Marriage Won't Complete You
Addressing the "Marriage Will Complete You" Myth
We have likely all heard it before, the classic scene in the movie “Jerry Maguire” where Tom cruise tells Renee Zellweger “You complete me.” It’s this moment in the movie where everything seems right again. The two main characters have finally gotten their priorities straight and have realized how much they need each other. The line is perfect because the audience can’t imagine them living without each other, and their lives won’t be complete unless they are together. Or at least that’s what the director and writers want us to feel.
But this isn’t a new or isolated sentiment, most of us come into marriage and relationships feeling like there is something missing, and that finding that special someone will help fill the void we have inside. Whether it is because we are lonely or conditioned to think being single isn’t a lifelong option, or maybe it’s just the next step in life according to our families or culture. Regardless of the reasons, we believe that finding that special someone will somehow “complete” us.
I remember praying for a girlfriend when I was in high school. I was lonely and that was the only thing I believed would fix that need for companionship. When I actually found a girlfriend, I ditched all of my friends and put 100% of my attention and time into her. It was desperately unhealthy and it was sourced in a belief that is reflected in the quote above.
We take this belief into marriage too, which is often one of the core reasons we have conflict as couples. When we feel like things aren’t right inside or in our world, we look to the one who “completes us” to fix how we feel. The expectations are high and completely unreasonable because our fulfillment can’t come from another person in that way.
The reality is that marriage doesn’t complete us, the best they can do is complement us. Which is good! Complementing someone blesses them and puts our attention in how we can serve, bless and support who we are with instead of looking for someone else to fix where we lack.
The most beautiful and powerful marriages you will see are those where both people choose to complement each other, to look to their partners strengths and weaknesses, and instead of highlighting the bad, fill the gap, seeing the weaknesses as opportunities to care for and support your spouse.
How do you know if you are falling into the trap of looking to your spouse to fix you and make your world complete?
Those times are often displayed by words and feelings like “why aren’t you” or “why don’t you” and for some with softer hearts and words “I wish you would.” Although there are times when these sentiments are legitimate and fair, if you find yourself saying or thinking them regularly it’s probably time for a heart check.