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Anyone who has been married for more than 2 seconds knows that we all enter marriage with some ideas that are just plain wrong! You can probably think of a few of these in your life and marriage. Maybe what I’ve learned is a little different – so here are my top 10 myths about marriage – that I wish I’d known as soon as I said “I do” or sooner.
Myth #1: Let’s live together
Most people today believe that living together before getting married is a good idea.
It is no longer uncommon for couples to live together before marriage. In fact, the opposite is true. Those couples who do not live together first are a smaller and smaller percentage of the population.
But as we all know – society isn’t always right. But God is.
But first I want to talk to you if you are living together or if you did before you got married. You need to know this: God still does and always will love you. Nothing you did or can ever do will change that. That is true no matter what sins we engage in or struggle with. Your sin, my sin, can never erase or alter God’s love.
We all know couples that have or are living together. Maybe your kids or grandkids. Maybe a brother or sister or close friend. None of them need judgment. But all of them need the wisdom of God’s Word that stands in stark contrast to what the world calls wise (1 Corinthians 1:24-25).
Back to this first myth. Why is living together before getting married not a good idea? Here are just 3 reasons:
First, the Bible teaches that engaging in any sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin (1 Corinthians 7:8-9; Ephesians 5:1-5; Hebrews 13:4). And that should be enough of a reason for any believer.
Second, all research done on this topic points to the fact that living together before marriage increases the odds of getting divorced.
Third, living together increases the chances that a woman will be abused. Domestic abuse is on the rise nationally. And ‘domestic abuse’ is just a nicer way of saying women are getting beaten by their partners more and more frequently. Some are even killed.
Women living with men to whom they are not married are more likely to be beaten, controlled, wounded, or killed than women living with married husbands. To protect yourself and your children (current or future), you should never live with a man to whom you are not married.
Of course, many married women suffer abuse as well, and that should not be dismissed. But choosing to live with a man without being married to him increases your chances of being abused. Why would anyone want that?
Myth #2: Love is all we need
How very common this myth is! If we love each other enough, we’ll be able to solve any problems that come our way. If only it were true.
This myth sets a lot of couples up for failure. The idea that two different people with different ideas about almost everything can figure out how to solve all their problems without any help is crazy. I mean, just read that sentence again. Different people. Different ideas. Solve all their problems.
Yes, there are couples that do it. They are the exception, not the rule. Going into marriage you need to be aware that problems will occur and that sometimes you will need help to overcome those problems. The help could be from family, friends, a pastor, or a counselor. But help will be needed.
God seemed to have been aware of this when He put Titus 2:3-5 in Scripture: “Older women … [are to teach] what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
And he didn’t let husbands off the hook either, giving them plenty of direct instruction (Ephesians 5:25-33; Titus 2:1-2, 6; 1 Peter 3:7) as well as examples of how to love their wives (Song of Solomon; Hosea).
For both husbands and wives, the instruction and example of Proverbs – which is basically the life manual a father taught his sons – gives unparalleled guidance. Verses such as Proverbs 11:4 emphasize the importance of wise counsel: “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory.”
You can set yourself up for success by accepting this fact from day one.
Myth #3: We’re soulmates
The longer form of this myth is this: “My husband is my soulmate, and he will fill the aching hole in my soul.”
Myth #3 is fed and nurtured by Disney princesses and Hallmark Channel movies, not to mention typical chick flicks and romance novels.
Here’s the truth: that ache in your soul is meant to be filled by only one Person. That person is not your husband, mother, friend, or child. That Person is the One who loves you so much that He died for you.
The ache in your soul was built there on purpose to drive you to God. That ache can only be filled by knowing Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Don’t put that burden on your husband. You will always be disappointed.
Myth #4: “If he really loved me, he’d know”
This myth was one of my biggest stumbling blocks. “He should just know” is a lie! No one is a mind reader. And ladies, men are especially bad at reading nonverbal cues.
So, if you think that giving him the silent treatment, the evil eye, or ‘forgetting’ to clean the house for a few weeks will work – you’re wrong. He won’t even notice most of the time. And you’ll be asking yourself how he can be so clueless.
It’s the way God made him.
And God made you with the ability to tell him what you want him to know. Whether that means you want him to take the trash out or wash the dishes. Or if it means that you are too exhausted at the end of the day for intimacy, so you need to get creative about finding a different time for each other.
