From fairy-tale weddings to Taylor Swift songs, our culture is slowly but surely molding our view of love and marriage into something that may look alluring but is actually a collecting of disappointingly untrue myths.
The problem with these myths is that they’re widely believed, often even touted by pastors, teachers, and parents.
They’re particularly deceitful because they have elements of the truth and were probably even originated with the best of intentions.
But they’re dangerous.
They’re dangerous because when we believe marriage is going to be a certain way and then find out later that that’s not how it is, we often grow frustrated and disillusioned.
Only when we expose these myths can we start to understand the true nature of marriage and rebuild our relationships on trust, commitment, and the truth.
So without further ado, let’s bust some myths…
6 Myths We Believe About Love & Marriage
- You should follow your heart. This great-sounding but actually horrific advice is given so often that you might find it rolling off your own tongue without a second thought. But God has a very different view. He says our heart is wicked and deceitful (Jer. 17:9). Did you catch that – deceitful. That means your heart will lie to you. It will make you think you have it all together and are making a great decision, despite the plethora of advice warning you otherwise. And where do our hearts lie to us more than in matters of love? Have you ever had a friend who is madly “in love” with a jerk? I rest my case.
So, please, don’t follow your heart into a relationship, and don’t follow your heart out of it. Instead, follow God, His Word, and the advice of wise counselors. [Still not sure about this myth? Check out my post “Why you should never follow your heart.”]
- I just need to find “the one.” Do I believe that God has a perfect plan for each of our lives that often includes a particular spouse? I do. But here’s the problem with the myth about “the one.” This myth says that if we can just find “the one” then they’ll be perfect for us, they’ll complete us, and everything will be amazing. The problem, though, comes after you marry “the one” and then run into some challenges in your marriage. You find yourself wondering if s/he really was “the one.” And if s/he wasn’t “the one,” does that mean there’s someone else out there that is “the one”?
Here is God’s truth: once you pledge your love and commitment to someone and bind yourself to them in marriage, they are “the one.” Period. Even if you rushed into the decision or made a mistake, you promised to love them forever, so they are now “the one” for you. No matter who you marry, you’ll face rough patches in your marriage. This doesn’t mean they’re not “the one.” It just means you need to recommit yourself to love the one that you married.
- We’ll live happily ever after. How many Disney end with the wedding carriage driving off into the sunset? They rarely show the tears after harsh words are spoken hastily, the stress of caring for a sick child, or the frustration over idiosyncrasies that are not nearly as cute five months into marriage as they were when you were dating. But that is part of life – and, yes, part of love and marriage. Happily-ever-after is a great way to end a story, but if it’s what you’re expecting from marriage, you are going to be severely disappointed – and tempted to think there’s something wrong with yours.
Marriage is challenging. It takes work. There are days when you don’t feel happy. There are days when you cry and you pray and you desperately hope that this is not how things are going to be for the rest of your marriage. But the great thing is, when you work through those challenges, when you choose to love even when you don’t have the “fuzzy feelings,” your love will grow even deeper, your marriage will emerge even stronger, and you’ll experience a joy that you never thought was possible. And that’s so much better than “happily ever after.”
- Love is a feeling. Love may sometimes involve butterflies, fuzzy feelings, and a silly grin you can’t seem to wipe off your face. But that’s only one kind of love – a kind that feels amazing for awhile but is scientifically proven to fade with time. The other kind of love – the real, lasting love on which strong marriages are built – is a choice. If you find yourself saying, “I just don’t love him/her anymore,” you don’t understand what real love is. True love is a choice, and you can choose to love her even if you don’t feel like it. You can choose to love him even if you’re hurt and frustrated.
When two people exchange vows at the marriage alter, they don’t promise to love each other until they don’t feel like it anymore. No, they promise to love and to cherish each other for better or for worse until death parts them. So if you’re married, you already promised to love your spouse forever. Now it’s time to fulfill that promise. Choose to love. Choose to act on that love, and you might be pleasantly surprised when your feelings start to follow your actions.
- I deserve to be happy. I have to admit, this myth is one I struggled with early in my marriage – and I suppose I still do to this day. Everything around us in our culture tells us that we deserve to be happy, but, honestly, that’s just not the case. We don’t deserve anything – instead, we are blessed beyond measure by an incredible God who loves us despite of ourselves. We are not on this earth so that we can be happy. We are here to love God, love others, and to bring honor and glory to Him.
When I got married, I imagined my husband would make me happy. And when he did something that upset me, I rose in (what I considered) righteous indignation because isn’t that his job – to make me happy? Don’t I deserve to be happy? But, no, if I’m focusing on my “right” to be happy, our marriage is in big trouble. Instead, I need to be thankful for the incredible gift God has given me in my husband, and rather than focusing on my own happiness, I should be doing everything I can to make him happy instead. And, ironically, when we stop worrying about our own happiness, that’s when we are truly the most happy!
- If s/he cheats, it’s over. If some of the earlier myths belong to the starry-eyed and naive, this myth is cherished by the jaded and disillusioned. This dangerous myth says, “if s/he cheats, it’s done. I have an out, and I’m taking it.” Now we could debate the exact meaning of passages such as Matthew 5:32, but we’d be missing the whole point. The truth is that God created marriage to last a lifetime. The truth is that God is so much more powerful than an affair. The truth is that God can do an incredible work in a life and restore what seems to be irreparably broken.
What if instead of discussing what is and isn’t Biblical grounds for divorce, we instead starting talking about what God can do? What if we focused on stories of marriages that have been restored, of families that have been reunited? What if we prayed and we sought God’s face, and we taught couples that God can do anything and that it’s never too late? What if we proclaimed the truth you don’t ever have to give up on your marriage?
What if we stopped believing these myths? What if we believed God’s truth instead?
I am so thankful you wrote that blog. I enjoyed reading it. I think it will be a great help and encouragement to many people who may be struggling in their marriages to know that we need to go to God and His Word with our problems and not depend on our feelings and pleasing ourselves.
Ezekiel 36:26New International Version (NIV)
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
What about this verse? Jesus said in Revelation, “I make ALL things new.” Even our hearts. And he does!
“If any person be in Christ, they are a NEW creation. The old has passed, the NEW is come.”
In Christ, the human heart has been made new! You CAN follow it. Just do that WITH Jesus, not all by yourself (alone)! This is how Christianity (and everything else for that matter) “works”…”because APART from me, you can do NOTHING.” ~Jesus
Well said Mark !!
Good article Linda, and advice that is much needed in our society today!