Marrying someone you can’t live without.

8 Feb

There is a line of romantic advice that goes something like, “Don’t marry the one you can live with, marry the one you can’t live without.”

It’s a statement that’s meant to be profound in its simplicity, but the more I hear it and read it and think about it, the more I think it’s a huge load of poo.  It reeks of soulmate-ism and conjures pictures of a bedraggled, dehydrated man crawling wearily through the desert until he finds a miraculous pool of refreshing water, upon which all of his problems disappear.

What if you got married, and the next day your spouse died?  Are you going to keel over and expire because your sole tether to the mortal realm had passed on?  But those are the kinds of logical results you get when you subscribe to overemotionality.  More importantly, how, exactly, had this person managed to live prior to discovering your precious existence?  That is truly one of the great mysteries of the universe.

This statement would hold more water if it said marry the one you don’t want to live without.**  That’s what marriage really is, isn’t it?  Voluntarily choosing someone over all others every day until one of you croaks.  That’s the real love right there, not lofty paeans to volatile passion.

**The implication is that the feelings are mutual.  Otherwise, a restraining order is in your future.

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35 Responses to “Marrying someone you can’t live without.”

  1. modernguy February 9, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Don’t want to live without, can’t live without – what’s the difference? If you’re not looking for your soul mate, what are you doing? Looking for the Holy Grail?

  2. Toz February 9, 2011 at 3:20 am #

    They say this because real advice is boring. “Marry the one that can keep promises.” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  3. Julie February 9, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    Yes, I think it can encourage excessive pickiness, particularly on the part of women. The only men who are going to make women feel like they just could not live without them are alpha males, and most women are not going to end up with an alpha. Women need to be told that there is value in a relationship that may have less passion (though not none!), but a deeper and a stronger love. Otherwise, women follow their feelings and either end up with a mamn they’re gaga for, but who’s incompatible or unsuitable in certain ways. Or they end up single way past when they want to be.

  4. cleared in hot February 9, 2011 at 7:42 am #

    @julie

    Or they end up marrying the deeper and a stronger love man, but cheating on him with the “passionate” one.

  5. Julie February 9, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    It’s possible. None of the Christian female friends of mine who have married betas have ended up cheating though.

  6. terry@breathinggrace February 9, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Here, here, Haley! You are 100% correct. This is one of your best, in my humble opinion.

    A couple of years ago I did a little e-interview for Family Friendly Blogs or something like that. I can’t remember now. Anyway, one of the questions was centered around something or someone I couldn’t live without. I told her I couldn’t live without oxygen. That there are many things and people I don’t want to live without, but I could if life dealt such a hand.

    I am wild about my husband, probably bordering on unhealthy, but I do not believe in soul mates.

  7. y81 February 9, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    “None of the Christian female friends of mine who have married betas have ended up cheating though.”

    But plenty of my female friends, Christian and not, have married psychologically manipulative womanizers–“I’ll fix him. He won’t be like that once we’re married. Anyway, I can’t live without him.”–and had unhappy marriages with, quelle surprise, psychologically manipulative womanizers.

    Which is why I continue to suggest that Haley look for the Christian equivalent of Will Wilkinson, and settle down to having sex and babies. (Actually, I suggested that she relax the Christian requirement, but that suggestion has been emphatically rejected.)

  8. Julie February 9, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Yes, it’s a danger—there are some alphas who have integrity and high character. Most seem to have a lot of trouble though. Which is why I am a fan of greater betas.

  9. cleared in hot February 9, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    None of the Christian female friends of mine who have married betas have ended up cheating though.

    I know of two instances of this exact thing within the last year, both with families that I am close enough to to know what happened. YMMV, but it is a risk that should not be ignored. If you’re a beta.

    end up with a man they’re gaga for, but who’s incompatible or unsuitable in certain ways

    But isn’t that descriptive of all of us, when you get right down to it?

    @Hayley
    I have to second Terry, this post is spot on.

  10. Julie February 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    Yes, no one is perfectly compatible with their spouse. I’m talking about a couple that has a lot of chemistry, but significant differences on things like vision, values, interests, and maturity. Couples who in no way would have even been interested in being friends had they not been physically attracted.

  11. Brendan February 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    I don’t believe in soul mates, either, but I do think you need to be so in love with your mate that contemplating a future sans them would be extremely painful. I certainly feel that way about my GF.

  12. modernguy February 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    If you don’t believe in soul mates you might as well be dead. It means you will never connect deeply enough with another person to fulfill your life.

    “The only men who are going to make women feel like they just could not live without them are alpha males…” If you believe this about yourself then you have such a one dimensional and simplistic conception of people that it’s a forgone conclusion that you will never be happy. It’s amazing to see how childish people can be in their ideas of life.

