You did it! You managed to walk down the aisle to the man of your dreams, and say “I do” before a crowd of starry-eyed onlookers.
You cried your way through the ceremony, danced your way through the reception, laughed your way through the best man speech, and fumbled your way through the consummation.
You awoke the following morning gazing fondly upon the face you would wake up next to for the rest of your life.
Life could not be more perfect…
And then the honeymoon ended.
Literally– the guests return home, the clean-up ensues, and you settle into your new routine with the love of your life. Work, bills, house duties, penny-pinching etc. Mundane, everyday life.
And you suddenly become aware of some things about this love of your life, that you may not have noticed before.
He has quirks- habits- flaws that drive you crazy!
- Consistently leaves the toilet seat up.
- Stuffs his dirty socks under the couch.
- Leaves a trail of shoes throughout the house.
- Makes strange noises when he sleeps.
- Drives with the gas tank on empty.
(Not that I know anything about these). 😉
A few years down the road, you might add a couple of kids into the equation, and you’ve instantly got yourself a whole new set of challenges! But it doesn’t stop there.
Those babies soon become toddlers, who become teenagers, who become adults who move out (eventually) and start lives of their own, and you’re left gazing upon the face that you’ve vowed to love and to serve for the whole of your life, and you wonder, “What now?”
Regardless of the stage of life you’re in:
- The baby stage– sleepless nights, dirty diapers, never ending laundry, low libido, and incessant crying, (YOU- not the baby).
- The mid-life stage– carpool lines, sporting events, teenage attitudes, growing appetites, and astronomical grocery bills.
- The empty-nester stage– retirement, deafening silence, the birth of grandchildren, rediscovering who YOU are, and questions of what now?
One thing is sure- marriage is HARD!
For many of us, we enter into marriage naively. We have unrealistic expectations of what married life should be, and when those expectations fall short, we are left feeling disillusioned and discontent.
Though I’m certainly no expert on this topic, (I’m still learning like the rest of you), one thing twenty-one years of marriage has taught me, is that there are several common misconceptions that people have about marriage.
Because I am passionate about the sanctity of marriage, I thought it would be helpful to dispel some of those myths, in order to set us free to begin fully enjoying the marriages we have- TODAY!
Five common misconceptions about marriage and the truth that will set you free.
#1. My spouse will make me whole.
If we think that being married will make us feel whole, then we are in for a rude awakening.
From an early age I began dreaming of my wedding day. I fantasized about the ceremony itself, the man that I would marry and the children that we would have.
I was SURE that as soon as I had all of these things in order, then I would be complete. Oops.
This type of thinking proves to be problematic because there is only One who can ever complete us, and His name is Jesus.
Marriage guru’s, Les and Leslie Parrott warn against attempting to find fulfillment in another person:
“If you try to build intimacy with another person before becoming whole on your own, all your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself.“
Knowing who WE are as a uniquely created child of God is pertinent to finding fulfillment in our relationships and it sets others free to be their true selves.
Marriage is designed to help us complement one another- not complete one another. It’s a partnership.
Jesus alone should be our sole source of security and fulfillment. Anything less sets us up for failure and discontentment.
“So you also are complete through your union with Christ who is the head over every ruler and authority.” (Colossians 2:10)
“In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalms 16:11)
“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” (Psalm 107:9)
“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)
#2. My spouse will change for me.
This is a common misconception among women especially. I’m not sure why we are so bent on trying to change our spouse. If our partner was enough for us when we committed to marry him, then he ought to be enough for us now.
To enter into marriage with the idea that we will be able to change our spouse is unhealthy. Not only will it add undue pressure on him, but it sets ourselves up for disappointment.
I spent lot of time in the early years of marriage, trying to change my husband. This was unfair to him, and stressful for me. I learned over time, that to love him, is to accept him- ALL OF HIM- the good, the bad and the ugly.
In the same way that I long to be accepted. Unconditionally.
The hope is that throughout the scope of marriage, both parties will do a lot of changing, evolving, and growing together. But our focus ought to be on allowing God to change ourselves- not our spouse.
“Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7)
“This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
#3. Love is enough to keep us together.
“What do you think will save you from becoming another divorce statistic?
This is the question our pastor asked us during one of our premarital counseling sessions, leading up to our wedding day.
I thought for a moment, and then I answered, “conviction.”
A look of surprise shot across his face. “Most people don’t get that right,” he said.
He proceeded to explain that many couples enter into marriage with the idea that if they love each other enough, then they will not be in any danger of divorce. But this kind of thinking is futile.
