marriage on very flimsy reasons. Does physical or emotional abuse come under this permissive will? Physical or emotional abuse can be life threatening, and for her own safety, and that of her kids, a wife may need to leave. I have seen marriages heal even after abuse, but it is generally b/c the abused spouse has left and forced the issue. I think that is totally legitimate for the sake not only of her health, but also her life (and also for the children).

On the other hand, I go to church with a woman who runs an abuse shelter. She says that a woman's chance of being physically abused above what she normally is, and even killed, inceases by like 70% if she announces to her husband/boyfriend that she is leaving b/c of the abuse. So, before an abused woman leaves, she should receive counsel, if at all possible, from an abuse counselor who can help her find a safe house and even police protection. It is a very complicated and frightening situation.

Thanks, Julie. You ahve raised a very important question/issue here, one that does not have easy answers. But, I definitely believe the life of the abused person must be honored and protected, and if that means leaving, then she must leave.

Thanks to everyone for commenting. WB

Emily Ann Benedict said...

Oh, so true. I have close family members who's lives have been destroyed by the words "I think married the wrong person."

Thanks for putting this post up and for the segments of your book devoted to this subject.
I'm on the relationships chapter right now and still really enjoying it. :)

Tami @ said...

Thanks for putting this into words.

I almost divorced my husband ten years ago. However, God kept us together long enough after that for me to realize how equally at fault I was for our marriage woes!

Like you said, when we treat our spouse with love, they will often return the same.

When I started working on ME, God started working on my husband (because I wasn't in the way anymore) and both of us changed drastically!

I am so blessed to be married to the man I'm married to today. To think that I almost lost him to the 'D' word!

Warren Baldwin said...

Tami - Thanks for sharing your story. It is powerful! And thanks for following Family Fountain.