  13. Wayfinder February 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    @modernguy
    Maybe the flaw isn’t in the stars but in ourselves if lack of a soul mate means that your life isn’t fulfilled. The idea that there’s only one person who can completely you is insanely dangerous. Or, if you take “soul mate” to be more than one possibility, I’m not sure the phrase has any meaning apart from “someone I connect with/got infatuated with”.

    The infatuation feeling is both powerful and pleasant, but it doesn’t last and it doesn’t have a deeper meaning. It’s only a part of the larger picture.

  14. Kathy February 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    “I am wild about my husband, probably bordering on unhealthy, but I do not believe in soul mates.”

    Me too, Terry.

    “If you don’t believe in soul mates you might as well be dead. It means you will never connect deeply enough with another person to fulfill your life.”

    Well Modern Guy..I have a wonderful husband.. however he IS NOT my soul mate.

    We have a deep bond and connection, spiritually and physically.. We also have our ups and downs.. Marriage is hard work..

    This soulmate stuff is too airy fairy. Unrealistic..

    Hollywood fantasy as Terry says in her post at her blog.(Good post by the way Terry- just read it.)

    It suggests perfection and completion.. Find your soulmate and your life will be complete.. Lol..

    People who believe in such things are only setting themselves up for a fall…They may also overlook a potentional partner because they want something that really, is unattainable..

  15. lifeinlonglegs February 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Hollywood may have perpetuated the Soul Mate facade, however I believe the view is originally from Plato?

  16. Aunt Haley February 9, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    Brendan–
    I don’t believe in soul mates, either, but I do think you need to be so in love with your mate that contemplating a future sans them would be extremely painful.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to go to that extreme of feelings. Feeling “in love” with someone is pretty much just infatuation, isn’t it?

    modernguy–
    If you don’t believe in soul mates you might as well be dead. It means you will never connect deeply enough with another person to fulfill your life.

    With 6 billion people on the planet, why would anyone believe in soulmates? The probability that you would meet that one person is infinitesimal. Besides, what if you happened to marry your soulmate, and that person died? How could you in good conscience remarry? Or are you just destined to be alone for the rest of your life?

  17. Wayfinder February 10, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    @lifelonglegs
    That’s one of the views presented in the Symposium, though Socrates clearly disagrees. The courtly love movement was probably a bigger actual source of the idea–though they thought that marrying your lover was incompatible with passionate love.

  18. Learner February 10, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Perhaps the difference between infatuation and love is time. Infatuation doesn’t last. If someone is so “in love” with his girlfriend that it would be extremely painful to not have her in his life 6 months into the relationship it may be infatuation, sure. But, if it is a more sustained period of time, like 2 years, I don’t think that can be considered infatuation.

  19. terry@breathinggrace February 10, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    I don’t think it’s necessary to go to that extreme of feelings. Feeling “in love” with someone is pretty much just infatuation, isn’t it?

    Not necessarily, Haley. If so, I’ve been “infatuated for almost 17 years, 18 counting the courtship period.

    I get where you’re coming from, and to be sure, there are days that either one or both of us are absent the warm fuzzies for one another. That’s life.

    But there are just as many, if not more, moments of true romance. Times when the day can’t end fast enough so we can be rid of the kids for the evening.

    I think we’ve gone way past the period that would be called infatuation. I’m pretty sure Kathy would agree with me here, too. Athol might as well.

    The thing is that you have to work for that, and human beings prefer the path of least resistance.

  20. Yvette Francino February 10, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I agree with you, Haley. I think “can’t live without” sounds as though you are desperate and dependent on that person for your happiness (actually, your life!) If someone said that to me it would be a big red flag! As you said.. are they going to commit suicide if you die? Who wants that kind of responsibility?

    I think “don’t want to live without” sound much more emotionally stable.

  21. Yvette Francino February 10, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    PS. It’s probably even more stable to not mention your life at all.. A simple, “I love you” will probably be the most sane thing.

  22. cathydinas February 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Marry the one who –when you it comes time to live with out them– you will meet them once again in heaven!

  23. lifeinlonglegs February 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Wayfinder – interesting.

  24. Jennifer M. February 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    Lol. I think you’re over thinking the saying. It’s meant to get someone out of marrying someone who’s bad for them. A lot of women say to themselves, “He’s not that bad. He will change. He’s only violent when he drinks.” Etc. We shouldnt marry someone because we can “live with” their flaws. When we’re “in love”, that emotion can make us overlook some very ugly things.

  25. YM February 13, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    I remember there was one goes with the saying,

    “You don’t marry someone you can’t live without, you marry someone whom you can live with”

    Passion may seem to be everything when love comes into play. There goes the mushy words promising everlasting and undying love.

    But in the end, marriage is all about sharing and companionship. Having something to share in common ain’t that bad after all, when you’re thinking of going the distance “till death do us part.” The chemistry of compatibility is what matters, and it lies on many common issues.

