Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Don't Marry Me for Who I Am

I hear so often the advice, "Marry someone who loves and accepts you for who you are."

It sounds like great advice. With abuse in my past I know better than many that you shouldn't change yourself to impress or please another person. But the more I think about the entire meaning of that phrase, the less I like it.

Who am I right now? Well, I have a temper. I'm emotionally awkward. I repeatedly fail at charity. I often don't know the Lord's will, and I often misinterpret it. I could stand to lose some weight, certainly. I'm unhappy with my job, and not particularly pleased with the path my life has taken. I haven't accomplished any of the things I want to accomplish. The old wounds of emotional abuse still pull at times. I have a very hard time knowing when to shut my mouth. I'm impatient. Sometimes I yell. I have a hard time listening.

Now, lest you think I am putting myself down, I hasten to assure you that I am not. These are things that I know I am, and have accepted as part of my Work In Progress status. I'm sure there are bad characteristics which I haven't yet ferreted out about myself. But I have a lot going for me, too.

The point is that I DON'T like myself for who I am. I have a lot of rough edges, and could still use a good deal of polishing. I expect I probably will for the rest of my days. But I want someone who loves me for who I'm trying to become, not for who I am. I want someone who can allow me to change, to grow and adapt. And even allow me moments of imperfection and weakness. I don't want someone who puts me on a pedestal and believes I can do no wrong. That is for fairy tales and obituaries.

I am not satisfied with someone who loves me for who I am. I want someone who loves me for who I am becoming.


  1. I know of very few people who love everything about themselves. We all have a lot of baggage; things we are trying to improve on, bad habits we cling to, etc.

    The trick is finding someone who loves you for who you really are, the you that you have a hard time seeing, the you that your Father in Heaven sees, beyond all the baggage. Someone who can help you see glimmers of that you, and can help you grow in whatever direction you want to grow.

    The biggest trick is in finding someone in whom you want to also help see, and become, so you can grow together through both time and the eternities.

  2. This is a fascinating post, SR.

    The counsel to marry a person for who he or she is has a certain amount of wisdom: I can't force my spouse (or anyone else for that matter) to change.

    But I do remember thinking when I met my wife (we were babies -- college freshmen -- at the time), I did get to know a lot about her goals and aspirations -- what she wanted for herself and her future. In the nearly four years before we finally married, I think we at least got some sense of where we were headed. I remember consciously thinking, "She's going to the celestial kingdom someday. I want to hitch myself to her star." Probably not entirely fair to my wife, but it was what I thought.

    Something we've counseled our kids to think about as they look for potential spouses is to look for someone who will bring out the best in them and make them want to be better. Only our oldest has married so far, but he and his wife do that for one another, I think.

  3. "I want someone who can allow me to change, to grow and adapt." That's a good thing to want and a hard thing to find. In my experience if we're lucky we grow and plateau and grow and plateau. It's difficult to start a new long term relationship or stay in an old one during the growth phase but coping skills and an enlightened mate help.

  4. I think that saying "Marry someone who loves and accepts you for who you are" is intended to convey a focus on the positive, rather than the negative. It's about trying to find someone who is excited about the positive characteristics you can bring to the marriage to the extent that they are willing to be patient with the negative characteristics and not consider the negative as deal-breakers, to use a crass commercial term. I think it means they are willing to be patient while the negative is slowly refined away.


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