By: Quinn McDowell
You read that right. My beautiful new bride isn’t my soul mate.
In the confusing world of relationships, guys often make a crucial error in their approach to finding a wife: we operate under the assumption that we are destined to find our perfect soul-mate. (Yes, this applies to the ladies, too, but here I want to address the guys specifically.)
You know the woman I’m thinking of–that ideal someone who magically balances your flaws, completes your insufficiencies, and satisfies your deepest desires. While searching for a spouse, we hold fast to the ideal of marrying someone faultlessly compatible with us – even if we concede that she herself is not going to be completely flawless. We develop a complex dating detection system, equipped with a built in “wife-finder” that automatically eliminates anyone who doesn’t strike us as potential soul-mate material. These methods of sifting through prospects beg the question; should we even be looking for a perfectly compatible spouse? Or, have modern dating notions – as perpetuated through movies, magazines, and the internet – narrowed our outlook to the point where our imaginations are saturated with shallow ideologies that undermine the potential for a healthy marriage?
One of my favorite theologians, Stanley Hauerwas, once argued that “you always marry the wrong person.” Hauerwas challenges the notion that we should be searching for the one person who perfectly and comprehensively fulfills all our needs. This faulty outlook creates immense pressure to make absolutely sure we pick the right person. We become imprisoned by the fear that if we make an error in judgment, we could ruin our lives forever!
I firmly believe that we should abide by general guidelines that steer us in the process of finding a suitable spouse. However, once those basic principles are faithfully observed, we have an incredible, liberating freedom to choose the person we want to marry. Recently I married my beautiful wife, Lindsey, and I believe that it was God’s perfect will for us to wed. But that does not mean that she is the perfect person for me–because such a person does not exist. Nor does it mean that I could not have entered into a healthy and fulfilling marriage with another woman. But I chose Lindsey (and she chose me!) in full confidence—even though we are not perfect for each other.
Men, what if our approach to finding a wife was not fueled by an endless compatibility test, but by a relentless effort to transform ourselves into the best husbands we can be? In this process, we certainly do need to look for a woman with whom we share a certain level of chemistry and compatibility, as well as our core values—especially when it comes to an understanding of marriage itself. However, we must also recognize that finding our flawlessly compatible, perfect soul-mate is not the key to marital happiness. Once we’ve made it that far, we can start soul-searching—and quit soul-mate-searching—on how we are going to become the best man and husband we can be. As a wise man once told me, if I wanted to marry the Queen, I would first need to become a King.
Quinn McDowell is a recent graduate of The College of William and Mary with a degree in Religious Studies and Economics. He is a freelance writer and is currently pursuing a career in professional basketball.