Whatever he needs to know about you and your relationship and your needs you must tell him. The sooner you realize and accept that fact, the happier both of you will be.
Talking is the only way he’ll ever know what matters to you. So start talking!
Myth #5: What’s best for me is best for my kids
Another way of stating this very common and almost universally believed myth is this: “Staying together for the sake of the kids is a bad idea.”
This myth is so common in part because sometimes it’s true. In marriages where abuse is happening or when your husband is not facing his demons of drug addiction or a volatile anger that results in broken windows or holes punched in the wall – then no, staying together is usually worse for the kids.
But if you’re trying to convince yourself that your ‘incompatibility’ or constant arguing or even the coolness pervading your home is reason enough to divorce – you’re wrong.
And this is coming from me – a wife of 38 years who stayed with my husband, fought for my marriage, and chose to forgive the almost unforgivable. Just one example: my husband left me and our children (actually moved out) not once, but twice! Each time he filed for divorce. Each time we didn’t get divorced because he changed his mind – once after a 5-month separation and the second time after a year of separation.
Was I hurt? You bet! Was I angry? Definitely. Did I want to punch him and throw things and hurt him like he hurt me? My goodness, yes, yes, YES! But making decisions based on my emotions is simply foolish. My emotions – and yours – are really bad at leading us to godliness.
Sad to say, I could share other, not quite as dramatic, but still similar stories. Each time my decision to stay, to fight, to forgive was hard. Very, very hard. And each time, I chose not to base my decisions on my emotions, but on the Word of God.
Today – we are so happy. But even more important, our children are happy. They are married to wonderful Christian women, have children, and are both leading their families in attending church and serving.
But here’s the clincher: when we faced the first episode in our marriage that could have ended in divorce – after only 7 years of marriage – when I was trying to make a decision, I ran across this passage:
And this is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and sighing, because He no longer gives attention to the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your marriage companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And why the one? He was seeking a godly offspring. Be careful then about your spirit and see that none of you deals treacherously against the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with violence,” says the Lord of armies. “So be careful about your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:13-16 (emphasis added).
I knew this passage. I knew the part that says “I hate divorce.” But I never knew or never paid attention to verse 15, where God explains why – why He hates divorce, why He hates the one who ‘deals treacherously’ with his wife (or her husband).
Simply put, God hates divorce because, among other reasons (see Ephesians 5), He is seeking godly offspring. God wants godly parents to raise up godly children who will carry the torch of faith to the next generation.
Once God opened my eyes to this reality, I saw it everywhere. In Deuteronomy, where parents are instructed to teach God’s faithfulness at home and out in the world, in the day and at night (Deuteronomy 6). In God’s instructions not to intermarry with unbelievers – instructions given to both the Israelites and Christians (Deuteronomy 7; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). In God’s command to set up memorial stones so the story of God’s faithfulness would be repeatedly told (Joshua 4). In establishing the Passover so the story of deliverance would never be forgotten (Exodus 12).
Over and over God made clear that He desired faithful parents to raise faithful children. And most of the time, the best and easiest way to do this is within the covenant of marriage. Saying ‘no’ to divorce as an option except in the most extreme circumstances – and yes, for the good of the children – honors the Lord who loves our children more than we ever will.
Myth #6: Being Christians will protect us
Too many believers fall for this myth: Christians don’t have the same problems in marriage as non-Christians. Then when problems come – as they always do – both husband and wife are confused and clueless.
Maybe this is you: We’re both Christians, so that will make our marriage easier. When we have problems, they won’t be big problems because we already agree about all the really important things in life.
Yeah, not so much, right??
I certainly had thoughts that ran that way when we got married. My thoughts were more of ‘we met at Bible college and he’s going into the ministry, so everything will work out fine.’
Not so much!!
The truth is that even if you and your husband are both believers – and living like it – you are also still both sinners living in a sin-filled world. In addition, you are in a spiritual battle and have spiritual enemies who would love to see you ruin your testimony (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Plus, if you have children, the enemy wants them, so you’ll become a bigger target. I might even go so far as to say because you are Christians, you’ll face more problems, maybe bigger problems. You’ll look around and see unsaved friends or family members not dealing with things you’re dealing with (Job 21:-14; Psalm 73; Ecclesiastes 8:12-14).
