There is No Such Thing as ‘The One’

Great marriages are more formed than they are found.

You’ve seen the plot: Guy meets girl. Guy likes girl. Girl likes guy. They hang out pretty frequently and text/call each other almost every day. Everything’s coming together, and their friends see the budding relationship as a complete win for both sides.

The girl is waiting for the guy to take initiative and move their relationship past the odd more-than-friends-less-than-lovers stage, but he's scared. “What if she’s not the one I’m supposed to pursue?” he asks. “I need to wait on God to tell me she’s the right one” he reconciles to himself.

The dates continue. The girl is irritated but patient as the guy dances around taking things to the next level and never does. The months go by. She sees her friends getting engaged/married/having children and can’t figure out why he’s stalling. She genuinely likes him and can imagine a fulfilling marriage with him. But he’s weak and indecisive.

The Bible certainly doesn’t talk about marriage and spouses in terms of finding only one uniquely designed match


Perhaps you’ve seen the other side of the story, too. A mature, Godly guy is interested in a girl, and he pursues her like he’s supposed to. He takes initiative. He doesn’t play with her heart. He takes her on dates and makes his intentions clear to her. They’ve been dating for months and she genuinely likes him, but when he talks about taking their relationship to a more serious level, she stalls. She tells him she needs to pray and seek more wisdom about it, even though she’s received all the Godly counsel one could want and has prayed about nothing else for months.

He’s an outstanding Christian man, and her friends, family and pastors unanimously agree they’d make for a fantastic marriage. But deep down, she’s terrified by the idea of marrying “the wrong person.” No matter how compatible they seem, she can’t stop wondering if there might be someone better suited for her.

I’ve seen this happen so many times, my stomach hurts just thinking about it: A couple finds themselves in a relationship in which all signs point to marriage, but either the guy or the girl (sometimes both) is stalling because they’re not sure if their significant other is “the one.” They’re wondering if God’s going to tell them one day, “You really messed up. I had your perfect spouse all ready and waiting for you, but you went ahead and married the wrong person. Too bad.”

Of course, this begs the question: Does God have only one specific person you’re meant to marry? My answer is a resounding “no.”

The Bible talks extensively about marriage, but it doesn’t discuss much about how Christians should go about selecting a spouse. Granted, it wouldn’t be wise to assume that just because a guy and a girl are both Christians they’ll make for a good marriage. But the Bible seems to imply a great degree of freedom for Christians when discerning whom to marry. And it certainly doesn’t talk about marriage and spouses in terms of finding only one uniquely-designed match, yet we’ve strangely adopted this notion when considering a potential spouse. We pray things like, “God, show me if he/she is the person I’m supposed to marry or not.” Hollywood has more influence on us than we realize.

So here’s the rub: What if God doesn’t have one particular person you’re supposed to marry? What if there are many different men or women with whom you could have an equally fulfilling, God-glorifying marriage?

If you’re single and looking to get married, don’t scan your groups of friends like you're a lone puzzle piece looking for a perfect match. You shouldn't be looking for your custom-fitted, perfect partner; you should be looking for a good spouse.

Instead of asking, "Who will be best for me and fit all of my criteria?" ask questions like, "Who would make for a healthy, God-glorifying marriage?" and “Who seems like they would be unselfish and willing to make adjustments with me?” Consider the possibility that in your circles there could be two or three or five people with whom you could have an equally happy, satisfying and God-glorifying marriage.

Does this all seem unromantic and impersonal? I’ve been married for a few years, so I’m not exactly a veteran at love, but I can tell you, and the love of my life, Mandy, would agree, that marriage is much more formed than it is found. You don’t find a good marriage so much as you make one. Happiness doesn’t come from a spouse fitting your every selfish expectation; it comes from you and your spouse working and adjusting to serve each other while rooted in Christ’s love.

Marriage is much more formed than it is found. You don’t find a good marriage so much as you make one.


In my opinion, there are a few necessary items you and your potential spouse have to have in common to have a rock-solid, God-glorifying marriage. Spiritual convictions (like first-tier doctrinal issues), family/finance convictions, lifestyle/calling are a few that come to mind. When it comes to these basic items, you should definitely be picky! Beyond this, however, don't be too selective.

