“What happened to the person I married?” “Where did that person go?” “I want that person back.” This is not the person I thought I was marrying.” “This isn’t the spouse I wanted!”
Most people who have been married for any length of time have thought these things, even if they weren’t brave enough to say them out loud. It’s like you’re the victim of a bait and switch. You thought you were getting one person and instead you got another.
There’s a great story in the Hebrew Scriptures about a man named Jacob. You can find the story in Genesis 29:1-28. Jacob got in some hot water at home, so he ran away to live with his uncle, Laban. While there, Jacob fell head over heels for Laban’s younger daughter, Rachel. (Yeah, I know they were cousins. Just go with it.) Rachel was beautiful. It was love at first sight. So Jacob struck a deal with Laban to work seven years for Rachel’s hand.
At the end of those seven years, there was a wedding ceremony and Jacob was married. But when he woke up the next morning, he discovered that Laban had tricked him and he had married the older, less attractive daughter, Leah. I don’t know how it happened. Maybe Jacob couldn’t see through the wedding veil. Maybe there wasn’t enough light in the tent. Maybe there was drinking involved. Either way, Jacob was not happy. Laban passed it off by saying that it was not their custom for the younger daughter to marry before the older daughter. Then Laban cut his nephew a deal. He told Jacob that if he would agree to work another seven years, he could marry Rachel also. (What an uncle!) Jacob was still smitten with Rachel, so he agreed.
So what’s the point? I’ve heard someone say that a week after the wedding, Jacob wound up with two spouses…the one he wanted and the one he didn’t!
That’s marriage! It’s like you wind up with two spouses…the one you wanted and the one you didn’t! The spouse you wanted has all those characteristics that get your motor running. The spouse you didn’t want has all those characteristics that get your blood boiling. And they’re one and the same person. it’s a package deal!
So what do you do when this happens?
- Enjoy the spouse you wanted. Continue to look for and see those things in your spouse that made you fall in love with them. Whatever it may be. A sense of humor. A playfulness. A sexiness. A friendship. A personality trait. Celebrate and cultivate those things.
- Learn from the spouse you didn’t want. Yes, this spouse drives you crazy, but those characteristics you don’t want, are there for a reason. They’re there to grow you. To shape you. To teach you something you couldn’t learn any other way. Tame your tongue, curb your complaints, and ask yourself, “What is it I need to learn from this spouse?”
You see, the trick is to learn to love both spouses. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but remember…you’re not the only one who got the spouse you wanted and the spouse you didn’t.
Leave a comment and tell us when you first realized you had gotten both the spouse you wanted and the one you didn’t.
Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg