In this episode of TGC Q&A, Jared Wilson and Afshin Ziafat discuss the question, “How do I know if I married the right person?”
- If you’re married, you married the right person (:00)
- The source of the question (1:08)
- A theological deficiency (2:21)
- The goal of marriage (3:26)
- The grass is greener where you water it (4:53)
- Bathing marriage in prayer (5:43)
- He or she isn’t your savior (7:21)
- You don’t complete me (8:51)
- Worthwhile intentionality (9:55)
Explore more from TGC on the topic of marriage.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Afshin Ziafat: Yes, I love this question. I want to say the answer is if you’re married, you married the right person.
Jared Wilson: If the name of the person you’re married to matches the name on the marriage certificate, you married the right person.
Afshin Ziafat: Yeah, exactly.
Jared Wilson: They’re the right person.
Afshin Ziafat: In another way. I want to kind of say you’re too late for this question. But no, I agree. I think if we believe in a sovereign God, which we do, then we know that the person you are married to is the right person for you. God is sovereign and that’s the person God has chosen for you.
So, I think maybe, and who knows why that question would be asked? Many reasons. But if the question is being asked because the person is struggling in their marriage and saying, “Man, maybe if I had a different wife, then that struggle wouldn’t be there.” I think maybe what needs to be addressed is a wrong idea of what marriage is about.
Marriage isn’t about you having the wife if there even was someone like this, which I would say there isn’t, who meets every one of your needs perfectly the way you think they ought to meet. Or even if you’re even thinking they’re to meet your needs, I think you probably have a wrong view of marriage. That marriage isn’t ultimately about just your needs being met or your even happiness, marriage is more about your holiness, about you’re becoming more like Christ and you pouring into this woman or this man, if you’re a woman who you’re married to. And just the goal of marriage is for me as a husband to love my wife and to lay my life down for her and to point her to Jesus. It’s not about …
I would say probably they have a misconception on what marriage is about.
Jared Wilson: Yeah. It’s a theological deficiency, I think, that prompts the question.
I thought about this, the question itself is predicated on a view of marriage I think that comes more from sort of the sentimental, romantic culture. Maybe the idea there’s a soulmate, “There’s the one person for me and I thought this was the one and it turns out they’re not.”
And what that is is really the marriage got real, right? Reality sets in, you realize you’re in close proximity with another sinner who thinks that you’re meant to complete them and not the other way around. And when you get two sinners in close proximity, you have so opportunities for disappointment and discouragement and unmet expectations.
And that I think is the heart of the question, is as, as you said, if we don’t have not just a high view of, of sovereignty, but a high view of marriage, the sentimental idea posits a high view of marriage because it pictures there’s this one person for me, like it’s this mystical thing. In a way it is but not that way. Right?
The goal of marriage you said is to make Christ look big, that we would picture Christ’s relationship with his church. And so I just think about Jesus himself, like, “How do I know I married the right church?” Right? Because every day we do not live up to his expectations. Every day we defy his commands. He has opportunity for disappointment. We certainly bring dishonor to him. We are not all that we are cracked up to be. We are not a spotless bride. And yet his plan is to make us that way.
And so I think taking that imagery into our marriage, but also just want to give the opportunity because the question, yeah, it’s built on kind of faulty premise, but there’s a heart behind it and probably a hurt heart behind it.
Someone who is thinking, “This is really painful right now. And my spouse doesn’t care at all about meeting my needs or loving me even as Christ loved the church,” or, “Maybe I married an unbeliever and we don’t have the same … Maybe we married as unbelievers and I came to Christ and they have not.”
And so there’s a real, genuine pain, maybe, behind the question. What would you say, someone came into your office for counseling, say, “How do I know I married the right person?” And you know, “Okay, you married the right person because you’re married to them.” But you also know there’s something else going on behind there.”
Afshin Ziafat: Sure. I think that’s a good word, Jared. Because I don’t, I don’t want to minimize the pain that they’re going through but I do think that going back to God’s sovereignty is a comfort. Because I think the tendency is to think, “Man, the grass is greener on the other side,” and I always say, “No, it’s greener where you water it.”
And so if you think if you married someone else that it’d be different, probably you would take your baggage into that marriage as well. But then that person would have different problems. And so again, to get the comfort of God’s sovereignty, but also like you said, what marriage is really about.
So I do think, yeah, you’re right. I want to care for them and say that whatever the hurt is, whatever the brokenness is, that’s not what God’s design is. And I would encourage them to bathe their marriage in prayer. To take it to the Lord. And then I would, especially if I’m talking to the man, I would encourage him to take the lead. And as first Peter three says that to live with your wives in an understanding way, honor her as the weaker vessel. And it goes on to say as a heir with you of the grace of life so that your prayers would not be hindered.
I would say, man, God is saying even your prayers are hindered. There’s nothing more important that you could be praying about that God would want to listen to than you addressing this need. And you stepping in and loving your wife the way that he’s designed. And when I think of my wife has an heir with me, I just feel the, I just have this picture of when Meredith my wife was led down the aisle and her father handed her hand to me.
And now it’s my job to love her as Christ loved the church. And I love what you said, that man, go back to the gospel. We’re not lovable. We’re not so choice, but God chose us and God is loving us. And so that is what fuels me to love her. But I am now walking her down the aisle of life and I’m going to hand her off to Jesus. And she is an heir and she is a princess of the king. And just to have that mental picture of like, man, when I get there, have I stewarded well, the woman God has given me to love.
And so I would just try to encourage whoever it is to bathe it in prayer and take the first step on living out what a biblical marriage ought to be. Yeah.
Jared Wilson: And even now the presence of Christ is such a sustaining presence, such a sustaining power for us, that another question that I would respond to this question with is, are you united to the right savior? And if you’re a believer, you are, you really are in union with Christ.
And so many times the disappointments or discouragements we have with our spouse, they may be based on genuine things that have happened. Real thing. You’re not imagining a hurt or a slight or someone’s ambivalence or apathy towards you. And if that person is a professing believer, it’s one of the gifts of the church to, in a sense, be able to walk alongside them, call them to repentance, even to speak into your marriage. But sometimes what we’re expecting out of a spouse are things that only Christ can give us anyway.
So, even the best spouse, even if you’re not asking the question, “Am I married to the right person?” Because they’re a fantastic person and they’re loving you to the best of their ability. They still can’t love you like Christ can. And so for just always looking to our spouse as the meeter of our needs or the satisfier or the stirrer of our affections, they’re always going to fall short because no one else is your savior but Christ.
And so I think picturing the marriage of Christ and his bride in our own marriages has a lot more to do with how we receive Christ and abide in Christ than it does with what’s going on relationally between the spouses.
Afshin Ziafat: That’s so good. It’s like Jerry McGuire, that movie where he comes in and he’s like, “You complete me.” every woman’s like, “Yes,” And I want to be like, “No.” That’s not … If you’re looking, just like you said, to your wife to like complete you, in a sense they’re never … I mean, God is the only one who will fully satisfy you. And I think that’s such a good word. Turn to God, he is a savior who will never fail you and find your identity, find your worth, find your love, affection from him. And again, that’s the fuel to be able to love someone who you find unlovable, remembering that you also were unlovable. So [crosstalk]-
Jared Wilson: And in a way you’re no more Christ-like then when you’re loving someone who isn’t loving you back, right? While we were still sinners Christ died for us.
Afshin Ziafat: … Exactly.
Jared Wilson: So, it’s a picture of the gospel and essentially you have an opportunity to make Jesus look big in a way that you wouldn’t if your spouse was awesome.
Afshin Ziafat: That is … yeah.
Jared Wilson: Maybe see it as an advantage to make much of Christ.
Afshin Ziafat: Yeah. And I would say in closing that there’s nothing that is more worthwhile. I mean, especially if there’s someone who’s in Christian ministry, like we are, both of us could have great ministries and impact a lot of people, but at the end of the day if that’s something we have not cared for well, our wives, it’s almost all for nought. I mean, that’s my number one ministry.
And I would encourage men like us to be very intentional in knowing their wives. And I think that communication and knowing where the hurt is and seeking to be intentional in it will probably promote the other spouse to do likewise. And so I would say be intentional. There’s nothing more important.