Is it possible to marry the wrong person?
Question: "Is it possible to marry the wrong person?"
Answer: The simple answer is that, yes, it is possible to marry the wrong person. God has given human beings a free will to make choices, even wrong choices. Given today’s high divorce rate, many people today seemingly marry the wrong person. A divorce does not always mean that someone married the wrong person, of course; often, divorce is the result of a failure to work through the problems that all married couples face. Also, not everyone who marries the wrong person gets a divorce.
Biblically, a Christian should be looking to marry another believer who shares a similar commitment to following the Lord Jesus. Marriage to an unbeliever is not an option for the believer (2 Corinthians 6:14). So, if a Christian marries a non-Christian, he or she has indeed married the wrong person.
There are other ways to marry the wrong person. For example, marrying someone who is abusive, immature, selfish, or codependent is going to result in problems. Marrying someone who has untreated addictions or is living in unrepentant sin will sooner or later result in the awareness that a mistake was made.
What are some reasons that people marry the wrong person? In the case of a believer’s choosing to marry an unbeliever, the reason is disobedience to God. Some simply ignore God’s command for His children not to be unequally yoked with the unsaved. Others simply aren’t ready for marriage. They underestimate the sacrifice required to live with another person. Others step into toxic situations in the mistaken belief that the power of their love alone will change the other person into someone who is not abusive, immature, selfish, or codependent.
Culture also plays a role in influencing people to marry the wrong person. Our society has portrayed marriage as a temporary arrangement that can be adapted or forsaken at will. Since exiting a marriage is not a big deal, neither is entering it. The fantasy is promoted that marriage should meet all our needs—the emphasis being on meeting one’s own needs, not the needs of one’s spouse. Conventional wisdom says that, when a couple’s marriage is tested or when one of them feels unmet needs, they should just get a divorce—and laws in many states make divorce quite easy. Rather than work it out, many couples at odds conclude they don’t love each other anymore and end the marriage. All too many say their vows without a real commitment to their spouse or to God.
Once a person realizes that he or she has married the wrong person, what then? First, if a believer has willfully disobeyed God’s instructions in 2 Corinthians 6:14, confession of sin to God is necessary. Then, steps should be taken to make the best of the situation and bring healing to the relationship (see 1 Corinthians 7:12–14; Ephesians 5:21–33). If the situation presents a danger to either spouse or to the children involved, then separation is in order. Seeking godly counsel from a pastor or marriage counsellor is important, too. While the Bible allows for divorce in specific circumstances, divorce should never be the first option. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37), and He can bring beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3). A Christian married to the wrong person may find that God desires to turn a bad marriage into a good one (see 1 Peter 3:1–2). The power of God can transform the wrong person into the right one.
How can a person prevent getting married to the wrong person? Benjamin Franklin’s oft-quoted quip, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards,” is good advice (Poor Richard’s Almanac, June 1738), but even more helpful is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Some people seek first a spouse, and righteousness falls by the wayside. The single person should concentrate on becoming the individual God wants him or her to be and commit to dating only those who are also strong, growing Christians. To avoid mistakes, it’s necessary to heed the Word (Luke 11:28), seek godly counsel, pray for wisdom (James 1:5), and be honest with God and others.
Recommended Resource: Becoming Soul Mates by Les Parrott
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Questions about Marriage
Is it possible to marry the wrong person?