Just because God brought you together, doesn't mean married life is going to be easy

 

Why do people marry? What does a good relationship look like? What makes love last? One of the reasons marriage

can be so difficult is because of what we think "love" is. The jumbled impressions and false expectations we receive from

the media, family, friends and even the Church can leave us confused and discouraged.

Here are some myths about love and marriage, followed by truths that can help strengthen our relationships.

 

MYTH: Romantic love will always remain at the same level of intensity. For partners contemplating the

passionate thrill of the honeymoon, this may seem hard to swallow! In The Road Less Traveled, Dr. Scott Peck

says that "no matter whom we fall in love with, we sooner or later fall out of love." He is not meaning we will stop

loving our spouses but he is referring to the waning of those intense and exciting falling-in-love feelings that can

overwhelm us in the beginning.

 

TRUTH: Love deepens and matures over time. The initial passion sets the stage for true intimacy to develop and grow.

Deep and satisfying physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual intimacy strengthens the cord of commitment. Over

the marital lifetime, while love may be a constant, the experience of love will change. Couples need to know that love

is much more than a feeling. Feelings are fickle at best and can come and go like the wind. It's good to know that on

the days when I don't feel particularly "in love" with my spouse, I don't have to live in dread, fearing that "love" has gone.

 

MYTH: My spouse will make me whole. This myth perpetuates the idea that successful couples are somehow "right"

for each other, that every problem should somehow magically resolve itself. Those having difficulty often begin to wonder

if they have made a terrible mistake. This leads to unrealistic expectations and demands (e.g. "If my spouse really loved

me, he would make me happy"). Low self-esteem and codependence often characterize these relationships.

 

TRUTH: While it is mathematically true that two halves make a whole, it is not true relationally. The biblical equation of

"two becoming one," suggests that it takes two complete, separate individuals to join together to successfully establish

one relationship. In Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, Dr Les and Leslie Parrott note: "Marriage challenges us to

new heights and calls us to be the best person possible, but neither marriage nor our partner will magically make us whole."

If all I bring to my relationship is my own neediness, then I will have little to put into it. On the other hand, if I am more

concerned about being the right person as opposed to finding the right person, I will be in a place to give. And that's

what relationships need to grow and flourish.

 

MYTH: If it takes hard work, it must be wrong. Some Christians assume that if God has brought them together,

then married life should be easy. Not so! At Marriage Retreats and Relationship Seminars, my wife and I ask couples how

much time they invest in their relationships. We are often met with blank stares and silence.

 

TRUTH: Most of us are busy with full-time jobs, sky-high mortgages and family concerns. But marriage, like everything

else, does take work. And it's the kind of work that requires creativity, flexibility and lots of energy. Marriages do not reach

their potential when they are on the bottom of the priority list. Often the rough edges of our personalities or unresolved

personal issues come to light in the context of marriage. But problems do not suggest failure. Working through challenges

as a couple contributes to emotional and relational growth.

 

Breaking down these myths is an ongoing process. As couples work together they will learn which expectations are realistic

and healthy and which are not. Honestly sharing feelings of disappointment or dissatisfaction will help this process along.

So what healthy, realistic expectations can be applied to love and marriage? Here are a few to build on:

1. Expect your feelings to fluctuate from time to time. This is normal, healthy and predictable and is not reflective of a lack

of love for each other.

2. Expect to complement each other with your differences and similarities, however, realize neither one of you can make

the other whole.

3. Expect to learn and grow together as you invest time and energy in building your relationship.

 

Questions to Ask Yourself

What is the purpose of a good marriage?

What is our greatest strength as a couple?

How will we celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and special days?

What does romance look like to me?

What kinds of things will I do to show my spouse that I love him/her?

 

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Testimonials

“I’ve just read your book and found it very helpful. My wife and I have been married 16 years and we actually want to sit down together and work our way through it. I believe your terrific book will help us not only in our relationship but other relationships as well, including our relationship with our children.”
- Lieutenants Lisa and Rod Wynne, Pastors/Corps Officers, The Salvation Army, Surrey Hills, Australia

“As a pastor of the Christian & Missionary Alliance for some 34 years this resource comes as a refreshing and practical help for busy pastors. The way in which you have arranged the material is helpful and interactive. Couples of all ages including those who choose to remarry have indicated thanks for the hands on use of this manual. I would recommend its use by any counselor who wishes to furnish couples with good tools that help frame a good marriage. Today we need to offer couples Biblical help that they can take with them for life. This manual accomplishes that feature. Thanks for the gift of this good work. I will continue to use it here. In fact, our present Intern was one of the couples I walked through this material.”
- Pastor Ernest Gray, Nanaimo Alliance