“I married the wrong person.”
It’s a common sentiment when a husband or wife finds themselves in an unhappy marriage.
When a marriage gets difficult, we want to believe that we’ve made one huge mistake a looooong time ago rather than accept responsibility for the hundreds of small mistakes we’ve made and ARE still making every day.
Everyone Always Thinks THEY Are the Exception to the Rule
“But you don’t understand that…”
“My situation is different because…”
These are often the words that fall from the lips of those in a painful marriage.
The truth is everyone always thinks THEY are the exception to the rule. Everyone.
Because it helps us shift the blame OFF ourselves completely.
We should stop saying we’ve married the wrong person because marriage is a two-way street. It’s very unlikely that one party hasn’t been part of the problem.
There are exceptions to be certain, but considering that our current divorce rate is sky-high, I think there are mostly a LOT of people who THINK they are exceptions rather than the rule.
Marital Pain is REAL and Should be Recognized
Don’t for a second think that this post is meant to disregard the VERY REAL pain in a broken marriage.
Depending on the length of marriage or the severity of the discord, the suffering can be excruciating. Mind-blowingly hurtful.
If you are a friend of someone who thinks they’ve married the wrong person, allowing that person to process those feelings is important. Being sensitive to every word said is crucial. But as a Christian friend, recognition doesn’t mean you have to jump on the “it’s all HIS/HER fault bandwagon.”
If you are dealing with a painful marriage, you have to allow yourself time to sort through your emotions, maybe even wallow in anger for a time.
While it’s okay to “vacation” in your pain, you don’t want to “live” there.
Broken Expectations Lead to Broken Marriages
The truth isn’t “I married the wrong person” but rather “I had the wrong view of what marriage was supposed to look like.”
We all enter into marriage with many theories and expectations, which are either broken or strengthen by your marriage.
If someone is considering divorce, I would suspect they’ve had more broken expectations than strengthened ones. But broken theories and expectations aren’t just the fault of our significant other…they are just part of life OR they are a part of our sin nature. Realizing that there are TWO different kinds of broken expectations can help the forgiveness process.
The first type is “Life Happens” Broken Expectations.
The second is “Sin Happens” Broken Expectations.
Compile a List
Sometimes it’s helpful to compile a list of broken expectations, how they’ve been broken and which category (Life/Sin) they belong to. By examining what expectations got broken in the process of your marriage, will help you uncover where, when and how things went wrong.
While some parts of marital distress aren’t so black/white as “life” or “sin” it’s still helpful to try to categorize which parts exists where.
Life Happens List
Some expectations might just need a mental adjustment because life is messy. It’s not a movie script. Happy endings can happen…but then they are followed by more unhappiness…then by happiness. Over and over again. It rains. Then, the sun. Then it rains. And yes, sometimes it rains for a very long time.
This is just “life happening.” There might be some fault of someone somewhere, but mostly it’s just life being chaotic and unplannable.
For example: I assumed that my husband would make enough money that I wouldn’t have to work, but my expectation was crushed when I realized I would have to work as well.
It would be great if only one spouse had to work, but sometimes that isn’t the case. Especially in today’s economy.
Many of those prior sentiments, when broken, cause resentment toward our spouse. While it’s important to recognize these broken expectations have caused us pain, we must also recognize that even though they weren’t planned by YOU, they weren’t planned by your spouse either!
Often these expectations stem from our culture, ideals or how we were raised.
Sin Happens List
But some expectations carry a little more weight.
Sin is as much a part of marriage, as it is for the individual. It exists. It offends. And it destroys. But this time, it’s two people involved and not just one.
It’s right to assume fidelity, kindness, and love to exist in a marriage, but people are sinful.
Putting these expectations in a separate category can help distinguish between “life happens” and those offenses that are the fault of the other individual in our marriage.
For example: I assumed getting married meant that my husband would no longer struggle with sexual sin, but my expectation was broken when I found out he still masturbated after we got married.
Willful sins our spouses make can be detrimental to a marriage and break our hearts in half.
Once the expectation is categorized as “sin happens” the offended spouse has two options, to hold onto blame or forgive.
In light of Scriptures, we are encouraged to forgive, not for THEIR sake but for YOUR sake!
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV
But what if they keep doing it?
Scriptures say forgive as many times as it takes!
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22 King James Version (KJV)
You are Half-Responsible for Your Marriage’s Unhappiness
Once you’ve recognized you didn’t “marry the wrong person” but that your broken marriage, pain, unhappiness is a result of sin happening OR life happening, it’s also important to recognize YOUR role in it.