Any marriage is built and shaped by two different, sinful people adjusting to one another. You simply will never find a human being who is pre-packaged to fit your every personality quirk, cultural preference or lifestyle particularity. Every couple will have differences and will need to make adjustments for one another. No one will ever be everything you want, but there’s probably more than one person who has the basics in common with you and would make for a great marriage. And here’s the best part: the more work you and your spouse are willing to put into your marriage, the more joyful it will be.

“So how do I know whom to pursue?” Look at your circles. Are there people you enjoy being with, who share your convictions on the things of God, who see money and family the same as you, and whose lives and lifestyles seem to be heading in a similar direction to yours? Pray about it (not too hard), pick one and move forward. If it doesn’t work, there will be others. Just don’t be too picky. Every healthy marriage will require sacrifice, adjustments and selflessness, so get used to the idea. Don’t miss out on great opportunities because you sacrificed them on the altar of selfishness.

Top Comments

Gabs

2

Gabs commented…

I must respectfully disagree with this article, brother. I understand that this Hollywoodized culture has definitely formed many minds on a soulmate mindset. I agree that it is wrong to think that 1) Every single person out there is meant for marriage; 2) Every single person out there has a soulmate; and 3) A soulmate completes you.
Such a mindset would go against Christianity because not only are there those that are called to be single (or choose it or simply end up so by circumstance), but it is idolatrous to think of marriage as this ultimate thing to pursue in life. Jesus has made it clear that there is no marriage in Heaven except the Marriage of Christ and His Church.

We ultimately, in our desire to find someone to share our lives with, hunger to the core of our beings, that perfect union. It is a hunger that will not be satisfied no matter who we marry. Our hearts will continue restless until they rest in Him.

That said, because the Lord is the One who has formed us in the womb--with our fingerprints, our own set of DNA, our gifts and abilities--we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." We are unique and unrepeatable! There will never be no one like you or me. And because there is no one with the unique set of DNA your parents have, their union created someone unique and unrepeatable (you). Had they merely chosen other people to be with, you would not be here. And so goes with you and your spouse.

Are there people who have procreated under less than ideal circumstances without giving much thought as to whom they should be with? Of course! But the people that have come about through them are nonetheless unique and will continue to bring unique beings into the world with unique contributions to it (for better or worse).

I fear that to say that it doesn't matter who you "end up with, it negates the very uniqueness of each person. Moreover, I firmly believe that if (assuming a person cares to know what vocation in life they are called to) our Lord should care so much as to let His will for our lives be known in terms of our vocation, would He not also see to the rest of the details that follow? I don't think that He would say, "Hello son/daughter, I have called you for the vocation of marriage, but you'll have to figure it all out on your own!"

I know of many holy and prayerful people, faithful to the Lord, and with quite an ear for hearing His voice, who have known of their future spouses because the Lord has revealed to them very directly who He has intended for them to marry. My mother is one of them.

Our Lord is crazy about us, so much so that He cares about every detail of our lives (don't ask me why, we really don't deserve it)! And if marriage is something very holy, representing the ultimate Marriage Feast we await, should it not also be that he cares for our earthly marriages?

For the record, I do not believe that everyone who has not consulted the Lord about who to marry has chosen wrongly and therefore have a bunch of children running around who should never have existed. While there are those who have been reckless about who they marry or date, etc., I think the Lord has more influence over our hearts and our decisions than we realise, especially if we actively seek to do His will on a daily basis.

All in all, I firmly believe that 1) We are all unique and unrepeatable 2)Marriage is holy 3) No one on this earth can complete us. We are already complete. 4) The Lord can in fact guide us as to finding the (imperfect, non-completing) spouse He has for us for the greater glory of His Name 5) Marriage is not the end all be all because we all long for the union between Christ and His Church.

I don't know if I hit all the points I wanted to hit, but just a humble and prayerful response to the article. Peace.

Derek Gwinn

12

Derek Gwinn replied to Gabs's comment

I'm not sure that anyone is saying, "it doesn't matter who you end up with." The type of person you end up with DOES matter. Neither do I think anyone is saying that God doesn't care for our earthly marriages, as he certainly does.