Remember – you are the threat to the kingdom of darkness and they aren’t. Your marriage is the one designed to reflect the truth of Christ and the Church – not theirs.
So, no, being believers will not protect you from problems in your marriage or your life. But God’s promises of His protection, guidance, and peace through all the storms of life are trustworthy (Psalm 91).
Myth #7: A marriage is OK on autopilot
“You can put your relationship on autopilot and not suffer consequences” is not only a myth – it’s very dangerous! Most husbands and wives don’t consciously adopt this myth, but as life gets busier, maybe you live like it’s the truth.
This myth doesn’t usually show up until you are knee-deep in the children-work-dishes-sports-school life. When you and your husband are being pulled in a hundred different directions, it is so tempting to put your marriage relationship on the back burner and assume everything will be fine.
You may be the fortunate minority for which that will be true. But don’t count on it. It is far more likely that your relationship will suffer.
You may wake up the morning after your youngest graduates from high school and wonder, “What happened? What do we do now?” Or even ask, “Who are you? And who am I?”
Don’t wait until then to reject this myth and put effort into your relationship. It will require a lot of creativity in those hectic years, but it’ll be worth it.
As you continue to work on your marriage relationship year after year, remember these verses:
Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. 2 Peter 3:7
The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands. Proverbs 14:1
By wisdom, a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24:3-4
Myth #8: Long marriages are boring
Another way of saying this is, “The longer you are married, the more boring and routine your relationship becomes.”
I will admit that this is certainly a possibility. But it is not inevitable. If your relationship becomes boring and routine, whether you’ve been married 8 years or 48 years – that is on you and your husband.
While it is difficult to find Biblical passages that directly speak to this, we have plenty of examples. Do you think Abraham and Sarah had a boring and routine relationship? How about Zechariah and Elizabeth? Peter and his wife? Ruth and Boaz? Joseph and Mary?
We don’t really know. But we do know this: living a life of service to the Lord is seldom boring and routine. Just ask Jonah, Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, Joseph, Deborah, Mary of Bethany, Dorcas, and Priscilla. That list barely scratches the surface. Or you can read through Hebrews 11.
The point is that if you want a marriage that is NOT boring and routine, if you want a marriage of excitement and challenge and changes, then build your marriage around serving Jesus. You never know where He’ll take you or what He’ll ask of you. But it’s almost a guarantee that it won’t be boring and routine.
Myth #9: Sex becomes less important the longer you are married
“A good sex life becomes less important the longer you are married” is a myth you may find those who are married only a few years believe. But not those who have put in a few decades!
This is probably one of the less popular myths of marriage. But there are still plenty of people who think it’s true. A healthy sexual relationship with your husband is important throughout your marriage. What that looks like will change with years, health challenges, and old age. But those changes don’t mean it isn’t important.
Proverbs 5:15-19 instructs the man to “take pleasure in the wife of your youth.” The principle, of course, applies to both men and women. Enjoy each other physically. 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 restates this principle – verse 5 says, “Do not deprive one another…” Hebrews 13:5 states that “the marriage bed is honorable” – and the Song of Solomon isn’t in the Bible by mistake!
Myth #10: The Bible is wrong
Few Christians would actually state this myth out loud: “The Bible is full of old-fashioned ideas about marriage that don’t apply today.” But far too many live like they believe that’s the truth.
Myth #10 used to be one found only among unbelievers. Unfortunately, many Christians are falling for the lies of the enemy and believing that the Bible is too old-fashioned. But that is like saying that God is out of touch, He doesn’t understand, He can’t know.
The Bible is clear that God knows everything (Job 38-41), possesses all wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 2:6; Jeremiah 10:12; Colossians 2:3), and has provided for His children all that we need for “life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
Sadly, this myth is often cited when people – saved or unsaved – want to disregard what the Bible says and choose their own paths without regard for righteousness. God told us this shift in belief would happen (2 Timothy 4:3-4), but that doesn’t make it acceptable.
So, What Now?
If you’ve adopted any of these myths – either consciously or unconsciously – you need to spend some time in God’s Word. Don’t take my word for it that these are dangerous myths. Instead, see for yourself what God says about marriage.
Learn the truth of God’s great plan for marriage by digging into the Word of God. Then, if necessary, repent of your false beliefs and determine to live by God’s Word from here on. Both in your marriage and in your life.