Love the person not the ideal…
A couple weeks ago, my wife and I celebrated fourteen years of marriage. By no means a veteran couple of decades. But, I can say after fourteen years of great joys and quite a few disappointments, the loss of a child and the toll it takes on the relationship, we have learned a lot.
One of the things we’ve learned is to love the person and not the ideal.
You know… the ideal of marriage or the ideal of who you think that person is or should be.
1 ideal flying weather: perfect, best possible, consummate, supreme, excellent, flawless, faultless, exemplary, classic, model, ultimate, quintessential. ANTONYMS bad.
2 an ideal concept: abstract, theoretical, conceptual, notional; hypothetical, speculative, conjectural, suppositional. ANTONYMS concrete.
3 an ideal world: unattainable, unachievable, impracticable, chimerical; unreal, fictitious, hypothetical, theoretical, ivory-towered, imaginary, illusory, idealized, idyllic, visionary, utopian, fairy-tale. ANTONYMS attainable, real.
1 no woman could be the ideal he imagined for himself: perfection, paragon, epitome, shining example, ne plus ultra, nonpareil, dream.
Most of the time when you marry, you don’t know who you are, much less who the other person really is. And, marriage is going to change you. It’s going to change them. More accurately, it’s going to reveal the true person versus the person you’ve created in your head.
There comes a moment in every relationship when you realize, “You’re not the person I married.” Yes they are. They’re not the ideal you married but make no mistake, they are the person.
This is especially true for young couples going into “ministry.” Here’s why:
He has a persona that is expressed from behind the microphone or in that setting where his leadership “gifting” is being exhibited. You are NOT marrying that. You are marrying him and those are two different things.
And, I’m sure she would make the perfect little pastor’s wife but those expectations come from outside. They work their way in and take up residence. And it’s toxic. You are marrying her. Not the ideal that together you’ll make a great team so you can go out, “grab the world by the tail, pull it down and put it in your pocket.”
I think this can be true in every relationship. Change the context and window dressing but you’ll still find the temptation to love the ideal and not the person.
And… you’ll… be… disappointed… every… time.
Instead, toss all that stuff out and simply love the person. Flaws and all. Give grace and permission for them to simply be them.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t grow or work at becoming a better you. In fact, that’s the best gift you can give your family. That’s the best gift you can give to the world. A better you.
But that’s the key. A better you. Not a better them. Focus on that and I promise you’ll be happier, they’ll be happier, and the odds of becoming a veteran couple of decades will improve dramatically.