I think Jared and I are taking issue with the long held Christian concept that any Christian who marries has to find "the one" individual on the planet whom God created to be his or her spouse. God certainly knows who we are going to marry, which suggests we can worry a bit less about finding "the one" and trust God to lead us. But we walk the line between recognizing God's omniscience and making decisions in our own lives.

Over the years, I've seen too many people, who believed in finding "the one," who messed up their marriages because they found "another one" to whom they were attracted. The idea of "the one" obscures the fact that we can be psychologically and biologically attracted to more than one person.

But, in some respects, we do marry "the one," because "the one" we marry is supposed to be it. And I think HOW we are in that marriage is as important as WHO we marry. Finding ( or doubting the finding of) "the one" too often becomes an excuse for leaving a marriage rather than working to make it the best marriage possible.

That's probably why so many marriages, both within the Church and outside it, happen for "irreconcilable differences." No abuse, no infidelity, no abandonment - just two people who give up and hope that the next marriage will actually be "the one."

49 Comments

Jonathan Hika

1

Jonathan Hika commented…

commenters, doubt is not something that God does. Doubt is fear and fear comes from a feeling of being lesser and undeserving. You don't doubt because of the other person, you dou t because of yourself.

In a universe of infinite possibilities each of us will get to where we are supposed to be no matter the path we take. When you realize that we live in a world of abundance you can have abundance in everything and this abundance is rooted in love. Divine Love is not for one perfect fit it is for all. God indeed would believe that any one of his children are perfect for you as they are all perfect to him.

When you pray for wisdom you get opportunities to be wise. When you pray for love you get opportunities to show love. When you pray for guidance you get the opportunity to choose a path.

When you eliminate fear and accept love you become open to the abundance in all thing around you.

We see a reflection of what we put out in the faces of others around us.

We collectively are the "one" that is right for the other.

Gabs

2

Gabs commented…

I must respectfully disagree with this article, brother. I understand that this Hollywoodized culture has definitely formed many minds on a soulmate mindset. I agree that it is wrong to think that 1) Every single person out there is meant for marriage; 2) Every single person out there has a soulmate; and 3) A soulmate completes you.
Such a mindset would go against Christianity because not only are there those that are called to be single (or choose it or simply end up so by circumstance), but it is idolatrous to think of marriage as this ultimate thing to pursue in life. Jesus has made it clear that there is no marriage in Heaven except the Marriage of Christ and His Church.

We ultimately, in our desire to find someone to share our lives with, hunger to the core of our beings, that perfect union. It is a hunger that will not be satisfied no matter who we marry. Our hearts will continue restless until they rest in Him.

That said, because the Lord is the One who has formed us in the womb--with our fingerprints, our own set of DNA, our gifts and abilities--we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." We are unique and unrepeatable! There will never be no one like you or me. And because there is no one with the unique set of DNA your parents have, their union created someone unique and unrepeatable (you). Had they merely chosen other people to be with, you would not be here. And so goes with you and your spouse.

Are there people who have procreated under less than ideal circumstances without giving much thought as to whom they should be with? Of course! But the people that have come about through them are nonetheless unique and will continue to bring unique beings into the world with unique contributions to it (for better or worse).

I fear that to say that it doesn't matter who you "end up with, it negates the very uniqueness of each person. Moreover, I firmly believe that if (assuming a person cares to know what vocation in life they are called to) our Lord should care so much as to let His will for our lives be known in terms of our vocation, would He not also see to the rest of the details that follow? I don't think that He would say, "Hello son/daughter, I have called you for the vocation of marriage, but you'll have to figure it all out on your own!"

I know of many holy and prayerful people, faithful to the Lord, and with quite an ear for hearing His voice, who have known of their future spouses because the Lord has revealed to them very directly who He has intended for them to marry. My mother is one of them.

Our Lord is crazy about us, so much so that He cares about every detail of our lives (don't ask me why, we really don't deserve it)! And if marriage is something very holy, representing the ultimate Marriage Feast we await, should it not also be that he cares for our earthly marriages?

