“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.” Antoine De Saint-Exupery
For a man to complete me, he’d have to weigh a ton, which reminds me of Sawyer Brown’s song, 800 Pound Jesus. Prince Charming couldn’t come close. Neither could a knight on his white horse. My husband, John, hasn’t stood a chance either.
My stomach knots up when I hear, “He completes me.” I’ve joked about it, but the reality is I hated that John didn’t complete me and I hated that I wanted him to. I hated groveling for my parents’ approval and the admiration of my kids. I didn’t want it to matter how many friends I had, but it did. And while friends were a number to rack up, I didn’t have many. I felt incomplete when I’d scan a room to see if men besides my husband noticed me.
I thought, I wouldn’t be like this if John would …
I didn’t give up, either. I worked more than 30 years to straighten out him and our marriage – to help him be who I thought I needed. All of this trying came with some screaming and lots of tears.
I suggested self-help books, counselors, and marriage retreats.
I emailed him quotes about attitude and growing up and taking responsibility. I forwarded articles with helpful husband tips.
I pointed out examples of couples (with a focus on the man) who I thought we should emulate. Most of these couples are no longer together.
Instead of helping, I hurt us by insisting John do something impossible … complete me.
I haven’t been easy to handle since feeling incomplete manifested as anxiety, dissatisfaction, and depression. I made marriage messier the more I insisted holy matrimony had something to do with filling the hole in my spirit. I mixed up my husband’s purpose with that of the Holy Spirit. I’d throw fits because God felt far away and John was standing right in front of me, so why didn’t he hold me and make me feel saner and loved.
I acknowledge now how impossible that is for someone to do when they’re just as broken and trying to nurture the same kind of hole in their spirit.
Sawyer Brown’s video 800 Pound Jesus is a beautiful visual of how God shows up in those places that people can’t fill. I’ve always skipped the song on my CD because it wasn’t a favorite, but now I listen because it reminds me of the ever-present presence of Jesus.
I didn’t mention grandchildren filling me (which seems an obvious choice as much as I love mine) because of what happened about eight months before our granddaughter’s birth. Claire is two and a half so you don’t have to wonder how long ago it’s been … not long. My husband and I fought our final battle over whether he was up for the job of completing me.
The story is too long for this post and maybe too personal for my blog, but I’ll tell you it was a six-month stalemate and the most painful time for me of our marriage. Pain is sometimes the only way God gets through to me.
As a result, when I held Claire for the first time, the love I felt for her overwhelmed me, but it never crossed my mind she’d complete me. In fact, I knew she wouldn’t. It was bittersweet because she’s so loved and lovable, it almost seemed like she should. However, for the realization that she wouldn’t, I would have fought with John for six months plus sixty years. No one needs the burden of completing someone else. I’m sorry to those I tried to make carry it for too long.
So, where’s that leave our marriage besides incomplete?
I heard my answer in the movie Shall We Dance with Susan Sarandon and Richard Gere. After Beverly Clark (played by Sarandon) finds out her husband’s not having an affair, but taking dance lessons without her, she meets the private investigator at a bar to let him know she no longer needs his services. She said about marriage, “We need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on the planet … I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things … all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”
If there’s anything you’d like to share, I hope you’ll consider leaving a comment. It helps all of us to hear from each other.
In This Together,
Artwork by me.