I should have ordered the cheeseburger.
Sitting there, in that right-off-the-highway Applebee’s, a plate of very mediocre braised pork enchiladas on the table in front of me, I made myself a new rule: always order the cheeseburger when at Applebee’s!
Is there anything worse than ordering the wrong thing?
Well, okay. Sure. Lots of things, actually. In fact, most bad things in life are worse than a regrettable Applebee’s order. A traffic jam when you're already late. A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break. Ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. Meeting the woman of your dreams, then introducing her to your wife.
Marrying the wrong person. Terrifying, right? And much, much worse than a bad order. Realizing you don’t really want the plate of very mediocre braised pork enchiladas on the table in front of you—disappointing. Realizing you don’t really want the woman sitting at the table opposite you—life-shattering.
But how do you know? How do you if know you married the right person? Ideally, you’d ask these kinds of questions before getting married, and you would date long enough to figure this stuff out. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, intense feelings of romance and lust and excitement blind us and trick us into seeing lasting love where there isn’t any. Sometimes, people change. And sometimes, we just think we really want mediocre braised pork enchiladas.
I am happily married. My wife is beautiful and smart and funny and kind and selfless to a fault (okay, I think that’s everything she told me to write). So, I can really only answer these questions for you from my own personal experience. Here is how I know I married the right person (and I know that I did)—I hope my reasons help you figure out if you have, too.
1. I really look forward to seeing my wife, especially after long periods apart.
2. I feel remorse or regret after a fight. (I am a flawed, stupid man more often than I’d like to admit.)
3. She is smokin’ hot. I almost always feel a strong physical attraction toward her, especially when she’s “not even trying.”
4. I really, really enjoy spending time with my wife.
5. We are okay spending some time apart, too.
6. We make each other laugh, a lot.
7. She annoys the heck out of me (though not nearly as much as I annoy her), and we still come back for more.
8. We still fight . . .
9. But we don’t fight too much (and rarely are our voices raised).
10. She is an incredible mother!
11. She challenges me, calls me out when I’m being a turd, and truly makes me a better man.
12. We share a very strong faith, have similar core beliefs, and agree on how to best parent our children (and we talk about all these things often!).
13. Did I mention she’s smokin’ hot?
So . . . You married the wrong person. Now what?
Are you reading this list and starting to panic? If so, that’s okay.
Because I have a confession to make. There is no cheeseburger on this menu. Just a whole bunch of flawed, broken braised pork enchiladas. (I think my metaphor is breaking down.)
I don’t believe there is such a thing as the right person. A person can be right for you—good for you, even—but the idea of soul mates is a little too predestine-y for my taste. It also makes love seem so . . . easy. Set it, and forget it—you found THE ONE. Now you’re done. Happiness this way, please.
Would that it were so simple, my friend. Would that it were so simple.
You were made to love. Your spouse was made to love. You took a vow to love each other. But that promise is hard to keep each day. It only really goes wrong when you both stop making that daily effort. After all, you are marrying a real human being. And your spouse is marrying one, too. In every relationship, the fog eventually clears and that reality sets in. This is when marriage actually begins.
I choose to love my wife. Even when it’s hard. Even when I just don’t feel like it. Even when the culture says I don’t have to choose or that I am free to change my mind whenever the mood suits me.
So, what can you do if you are doubting you married the right person?
1. Dedicate yourself to a weekly date night—no excuses.
3. Stop watching TV every night and play board games instead—the important thing here is that you are interacting with each other; passivity is the enemy.
4. Pray together, each day—pray for each other, pray for help, pray for love.
5. Talk to your spouse about your feelings—though be tactful! Telling your spouse you feel like you married the wrong person isn’t the best conversation starter in the world. Telling your spouse you want to have a more dynamic and passionate marriage, while acknowledging that you both have things you need to work on, can get the ball rolling.
6. Ask yourself if you are making the intentional choice to be “the right person” for your spouse—you might be surprised how your feelings and view of your spouse grow and mature as a result.
7. Seek marriage counseling.
Love is not all about romantic feelings and gushing gooeyness. That’s just a part of it—a very small part. I didn’t get down on one knee because of butterflies and skipped heartbeats. I got down on one knee because of my thirteen reasons listed above—and about a kerjillion more.
It’s my job to make sure I am the right man for her. Each day.
All I know is that I married an incredible person. She is amazing. Is she perfect? No. Is she perfect for me? Also, no. Last time I checked, she didn’t come from Oil Money, she doesn’t laugh at every one of my jokes, and she absolutely refuses to play video games with me. We like our steaks cooked differently (anything over medium rare is a crime!). I can binge-watch a TV show with the best of them; she gets bored one episode in. She worries about . . . just about everything; I worry about . . . just about nothing.
We are both incredibly flawed. Without tons of effort and intention, neither of us is right for the other.
I choose to love my wife. Even when it’s hard (and, sometimes, it is really hard). Even when I’m tired or hungry or I just don’t feel like it. Even when the culture says I don’t have to choose or that I am free to change my mind whenever the mood suits me. The moment we got married, she became the right person for me. And now it’s my job to make sure I am the right man for her. Each day.
Shoot. I’d marry her all over again today. And I’d marry her tomorrow. And I’d marry her the day after that.
The love is hard. The choice is easy. Because she makes it easy.
And you know what? That’s how I know.