Is your future spouse your idol?

When I first entered the “dating scene,” I had a list of ideals that my future husband would have. I’m not talking about standards, because those are good to have. I’m talking about an idealist image—nothing short of a movie. But, I came to realize that no man made me “feel” a magical way all the time, and I could never imagine a man “completing” me. That’s when I realized I was looking for God in a future spouse, instead of someone who brought me closer to God’s ideal love.

When we expect all these things from one human being, we make our future spouse our idol.
When we look for God in the wrong places, Fr. John Powell pointed out, “in the end we are always left with the same painful emptiness which we were led to believe we could fill.”

Just think about it: God, in His infinite love, is the most powerful and complete love we will ever experience. In our journey of faith with our Lord, are we happy all the time? Do we have a magical feeling of love for God every moment?

No, we don’t. Even in our relationship with God, we don’t experience the perfect and everlasting happiness of heaven here on earth all the time. We don’t experience it all the time because we are fallen humans.

If we don’t have this magical “in love” feeling all the time in our relationship with God, how can we expect to have that with a fallen, imperfect human being? There are limitations of love between two human beings. In the words of Sebastian Moore, “We are limited by our own boundaries, our awareness. We cannot get inside, interior, to another. We cannot meet totally.”

God alone satisfies.
Instead of looking to a human being to “complete” us, we should be looking to God. We make our future spouse our “god” if we look for someone who satisfies in the way only God can. Reuel Howe noted, “Much marriage … unhappiness [is] due to the failure of the partners to accept … their finiteness … Instead, they hold themselves up to ideals … possible only to God.”

While marriage is an ideal, it is also a reality.
The ideal of marriage says that “authentic married love is caught up into divine love.” (CCC 1639). It’s a reflection of Christ’s perfect love for His bride, the Church. But, it only a reflection. If we expect a relationship to measure up to the ideal, it never will. We are all fallen human beings.

Thankfully, husbands and wives don’t have to do it alone, because God grants grace to those who are married, so that they have special assistance in their lifelong partnership. “‘Christ is the source of this grace… through the sacrament of Matrimony.’ Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens…’” (CCC 1642).

Let’s be sure we don’t make marriage such an ideal that is no longer a reality.
Let’s keep in mind who truly completes us—God. God’s love for us is the greatest love story of all time. Let’s dwell in His love and be satisfied with the everlasting and perfect love He shows for us every moment of every day. Let’s not look for that perfect love in a human being, but be satisfied with God’s perfect love, and rest in that.

Also, see part 2: “What should I look for in a future spouse?”
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Emily Brandenburg-2Emily Brandenburg is a Catholic Youth and Young Adult leader in the Diocese of Orange, California.  She hosts a large Bible study and Praise, Worship, and Adoration evenings.  In addition, she is concertmaster of St. Martin’s Orchestra, holds a J.D. from Pepperdine School of Law, and is a full-time attorney.  She enjoys spending time outdoors, fellowshipping with family and friends, making new friends, and always having a good laugh.  You can connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Emily-Brandenburg/1565280567042667 and Instagram at @emily_brande.  She blogs at TheNetofLove.blogspot.com.

21 Comments

  1. Really appreciate that you took the time to write about this! This falls in line with a paradigm shift that has slowly been actualizing in my life. Though someone may seem to me as a potential future spouse, I have been constantly reminding myself of their humanness. I have been praying especially to St. Faustina for her intercession in asking God to give me the grace to love as described in Luke 10:27: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself.
    Thank you again, Emily! I’ve been craving for an article on this!

    By Sirena | 2 years ago Reply
    • Beautiful, encouraging reply, Sirena. Thank you for sharing!

      By Anna | 2 years ago Reply
    • Yes, thank you for the beautiful comment, Sirena. God bless!

      By Emily | 2 years ago Reply
  2. “If we don’t have this magical “in love” feeling all the time in our relationship with God, how can we expect to have that with a fallen, imperfect human being? ” Great analogy! We should continue to pray for those who have influence in the media to have the wisdom to choose what will make our world a better place.

    By Jan | 2 years ago Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Jan. Many blessings!

      By Emily | 2 years ago Reply
  3. Ok

    By Laura Anne | 2 years ago Reply
  4. Lol, oh trust me even us guys do this as well. When I read this post, the very first person I thought of was myself. As a guy who works a third shift job, I don’t get to meet very many women (and when I do they are mostly in pajama pants and don’t look their greatest) so of course it is just natural to fantasize about a future spouse. I always dreamed mine would be a tall red-headed woman who enjoyed ballroom dancing and loved dogs. I was crushed when my tall red-headed women at Thursday night ballroom couldn’t stand pets and really didn’t have a relationship with God like I do. So I just kept on dreaming.

    Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and the end of Lent. During this Lenten Season, I have tried my hardest to grow in prayer. Since I drive 20 miles one way to my job, I have turned off the music and I have been praying in my car on the way to and from work. I have also been trying to say a quick prayer thanking God for keeping me safe while I travel before I get into my car and when I get out of it.

    So I guess during Lent, I really did make God my idol and not some tall ballroom dancing, dog-loving, red-head.

    By Andy | 2 years ago Reply
    • Thank for sharing. I hope you find someone amazing who shares your love for God.

      By Tasha | 2 years ago Reply
    • Andy, I understand how you feel. I work with all women and it is so hard to not picture my future husband. During this Lenten season, I too have been focusing more on God and it has been eye opening! It is nice to know that it’s not just women who are guilty of making their future spouse their idol. Thank you for sharing your comment!

      By Katie | 2 years ago Reply
    • Andy – thanks for the comment! I completely agree men do this too. Of course, I was writing from the standpoint of a woman since I am one. Great to hear your perspective too! Many blessings during the season of Easter.

      By Emily | 2 years ago Reply
  5. Helped me a lot! thank you

    By Bere | 2 years ago Reply
  6. Thank you for writing such a beautiful and inspirational article. It truly meant a lot to me reading it and I felt like you were speaking directly to me. God bless!

    By Katie | 2 years ago Reply
    • Katie – thank you for the beautiful comment. God bless too!

      By Emily | 2 years ago Reply
  7. A Human relationship cant offer anything that a Relationship with God can offer. NOTHING. People are so caught up in physical, viseral “feelings” like Kissing, Touch, holding hands, Words of Affection, even the marital act itself. Illusions, all of them! That’s not love, it’s distraction. It’s noise, like static on a TV or interference on the Radio. And worse, such manifestations are addictive and cause one to make terrible decisions, on both Spiritual and Human planes. True, authentic and intimate love can ONLY come from God and His grace and mercy, everything else is suspect.

    By Broken Hearted | 2 years ago Reply
    • Yes, no human relationship can measure up to the relationship and infinite love that God alone gives us. However, these “visceral feelings” like sharing a kiss, tough, holding hands, etc. I would argue are not illusions or distraction; they are a reflection of God’s love too, especially when they are meant out of complete selfless goodness. Yes, when idolized they are addictive as the article states. However, to treat them as inherently bad or “not love”, I think goes beyond what the author was saying. Those things, too, are good, but they are not and shouldn’t become everything.

      By Sarah | 2 years ago Reply
  8. I`m a Venezuelan girl. I really love this page, but I HOPE THIS PAGE WOULD BE WRITEN IT IN SPANISH so can share it with my friends. Im already praying for this intention.

    By Odalis | 2 years ago Reply
  9. If Chastity isn’t “all about the rules”, why are there so many rules? And why are there more rules for Marital Chastity than Singe Chastity?

    Because Chastity is all about Marriage, that’s why.

    By James | 2 years ago Reply
  10. Hi all! Ok, I am a bit confused about this idol making business. I am not going to go into a lot of detail, but I was in love with a guy who cared for me and understood me in ways nobody ever did before (don’t worry I’ve been chaste ; ) but things didn’t work out between us. (We almost became more than friends but things didn’t work out that way). So, I’m kinda bummed about that. He was everything I wanted in a spouse and I still want to meet someone with those exact same qualities. Am I making an idol out of this guy?? I hope not : ( But after tasting what’s it’s like to be in love, it’s been hard for me to enjoy being single again. (I appreciate your input but please don’t judge me cause I’m hurting enough as it is). Thank you!

    By Anonymous | 2 years ago Reply
    • Honestly, that is a really tough question, that you alone can truly answer. However, it sounds like you are just going through the normal repercussions of loss. If you find yourself spending more time thinking of him, than maybe time with God or with the rest of your daily life, than that is a good sign that he has become an idol in your life. But hang in there, if God is calling you to marriage, He has a plan (Jer 29:11). Try praying for him, as well as your future spouse. Hope that helps, but I will keep you in my prayers!

      By Sarah | 2 years ago Reply
      • Aw thank you so much!

        By Anonymous | 2 years ago Reply
  11. I do not expect a future spouse to be perfect, but I hope that he can accept that I am a sinner with a past and that not all my relationships have been perfect. I hope my future spouse does not also have an ideal in his mind about how I should be as a woman too.

    By Joanne | 2 years ago Reply

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