Honoring Marriage With Truth, Not Myths

a man and woman holding scrabble tiles that spell forever

Marriage, established and defined by God, is a covenant relationship built on truth and promise, not fairytales or myths. If the couples in our churches are going to thrive, their marriages must be built on the promises of God, not folk theology.

Here are 5 myths many couples fall for and the truth to dispel them:

The “hook-up” myth

“Frequent sex with multiple partners is a healthy expression of one’s sexuality.” This is a cousin to the “Friends with benefits” myth. I watched a movie a few weeks back where one husband asked another this question: “Can you tell me that after 7 years your wife still turns you on?” I would answer that question with a resounding, “Yes!” For some, exclusivity seems boring, but God blesses exclusivity and the sexual intimacy that flows from it. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Singles, your prayer until marriage must be, “Lord, may I ‘not arouse or awaken love until it so desires’” (Song of Songs 2:7). Once married, Proverbs 5:15-19 calls the husband to,

15 "Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.

16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares?

17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers.

18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

19 A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

The “soul mate” myth

“There is one perfect person out there for me.” Compatibility is not something you find, discover, test for, or stumble into. Compatibility is something you create over a lifetime of marriage. The biblical term for compatibility is “oneness.” Genesis 2:24 says, “they become one flesh.” You don’t find compatibility, you become compatible.

The “happily ever after” myth

“True love means everything should be easy and happy from here on out.” Have you ever noticed that the couples in romance movies live in lavish city apartments or beachfront houses, work few hours, and sit around holding each other for most of the day? Many of the couples on the screen are far removed from a day in the life of my marriage. Jobs, children, and community involvement require that we constantly prioritize our marriage in the midst of the hustle of life. For those who fall for this myth, they begin to question “true love” when their marriage hits a bump in the road. Instead, they need to be reminded that love requires daily decisions. A great marriage requires a wife to decide daily to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22). Author and speaker Beth Moore says, “Sometimes submission is ducking so God can hit your husband.” A great marriage requires a daily decision for the husband to love his wife “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

The “marriage is hard work” myth

“Marriage requires constant, grueling work to stay in love.” According to eHarmony.com, “Marriage doesn’t need work. Marriage needs attention… The time that you give to your marriage will pay exponential dividends in joy, companionship, sexual satisfaction, and teamwork, but it shouldn’t feel like work. More often than not, it should feel like play!” Happily married couples and divorcing couples have this in common: Both couples experienced similar levels of marital satisfaction on the day of their wedding. King Solomon described his special day this way: “The day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced” (Song of Songs 2:10). Very few newlyweds would describe the preparations for their wedding or the day of their wedding as “hard work.” They enjoyed the time spent together pulling off that big day. The same is true of the investment and attention given to the marriage.

The “happiness vs. holiness” myth

“God gave you your spouse to make you holy, not happy.” This myth is based on a false dichotomy. I for one am not choosing between holiness and happiness. I am going for both and at the same time. Both holiness and happiness are choices that flow from your character. Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.” God did not give you your spouse to beat you down and suck the life out of you so you can be more like Jesus. He gave you your spouse to go through the grind of life with.

As I meet with couples and hear their stories, I am constantly on the lookout for myths affecting marriage. I have lost track of the number of times I’ve heard something similar to, “He completes me” or “She completes me.” That comes from Jerry Maguire, not Jesus.

About the Author:

Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri.  He and his wife, Amy, have been married for over 20 years, and have two children, Corynn and Carson.  He is the author of Fun Loving You, Trophy Child, and Young and In Love and coauthor of four books with Dr. Gary Smalley including The Language of Sex and From Anger to Intimacy.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.

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