Stop Searching For Your Other HalfSep 14, 2022
Here is a misconception that many people seem to hold. It stems from trying to solve an age-old math problem the wrong way. It looks like this:
½ person + ½ person = 1 whole person
Here is this wrong point of view stated another way: “I am incomplete as a person, and you are lacking some big things too. So let’s merge our strengths, and we will make up for each other’s weaknesses. Together we will achieve the happiness that each of us lacks alone.”
This strategy feels right to people. They find someone who embodies all that they are not, and they feel complete when they are together. And that makes sense. We always feel more alive when we get near what we don’t possess but need. It brings parts of us to life that have little chance of emerging on their own.
But something happens when this formula is applied to marriage. When two incomplete people marry in hopes that merging their strengths will make up for each other’s weaknesses, the result is not the happiness they hope for. In fact, what happens is that each partner slowly comes to want from the other the things that that person does not possess.
Do the Relational Math
Looking to your spouse for the strengths and traits that you lack is another dumb attitude that can sink your marriage. But like most self-defeating attitudes, this one is common and highly fixable. So don’t feel alone or discouraged. First, let’s understand what happens in this situation, as it happens to everyone who encounters it.
The problem is that the wrong expectations were set up in the beginning because the wrong formula was applied. Relationships are not additive in nature. In other words, one-half plus one-half does not equal one in relational math. Relationships are multiplicative. As God says, “The two shall become one” (Mark 10:8). So when you take a whole person and multiply his or her strengths by the other whole person, you get a unified, mutual relationship that is incredibly strong.
The problem is that when you multiply one-half of a person times one-half of a person (which is always what happens in every relationship, as none of us is totally whole), you get one-quarter of a person. That’s less than you started with! And struggling couples will often tell you that. They bring each other down by demanding that the other “half” display more than the original half that he or she brought to the relationship. As is often said, they are attracted to someone because of a certain trait, and then they fight about that trait for the next forty years. So what’s the answer?
The key to breaking that pattern or blocking any tendency for it to appear in your marriage is realizing that everyone is incomplete, including you and your lover. Your first task is to lower your expectations for that “half-baked” person to be “done.” Realize that your mate is still in the oven, and God is at work making him into the complete person that both you and God desire him to be.
Hints for Living with a “Half-Baked” Person
Accept the fact that you and your mate are not fully complete, well-rounded people. Give up the demand that your mate be other than he is, and start dealing with it in a better way. What does that mean? Here are some hints on living with a half-baked person–and how you can overcome being one.
Accept your spouse as an incomplete person, just as God has accepted you.
There are areas where your partner truly is more of a “half” than a “whole.” So accept that reality lovingly. Stop protesting with rage, nagging, shame, condemnation, and any other way that you do not like to be treated yourself.
Look at the areas where you are incomplete before focusing on your mate’s incompleteness.
Get the plank out of your own eye first (Matthew 7:5). Ask your partner where you need to develop more. Ask what incomplete areas of your personality affect them the most, and begin there. Be a model for change.
Become supportive change agents for each other in the areas of growth that you need.
Talk about those things together, not with nagging or judgment, but as teammates. Create a safe space in which you can talk about them in love–no judgment, no shame, no guilt, no anger allowed.
Focus on the things that are important first.
Address each other’s real needs. Helping each other grow to completeness in those areas is more important than some of the stuff you may tend to fight over.
This is important: be patient with your partner just as God is patient with you. Want to see how it works? Think of your most incomplete issue as a person (such as procrastination, emotional vulnerability, completing tasks, sharing feelings, or being assertive). Got it? How long have you been aware of that issue? How long have you been working on it? How long has God been patient with you?
How has He loved you unconditionally along the way? That is the way you have to look at this issue in your partner.
Don’t Push the Process
You must face these issues, or your relationship will not improve. Even push for change if needed. But you cannot expect your relationship to change overnight. You can expect your spouse to hear you and face the problem, but you can’t expect immediate maturity. Some things take time. What you want is to be on the same page, working on your spouse, investing in them, and delighting in improvement.
Accept what the marriage is, work on it lovingly, and give each other time to grow. Suppose that when baking a cake, you opened the oven when it was half-done and demanded that it be ready right now! That stance with a mate is one of the most common ways to break a connection.
To preserve the connection between you and your spouse, two half-baked people, be sure to add the right ingredients–love, honesty, support, feedback, and becoming whole yourself. Set the timer correctly for maturity, giving your mate time to learn and grow. Knowing that you are still cooking, you can face the issues without poisoning the connection that will be needed to help you both become “fully baked.”