Since ‘love’ (Valentine’s) is in the air, I’d like to try and debunk a very popular (and harmful) myth about relationships today. I call it the “Right Person Myth.” It goes like this: If I find the right person, everything will be alright. Here’s how that myth plays out: You know deep down that you’ve got some issues to work out. You’re too narcissistic, you’re addicted to something, you’re lazy, your priorities are all jacked up. But there’s not a lot of pressure to get all that stuff worked out. Why? Because if you find the right person, everything will be alright.
The right person will be perfectly complete, completely put together, have all their issues worked out so they can focus all of their energies on you and helping you become the person you need to be. The problem with this is that your future spouse is walking in with the same expectations. They’re expecting you to be the Right Person, perfectly put together, all issues worked out, etc.
So how do you know when you meet the right person? Chemistry. You know chemistry. It’s that feeling that “no one in the world has ever loved like this before!” You talk for hours, you finish each other’s sentences, no one in the world has ever experienced what you’re experiencing. You found the right person! You have chemistry!
Chemistry, as fun as it is, is a horrible thing to base a relationship on. You know why? Because you can have chemistry with more than one person. You can have chemistry with lots of people. When things get serious, you take things for a test drive. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on, you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive. So you take your physical relationship for a test drive. Maybe you even move in together. And guess what? There’s still chemistry! You’re physically compatible with one other! It’s meant to be!
So you get married. Everything’s perfect right? Wrong. Why? Because neither of you know how to have a relationship. You only know how to have chemistry. You assume that the other person will know how to do the relationship part, but your spouse is assuming the same thing about you. And when couples sit down in my office for marriage counseling, it’s because they have relationship problems. They’ve never figured out how to work on their relationship, so their marriage begins to struggle, and when you’re relationship struggles, your chemistry struggles.
Now married people want their marriage to work, so they go back to what they know: chemistry. Guys think, “I know what we need to do. Have more sex! That fixes everything!” It’s like the guy has only one tool in his tool chest, that’s what he keeps going back to.
Single people will think this is absolutely crazy, but here’s what happens sometimes. When you’ve got a marriage relationship that’s struggling, here’s what the wives think: “I know what will fix this struggling, fractured marriage: a baby!” I know, it’s crazy. Let’s bring a crying, needy baby into an already volatile situation and see what happens. But they guys think, “Making a baby requires sex. I’m in!”
And then the wife gets pregnant. And as sick as it sounds, do you know one of the top times that a husband has an affair? When his wife is pregnant. And I know the guy will say, “I’ve got needs!” Sex is not a need. It’s a privilege. You’ll die from a lack of water. Water is a need. You’ll die from a lack of food. Food is a need. You will not die from a lack of sex.
But it happens. You get a couple of years of this crazy cycle, and then one day the spouse will look up from their desk at work and you’ll see someone, and there’s a spark inside, something that comes alive, and you have a dangerous thought. Maybe this is the right person for me. Maybe my problem is that I married the wrong person. If I just meet and marry the next right person, then everything will be alright.
And not surprisingly, that doesn’t work. The failure rate of second marriages is far worse than first marriages, because the Right Person Myth is just that: a myth. Don’t fall for it!