Chances Are, You’re Married to the Wrong Person


Romeo and Juliet.

Image via Wikipedia

Actually, it should be said, “Chances are 100% that you’re married to the wrong person” (assuming you are married).

You may not be surprised to hear that you’re married to the wrong person. You’ve believed this for a long time, so it resonates. But you are a little troubled, possibly even vexed, that I know this about you. And you’re aghast at the very suggestion that it was bound to be so, that, whoever you are, you married the wrong person.

If this sounds wildly implausible to you, then I recommend reading a post by Lori Lowe, titled “We All Married the Wrong Person”—at her Marriage Gems blog.

In her post, Lori recounts the high points in her interview with Dr. Scott Haltzman, a psychiatrist whose books focus on marriage and family dynamics. Haltzman explains why we should acknowledge that we’ve married the wrong person. For that, we should consider the evidence that it’s true.

  • We never know a person completely when we step into marriage with him or her.
  • Marriage frequently begins with star-crossed lovers, blind to each other’s faults or limitations.
  • We bring unrealistic expectations into our marriages, expectations that cannot be fulfilled by anyone.
  • We all change with time and circumstance, so that we find we’re married to a different person over time.
  • The frequency of divorce is alarmingly high.
  • Couples that remain married acknowledge that they are not always completely happy in their marriages.
  • The pool of marriage candidates may be so large that the odds of choosing the right person are low to begin with.

Lori’s excellent post surfaces many valuable points. There are others to consider.

First, the whole concept of a right person to marry needs to be examined. Even if we allow that more than one person could be right for us, we should wonder:

  1. What does it mean for a person to be right for me?
  2. How would I know that a certain person is right for me?
  3. How would I know later that the person I married is not right for me after all?
  4. And what if every “right person” marries the wrong person—that is, marries someone other than me?

Second, suppose there is no “right person” for anyone to marry, at least in the sense that so many hope for. Anyone you marry will, sooner or later, disappoint. But this does not mean:

  1. You should never marry.
  2. Your marriage to the wrong person cannot succeed.

And it definitely does not mean that:

  1. Any person you marry is good enough.
  2. There is no person who is wrong for you.

Third, some readers will argue from a religious point of view that for those people who should marry, there is always the right person. This, they may say, is tied to the sovereignty of God and God’s special means of guidance for individual believers.

Even if this is true, the questions raised here are still vital. They translate into questions about what God desires for us, how we know what God desires for us, and how we know when we’ve found what God desires for us.

Fourth, we should commit to having a successful marriage, and let go any idealistic notion of being married to just the right person and having a perfect marriage.

Fifth, we should welcome a different conception of the values and rewards of marriage than what is so widely assumed today.

Scott Haltzman’s books:

A book I recommend on decision making for the Christian, and its wisdom approach to marriage decisions, is Decision Making and the Will of God, by Garry Friesen.

Legends of the Fall: A Discussion Guide


Legends of the Fall (USA, 1994); directed by Edward Zwick

Chapter 4 of my book, Faith, Film and Philosophy, is titled “Defining Love through the Eye of the Lens: Romance, Sex, and the Human Condition in Pretty Woman, Legends of the Fall, and The Bridges of Madison County.” The author is Greg Jesson. Here are discussion questions for the film Legends of the Fall that I’ve used in conjunction with his chapter.

  1. A native American named Stab, an elder of the Cree Nation, narrates the beginning of the film. How would you explain the director’s choice in beginning the film this way?
  2. In a letter to his mother, Alfred writes, “I pray every night for the grace to forgive Tristan.” Do you agree that Tristan has sinned against his brother, Alfred? Explain your answer. Does Alfred ever forgive Tristan? Why or why not? If you believe he doesn’t, what would it have taken for him to forgive Tristan?
  3. When visited by a committee of citizens who want Alfred to be elected to Congress, he shouts at them, “What do you want for yourselves if you get my son elected?” What does this say about his view of politics? What does it say about his view of people, in general?
  4. Alfred says, in response to his father’s accusation that the U.S. government has yet to regain its wisdom, common sense, and humanity: “I will consider it my absolute duty to bring both wisdom and humanity to the United States Congress.” This may ring a bell. Compare Alfred’s vow with the similar promise made by Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane. How are they alike? Different?
  5. Following his argument with the Colonel, Alfred says, tenderly, “Susanna, you deserve to be happy.” Is this true? What is Alfred’s conception of happiness? How does this compare with your conception of happiness?
  6. Does the Colonel have a favorite son? If so, who is it? What accounts for this? How are the others affected?
  7. What happens when Susanna’s name comes up, after Tristan returns home? Is Susanna over Tristan? Is Tristan over Susanna? What is your evidence?
  8. What do you think of Anthony Hopkins’s performance as a stroke victim? Is his stroke supposed to mean anything that ties into the story line of the film? (Is it symbolic?)
  9. One Stab repeatedly speaks of “the bear inside” of Tristan. What is the point of this metaphor? What does it say about Tristan and One Stab’s evaluation of him as a person?
  10. At a public meeting, Alfred and Tristan meet. Alfred asks, “How’s father? Is he well?” Tristan answers, “As well as can be expected.” What does this mean? What can be expected? Why?
  11. In explanation of the accidental death of Isabel, Alfred says to Tristan, “It was a terrible, tragic, accident.” What does this say about Alfred? Has he changed as a person?
  12. Whose faults are greater? Tristan’s, or Susanna’s? Support your answer.
  13. At Susanna’s grave, Alfred says to Tristan, “I followed all the rules . . . . And you, you followed none of them. And they all loved you more.” What does this say about Alfred’s view of love? What does it say about his view of doing the right thing? Is there a sense in which he isn’t any different than Tristan?
  14. Tristan’s father says to him, “You are not damned, Tristan. I won’t allow that.” Any comments?
  15. How are things resolved in the end? Does this change anything?
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