Our commitment to marriage has to be based on something stronger than a feeling. Feelings are temporary- they come and go. We may not always feel loving towards our spouse.
Love alone is not a solid foundation on which to build a successful marriage. It takes commitment, sacrifice, patience, perseverance, forgiveness and work.
It requires two people coming together with the common goal of remaining committed despite the challenges they face.
It’s a mutual respect for the marriage vows themselves, and a thriving relationship with the Lord, that will help a husband and wife trudge through the difficult seasons of marriage.
Love alone, is not enough.
“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.“ (Ephesians 4:2-3)
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
#4. Marriage will be easy because we are in love.
The combining of separate lives in the holy matrimony of marriage is seldom easy.
It is an act of bringing two vastly different individuals together under on roof- for a lifetime.
That’s two sets of backgrounds, two sets of upbringing, two sets of opinions, two sets of traditions, two sets of family dynamics, and two sets of beliefs.
What about that sounds easy??
On the contrary, marriage requires selflessness and compromise. Communication being key!
I highly recommend talking over some of the more important issues BEFORE marriage, if possible.
Sit down and get one another’s thoughts about some of the hot topics surrounding the union of marriage:
- What are your biblical beliefs?
- Who’s church will you attend?
- What are your thoughts on starting a family?
- How will you parent?
- How will you celebrate the holidays?
- What does intimacy in marriage look like to you?
- What kind of financial burdens are you bringing into marriage?
Marriage is both rewarding and challenging, beautiful and messy, glorious and hard.
It takes a grit, and a willingness to do the hard work of loving one another well.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.“ (Colossians 3:14)
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:9)
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.“ (Romans 12:10)
#5. Marriage will always be sexually fulfilling.
While I am a firm believer of keeping things running well in the bedroom, the truth is intimacy is a fickle beast. Especially for women.
As women, our sexuality is largely connected to our emotional well-being. If we feel loved and emotionally connected to our spouse, then the physical feelings will follow.
For men, it is the opposite. If a man feels physically close to his wife, then the feelings of being loved and connected to his wife on an emotional level will follow suit.
This explains why there are so many challenges in the intimacy department of marriage.
There are other things too, that can complicate things further. Hormonal imbalance, low libido, lack of communication, illness, history of sexual abuse, the addition of children, exhaustion- all have the ability to hinder the physical connection between man and wife.
Like anything that we strongly care about, we have to take the necessary steps and make the appropriate effort entailed to keep our sex life running like a fine-tuned machine.
For some, that might mean having a good, healthy talk about each others expectations in the bedroom.
For others, it might mean extending patience and exuding a willingness to compromise.
For others still, it might mean seeking medical help, or professional counseling.
Bottom line- sexuality in marriage can be, and should be, a beautiful and fulfilling act between two people who love each other. But it doesn’t just happen. It takes being intentional and putting forth the effort to make it so.
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4)
“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-19)
“I belong to my beloved and his desire is for me.” (Song of Solomon 7:10)
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4)
Now that we’ve made it through the gritty- how about a power-punch of TRUTH!
You ready for it? Here it goes…
The best way to get the MOST out of your marriage… is to have FEWER expectations.
That doesn’t mean that you stop trying, or that you give up hope of a better- more full- marriage. We should never stop working towards the best. But when we drop the expectations of what we think something should look like, we are then FREE to appreciate and truly enjoy what we have now!
I saw a recent interview with an elderly couple who had been married for more than 70 years.
When asked what their secret to success was, the gentleman stated that they simply refused to settle for anything less than the best. They continued to pursue one another, to surprise one another, and to sacrifice for one another.
Sure, they had hard times. All marriages do. But there is always hope of a better tomorrow when we are able to drop the baggage of unmet & unrealistic expectations today.
Marriage is a beautiful gift from a loving God to the children He adores. It is meant to be a blessing to all who enter in.
My prayer is that you will be set free to truly enjoy your marriage today.
The beautiful, the hard, the exciting, the mundane, the messy, and the lovely.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. ” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
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And now on to our featured posts!
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I chose Kelly’s post as one of my features this week because I can SO relate to this! I spent a good amount of years playing Holy Spirit to my husband- with my bible in one hand, and a pointing finger on the other. (It’s a wonder he ever put up with me). 😉
Kelly gives some great insight into the wife’s role in a marriage. I think #2 and #4 might possibly be my main struggles. To find out what they are- hop on over and give Kelly’s article a read, by visiting here!
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