For the record, I do not believe that everyone who has not consulted the Lord about who to marry has chosen wrongly and therefore have a bunch of children running around who should never have existed. While there are those who have been reckless about who they marry or date, etc., I think the Lord has more influence over our hearts and our decisions than we realise, especially if we actively seek to do His will on a daily basis.

All in all, I firmly believe that 1) We are all unique and unrepeatable 2)Marriage is holy 3) No one on this earth can complete us. We are already complete. 4) The Lord can in fact guide us as to finding the (imperfect, non-completing) spouse He has for us for the greater glory of His Name 5) Marriage is not the end all be all because we all long for the union between Christ and His Church.

I don't know if I hit all the points I wanted to hit, but just a humble and prayerful response to the article. Peace.

Derek Gwinn

12

Derek Gwinn replied to Gabs's comment

I'm not sure that anyone is saying, "it doesn't matter who you end up with." The type of person you end up with DOES matter. Neither do I think anyone is saying that God doesn't care for our earthly marriages, as he certainly does.

I think Jared and I are taking issue with the long held Christian concept that any Christian who marries has to find "the one" individual on the planet whom God created to be his or her spouse. God certainly knows who we are going to marry, which suggests we can worry a bit less about finding "the one" and trust God to lead us. But we walk the line between recognizing God's omniscience and making decisions in our own lives.

Over the years, I've seen too many people, who believed in finding "the one," who messed up their marriages because they found "another one" to whom they were attracted. The idea of "the one" obscures the fact that we can be psychologically and biologically attracted to more than one person.

But, in some respects, we do marry "the one," because "the one" we marry is supposed to be it. And I think HOW we are in that marriage is as important as WHO we marry. Finding ( or doubting the finding of) "the one" too often becomes an excuse for leaving a marriage rather than working to make it the best marriage possible.

That's probably why so many marriages, both within the Church and outside it, happen for "irreconcilable differences." No abuse, no infidelity, no abandonment - just two people who give up and hope that the next marriage will actually be "the one."

Gabs

2

Gabs commented…

I see what you mean, Derek. I do think it ridiculous that people can end up divorcing on the grounds of "irreconcilable differences" simply because attraction wore out and concluding that they're no longer "the one" and maybe even saying they thought they had married the one but were no longer sure.

I suppose the issue here is what one means by "the one," and how each person defines it. That's a whole other can of worms. Unfortunately, the problem even among Christians is that they base this knowledge of how to find the one the same way Hollywood applies it-- Butterflies in the stomach (and somehow the feeling isn't supposed to wear off), supports everything I do, always agrees with me, and a whole other list of unrealistic stupidities.
If that's what "the one" means, I call bs.

I will say that it is in fact possible to marry the wrong person, and not just because of incompatible personalities, unresolved issues or life endangerment. But because we were made with a specific calling (which we can either acknowledge or ignore), and should He decide to call us to the vocation of marriage, He has a specific person set aside to accomplish that calling. Because both have unique callings but are called to run the race together. Without the union of Abraham and Sarah, there would have been no Isaac.

I've known of couples who nearly married the wrong person. They may have even dated wonderful Christians who would've seemed right for them, were compatible, cared for one another, etc., and at various points in time have actually been led by the Lord to call off their marriage because that person was not the right person for them and there was someone else He had for them. I can only hope you would not go so far as to discredit that.

Love and marriage should not be given the Hollywood approach, with an inability to sleep or even eat right until you get the person of your dreams complete with predictable cheesy lines and twinkly lights. But it should neither be devoid of romance because our God is the Author of Romance (Scripture is full of it).

Nevertheless, I would agree that because God has it all figured out, we really don't need to freak out about marrying the wrong person (the prince guy questioning Da Vinci about finding "the one" in the movie Ever After comes to mind...clearly I'm a woman)...but that doesn't mean one should be careless enough to find any random decent well behaved Christian with a good record and that they can get along with and love. We need to acknowledge the Lord in all our ways and pray He leads us to the straight path. It's all about following His lead.

