Monday, 19 March 2012

You Never Marry the Right Person

Stanley Hauerwas
The title of this blog is from Tim Keller’s newly released The Meaning of Marriage. He quotes Duke University ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas:
“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 means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is … learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

Keller goes on to say, “Over the years you will go through seasons in which you have to learn to love a person who you didn’t marry, who is something of a stranger. You will have to make changes that you don’t want to make, and so will your spouse. The journey may eventually take you into a strong, tender, joyful marriage. But it is not because you married the perfectly compatible person. That person doesn’t exist.

Gary Thomas was a little more blunt when writing Sacred Marriage. He relied on James 3:2 which says, “We all stumble in many ways.” Gary goes on to say, “If marriage is the union of one person who stumbles in many ways to another person who stumbles in many ways, occasionally having sex and making little people who stumble in many ways, why are so many people surprised when they discover how difficult marriage can be?

Perhaps the right question is not “Did I marry the right person?” but “Am I becoming the husband / wife that God would have me become?”

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