You Have Three Choices
- If you can accept that you are half-responsible for your marriage’s unhappiness, you’re marriage still has a chance.
- If you are incapable of accepting this, you can pray for God’s help. Throwing up a half-hearted prayer that you don’t really want to be answered isn’t going to do you much good either. If you DO pray, pray in earnest…as much as you can.
- If you refuse to accept this and refuse to ask for God to open your eyes, then there isn’t much anyone can do for you.
I’m assuming that if you are still reading this post, you might, in fact, want something to change. Even if that means you might have to accept fault that you do not feel like you should have to accept.
No one likes to accept blame.
In the garden, Adam blamed Eve. Then, Eve blamed the snake.
Accepting blame is the first step toward reconciliation.
It’s Time to Change Things
Feeling like “you married the wrong person” doesn’t mean that your feelings can’t change to “I married the perfect person!”
Miracles DO happen.
Jesus took the WORST situation in the world and made it into the BEST situation. It’s His specialty.
His death was supposed to be a HUGE victory for the Devil, but three days later the Devil’s victory party came to a screeching halt!
But things HAVE to change. And change SUCKS.
In general, the entire universe resists change. There is actually a scientific law about it. It’s called the Law of Inertia.
Inertia is the tendency of an object to remain at rest or in motion. Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object will remain at rest or move at a constant speed in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force,
Some outside force must come against us to change. Against us. Let me repeat: against us. Anything that comes against us is bound to make us uncomfortable.
Alarm clocks aren’t seen as desirable…but they must be used if we want to arrive at work on time.
Iron rails crush our cars but hold us back from rushing headlong down a cliff to our deaths.
Marital discord caused by our partner’s sin, we cannot change, but we can change our reaction to it.
If your husband drinks too much, you can stop counting (and pointing out) how many drinks he’s had and start praying for him more.
Resentment about things that are out of either spouse’s control can be recognized and thought patterns can be modified.
If you are angry that your husband’s job keeps him away from the family more than you wish, you can work on being grateful that he HAS a job.
These examples might seem silly to those dealing with MAJOR marriage issues, so please modify it for your situation.
Stay Away from Those Who Encourage a Non-Biblical View of Divorce
If you want to hear, “Yes, you married the wrong person. Go ahead and get divorced. Remarry someone better this time, okay?” Move along. This is not the blog post you are looking for. I won’t say it.
And if you are looking to live according to the Bible, stay away from friends/relatives that encourage you to divorce.
In the end, you will stand before God and have to account for your actions. If you are a believer, you’ll receive forgiveness for them but we want to always make sure our actions are as close to biblical proportions as we can get.
Spend time in the word, without any pre-conceived notions and see what God alone tells you to do. His “Spirit” will never contradict his “Word.”
If your friend tells you, “you just married the wrong person” or “you should have married so-and-so”…run! Run far away!
But Pain Doesn’t Have to Equal Divorce
Marital pain is the reason why people say, “I married the wrong person.” Happily married people don’t say that.
Being in a painful marriage doesn’t have to mean you get a divorce.
Outside of infidelity, the Bible gives no reasonable grounds for divorce.
I didn’t make the rules. Don’t kill the messenger, okay?
If you are experiencing abuse, I think there is wisdom in removing yourself from the situation, especially if you have children. Removing yourself doesn’t have to mean divorce.
And if you do get divorced, the Bible calls for the divorced to either:
- remain single
There isn’t another clear biblical option.
*Officially, Fairytale Marriage supports divorce specifically when a child has been molested. I believe this falls under the category of “adultery” and is, therefore, permissible AND beneficial for affected parties.
Why You Should Stop Saying You Married the Wrong Person
In the end, saying that you made a mistake when first choosing a mate doesn’t do any real good.
It doesn’t change things.
If you find yourself saying “I married the wrong person,” recognize that you are really saying “my marriage is hurting my heart.” Change your verbiage.
Because the problem of “marrying the wrong person” has only ONE solution: divorce.
By changing your verbiage, you are allowing other solutions to come back into the picture.
You didn’t marry “the wrong” person…but you definitely married an imperfect person.
Changing your wording to “I married an imperfect person” could also be helpful if you aren’t ready to take the plunge into anything else yet.
Remember that your words carry weight, to you…to your children…to your spouse…be careful with them.