5 Marriage Myths
READ TIME: 7 MINUTES
With the current divorce rate in the United States at 50%, it’s time we dismantle the myths we believe about marriage in hopes of creating loving, lasting unions.
Thankfully, God equipped us with the timeless truth of His Word. The Bible has fierce power to break through lies we believe about ourselves and cultural untruths that we’ve adopted. Let’s dig in…
It’s all dreamy!
Earlier this week, Russell and I had an at-home spa day. We slapped on charcoal mud masks and layered our teeth with their annual serving of whitener. If you’re never used at-home whitening, here’s a preview. You stick the whitening strips or trays in your mouth for about an hour, with bleach oozing onto your tongue, and all of a sudden you’re salivating at a freakishly increased rate, but of course you don’t want to swallow bleach, so the spit just accumulates for the longest hour of your life.
If you’ve never heard your spouse spitting profusely for 60 seconds straight — with a charcoal mud-covered face — then you just don’t know romance.
Honestly, this is more normal for us than the photo of chocolates, roses, and the fancy restaurant that I’ll post tomorrow for Valentine’s Day. Most days are just plain normal. Most days are:
“I think you have a zit; let me pick it.”
And dramatic analogies about morning breath.
And “Would you rather eat out tonight or have a savings account?”
Most days are about friendship, kindness, and compassion.
The reality is that your wedding is probably the dreamiest event of your life, and every day after that will be spent in the normalness of getting along and working together toward goals.
If you’re not married, are you dating someone who will work WITH YOU to create a functioning partnership — every day for the rest of your lives?
If you are married, are you allowing your view of marriage to merge with your spouse’s view? Or did you unite for the wedding, but you’ve each dug in your heels since that day. And now you’re wondering how you’ve grown so far apart. In Jesus’ name, I declare that your marriage — in whatever disrepair it’s in — IS salvageable.
If you need marriage rehab, start by communicating daily. Talk and listen, each of you. If you need counseling, get it! It’s an investment in your relational health, and any sacrifice in another area (financially or time-wise) is so worth it!
You fully know your partner at “I do”.
Russell & I dated for 6 months, were engaged for 6 months, and got married. The reason I confidently entered a lifetime commitment is because I felt God leading me into our marriage, and I felt Him leading the timing. We had a quick timeline because I can convince myself out of things that are good but hard. And marriage is hard. Choosing to love someone more than yourself is hard. It sounds like death, and partly because it is. The single, self-preserving version of myself is dead — or still dying. The new version is oneness with Russell.
Marriage is a total mindset change, and there’s no other human relationship in the Bible like it. Not even parenthood.
If you’ve been dating for years, you probably already know whether or not homeboy could be a good spouse. If you’re scared that you don’t know him well enough yet…you don’t. You won’t really know most everything about him until you’ve been in a committed marriage for years. Trust the Lord’s discernment, because unlike you, God knows everything.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Romance is the best indicator of a happy marriage.
Romance is NOT the best indicator of a good marriage. Friendship is. As I said in my first point “It’s [NOT] mostly dreamy”, you really don’t spend most of your married time on romance like ethereal date nights and fantastical make-out sessions. You spend MOST of your time being a friend: listening, empathizing, encouraging, challenging.
In a study of married couples over the first 6 years of marriage, Dr. Howard Markman observed:
“The best predictor of the couples' satisfaction…was how well they communicated before the marriage.”
Source: “Marriage: Research Reveals Ingredients of Happiness” by Daniel Goleman
This makes me weirdly giddy, because the idea that the Romeos and Juliets of the world have more fulfilling marriages is a bunch of garbage. Communication patterns are developed before marriage, and good patterns manifest in happier marriages. Communication is a skill that, like any other skill, can be learned & cultivated. When you learn is up to you! Why not start today?
For singles, the best part of this news is that you can prepare yourself for a high-quality marriage by incorporating high-quality friendship skills in the relationships you already have. When’s the last time you bought your bestie her favorite candy? Start with small, selfless acts of love.
For married people, the best part is that you don’t have to buy a dozen roses every day for the rest of your life. Learn & apply basic friendship skills like thoughtfulness, and you’ll improve the happiness of your marriage!
Moving in together is a good test of marriage potential.
I feel like Maury with those tacky lie-detector test results but…
Biblically speaking, this is false.
“God wants you to live a pure life. Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity. Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God.”
1 Thessalonians 3
Statistically speaking, this is false.
“Cohabitation prior to marriage has been consistently associated with poorer marital communication quality, lower marital satisfaction, higher levels of domestic violence, and greater probability of divorce in U.S. samples.”
Source: “Sliding Versus Deciding: Inertia and the Premarital Cohabitation Effect” by Stanley, Rhoades, & Markman
From my friends’ experiences, this is false.
I’m not rudely bringing this up to make anyone feel bad. I’m choosing this topic because I’ve consoled too many heartbroken friends and heard too many heartbreaking stories about how moving in together didn’t prepare them for the “real person” they married. They thought they knew their partner because they shared a lease, only to find out after getting married that the partner has skeletons in the closet. We all do.
If you’re cohabiting, think long and hard about why you haven’t married your partner yet. If you’re splitting bills out of ease, it’s time to cut emotional ties. If you’re headed toward marriage, get premarital counseling and set a date.
If you’re single, please don’t fall for the lie that moving in together is a progress step. It’s actually a step toward poor marriage and divorce.
If you’re married, encourage your friends with the AWESOME parts of marriage that you wouldn’t experience if you were just cohabiting.
You can keep intimate relationships with the opposite sex.
This one comes from two of my friends’ experiences. Each of these friends married spouses who didn’t agree, but they didn’t have the tough conversations until AFTER it was already a problem.
Let me put it this way:
You can keep an intimate relationship with a person of the opposite sex, but you can’t expect your intimacy with your spouse to remain in tact.
It’s too costly.
I’d rather have intimacy with my husband than to have the intimacy of a bunch of random bros. I’d rather have the trust, love, respect, and adoration of my husband than any one else’s (incl. parents, besties, coworkers). Count the cost of your decisions as a married person. Everything about you — good and bad — will affect your spouse. When you decide to “take a selfish” and choose another person over your spouse, it will cost you. Refurbishing trust is highly costly, and it takes a long long time.
Begin honest conversations about jealousy and blind spots, or areas where you don’t see danger but your spouse does. Honor your spouse, especially when he/she isn’t present. Do everything reasonable to keep your spouse’s trust in tact, and you’ll find much greater intimacy in that relationship than you could elsewhere.
This might be the least romantic Valentine’s Day post I’ve ever written, butttt… I’m more in love than ever before.
Believing the funny untruths of rom-coms and memes never got me very far in my romantic life, but dismantling frothy cultural myths helped me to recognize the PURE GOLD in our marriage. No, we don’t match everyone’s idea of romantic love, but we are truly, thoroughly, tremendously in love. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I hope you experience the amazing love of God that is SO TRUE & SO FAITHFUL and from that well of everything you need, you give tremendous love this season.
Photos by Benjamin Hewitt Photography.
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