I do a lot of weddings. It comes with being a part of a church that has a lot of young people. I love doing weddings because they are a time where people are filled with hope and love for each other. Its a special experience to be a part of. However, I know many people who struggle to find someone or to find fulfillment in their marriage because of unreasonable expectations.
I thought this article was really helpful to understand some of the myths we have adopted as a culture concerning marriage as well as some thoughtful advice on how to recalibrate your expectations. Marriage is after all a union of two people who are both depraved sinners who need God’s mercy and grace.
How our culture misunderstands compatibility. Excerpt from THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE © 2011 by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller.
In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.
In John Tierney’s classic humor article “Picky, Picky, Picky” he tries nobly to get us to laugh at the impossible situation our culture has put us in. He recounts many of the reasons his single friends told him they had given up on their recent relationships:
“She mispronounced ‘Goethe.’”
“How could I take him seriously after seeing The Road Less Traveled on his bookshelf?”
“If she would just lose seven pounds.”
“Sure, he’s a partner, but it’s not a big firm. And he wears those short black socks.”
“Well, it started out great … beautiful face, great body, nice smile. Everything was going fine—until she turned around.” He paused ominously and shook his head. ”… She had dirty elbows.”
In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.