In the first long conversation I had with my husband I was currently interested (maybe obsessed is a better word) in Myers Briggs and the Four Temperaments. I probably spent thirty minutes asking him questions, analyzing his personality, and mapping it out for him in diagrams. Thankfully, he must not have thought I was too weird, and I left the conversation pleased that the guy I had a crush on seemed pretty compatible with me.
Not long after, we were dating and have been married two years now. I often attribute our falling in love and our happiness in marriage to that compatibility we found so apparent from the start. But as I reflected on it all during our anniversary I realized that there may be something even bigger and more important as to why I’m happily married. Something beyond the personality and values that match up, and even beyond the romance.
That is, my husband is better than me.
What do I mean and in what way? Well, it’s not something I can add up or describe perfectly. I could talk about his patience or his kindness or his determination. But it’s simpler than that. It’s not a list of qualities that he exceeds in compared to me. It’s not something I can logically graph out. It’s just, when I look at my husband, every day, I continually think to myself, wow. I wish I could be more like him.
And as I reflect on this fact, I realize what may be the number one piece of advice I would give to anyone seeking to find somebody. Not doubt, the extrovert/introvert thing matters. It matters what your opinions on politics and religion are. It matters that you like to hold each others’ hands and kiss. But to think your spouse is a hero– to think them your hero– so much so that you wish to and seek to be like them is a gift beyond compare. Marry for many things, many good things, but above all, marry because the person you’re marrying has a heart you esteem and virtues you admire.
There is a tendency to view marriage as a mere partnership. So we map things out and we take tests and we check boxes. We know life is hard, so we want to be sure that our partner is someone we can “work with.” We rightfully fret over settling down because we see it fail all too often. We want to be sure there aren’t going to be lots of problems so we seek that partner who “matches” us. And this is great, because marriage involves many partnerships. But marriage is much more than a partnership.
Marriage is a union of two people as one. That’s huge. Because naturally, when you become one person, you hand yourself over and allow yourself to be wholly and entirely influenced– you hand your heart over to be molded and purified. In a partnership, you work together on your project. But marriage is much more complex. By its very nature of total responsibility for each other, it’s a back and forth of leading and following, carrying and being carried. It’s not enough to match up on a list, because that list will grow and change. Life will change and present all sorts of new challenges and circumstances. What matters most is that you desire to be encompassed by the other person’s goodness– that you desire to be led and influenced by it. That is where true joy will come from in your marriage– from watching the unfolding of a good heart and allowing that good heart to love you and thereby teach you to love.
So to those looking, read up on Myers Briggs and love languages and all that (they’re pretty awesome and interesting!) Fill out questionnaires. Seek dates at places where you have common interests and values. Do all this. But above all non-negotiables, seek someone who blows you away with their virtue. Seek someone who is better than you. Seek someone you want to be like. Seek somebody who will make you better and you’ll find that they will, and they’ll surround you with great love and joy along the way.