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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,955
February 6, 2019
Ten Myths of Marriage
By Mike McManus

Valentine's Week is a good time to consider 10 myths of marriage.

First myth, the purpose of marriage is to make one happy.

  • No, disappointment is inevitable. The goal of marriage is oneness. Jesus quotes Genesis: "So then they are no longer two, but one flesh. What God has joined together let man not separate." Happiness is a byproduct of oneness.

A second myth is that the goal of marriage is to get one's mate to submit to us.

  • No. We must give up the goal of winning, If I win, you lose - and we both lose. Instead, we should help our mate become the person God intended. Marriage requires us to submit, give up rights.

Third, love is what holds a marriage together.

  • True, we enter marriage with feelings of love. However, what matters is our commitment to the vows that hold marriage together. Feelings of love wax and wane. What matters is loyalty to the sacred promises made at the wedding - vows made by billions of people over 2000 years - of being faithful to this one person, a pledge I will never leave nor forsake you.

The fourth myth is "love is a feeling."

  • Wrong! Scripture says love is a decision. I Cor. 13 states it eloquently: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude. 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." That's 16 definitions of love - all of which require effort.

Myth 5: only minor changes are needed to adjust to marriage with our mate.

  • In fact, major reconstruction is needed. We are a fallen race, a sinful people. The ego must be crushed. How proud we are! Pride must be destroyed. (Many of us are married singles who work, play and watch TV - but invest little time in the relationship. We must restructure ourselves to serve our mate.)

The sixth myth is that it takes work to make a good marriage.

  • Of course, work is needed, however, love is spelled T-I-M-E - lavish, extravagant amounts of time, given without regrets, to give the other person a home, a friendly place, and unhurried peace and serenity.

Seven, the goal of marriage is fulfillment of the individual.

  • We all seek fulfillment, but we should seek ABANDONMENT, giving up ourselves so completely that we almost surrender our individuality. That's what Jesus did for us. He who was God took on the form of a servant, humbled Himself and became obedient unto death.

The eighth myth is that I can change my spouse.

  • In fact, we can't change anybody - but ourselves. But changed people change people.

Myth 9 is that living together before marriage is the best way to test a relationship for marriage.

  • No. It is the WORST possible preparation for marriage. You can't practice permanence. My wife and I wrote a book, Living Together: Myths, Risks & Answers, with sobering data. Some 8.5 million couples cohabited last year, but there were only 2.3 million marriages, and only 1.4 million of them were cohabiting. So more than 7 million cohabiting couples broke up before a wedding - 5 of 6 couples! And 40% of them had children! Finalkly, 61% of cohabiting couples who marry - divorce.
  • Yikes! How can a premarital couple build a lifelong marriage?
    • First, take the PREPARE-ENRICH premarital inventory, with 150 statements such as:
    • I go out of my way to avoid conflict with my partner.
    • I am concerned my partner is more of a spender than I am.
    • Second, ask an older, happily married couple to mentor you, using this assessment as a discussion guide.

The final myth of marriage is that "My marriage is a private affair. It is nobody's business but mine."

  • In fact, we are not solo Christians. We are grafted into His body, and have a responsibility for others - particularly children and other family members. However, you could also impact the marriages of others. My wife and I have trained thousands of couples in 230 cities to be Mentor Couples who help prepare couples for a lifelong marriage, organize an annual marriage enrichment event and mentor couples in crisis. Churches that train Marriage Mentors can almost eliminate divorce in their congregation.

Discuss and practice these goals during Valentine's Week!


Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.

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