Why Your Spouse Shouldn't Complete You
- Kali Dawson Crosswalk Contributor
- 2021 1 Sep
When I was growing up, I had many friends who were planning to marry young and live happily ever after. I can remember pursuing years of Education while watching my friends marrying and having beautiful babies, all while wondering if God would ever bless me in that way. There were times I never thought it would happen for me. There we times I longed to be held and told everything would be okay. I worked with young children and taught Sunday school; kids followed me around no matter where I went. I dreamed of being a wife and mom, but in the back of my mind, I started losing hope that my life would ever be "complete" in that way. I bought a wedding dress when I was 18 years old (another story!), but it sat in my closet for years.
I remember the stinging pain of loneliness in my heart like it was yesterday. There didn't seem to be anyone out there for me. There wasn't anyone I could ever really imagine myself having a family with. I prayed for my future husband all the time. It sounds silly, but I'm glad I did: because many years later, I can tell you God has blessed me beyond compare with a wonderful husband and three beautiful children. My family is the greatest gift of my life.
But before all of this came to pass, I remember having a tearful conversation with my Dad when I was in the thick of my Teaching Degree, feeling incredibly lonely and wanting to give up on my future career dreams altogether. I felt alone, empty and incomplete. Amidst my wallowing, he said: "What if you meet the man of your dreams and have kids, and something happens to him? What will you do then?" His words never left me. They rang in my head. They were the motivation I needed to finish what I had started because that "what if" opened up all kinds of things in my heart:
What if I am waiting on a spouse to complete me, to make me happy, to make me feel loved, safe and secure? What if I need to be complete in my singleness in case that is God's plan for my life? Now or in the future? What if I need to be complete before I meet this person, in case I never meet him, or as my father pointed out, something happens to him after I do. What would I do then?
After my husband and I met years later and flames blazed like wildfire. For the first time in my life, I felt complete. I know he felt this way because he told me at one point. When he did, I quickly reminded him (and myself) that I can't complete him and he can't complete me: only God can. The truth was that I would fail, fall short and disappoint him more than once. I wrote recently about expecting your spouse to disappoint you here.
I didn't want to be placed on the pedestal of completing someone because that would also mean they would be incomplete without me, and my heart couldn't stand that idea. Most of us place a lot of undue stress on our spouse to fill a place in our hearts only God can fill. As Pascal said: "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ."
Lo and behold, my husband and I are both created beings; we both miss the mark on this one: it is not our place to try and fill this "God-shaped vacuum" for our spouse. To continue with the metaphor: it will suck us of all of our time and energy. I know because as a new wife and mom, I tried to be the perfect partner and parent and was riddled with stress and anxiety anytime I made a mistake.
We also cannot control the future or what happens to either of us, but we can choose to trust in the One who holds the future and says that we are "...complete in Him..." -Colossians 2:10
My husband and I do not have the power to complete one another, but we certainly do complement one another. He complements me in ways I never thought possible, but God knew he would. When you believe with your whole heart that God has a plan for your life, and you are blessed with a partner, you often look at them and nod your head because God knew. He knew they would be good for you and challenge you and sometimes drive you crazy. He knew they would force you to grow. He knew that some things would even force you to run into the arms of your Heavenly Father and remind you that it is only Him who can satisfy your deepest longings.
In my areas of weakness, my husband is strong and vice versa. When I get worked up, he calms me down. When I am shaking, he holds me. When I am successful, he celebrates me. When I fail, he forgives me. If I am honest, I do feel that he is my other half, and I am his. I feel that he completes me, but I also know that putting that kind of pressure on another human being is overwhelming and unrealistic. And so, I am complete in my relationship with the Lord first and my husband second. I am complete in my relationship with the one who has begun a good work in me and will perfect (complete) it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6)
His ways are perfect. My ways and my husband's ways are not. We try. We do our best to be the best we can be, but often we come up short. More often than not, circumstances, stress, and exhaustion leave us putting less than our best foot forward. We are also both perfectionists (which we did not realize when we met), but because of this, we can be incredibly hard on ourselves and each other. This is when we need to step back and see ourselves in the mirror of God's love for us. His word tells us that we can be filled to the brim with the fullness of God, despite our failures, mistakes, and short-comings: "and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." -Ephesians 3:19
Our relationship has brought us so much joy over the years, but it has also brought each of us some of our deepest heartaches. We have both said things in anger and frustration that we wished we could take back as soon as they entered the atmosphere.
Not so with Jesus; our joy is full in Him. He forgives and forgets, while sadly, we forgive and remember. And so, the beauty of being complete in my relationship with the Lord first is that I am less upset over the imperfections that exist in my marriage (and in every marriage) with another human being. The beauty of being complete in my relationship with the Lord first is that I am also less upset by my own imperfections because I know that when my Heavenly Father looks at me: he doesn't see my sin; he sees His Son:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17 "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."
My spouse doesn't complete Me, but he compliments me in a way that only my Heavenly Father could have known he would. What a blessing it is to be complete in Him.
Related Resource: Listen to our new, FREE podcast on marriage: Team Us. The best marriages have a teamwork mentality. Find practical, realistic ideas for strengthening your marriage. Listen to an episode here, and then head over to LifeAudio.com to check out all of our episodes:
Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Taylor Hernandez
Kali Dawson graduated from St. Thomas University with a B.A. in English and a Minor in Journalism and Communications. She is a School Teacher, Pilates Instructor, and Mama of two young children and a beautiful 2020 baby. She is married to her real-life Superhero. When she's not holding small hands or looking for raised hands you will find her writing fervently about faith and family. To read more, you can find her on Facebook at Faith, Family, Freelance.