[quote="kib, post:9, topic:220831"]
Is it unrealistic to expect to find someone willing to strive for you? Am I being unrealistic by expecting myself to live up to that standard?
Yes, as long as you asked, I think you're being unrealistic.
I started dating my husband when we were 16. We got married when we were 21, and we've been married 31 years and love each other more than ever. So I speak with the voice of experience.
People want to marry someone who accepts them just the way they are, flaws, annoyances, irritating mannerisms, quirks, habits (including the bad habits like smoking) and all. We want to be completely free to be ourselves, our TRUE selves, with our beloved.
Yes, Christians in ANY vocation, including married people, should desire to become like Christ. This means eliminating sins and cultivating virtues.
But we have to be careful that we don't lump "things that annoy your partner" in with sins. It's not a sin to be an extreme Green Bay Packers cheesehead-wearing fanatic, or to cry during romantic movies, or to be a devoted slave to your Siamese cats, or to wear the same "I Love Bee Gees" t-shirt that you wore all the way through college. These things might be annoying (to some people), but they're not sins, and it's not realistic or big-hearted to expect our spouse to change just because we are annoyed by these things.
These are the things that we need to accept and even cherish about our partner. We should not be thinking that "if they truly love me, they will want to eliminate these things that annoy me". Instead, we should strive to accept these traits in our spouse and enjoy them and treasure them.
We need to have large hearts when we are married.
What you need to do during the dating period is discern which habits, mannerisms, etc. are "deal-breakers" for you, and end relationships where these things are an issue. For example, you may be willing to accept the Packers and the Bee Gees t-shirt, but you will not tolerate cats or any feline obsession. That's OK. You're being "you," and that's fine.
Dating is the time to make these decisions. Make the decision BEFORE you allow yourself to fall in love. Write out a list. Think about things that annoy you and add these things to the list. Then avoid dating people who do these things. Then you won't have to worry about your spouse making changes after the wedding.
For me, smoking and drinking were huge issues. I would not have wanted to marry anyone who indulged in either of these behaviors. For others, these things wouldn't be a problem.
Yes, often, our spouse will change with the years as love increases in the marriage and the spouse decides of their own free will to give something up or change in some way to please their spouse. E.g., my husband has learned to accept the fact that I have to have a fan blowing at night while we sleep. He doesn't like it. But he accepts it and doesn't berate me for this. And I have come to accept that he will always have to hit the snooze button in the morning and this doesn't mean that he is lazy or shiftless. (I tend to wake up before the alarm goes off, and I jump right out of bed.)
But basically, you need to look for the person who encourages you to be your true self, and you in turn should encourage that person to be their true self.