“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 enough 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 that after we ‘tie the knot,’ we will
automatically, effortlessly 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.”
In light of these statements, we want to share with you some common
misconceptions we’ve encountered. They come from the book, “When the Glass
Slipper Doesn’t Fit,” by Claire Cloninger and Karla Worley. (By the way,
if you enjoy this article, we found it at www.newlife.com. If you go to
their site and click on the “FREE STUFF” icon, you can then click on
“Marriage” and you’ll find a lot of articles to help you in your marriage.)
Misconception #1: The Degree-of Difficulty theory —I thought marriage
would be easier. I thought we’d fit together more or less automatically. 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,
thought that if Claire really loved me, he should automatically know what
I was thinking and feeling and 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 and better at sharing our
thoughts and feelings, 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
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 and simply gut it out until the bitter end. I was wrong
about this— terribly wrong.
This is not what God wants at all. He wants us to stay together, all
right. But it’s not enough just to gut it out. He wants us to stay and
pray and 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 — 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!”