The word “myth” means a fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology. We have myths for almost every subject known to man, from ancient Greek gods who roamed the earth to determining the gender of an unborn child.
Why do myths exist? Amazingly, myths can begin with just one person. If someone believes something is true without proof and spreads this half-truth around, over time, a myth is created. The problem with myths, unfortunately, is that they become ingrained in the minds of people and, for all intents and purposes, serve as the truth. This is dangerous when it comes to an important issue like marriage.
Recent statistics indicate that about half of all marriages end in divorce. No one walks down the aisle thinking their relationship will fail, but many do have ill-conceived ideas about what it means for two people to be together. Let’s explore three common myths concerning marriage today.
MYTH 1: Marriage is not permanent These days, multiple marriages are very common. If it’s not working, people think, it’s okay to get out-after all, it’s just a piece of paper. Some people who don’t want to go through one marriage after another cohabitate instead, steering clear of signing anything legal or marrying before God.
Both views are fundamentally wrong because they allow couples to come and go as they please when they become dissatisfied with a relationship. With the exception of abusive or unfaithful unions, God intended marriage to be a permanent institution. This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:23-24)
Adam and Eve may not have signed any documents, but they were married and blessed before God. Their marriage was a gift. This kind of bond cannot and should not be taken lightly. Some couples cite “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for leaving the marriage. In other words, they feel that they can’t get along. But we need to understand that no two people are going to be perfect matches.
What then, contributes to this carefree attitude toward marriage? One major reason is that many couples do not place God as the head of their families. For a marriage to be successful, God needs to be there. He teaches us how to love, care, and work together as one. He provides us with the spiritual wisdom to make sound decisions and fills us so that we can bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
We can all remember a time when we’ve needed extra patience, gentleness, or self-control. This kind of selfless and submissive love can only come from Christ alone. Before we give up on a relationship, we should kneel down and pray to our Lord for strength and guidance. When we are able to yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead us, we will see things with a new perspective.
Ephesians 5:21 states, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” When we encounter what seems to be an insurmountable problem, we need to remember to submit to and love one another even more deeply because of our love and respect for God. Of course, submission is not easy because it usually means letting go of what we believe is right. But what good is it to stand firm and stubborn while the marriage disintegrates?
Part of the beauty of marriage is being able to weather storms. When we are able to weather storms, we will find that our relationship is even stronger and better than before.
MYTH 2: Marriage is supposed to be easy Another factor that contributes to such a high divorce rate is that many people walk into a marriage with unrealistic expectations.
When two people think about spending the rest of their lives together, they might dream about making meals together or taking strolls on the beach. But soon after the honeymoon is over, they discover that it’s not just about sharing a bed or dividing the rent. There are finances to balance, children to raise, and fights that keep rearing their ugly heads. On top of that, what were once insignificant problems now become huge issues. There are arguments over toilet seats or hair on the bathroom floor.
Suddenly, making the marriage work isn’t as simple as the couple first envisioned. Since many couples aren’t ready to deal with their “problems,” often one or both choose to abandon the relationship. The reality is that marriage takes a lot of work and couples will face problems.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t get married until we have all received a degree in marriage and are prepared for any issue that might surface? Of course not-this is neither possible nor practical. There is no way we can anticipate everything that can go wrong in a marriage. Rather, the answer lies in whether or not two people are willing and ready to make a life-long commitment to stay with each other, despite the things they may not know.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to talk about the really important issues beforehand. When I was dating my husband, we spent the first several outings together talking about what was important to us. Because we had each been involved in a failed relationship before, we both realized that some issues were dear to us and wanted to make those issues clear before we got too emotionally involved. We didn’t come to a bargaining table and check off a list of items, but, through casual discussion, we worked out our needs and plans for the future.
Although there are still things we disagree on, we have learned that communication really is a key to making a relationship last. Talking on any level allows us to feel connected and share a closeness that cannot be reproduced with anyone else. It also makes the problems seem just a little bit more surmountable. Studies have shown that a lack of communication usually leads to a breakdown in physical and emotional intimacy, both vital to a thriving marriage.
A life-long commitment to another person is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, as long as we have healthy and realistic expectations. Marriage is a learning process and takes effort. No one is born an expert at marriage or suddenly ready for it when they turn a magical age.
In order for a marriage to last, we need to stick around to reap the results.
MYTH 3: It’s okay to take our spouse for granted When was the last time we said thank you to our spouse for the dinner on the table or expressed appreciation for staying home with the kids while we had some personal time?
Some people say that this kind of stuff is for newlyweds; we don’t need to act like a couple of teenagers after we’ve been together so many years. It’s true that we should be able to feel completely at ease with our spouse. After all, they see us in the morning before we brush our teeth and tolerate us when we are sick.
But should the things that were important at the beginning of the relationship gradually be brushed aside? Sometimes, becoming careless with our other half can cause the fizzle to go out of marriage. After years of being together we assume that our spouse knows us well and certain things can be left unsaid. But when problems arise, we make many accusations. We wish the other helped more around the house. We complain that our partner doesn’t communicate enough. We feel a lack of emotional intimacy.
For a relationship to grow, it’s important to show our appreciation. Expressing appreciation also is a good way to keep two people connected. It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night.” (Ps 92:1-2)
Just as we sing praises of thanksgiving to God on a daily basis, we will find that our attitudes will also be more cheerful and loving when we see our partner through “thankful” and “appreciative eyes.”
Recently, my husband awoke one morning unable to fall back asleep. Being a light sleeper, I knew he was tossing and turning, so I asked him if there was something on his mind. He looked at me and whispered, “I love you. I know you work very hard at home.”
Although a marriage will not survive on these words alone, they certainly make one’s day much brighter. These sweet words probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was complaining bitterly the night before about a terrible backache. But these words came from the deepest part of his heart, and for that I am thankful.
Sometimes, our daily chores find us lost in the humdrum of life and we really don’t stop to think about what our spouse has contributed to the relationship. It seems normal and expected that one should make breakfast and the other take the kids to school.
Think about the three things we would miss the most if our spouse went away on a month-long trip. When was the last time we let him or her know that we appreciate these things? It may seem trivial to say or do things showing our love and thankfulness, but our spouse shouldn’t have to guess in what ways we feel blessed to be them.
Many people bemoan the fact that the sparks are gone from their marriage and use that as an excuse to have an affair. They claim they feel a more physical, intellectual, and emotional connection with a new love. If we put as much energy into the existing marriage, we will also feel just as many sparks in the air. If the daily grind is getting the better of us, try some of the following suggestions to add some spice to your marriage:
- Schedule a date and have some fun
- Send a card for no reason other than to say “I love you”
- Stick a personal Post-It Note in the bagged lunch
- Surprise your spouse at work and take him/her out to lunch
- Cook a special meal at home and offer to wash the dishes
- Give each other a back rub
- Bring home some flowers or an inexpensive gift
No matter what we choose to do, the most important thing is to let our spouse know the difference he or she makes in our life.
A BEAUTIFUL UNION When God instituted marriage, He meant for it to be permanent. To be joined together with another person as one and be so intimately connected is as beautiful as it is a mystery. Although God has promised to guide us every step of the way, marriage will have its high and low points. Within it, we are bound to experience joy, anger, pain, and excitement all rolled into one. However, we don’t have to look for a way out the minute we have a fight or find that we don’t always agree. Rather, look to the Holy Spirit to show us how to become even stronger as one. After all, marriage is about helping each other grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.