Why I Didn’t Marry My Dream Girl

why i didn't marry my dream girl

This year I celebrated my second Valentine’s Day as a married man. I remember imagining days like this when I was single. I dreamt of a time when Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be a cold, dark reminder of my celibacy. Instead of drinking cheap Scotch and hiccuping my way through 50(ish) renditions of Katy Perry’s ‘The One That Got Away’, festivities as a married man would include good food, hearty laughter, star-crossed eyes and (of course) sex.

All this would take place, I pictured, with the girl of my dreams. Ah, yes! She’d be the moon to my sun, the Juliet to my Romeo, the Kim to my Kanye.

But the thing is: I didn’t marry my dream girl.

Now let me be clear: my wife is an incredible woman. She’s smart, not in a

kind of way. But with academic subtly. The kind you can’t appreciate unless you regularly read books with titles like “The Hermeneutic Spiral of Decentralized Rhetoric.” She’s also kind, funny, encouraging and charming. She’s even pretty- gorgeous really. She’s the kind beautiful that, whenever we walk in public, prompts passer-byes to go: “What…does he have a lot of money?”

I cannot say it enough: my wife is an amazing woman. I’m lucky to be married (at all but especially) to her.

But I didn’t marry my dream girl.

Let me explain: when I was younger, I knew exactly what I wanted in my wife. Youth retreats taught me that my wife should be Biblical. They taught me that I ought to desire a ‘Proverbs 31 woman’, one who espoused biblical virtue but was archaically sexy (based on Song of Solomon). To be honest, I didn’t really want a woman with breasts like two fawns. But I figured that deer-ish breasts were better than no breasts at all, which was what I currently had access to. Thus the church gifted me with a vague framework for desirability in a spouse: one derived from equally vague notions of purity and godliness.

Culture also taught me a thing or two about the girl I should marry. From Jane Austen I learned that the perfect woman was bookish and independent though ultimately submissive to my desires. How I Met Your Mother taught me that the ‘perfect’ one is out there- ‘perfect’ meaning she was the missing factor in an equation for an idealized marriage, one I deserved. Magazine covers told me what body type to expect. 500 Days of Summer showed me how the ideal girl would be quirky- but in all the right ways.

The point is, life as a single person was filled with aspirations about the woman I would one day marry. I cherry-picked attributes from cultural and religious influences and compiled the various parts and traits- like a virtual snow(o)man- to craft my perfect girl. I even threw in a couple of traits from people I’d dated; carrying over positive attributes from failed romantics while conveniently forgetting the human imperfections that accompanied them.

And, thus, I waited. I dated. I waited some more. I dumped and was dumped. I laughed and I cried. I became ‘an adult.’ I was ready to get married. Ready to meet my dream girl.

And on the day I first met my wife, sparks flied. She was visiting the graduate school where I was a student. And from the moment I saw her I knew she was about to swoop in and homewreck my long-term relationship with Greek vocabulary cards. The first time she smiled at me I felt as though all the angels in heaven were singing my name. On our first date we finished each others

It was bliss. A fairy tale. I’d found my dream girl.

But then a startling thing happened. As our relationship progressed the dream girl I’d begun dating started to unravel before me. My dream girl would love me; this girl needed love from me too. My dream girl would understand that I was introverted, that I needed alone time; this girl needed quality time-not on my schedule but on hers. My dream girl was Biblically certified; this girl came with baggage and needed grace.

There was a time when I reached the height of disillusionment. I got the stage where I felt like

And I thought about ending our relationship. About moving on. There were other girls out there. This relationship had started out well. But, ultimately, it failed the litmus test. It was not my ideal. Not my dream.

But what I was reminded of then, and realize more so every day, is that I was never going to marry a dream. It wouldn’t be a dream I’d hold hands with, dance with, laugh with. It wouldn’t be a dream walking down the isle, climbing into bed and growing old with me. It would be a woman. And no woman is perfect- kinda like no man is (anywhere close to being) perfect.

Kinda like me.

My idea of a perfect woman reflected an understanding of marriage that evolved around me. While I never would have admitted as much, I saw marriage as a kind of self-fulfillment, the final piece of the puzzle of my ego. What I was looking for in a spouse was someone who catered to exactly what I wanted, what I desired. Someone with whom I could be myself. Someone who didn’t require that I change, who didn’t suggest that I had imperfections. Someone who didn’t demand work.

But marriage is the acknowledgement of a love which is greater than two people, greater than all humanity. It’s the acknowledgment and expressed commitment to live out that love with another person. Not an ideal. Not a build-your-own-spouse. Not a dream.

