It’s common for couples to idealize one another early in their relationships. For many people, idealization is the peak of romance. It’s infused in the rush of new love and the excitement of the honeymoon period.
But the truth is, idealizing your spouse is harmful to your marriage long-term. That’s because idealization isn’t the same thing as being enamored with, or in love with, your spouse. In fact, idealization is in direct contrast to the Christlike love we should cultivate for one another.
It may sound odd, but putting your spouse on a pedestal can damage your marriage. Let’s take a look at why.
Unmet expectations are a major issue in most relationships. Most couples go through a period of communicating, considering, and adjusting their expectations for one another in the relationship. But when you idealize your spouse, your expectations go above and beyond what they might in a healthy relationship.
When you idealize your spouse, you believe they’ll always be able to meet your expectations and your needs. This simply isn’t true. No one human can meet all the needs and expectations of another–not even spouses.
Idealizing your spouse can lead you to believe they’ll never do any wrong in your eyes. Essentially, idealization assumes your spouse is perfect and will never hurt or disappoint you. It also assumes your spouse will always do what is best for you, in all circumstances.
Your spouse is only human…just like you are. To better understand what kind of damage idealization can do, flip the script. If you knew your spouse expected only your very best, with no mistakes, how would that make you feel? Uneasy? Inadequate? Fearful of disappointing them?
Though we should always try our best to do right by our spouse in marriage and in life, there will be times when we fall short. It’s just the nature of being human.
If idealization leads to unmet expectations and causes you to unintentionally dehumanize your spouse, then it follows that it can also limit your ability to empathize with them.
One of the most important skills in marriage is the ability to walk in each other’s shoes. The idealized version of your spouse is fictional. When that perspective is inevitably broken, you’re going to have a hard time seeing things from their point of view because you’ll be so focused on your own disappointment in them.
Being inward-focused damages empathy. So if you idealize your spouse, break that habit now. It will save you both a lot of heartache later if you allow them to be an imperfect human now–and love them anyway.
Rather than idealizing your spouse, deepen your intimacy. Truly getting to know and appreciate one another better will take your relationship to the next level.
One way you can take time to know one another better is through relationship assessments. If you’re ready to do that, the Better Love Assessment is a great place to start.