How to Embrace Your Complete Self Before You Marry

“If I could just find the right person to marry, then my life would be complete.”

Does that sound familiar to you?

Our society sells the idea that a marriage relationship can not only complete you as a person; it can fix your entire life. It’s a fallacy that runs deep and is woven into the fabric of our culture. By chasing the idea of wholeness through relationships, we neglect to establish a whole relationship with ourselves first. And the problem is, when we don’t learn to embrace our complete selves, we spend our lives chasing wholeness through our relationships with other people.

In order to have a truly fulfilling relationship, we must view ourselves as whole first.

A Sense of Personal Wholeness Fosters Inner Peace

When we don’t perceive ourselves as whole individuals, we look to someone else to define our sense of self. Boyfriends, girlfriends, fiances, and spouses are defined as the missing pieces of who we are. In reality, it’s impossible to establish a healthy, real relationship when we see another person as a part of us.

On the other hand, feeling whole gives us the inner peace and clarity to make objective decisions about our relationships. When a relationship isn’t right for us, personal wholeness can help us see it for what it is. But if we’re chasing a sense of completion, it will be harder to let that relationship go. Instead, we lose sight of ourselves and strive to keep the other person happy and attached to us.

This kind of striving can lead to manipulative behavior, in which we work overtime to make sure the other person “needs” us. When we’re constantly starved for validation and want to feel perpetually needed, that can translate into conflict, resentment, and the tendency to constantly seek others’ approval–which naturally adds tension to your relationships.

Before you rush into a dating relationship, engagement, or marriage, examine your own sense of self, worth, and wholeness. If you’re looking for a relationship to define the rest of who you are, it’s time to pause and cultivate your own self-worth first. It’s important to note that any sense of wholeness you might feel when you enter a relationship is an illusion, and it will quickly fade if you don’t have a firm grip on who you truly are.

How to Feel Whole in You Own Skin

Personal development is a lifelong process, and it won’t happen overnight. Give yourself time as you begin (or continue) your journey to embracing your complete self. Depending on your individual life experiences, it may be helpful to consider speaking with a professional counselor who can give you tools to help you cultivate a strong sense of self-worth.

When embracing yourself as a whole individual, here’s where you should start:

  • Take steps to heal past trauma and hurt. This will look different for every individual, so take your time. You may need to meet with a counselor who can help you navigate and process your experiences.
  • Be authentic. You want to eventually build a genuine relationship with someone who knows who you really are. Get to know yourself better, take off your mask, and learn to shed the fear of showing your true self to the world.
  • Grasping your full identity means actively navigating your own relationships, rather than drifting through interactions on autopilot. Cultivating a strong sense of self-worth will help you to avoid getting caught up in relationships that aren’t right for you. Instead, it will help you to seek out the most nurturing and authentic ones–even if it takes time to find the right person.
  • Lean on God for your sense of personal significance. Unless you are fully aware of your own significance in Christ, you will constantly seek it from others, which will make it difficult to build a lasting, fulfilling relationship.

Building a healthier sense of individuality and self-worth takes work, but in the end, it’s worth the time and effort. Whether you feel complete on your own will directly affect your future relationship decisions, including your marriage, for better or worse.

Want a deeper dive into building great relationships? Check out our book, Real Relationships. From friendships to romantic relationships, this guide will help you build healthier relationships with others, both old and new. Pick up your copy here.

Do you feel a sense of personal wholeness? What have you done to cultivate that? If you’re married, how do you and your spouse encourage one another to embrace your complete, authentic selves? Leave us a comment and let us know.


  • Catherine Frisby says:

    Embracing yourself is a strong message but his article implies that nearly everyone will need /should have a counselor prior to marriage and that is a very negative and not true. Part of life is listening to the Lord, reading his Word and learning as the Holy Spirit prompts. If you marry young inevitably you will have to learn and grow as a person. Counselors offer some benefits but not all are very good. The overall theme here is that you are broken (yes), counseling comes before really seeking the Lord to find direction and wholeness to some extent (no). Natural maturing and growing is part of life and trying to get all sorted out and dusted off prior to marriage is a fallacy. I am not against some counseling and have worked with a couple of counselors over the years but their abilities differ widely as do outcomes. Surprised at the tack of this – I don’t think we are always supposed to feel whole. Discomfort is part of the journey.

  • Keith Ruska says:

    In his first sentence he states that you may need to go to a counselor so I don’t get how the article implies that nearly everyone will/should have a counselor prior to marriage. All couples should have premarital counseling as statistics show that more marriages are successful when premarital counseling occurs. Premarital counseling gives tools to successfully navigate the “bumps” in the road we all have in marriage. The key is to use those tools taught while in counseling and not putting them in the “tool box” and forgetting them. Maybe it was an assumption that the Biblical part of counseling was not part of the process. The closer a couple is to the Lord the closer they are to each other and the space for difficulties is narrowed down. By the same token if one in the marriage slips away from God, he/she has to slip away from their spouse. The other side of the coin is also true in sense that if we slip away and start taking for granted or harming our relationship with our spouse; we have to be distancing ourselves from the Lord. Just some thoughts.

  • Jason says:

    About Counseling…

    I believe the authors of this article are referring counseling for those who have experienced trauma and hurt. This is a very powerful process and can help speed the healing process.

    Thank you for this article.

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