What I wanted was someone who would cater to me. What I got was a woman who’s imperfections have merged with mine and created a marriage that is equally imperfect. And thus it demands that I be less selfish and more selfless; less prideful and more sacrificial; care less about my desires and more about someone else’s needs. It’s a marriage that is less about the god of me and more about the God of love. I’ve learned that a healthy marriage demands these things. Otherwise it’s like a leasing a car, though there’s more paperwork to fill out when the other person stops living up to expectations.

And so I did not marry a prototype, a build-your-own wife that I could adapt with custom settings on humor and looks alike. I did not marry a figment of my imagination, a character from a 90-minute indie film, or someone who checks every box on a list of requirements. Rather, I married a real girl with real quirks, real problems, real pain, real ambitions, real sins, real selfishness, real beauty and real love. Love to be developed, cherished, fought for, and shared.

I did not marry my dream girl. And I’m so glad.

Because the woman I woke up with today is real. And each day she looks more beautiful than the last. And each day she’s sanding down my rough edges; her presence in my life demands that I be a better person, a better husband, a better follower of Christ. Our relationship may be messy, may require work, may involve fights and tears and heartache and apologies. But it’s better than anything I could have ever imagined.

Because she’s the real deal, the real girl.

She’s better than the girl of my dreams.






The Fallacy Of A Happy Marriage

In a recent article posted on CNN titled “How Affairs Make My Marriage Strongeran anonymous blogger explained how she and her husband share a mutual understanding of the other’s promiscuity. She proceeded make the argument that this arrangement actually strengthened her marriage. As one could imagine the comments thread exploded on this article. And it was one of those threads that ranked high for moments in which I really just wanted to hit “Reply All” and tell everyone commenting:

Because not only were many of the comments somewhat arrogant and, at times, Neanderthalic to the extent that it seems only internet comment threads are capable of (“Ur soo stopid LOL!”) but I also really failed to see logical basis of the objections they raised.

Because, personally, when I read the article, I couldn’t help but think “yeah, okay…

If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard the argument a million times that mutual agreements of this sort can add vitality and life to a relationship. This is not a new statement, nor is it one without logical coherence. It really depends on one’s belief in the purpose of marriage.

The common held notion is that marriage should make you happy. This line of thought is strewn across our romantic lingo and sexual ethics. Although most of us will admit that marriage, love, and relationships take work, we still hold the practical belief that said work is for the end goal of our happiness. Thus, though all relationships require effort, there are some that are like old cars: no matter how much effort you put into them they’re still not going to function well. Though they once ran smoothly their glory days have faded and it is time to move on.

When attached to this train of logic, there is strong evidence for why affairs might be helpful in a marriage. Just like one mechanic may say one thing needs to be fixed on a car, and another says it doesn’t, so a marriage that is geared towards happiness may have numerous avenues of attaining it. Inasmuch, it makes completely logical sense why someone who is used to sleeping with the first person they flirt with at the grocery store (“Mangos, eh? Ever watched Seinfeld?”) would need such liberty within a marriage in order to be happy. And hey, if their spouse is happy too (which could easily fall under the “what they don’t know don’t hurt ’em” category) theennn:

And I expect this from American culture. I expect this from a consumeristic society that is based on subjective morality and self-satisfaction. So while I am saddened by the apparent pain of someone suffering under a lifestyle they chose but obviously isn’t working out for them  (the author of the article lamented, among other instances, the first part of their pregnancy when her husband was still having affairs while she was home sick), I am also neither surprised nor angered that someone who doesn’t hold my personal beliefs would fail to adhere to them.

But what is surprising/frustrating/demanding of reform is that Christians think the same way.

If you don’t think that’s true then take the time to compare divorce rates, percentages of infidelity, and pornography use between Christians and non-Christians.

Okay, so I’ll do it for you:

A poll done by Barna Group in 2008 revealed that 34% of Protestant Christians had been divorced at some point in their life while only 30% of atheist couples could make the same claim. According to Christian Post, a poll of 1,000 confessing Christians found that 50% of the men and 20% of the women were “addicted” to pornography. While Barna Groups poll revealed that Christians are 30% less likely than non-Christians to approve of extra-marital affairs, a Christianity Today poll found that 45% of Christians confessed to engaging in sexually inappropriate behavior outside of their marriage. Compare this to a recent poll of the general population which concluded close to 50% of women and 60% of men have engaged in extra-marital affairs and you’ll see the problem. The statistics show that there isn’t a lot of discrepancy between the two groups. Certainly not as much as there should be.

