Challenges, Love, Priorities

My Wife Doesn’t Complete Me

As much as I want to echo Mr. Maguire, I can’t. Selena doesn’t complete me, and nor do I complete her.

“You complete me” is a famous line, said during the romantic crux of Jerry Maguire, a mid-90s ‘dramedy’ blockbuster. Since then, phrases like this one and “you had me at hello” have become comic relief staples for many “bromances” and lighthearted Friday night movie-quote sessions.

It’s tough to imagine someone using either of these lines seriously. I’d have a hard time saying them to Selena with a straight face, and so would she. Maybe I’m wrong… but don’t they just seem uber cheesy now?

Regardless of how useful they are in real life, both statements reflect sentiments that are deeply regarded as truth in culture today; though few would use them, many believe them. If left unchecked, these beliefs can cause much confusion, and as you may have gathered from the title, I’m hoping to clear things up a bit… for myself and for readers.

Pop-culture vs. Biblical Marriage

A husband can only win his wife's heart once Christ has captured his.Ok, so what’s the big deal? Why go to the trouble of writing a blog post about these seemingly innocuous statements?

Pop-culture is at odds with biblical marriage both overtly and covertly.

Overtly

Overt oppositions are direct and more obvious, like someone saying “marriage is irrelevant” or encouraging couples to live together before being married as a sort of “try before you buy” strategy. In the past decade, culture has redefined marriage significantly, to the point where proponents of biblical marriage are now under heavy scrutiny. [insert politically charged statement here].

Covertly

Covert oppositions are less obvious and usually take shape over decades as culture evolves and traditions are gradually discarded. No, I’m not talking about traditions like ceremonies etc, but rather the biblical definition of love and what a marriage covenant truly entails. One example is the general belief of what love is – a fluid emotion that comes and goes as mysteriously as the wind (ex. “I love you but I’m not in love with you”).

I believe gradual and covert cultural oppositions to marriage are the most damaging, and I’d contend that these types of statements fall into the covert opposition category.

Before you think I’m crazy or being a huge prude, let’s look at Colossians 2:8:

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

Paul is referring to the doctrines of Gentile and Jewish philosophers – the popular thinkers of the day (i.e. pop-culture). Popular thinking (culture) was failing miserably at addressing the brokenness and hopelessness of the human soul; there were gaps and shortcomings which left people confused and lost. They had lots of words and philosophies, but none were as complete as the truth of Jesus, as Paul clearly indicates.

Paul’s message addresses us in the same way, as if to say “don’t be taken captive by what pop-culture believes”. I say this simply to illustrate that Paul was aware of culture’s affect, he wanted the Colossians to be aware of it, and we should also be aware of it.

Who completes me?

Love stands beside you in strength and carries you through weakness.

Jesus completes me. Also, he is busy about the work of completing me. He is both the end itself and the means to the end. What does that even mean?? Allow me to explain…

When we submit to, believe in, and follow Jesus, he completes us. He becomes our sole source of security, peace, joy, and hope. We literally put our eternal lives in his hands.

At the moment of trusting him, he covers us with his righteousness (2 Cor 5:21) – we are completed. He’s also actively completing us as we become sanctified through discipleship.

If we continue reading the passage, Paul exhorts the Colossians further:

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

Colossians 2:9-10

Our fullness is in him!

Matthew Henry’s commentary says it best:

By this one word complete, is shown that we have in Christ whatever is required. In him, not when we look to Christ, as though he were distant from us, but we are in him, when, by the power of the Spirit, we have faith wrought in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are united to our Head.

In Marriage: Complementing vs. Completing

This is the part where I bring the conversation around to marriage…

As spouses, we’re called to complement each other, but we we were never called to complete each other. This may sound obvious, but most of us act as if we believe the opposite.

When we place undue pressure on our spouses for our joy, peace, and even love, we set them up for failure. They will inevitably fall short, and if we’re leaning on them for our security we’ll fall with them. If we’re not full in Christ, we will have an immensely hard time being fulfilled by our spouse.

We're not perfect, but we are devoted.When we’re full in Christ alone, suddenly we have margin (extra room) in our lives for each others’ imperfections. We are enabled to stand in the gaps where our partners fall short.

We can have patience when they’re impatient, express love when they’re hurtful, and remind them of Christ’s hope when they are hopeless. In other words, you help and complement them by being strong in their weaknesses.

A Startling Liberation

For us, this revelation was as liberating as it was startling. I was startled in that I want to complete her, but liberated when I realized it’s not my job. Trying to complete your spouse or trying to have them complete you effectively puts them in Jesus’ place in your life. But neither you nor they can fill his shoes!

My and Selena’s prayer is that we become complete in Christ, experiencing his fullness first. Then, in his completion, we can minister to each other as he directs, complementing and helping as he leads.

We hope that marriage culture, especially among Christians, retains this message and emphasizes Jesus as our full completion. And I urge you to seek completion in Christ alone, as only he is full enough to do it. 

Now, if only Hollywood could work “you complement me” into a movie somehow….

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