Remember the movie Jerry Maguire with Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger? The line that got the most attention and was probably repeated most often was, “You complete me.”
It’s hard for me to even type that line without rolling my eyes.
While that might be a sweet line for a sappy country song, it reflects a deeply flawed approach to relationships. No human being “completes” us— not even our spouses.
Don’t lose your personal identity in Christ
In my work as a marriage coach, I work with many couples in crisis— I’m often the 9-1-1 call. I’ve found that something dangerous happens when spouses look to each other for their sense of identity.
For some, this looks like leaning so hard into whatever “role” or “season” you’re currently in that you forget who you are outside of that role or season.
For others, this looks like one spouse feeling threatened by the other’s talents. The insecure spouse finds their identity in being superior to their spouse. He or she might grow distant or cold— or become controlling and/or hyper-critical. The other spouse might try to compensate or placate by, essentially, lopping off parts of their God-given identity. More often than not, distance and resentment build between the two until they reach a breaking point— this is often the context in which I meet them.
Remember: if you’re a believer, your identity ultimately doesn’t come from your current season, role, or from your spouse in any way. Your identity comes from Christ. Don’t lose sight of this.
Let’s unpack a bit more what this means:
Crafted and completed in Christ
God first created Adam, an individual. Then, later, He created community for him because it wasn’t good “for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). For the sake of this article, let’s focus on the truth that God created individual human beings and what that means for marriage.
God made you in His own image, unique and special— truly a one-of-a-kind individual.
As a result of the Fall, you are individually accountable for your sin. And God extends grace to you as an individual, granting you repentance and faith. You don’t come to Christ borrowing someone else’s repentance and faith! Your faith must be genuine and it must be yours.
In his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has completed us. Like a beautiful vase that was once shattered, unusable— God has redeemed and completed us into something more beautiful than before.
Colossians 2:10 says it best: “In [Jesus] you have been made complete, and He is the head over every ruler and authority” (NASB).
Two complete individuals coming together
God created you in His own image to be you and to be perfectly knit together with your spouse.
Christian marriage should look like one healthy, whole individual engaging with another healthy, whole individual. We all have different gifts and talents— bringing those gifts and talents together is part of what makes a marriage so special.
Two “complete” beings in Jesus come together to become “one flesh”— but neither spouse loses their personal identity in doing so. Rather, the new “body” of the marriage is something bigger and better— something that includes the gifts of both individuals, making both people better and making a better unit.
Hindsight of a widow
As a widow, I’m uniquely equipped to look back on my marriage and offer insight as to how this has played out for me.
Some of my weak areas are to isolate, to not engage in group activities, and to avoid any outdoor activity as much as possible. When my husband was alive, he brought his gifts into our marriage and, as a result, made me a better person. He was confident and comfortable in social situations, and his ease and enjoyment made those situations easier for me.
In the same way, I made him better by my ability to hit head on any crisis that demanded laser focus.
Our togetherness made us better— both as a unit, and as individuals. Jesus completed us and gave us to each other in marriage.
Two is better than one
Growing as a couple doesn’t mean losing your individual identity. You are still an individual— and so is your spouse. It’s like your marriage is a new, third individual. One made of two complete beings, not bits and pieces.
Any analogy will crumble if you push hard enough, but I think the way a husband and wife are individuals, yet one flesh profoundly reflects the way the persons of the Trinity are one. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each complete persons— and yet, they are perfectly united and one. They don’t lose their individual identities— they remain distinct.
So remember this: God completes you as an individual. And he uses your spouse to sanctify you and equip you to fulfill your purpose here on earth because two is better than one.
Do you need help navigating between individual identity and togetherness in your marriage? Contact [email protected] or check out our website for a free coaching session: www.relationshiplifeline.org
Have you heard of the The 31-Day Pursuit Challenge?
Every marriage begins with passion, purpose, and pursuit, but few stay that way. That’s why we wrote Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit Together, they make what we’re calling the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge. Couples are encouraged take the challenge together. We’re already starting to hear stories of transformed marriages! Are you up for the challenge?