Here is a woman who got married earlier this year. It was a beautiful event. All her family and friends were there. It was even highlighted in her South Dakota town newspaper. It was such a remarkable event that everyone in her town and beyond have been talking about it ever since. The wedding gifts piled up. She has been celebrating her new life ever since the big day. And she realizes that if the relationship is to work, she must invest in it. To that end, she explains, “It’s been a while since my wife and I have been on a date, so this is long overdue.” And out the door they go, to their favorite Indian restaurant, so happy to be with each other.
Our new bride, Nadine, is not a lesbian; however, she does have a female spouse whom she loves deeply. Confused? Well the explanation will be of little help. You see, Nadine married herself.
At her wedding, she recited her vows of love and commitment … to herself. Her first marriage — to an actual other person — ended in divorce, and her two children decided to live with their father. Heartbroken, Nadine decided it was time to pull her life together and commit herself to that one special person who could really love and accept her for who she was. How many people truly find that in their lives? She explains, “The love I need, it’s in here …” tenderly patting her heart. She tells herself regularly and assuredly that she loves her, as good marriage partners do.
This is not a stunt for attention. It’s not a practical joke. It is not sarcasm. For Nadine, this is real. She doesn’t seem to be split personality. She has committed herself to that person who she loves most. After all, aren’t we told today that each of us has the right to marry the person we love? Don’t worry if that person is yourself.
Of course, this raises a number of curious questions, relationship-wise:
- At whose family do they spend Christmas and Thanksgiving?
- Do they split the household chores equitably?
- When they have a fight, who sleeps on the couch?
- How do both get what all relationships need: “alone time”?
- If they were to ever divorce, who moves out, and would she need to show fault?
So what do we make of this?
Perhaps this is a natural conclusion of a culture that has so dramatically subjectified marriage and family; make it all about what is best for you! The thinking goes that if you are happy, then those around you will be happy. That is the present version of the hyper-popish I’m OK, You’re OK nonsense from the 1970s. Been there, done that. It didn’t’ work. But here we are, trying it again.
Fritz Perls, a world-class guru of 1960/70s gestalt psycho-babble, had no small number of couples marrying in those days reciting his “gestalt prayer” as their wedding vows:
I do my thing, and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you and I am I
And if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.
True happiness is never gained by watching out for yourself as a central life goal. It comes by understanding who you are — who God made you to be — and giving that to others around you for their benefit as a gift of self. Service. It is so not about you.
But if we are honest, far too many of us marry ourselves. We just happen to bring our spouse along. Think about it.
But we must ask the question, “If I am to please and honor Christ in my marriage, who is it that I should serve and sacrifice for?”
It is not self. It is our beloved, just as Christ gave himself for His beloved, who is each of us.
Don’t marry yourself, even if you have a spouse.