A lasting and happy marriage is built on the foundation of each spouse’s individual growth and health. One persistent myth that shortcuts that long and intensive process of personal growth is the idea that someone else can be our “other half” or can “complete us.”
You see, you are not half of a human. You are a whole human. And no one is going to complete you — it isn’t their job. If you look for someone else to complete you or take on the responsibility of filling any voids in your heart, you are setting yourself up for disaster. Take it from me.
I got married at the young age of 23. I didn’t plan on getting married that young, but it’s how my life played out. I have no regrets in saying “I do,” but I had a steep learning curve in those first few years and it’s why I am so passionate about people doing the work of becoming whole and healthy before they become one with another person.
When I was single, I dated around and noticed some unhealthy tendencies in my life, such as never wanting to be alone, changing my opinions to please whomever I was with, and feeding off other people’s affirmation.
Craving and feeding off the affirmation of others quickly turned into inappropriate conversations and interactions with men who misinterpreted my intentions. Changing my opinions to please whomever I was with quickly made others question my integrity. Never wanting to be alone escalated into codependency, which later ended up causing conflict in our marriage. These are obviously just a few of the things I can see clearly now — hindsight is 20/20.
Anything you struggle with as an individual only becomes magnified once you tie the knot. Your struggles, insecurities, and desires don’t just go away when you meet the love of your life. Love changes with time — it doesn’t fade, but it becomes a choice and a sacrifice. It certainly leads to new and abundant things, but it costs something dear.
If you are the type of person who thinks, “I’ll be happy when ______,” I hate to break it to you, but you won’t be happy then.
Your joy is your job, as my pastor once told me. If you rely on another human to fill you up — a spouse, a friend, a parent, or whomever — you will be let down.
I wish someone would have sat me down and talked about these things with me before asking if we booked our venue, gotten my dress, or planned another shower. I still would have proceeded with my wedding plans — and I’m so glad I did — but I think it would have opened my eyes to things that infatuation often keeps us blinded from. If I’d been able to shift my expectations about where I’d find happiness before we got married, it would have saved my husband and me a lot of late-night, exhausting arguments.
That’s why I am writing this — for you, the couple considering marriage, the newly engaged couple who is eagerly planning a wedding, and the married couple who can’t seem to pinpoint why they feel so disappointed just a few years in.
Until you are pursuing self-awareness and growth for yourself, you shouldn’t be pursuing anyone else. People who know who they are, who are rooted in their identity, who are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and who don’t rely on others to fill the voids in their lives are setting themselves and their future spouse up for a much richer life together.
The very best marriages are made up of two healthy and whole individuals. But you know what? It’s never too late to get started. Some of the best practices in my life that have helped me on my journey to becoming whole and healthy include counseling, feedback, mentorship, reading books about self-leadership, and spending time in solitude with God.
Whether you are single, dating, engaged or married, investing in steps to become a whole and healthy individual can only improve your own self-knowledge and enrich your relationships.