    One would have known that living with anyone is of course possible. But to last till the end of life? One would have to ponder a little bit further.

  26. Badger February 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    I agree with your trepidation. You certainly want to marry the person you really want to be with. But you have to have some independence going for you, so your partner knows you’ll be OK if they get hit by a bus.

    Codependence is not an attractive quality, not to men and certainly not to women.

    “Lol. I think you’re over thinking the saying. It’s meant to get someone out of marrying someone who’s bad for them. A lot of women say to themselves, “He’s not that bad. He will change. He’s only violent when he drinks.” Etc. We shouldnt marry someone because we can “live with” their flaws. When we’re “in love”, that emotion can make us overlook some very ugly things.”

    I think Jennifer M has it perfectly backwards…saying “I can’t live without this person” is EXACTLY how people get bonded to dysfunctional mates, by deferring to the all-powerful chemical rush (and the fear of being alone).

    Love is boundless and all that, but it’s healthy in a relationship for both sides to know where the other’s boundaries are – the things that they’ll walk away from. If you don’t have any, or you sublimate them because you “can’t live without” your partner, you’re going to get taken. It’s happened to a lot of men and a lot of women.

  27. dicy February 18, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    The truth is we cannot know whether or not we can live without
    anything until test time! The position rests with the difference between feeling and being! That which you feel you could not do
    without may vanish and you discover that you have stayed kicking!
    And that which you feel you could do without may disappear only for
    you to find it was the only ground you stood upon not to fall into
    an abyss!

  28. misato29 December 23, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    You say there is a phrase that goes, “Don’t marry the one you can live with, marry the one you can’t live without.”

    What is it about that phrase that you don’t understand? It means exactly what it says
    , and no, it would not make more sense if it went “marry the one you don’t want to live without” like you say. That sounds like a phrase that you just made up.

    If you have a soulmate, then no, you can’t live without them. You can exist, and very miserably, but you won’t ever be able to really live again, and there is a very big difference between living and existing. So like I said, the phrase means exactly what it says, and most everyone else doesn’t seem to have a problem undertanding it.

  29. Ebenezer Tetteh-Commey January 17, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    I believe apart from marrying who God has intended for u to marry, you must also be happy with the outlook of the person!

  30. grottokid March 12, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    For someone who claims to see things from a Christian perspective, it seems you find it easier to see things from a secular (worldly) one. Josh MacDowell said, “Don’t just marry someone you can live with, marry someone you can’t live without.” He said this in his talk, “Maximum Sex” the 1960’s at college campuses throughout the USA. In those days male college students were doing whatever it takes and using whatever excuses to get in a coed’s pants. He spoke against that and for treating women with dignity, respect and purity. What is wrong with that? You don’t have to take the statement as wooden literal as you do. It is not a “huge load of poo”. I believe your sarcasm and cynicism is. You totally miss the meaning and concept of the statement. It’s about commitment and compliment. About some you love so much that you would give your life to save him or her. And that is someone you can’t live without. Also, what is wrong if you and your spouse are soulmates? You are just hyper analyzing the statement through cynical secular colored glasses.

  31. aska June 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Its just an expression used showing deep love, who told you to take so literal. People like you need to think more positively rther than trying to dig out a fault

  32. Rick June 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    My wife and I have been together for 25 years we were high school sweet hearts we r different in many ways she just told me she has ten years live or follow Dr. Orders to prolong for a while but she still won’t be growing old with me and I can’t see me liven without her so yes I do believe in sole mates I’ve found mine.so every day I thank god she is still with me and staying strong for the one I truely love.

  33. Liz February 16, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    That quote caused me some stress when I was trying to decide whether to get married. (It was searching for this quote that led me to your blog!) Maybe it’s good advice for some people, but I’m a practical kind of person who doesn’t always feel emotions very strongly. I knew that if I needed to I could remain single, or marry someone else instead. Fortunately I married him despite the quote and, six years later, am not regretting it!

  34. Jo September 24, 2013 at 1:39 am #

    Thanks for leaving the comment Liz. I took came here due to searching for the quote. I recently broke up with him but am in the ‘should I salvage it or not?’ realm of thought. I think it’s easy for submissive women to decide. But for independent, rational/practical females, it’s not. I too could live without anyone the rest of my life. I’m strong enough to be alone. I could marry anyone and make it work if I had to. So I’m not sure what to choose. I also identify with your ‘don’t feel emotions strongly’ comment. Sometimes I equate this with lack of love. Not sure whether that is actually the case.

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    [...] Near-Adulteress“, “The Devils in the Details”Aunt Haley – “Marrying Someone You Can’t Live Without.“, “Boundless Still Doesn’t Get It.”Hawaiian Libertarian – [...]

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