I could spit on every romance novel I read as a teenager. They deluded me into thinking that marriage was one, long romantic adventure. What a crock.
I’m not down on marriage. I endured four difficult years of separation because I believe so profoundly in marriage. Everyone should find their life mate and experience all the joys of marital bliss.
But our entertainment-addicted society has warped our perception of what it takes to build a marriage that will go the distance.
Walking in with Our Eyes Wide Open
When dating, it’s human nature to present only our best side, but it’s a huge mistake if two people want to spend a lifetime together. It’s imperative we take off our rose-colored glasses. Painting our spouse or love interest as perfect will only set us up for a rude awakening.
Some couples think marriage will fix or save them, but superheroes only exist in the movies. Expecting a [future] spouse to “fix” our sinful patterns or save us from a dysfunctional family is more pressure than any one individual should bear.
Just saying “I do” doesn’t make everything better; just the opposite. Marriage highlights our character flaws. We don’t realize just how selfish we are until we get married.
Life is Not a Romance Novel
Our culture is so addicted to entertainment, we expect our spouse to continually dazzle, enthrall, or infatuate us as well. But movies, reality TV, gaming, and romance novels only glamorize snapshots in people’s lives, not the everyday mundane things.
When’s the last time a prime-time drama highlighted a sexy couple paying their monthly bills, folding loads of laundry, creating weekly meal plans, or spending time reading their Bible and praying?
In The Slight Edge, Jeff Olsen says to accomplish anything significant in life, we have to do the mundane. In marriage that means having meals together, washing the dishes, doing house repairs, going on regular dates, praying together, parenting together, etc. These aren’t always fun events but they are foundational.
And just as a hurricane will topple a house with a weak foundation, life’s storms will quickly reveal a marriage built on fantasies.
Count the Cost Before (and After) You Say “I Do”
Before You Say, “I Do”
Sixty percent of marriages end in divorce today. If you are single or engaged and want to set yourself up to beat the odds, you need to do three things:
#1: Face the realities of marriage before you say, “I do”. Jesus said it simply: “Count the cost” (Luke 14:25-33).
#2: Realize your partner doesn’t “complete” you; God does. Therefore, you need be a mature, responsible, content adult wholly reliant on God first before you entertain the idea of committing to a lifelong partnership (Colossians 2:10).
#3: Expect there to be challenging times, even without kids (John 16:33).
If You’ve Already Said, “I Do”
#1: If you are already in marriage and just realizing the cost, face it now. Get help before you get tempted to bail (Luke 14:25-33).
#2: Get back to the foundation of God being first in your heart, mind, and life. Then you can be the complimentary partner you were designed to be (Mark 12:30).
#3: Build intimacy with your spouse so when the challenging times come, you will be able to weather them (Matthew 7:24-27).
Our marriage needs the daily habits and practicalities that are sometimes seen as “mundane” in order to ride out life’s inevitable storms.
For a marriage to go the distance, both partners have to be willing to do the things we find repetitive and sometimes boring. Excelling at the mundane and refusing to conform to the world’s shallow standards of relationships will ultimately produce a lifetime of love, stability, confidence, intimacy, and joy.
What “mundane” things do you need to practice to improve your marriage?