I can understand why you both feel this way based on what you've witnessed etc., but I cannot agree when the Lord has very clearly revealed otherwise. I've seen how He cares for us in the smallest of things that are nothing to worry about compared to more important things, and I've seen how He's prepared spouses for people for the greater glory of His Name. This isn't Hollywood ideals I base my thoughts on, but on how I've seen Him work.

Peace be with you.

Derek Gwinn

12

Derek Gwinn replied to Gabs's comment

I think we likely have more areas of agreement than discord on this topic, Gabs. For me, my objection to the proposition that God has only one specific person for each of us to marry involves both Scripture and observation.

In Matthew 6, we're admonished not to worry about our lives. We are to seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given unto us. Over the years, I have see how others and myself became focused on finding "the one" to the point of worry - or even obsession. When I was in high school or Campus Crusade, we were encouraged by our group leaders to envision the type of person we wanted to marry, and to pray for that person because God had him or her out there. Make a list and pray over it, we were told. But things that lead us to worry are things that lead us away from what we're supposed to do.

(Then there was the whole, weird, "Jesus is my boyfriend/girlfriend" sermon.)

For me, this puts the attention in the wrong place. You say you've "seen how He's prepared spouses for people for the greater glory of His Name." For me, I view those situations a little differently, for I see how He's prepared people to be spouses for the greater glory of His name. For me, it's not the "who" but the "how" that resonates.

It's common to talk about marrying the wrong person. But, if that were the case, then the definitive article (sorry, I'm word-nerding for a minute) suggests there's just one wrong person. To me, it's more accurate, but less common, to say people avoid marrying *A* wrong person, as there can be more than one that's wrong. But if there can be more than one that's wrong, might there not also be more than one that's "right"?

There's nothing in scripture that says there isn't more than one possible spouse for most of us. Certainly, God was involved in the pairing of Isaac and Rebecca. And God directly called Hosea to marry a prostitute. God told Joseph to marry Mary, even though she was with child. But there are many more couples in scripture where God's direct intervention isn't described.

I totally agree with you when you say, "We need to acknowledge the Lord in all our ways and pray He leads us to the straight path." I think where we diverge is that, though straight is the way and narrow is the path that leads into heaven, I'm not convinced that our paths on Earth are necessarily that straight. It seems to me, that we, as Christians, are prone to looking for a single, specific direction while the Bible often focuses more on our attitudes and behaviors as we travel.

There's no way I'm going to say that there's no way at all that God has one person picked for each of those who marry, 'cause that's a level of hubris I just can't sustain. I've reached a point in my life, however, where I've realized that our focus on "making the right decision" often obscures how God's as interested in what we do AFTER we make it.

I think this all goes back to the subtitle of this article, "Great marriages are more formed than they are found." I don't believe that I'm the only guy on the planet who could be a good husband for my wife (I've got too many flaws), but I'm grateful that God has blessed me with the opportunity. However, our marriage isn't strong and healthy simply because I married "the one."

It's what it is because my wife and I are intentional about our commitment to each other and our family, and we work on keeping our relationship strong. We didn't find great spouses, we're building a great marriage - and, through that, becoming (I hope) great spouses.

Doug Walton

3

Doug Walton commented…

You said:

“So how do I know whom to pursue?” Look at your circles. Are there people you enjoy being with, who share your convictions on the things of God, who see money and family the same as you, and whose lives and lifestyles seem to be heading in a similar direction to yours? Pray about it (not too hard), pick one and move forward."
---
Who says the Lord wants you to marry someone you think you are compatible with? Is it not the height of selfishness to attempt to virtually marry ourself by looking for a companion with similar interests to our own?

The Lord made a "specific" woman for Adam: "Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18 NASB). Abraham's servant acted similarly in light of this fact: "now may it be that the girl to whom I say, 'Please let down your jar so that I may drink,' and who answers, 'Drink, and I will water your camels also'- may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master." (Genesis 24:14 NASB)

"The two shall become one" principle is no doubt a primary component of marriage, as you well pointed out. After all, each male-female union is to reflect the Image of the "Us" that created them. This is a lifelong endeavor for the two that love Christ. This however gives no ground to deny the Providential specific design of God. Pursuit of unity is not incompatible with Divine design.

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