Eph. 5:33 "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." (NIV)
Southbrook Church began a marriage series this past Sunday bringing us back to the basics of God's plan for marriage, partly based on Dr. Emerson Eggerichs book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs.*
Among the many lessons that stood out this week for me was one that spurred from Jerry Maguire's famous line "...you complete me." We can all picture the moment when Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) delivers that infamous line to Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger). Aaaaaaahhhhh....so perfect. And, that's what we are taught to expect, right? In order to be happy, we need to find our "soulmate" out of the billions of people on earth and slip effortlessly into that blissful "completed" feeling of romantic love forever.
This morning, while flipping channels, I caught a show called "It's So Over: 50 Biggest Celebrity Breakups." In light of the most recent Charlie Sheen fiasco, I perked up when he came on-screen describing his marriage to Denise Richards which was new at the time:
"She's just that part of me that was, part of my life was missing. Everything else got put back together for the most part and that's the one element that wasn't present."
Really? That so-called "completion" lasted two years amongst other forms of Mr. Sheen attempting to "complete" himself with affairs, drugs and gambling. How tragic is that!
It looks like the part that is missing in his life has yet to be found. He's an extreme example, but with a divorce rate of > 50%, a lot of married people are out there trying to complete each other and failing. When things don't feel right - when the blissful romance slows down or hits a rough patch - we turn on each other, we blame each other:
"I need to find my soulmate."
"I love you, but I'm not in love with you."
"It can never be the same."
"I can never forgive you."
And half of us move on, desperately seeking to fill the void in a new relationship.
What if that relationship we need is not a new husband or wife?
What if the only thing that completes us is God?
I believe that and my own marriage is living proof of this truth. I am ashamed to admit that I used to blame my husband for things that felt wrong in my life. Many times, I treated him like the source of all my discontent instead of showing him respect. Check out the book I mentioned above to find out about the vicious cycle this sets off in a marriage. It's so simple when you get it, it's confounding how we all at some time or another overlook or ignore that message in Eph. 5:33. Thanks to God and other Christ-centered marriages around us, I came to realize that the source of discontent in my life wasn't my marriage or any other external circumstance - it was my desire for communion with the loving, all-powerful, eternal living God. Jesus calls himself "living water" (John 4:10) and "bread of life" (John 6:35) because only He can satisfy our most basic needs.
Many, many people are living through this cycle right now.
Many of them are to the point that they don't even recognize how much they are disrespecting each other or how much love they are missing out on.
If your relationship is not joyful - in a constant, deep, lasting way - then you will, at some point, seek to remedy that. Your first instinct will be to look outside of your marriage for that person, that drug, that experience, that lifestyle, that you think will bring that completion. My hope is that you will first look inside - at yourself, your relationship with God, your devotion to His purpose for your life, the way you act out love (or unlove) to your family - and uncover the joy he intends for us in marriage and in life. In the words of Jesus, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10, ESV)
*Video message at http://southbrookchurch.com/multimedia