We fall in love with someone and think they’re going to complete us. We expect them to be our soul mates, and we become so disappointed when they are unable to completely know us. They can’t meet our every need, and it’s not their job to do so. God creates those desires, those very needs in us, hoping we will turn to Him, eager to accept the gifts He knows will please us. We need to forgive those who don’t meet our expectations, because they are only being who God created them to be – imperfect – just like us. God wants us to be partners to our spouses, to help each other get to know Him. We come closer to true intimacy through our capacity to love, our unique abilities, but also through our limitations.
We’re all a little broken. Let us stop fooling ourselves into thinking that any one person can possibly succeed in putting us back together. After all, Jesus redeemed all of mankind through His brokenness. He chose Peter, the archetype of the Everyman, to found His church. Peter was the man who in one moment was so certain of God that he stepped out of a boat in a storm and tried to walk on water towards Jesus. When doubt crept in, he sank into the stormy sea. Peter was one of the men, one of Jesus’s closest friends, who could not stay awake to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter was the one who denied Christ three times in short order when Jesus was arrested. He was full of fear and pride and doubt. He was the one who knew that Jesus was the Son of God. He was with Jesus at the Transfiguration. He was the one who was later crucified on a cross – upside down, no less – in Rome because of his teaching about Jesus. He was the best and the worst of all of us. This is who God chose to spread the Good News of Jesus and His plan for our salvation.
If this flawed, but loyal and loving man was good enough for God, how can we possibly expect perfection from the one we chose to partner with in creating a family? We fall in love with a person – a person who will love us and hurt us and make us laugh and cry and scream, a person who will frustrate us and accept us and need us and disappoint us. Love may be patient and kind and all that, but love for one another just isn’t enough. We need what Father Robert Barron calls, “the transcendent third.” We need, in addition to our devotion to each other, to both be in love with something else.
In my husband’s and my marriage that something else is God. My husband is my partner in life. He is the father of our three children. He is my closest confidante. He is the one I love more than any other person. But he will never complete me.
So many marriages don’t make it. Some shouldn’t. Some people give up because of infidelity and abuse. Some give up because of the stress of financial and health problems. Sometimes, we give up because we just can’t be enough for one another. We find out that our spouse is flawed and imperfect, just like us, and we find ourselves wanting more, certain we deserve better from the human being we decided to love.
Maybe we’re expecting too much from someone who isn’t God.