Every once in a while, a movie line lands in such a way that sticks with a generation. In the classic movie Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise’s character proclaims to Renée Zellweger’s character, “You complete me.”

I understand why this phrase resonates. It gives a language to what many of us have been taught about marriage—our soul-mate should be able to fix our gaps, cracks, and broken parts.

Why We Marry Our Opposite

I wonder if that is why so many of us marry our opposite. Do we, on a subconscious level, believe we will become more whole through marital osmosis?

  • Won’t marrying an extrovert make an introvert finally feel comfortable at parties?
  • Won’t marrying someone fiscally responsible make a spender stop swiping their credit card too often?
  • Won’t marrying a solid believer help out a reluctant Christian’s faith?

Many of us think: if marriage is right, we should feel right. Why? Because just under the surface we believe our spouse is supposed to complete us.

The Math Doesn’t Add Up

But that is not the case. And no one tells us that it’s not the case. So, we wonder: what’s wrong, what we did wrong, what they did wrong, what the world did wrong. All because our spouse doesn’t complete us.

When we pause and do the relational math, “you complete me” is a great mantra for a two-hour movie, but lousy for marriage.

Let’s do that math. Two broken people get married. Broken pieces plus broken pieces equal more broken pieces. But that is where it gets more beautiful than “you complete me.”

The Better Solution

When we lean into God individually and as couple, the image is so much better. The picture is fluid, complex, tragic, lovely, ours, only ours, only us. Marriage is designed to be God’s ever-changing, extraordinary piece of art that represents Christ’s love for the church.

In a deep, passionate rescue, Christ died for the church and serves it every day. How utterly messy, how utterly beautiful lived out in our real world of life, career, and kids.

If your spouse’s differences aren’t fixing you, completing you, you are in good company. That was never God’s plan. Only He completes us, and even that doesn’t happen completely until heaven.

Enjoy your original, messy, and incomplete marriage. It may not be perfect, but it can be beautiful when we forgive, serve, love, forgive, laugh, flirt and let our spouse be our spouse and our God be our God.

Ted Lowe is a speaker and the director of MarriedPeople, the marriage division at Orange. Ted is the author of two books—one for marriage ministry leaders (Married People: How Your Church Can Build Marriages That Last) and one for married couples (Your Best US: Marriage Is Easier Than You Think). He served for almost 10 years as the director of MarriedLife at North Point Community Church. He lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with his four favorite people: his wife, Nancie, and their three children.