The following is one of the many misconceptions we can grab onto concerning marriage:
“A cynic once said, ‘Marriage is like a hot bath. Once you get used to it, it isn’t so hot.’ I take exception to part of that sour skeptic’s point of view. Anyone knows if the bath water gets too cold, you merely add more hot water.
“Yet we often fail to use this same common sense in marriage. We think, perhaps subconsciously, that on our wedding day all we need is love for each other, and our marriage will last a lifetime, propelling us through all the marital storms that life might blow our way. Erroneously, we believe we will automatically live in marital bliss ’till death do us part.'” (Barbara Russell Chesser)
Chesser also said,
“One essential step in preventing marriage from cooling off is getting rid of unrealistic expectations for marriage.”
Addressing Common Misconceptions
In the world we live, it’s easy to fall into holding onto misconceptions about what marriage truly is and isn’t. It’s different than what most of us believe it will be before marrying. In light of this, we will share with you some common misconceptions from the book, When the Glass Slipper Doesn’t Fit written by Claire Cloninger and Karla Worley (used by permission). What they say is true. It’s something we should all prayerfully consider.
Misconception #1: The Degree-of-Difficulty theory
I thought marriage would be easier. I thought we’d fit together more or less automatically. Plus, I thought love would glide us through the “bonding process” without a hitch.
But I’ve found that very little seems to happen automatically in a marriage relationship. Marriage is work—sometimes sweaty, uncomfortable work. In fact, I figure that the degree of difficulty in combining two lives ranks somewhere between rerouting a hurricane and finding a parking place in downtown Manhattan.
I am of the opinion that only God Himself can make a marriage happen really well. And when He does it His way, it’s one of His very best miracles. What God can create out of the combined ingredients of two surrendered lives is indeed “infinitely more than we ever dare to ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Misconception #2: The “Clairvoyant” Spouse Theory
When I was a newlywed, I thought that if Claire really loved me, he should automatically know what I was thinking and feeling. He would know what I needed without my verbalizing a thing. If my needs weren’t being met exactly as I felt they should be, I would jump to the conclusion that he didn’t love me.
It was an enormous breakthrough for me to realize that Claire really wanted to be there for me. He wanted to be able to meet my needs the best he could. But he wasn’t a mind reader. He couldn’t know what I needed unless I told him!
And so, over the years, we’ve gotten better at sharing our thoughts and feelings. We’re also better about clarifying our hopes, needs, and expectations for each other and our relationship. As a consequence, we’ve gotten better at meeting each other’s needs and helping each other realize some of those hopes and expectations.
Misconception #3: The Key-to-Happiness Theory
Before I was married, I thought being happy meant getting what you want. I have learned, after thirty-seven years of marriage, that being happy means loving what you get.
Misconception #4: The Beef-Stew Theory
In the early years of our marriage, when we were both in school and working a couple of jobs and not seeing nearly enough of each other, I had the misconception that a marriage can survive that kind of benign neglect.
I’ve learned since then the truth of what my friend Chris Kelly always says: Making a marriage is a lot like making a stew. It will only be as good as the ingredients you put into it. If you aren’t taking time for long talks and long walks together, for special dinners and afternoons off, for laughter and romance and celebrating each other, your marriage is going to be a bland and watery dish indeed.
Misconception #5: The Major Moments Theory
I somehow assumed early on that the most important days in a marriage would be the anniversaries, the weddings, the Christmases, and the family reunions. I have found instead that the most important day in any marriage is today.
My friend Mr. George told me something when he was a very old man —something I’ve never forgotten. “Claire,” he said, “Don’t wait to be happy. Don’t put it off.
“Martha Lee and I were always going to take a fancy trip out to California when Buddy was through with college. We never made it to California.” He chuckled a little, sadly shaking his head. I imagine he was remembering his Martha Lee. And then he said, “Call up Karla right now. You two ought to go out and do something wonderful together… tonight!”
Misconception #6: The Grin-and-Bear-It Theory
I’ve got to confess that I used to have a major misconception about God and marriage. I thought that if we do get stuck in a lousy marriage, God wants us to hang on by the skin of our teeth. We’d simply gut it out until the bitter end. I was wrong about this—terribly wrong.
This is not what God wants. He wants us to stay together, all right. But it’s not enough just to gut it out. He wants us to stay, pray, work and keep loving. He wants us to give Him all the time and space He needs to make our lousy marriage into something not just tolerable, but beautiful and brave and strong. It is to be something that will witness to His mercy and His presence in this world.
I think He’s saying something to married couples, if we will just hear Him: “Don’t settle for a bad marriage, or even a mediocre one. Don’t lower your expectations. Raise them! Trust Me! I’m still a God of miracles!”
We totally agree. Let’s commit to work on our marriages this week to be “something that will witness to His mercy and His presence…”
Steve and Cindy Wright
— Also —
We came across a great article, written by Paul Byerly, posted on his web site, The-generous-husband.com. In it, he talks about expectations in marriage and how to better deal with them. This is important because they can sabotage our relationships. Please read:
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