What If You Married The Wrong Person? By: Bishop Dr. Roger Ball, PhD, LMSW, MRE

6 Tips to Help Your Marriage Survive the Holidays
December 21, 2018

What If You Married The Wrong Person?

One of the lasting anxieties today is not knowing if this is the right person to take to the altar. Many men and women spend sleepless nights wondering if they could have done better in their selection.

Some consult friends and family to help them make the right decision, while others dive in head first. Still, others employ spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting and meditating in search of a divine response. Some give and get commitment through words, deeds and rings only to rescind both words and rings – along with promises made.

Marriage was always meant to be an act of faith. No one gets everything that they want in a single human being. Think about it. You marry a person that may be different in:

1.  Culture
2. Some ways of thinking and seeing the world
3. Approach to giving and getting love
4. In family history and construction
5. In approach to conflict resolution

 By the time you consider all the ways in which you’re both different you might conclude that you have gone ahead of yourself and married the wrong person. But here is the truth, marriages fail not because of insurmountable obstacles. Marriages fail not because of the great chasms that divide. They fail because one or both parties don’t put in the needed work to bridge those divides. They fail because we are unwilling to step outside of ourselves and walk in the shoes of the other. Of course there are marriages that do deserve a quick and speedy end. Facts! For example, those that are abusive should not live on!!

So what should you do if you wake up one day and realize that you married the wrong person?

What If You Married The Wrong Person, Part II

If you wake up one day and realize you’ve married the wrong person, all is not lost. Let’s talk…

We all know friends and family members who have entered marriage with high hopes and dreams of having a successful marriage, only to be faced with the stinging reality of dashed hopes and dreams. Some suffer silently in shame and some plan intentional exit strategies. Others seek support from friends, clergy, family and professional counselors to salvage their marriage. While others drift towards the inevitable death of their hopes and dreams.

Often times we don’t know that we have chosen poorly until it’s too late. That “too late” can be within months before the marriage, months after the marriage or even years after your wedding vows.

A disclaimer to what comes next is this – I am not factoring abusive relationships. I firmly believe that no one should remain in abusive relationships. We are all wired differently. Sometimes we find a good fit and at other times we find a great deal of divergences between us and the person we choose to marry.

Here’s the truth – and sometimes the truth hurts my friends. You married the wrong person not because of your differences but because of an unwillingness to:

1. Understand and respect those differences
2. Work to compromise in an effort to reduce the negative impact of those differences
3. Strategically leverage those differences for the benefits of the marriage

Sometimes it’s hard to truly know a person:

Until they have decided to let their guard down
• Until situations expose their authentic motives and selves
• When you are focused on the aspirational aspects of the relationship
• When you are blinded by love
• When you have not discussed the many aspects of what it means to live together as husband and wife including (finances, family, conflict resolution, children (if you want, how many, what if you discover you can’t), discipline, core values, etc.)

Conversely, sometimes it’s hard to know the kind of wife or husband you will become until life’s circumstances:

* Bring out the best and the worst in you
* Bring out the differences in each of your approaches to conflicts
* Gives you love in a way that does not work for you
* or until you give love in a way that is hard to receive

To say you married the wrong person by extension is saying that there is a right person out there somewhere. Is there?

What If You Married The Wrong Person, Part III

Is There Such Thing As The Right Person?

Marriages work because both persons are willing to invest in its future. Conversely, sometimes both persons are prepared to invest in its future, still they might lack the tools and the skills to pump new life into the relationship. This is why our faith communities are in serious need for competent pastoral counselors and clinicians to support couples and save their marriages. One of the most frustrating and hopeless states for couples is when both persons firmly believe that they are giving 100% to make the relationship work only to have things still fall apart.

The logical conclusion then becomes – I have married the wrong person!

So what do you do if you want to make the wrong person the right person?

  1. Develop some basic rules for dealing with conflicts. Example, what are some non-negotiables when fighting:
    a. ________
    b. ________
    c. ________
    d. ________
    e. ________
  2. Spend time focusing on the positive. Example, what might be some qualities that you show appreciation about on a daily basis:
    a. __________
    b. __________
    c. __________
    d. __________
    e. __________
  3. Who can you turn to for support individually and as a couple:
    a. __________
    b. __________
    c. __________
    d. __________
    e. __________
  4. Learn the triggers of your spouse and discuss why those things trigger with each other:
  5. a. Triggers around conflicts
    b. Triggers around finances
    c. Triggers around trust
    d. Triggers around power and control
    e. Feel free to list others that you might have

 I know that one of the key pushbacks I’ll get here is this – it takes two to make a marriage work.

If you are giving it your all and the other person has no interest in putting in the work then what?

This Too Is True.

 The larger question for me then becomes what does each of you want, and why is the other person not “putting in the work?” Sometimes there’s just too much hurt and despondency to move the relationship forward in a healthy way. This is why time must be spent addressing these hurt feelings, reconciling them, and then moving to rebuilding something new, different, and better.

What if you married the wrong person? Each party must work to be the best person in truth and authenticity to who they are and who they need to be for each other.

About the author

Bishop Dr. Roger Ball, LMSW, MRE

Bishop Dr. Roger Ball earned a doctorate from Fordham University’s graduate school of religion and religious education with a concentration in marriage and family life. He holds two Master’s degrees (one in Religious Education and the other in Social Work) also from Fordham University.

Dr. Ball is a NY state licensed master social worker. Secularly, he serves as an assistant principal within the New York City Board of Education. Prior to that, he was a Program Director with the Archdiocese of NY. Bishop Ball served as an Adjunct Professor at Concordia, Mercy and Monroe Colleges, and has been teaching at Fordham University’s Westchester campus for the last six years. He has also served as a Program Director within the African-American Male Initiative of the Children’s Aid Society.

He is currently completing studies for a third Master’s Degree which will be in Educational Leadership and Supervision through Baruch College. He is expecting to publish his first book on marriage and family in the near future.

His primary vocation is to be a husband to his wife, Senikha and father to their four children, Jonathon – 18, Vanessa – 16, Michael – 13, and Addison – 3.

2 Comments

  1. Dhaima Simon says:

    Thank you for the post and these questions are great tools to implement. You guys are awesome!!!

    God bless!!

  2. Sheila says:

    I really enjoyed this read. The lists that are used here can really be a game changer in marriage if implemented. Thanks for this info.

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