What’s more is I can’t help but notice how Christians talk about marriage no differently from the world. For instance, give yourself a point for every time you’ve heard any of the following statements from Christians in the last year, two points if you said it yourself (I scored 24!!) :

  • “The wedding was a success! They’re happily married.”
  • “He/she just makes me so happy.”
  • “I’m happy when I’m around you.”
  • “I’m not happy in this relationship anymore.”
  • “I just wish we had a happier marriage; don’t you remember how it used to be?”

I could go on. Or I could just rip a page out of a Nicholas Sparks novel and type the dialogue verbatim. But let’s be honest:


The point is Christians, from a practical standpoint, strive towards happiness in a marriage just as much as our secular counter-parts. The difference is nil. We date the people who make us happy, marry the ones we’re convinced will make us happiest, and stick with the marriages that produce happiness. We might sing worship songs on Sunday morning and jam to K-Love en route to our nuptials but we’re really clapping to the same tune.

This is our greatest fallacy within marriage and the reason our marriages can’t exist as a testimony in contrast to the relationship featured in this article. Because what’s the difference between us save for our tactics?

The cruel irony is that a marriage aimed towards happiness is really rather hopeless. I don’t mean to be a downer here, but if you think about it, no matter how happy you are at any point in your marriage it’s still going to end one of three ways: death, divorce, or abduction by rogue aliens.

Okay, maybe not the last one

So from a utilitarian standpoint, if you’re pursuing marriage for the sake of happiness then it would behoove you to think again. Rather, save your money, sleep around, retain your independence, lock your heart in a drawer somewhere deep within your soul and be done with the whole thing. I guarantee you’ll have less heartache, conflict, disputes, sleepless nights and despair. Probably a lot more “happiness”.

And so it would make sense that the end goal of a Christian marriage is not happiness, just like the end goal of a Christian life is not happiness. Instead, it’s aim is sanctification.

A Christian marriage points not to the comforts of this life but to the hope of eternal life; it glories not in the happiness evoked by being dedicated and committed to another person but in the testimony of being pursued and redeemed into permanent relationship with Christ. Thus a Christian perspective of marriage offers that marriage ought to refine a person, to push them to be more like the Object Of Our Faith. Marriage ought to exist as a living, breathing, fighting, forgiving, loving, laughing, crying testimony of two imperfect persons attempting to illustrate the perfect love of a perfect God. In short: marriage ought to reflect Christ’s love for the church. Unless crucifixion was actually a Greek word for some obscure form of happiness, then we’ve really lost our way.

Now, if I could get personal with you for a moment:

how about no
Eh, I’m going to anyway.

I married a saint of a woman. Not only is she a saint but she is also infinitely cute, like “OMG I saw this in an indie movie once and it was adorbs!!!” cute. Like “dude, she’s ten times out of your league in combined score of looks and personality” cute. But I am not always happy in my marriage. In fact, sometimes I’m very unhappy in my marriage. Mostly because my selfish desires don’t always co-align with the needs of another reasonable human being.

But I find encouragement from the fact that my marriage hasn’t always made me happy. Because though it may not be making me happy, it is making me better. And I pray for the fortitude, understanding and determination to stick it out through times when happy moments are few and far between.

Such determination must be built on a proper perspective of marriage. Because if happiness is my goal, then this game will end quickly and poorly and my tactics will never reflect eternal hope or Christ’s love.

The Christian fallacy of pursuing happiness in our relationships is that it takes our eyes off the true purpose of marriage. If our aim is happiness then our testimony is diluted, both in and outside of the marital covenant. Pursuing an affair to maintain marital satisfaction may be more drastic than the measures the rest of us take but that doesn’t mean we Christians are free of blame.

Rather, the Christian marriage would to well to understand that:

And if we set our eyes on sanctification, if we aim to be living testimonies to the love and sacrificial dedication of Christ, we will find that our relationships, our marriages and our lives are all working towards a greater purpose. This is a purpose that goes beyond us and our desires. It is a purpose into which we have been adopted and granted a role, not by our own merit, but by the love we now seek to imitate.

Indeed, it is a purpose that exceeds anything that happiness, marriage, sex, dating, affairs, and definitely Nicholas Sparks books could offer. For it exceeds, oh-glorious thought, anything that world could ever offer.



Friday Playlist: Much Further To Go

Just when I thought my Friday wasn’t going poorly enough, I was driving along listening to the radio and thought”hey, this song is actually pretty good” … right before realizing it’s the new One Direction single.

So yea, Friday was pretty much a loss. Hence this being one day late.

I figured it’s about time I hit you with a female artist. So here’s one of my favorite, a nostalgic winter ballad from Michigan-native Rosie Thomas. The video is not official property of the artist, but seeing as she didn’t have an official video I figured it was the next best thing.

Also, please note, it is NOT One Direction.