Actress Hilary Duff is only two years younger than I am, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I used to run home after school to watch Lizzie McGuire and the show’s hilarious story lines while coveting Lizzie’s hip-hugger jeans and her best friend Gordo (I’m sure I’m not the only one). I’ve been following Hilary’s career for a while, so I stopped dead in my tracks when I found out about her recent divorce. There is news in the media almost every week about someone famous calling it quits in their relationship, but it really gave me something to ponder when Hilary sat down with Cosmopolitan magazine and said, “I don’t know if people are meant to be together forever.”
I can tell you with certainty that most of my friends, Christian or not, have been plagued by doubts that their relationship would survive. When reality set in a few months into my marriage and the sound of wedding bells began to fade, I was completely thrown off by the struggles we were already facing. What happened to the “honeymoon stage” or “wedded bliss”?
We all think about the modern failure rate of marriage, but the following might help you to navigate God’s plan for a lasting relationship in a world that tells you “It just won’t work.”
Here are five common misconceptions I will demystify that may shed light on why so many people have lost faith in the institution of marriage.
1. If I test-drive marriage first, I’ll know if my significant other and I should get married. We are training ourselves for divorce when we move in together and/or relationship-hop, because it’s much easier to walk away when there are no major consequences for doing so. I promise you can work through struggles like the slob who leaves a slice of pizza on the nightstand for days, the partner who blows through money like it’s burning a hole in their pocket or the person who gives the cold shoulder for an entire week to prove a point (guilty!). If both people are willing to make it work, God can provide victory through anything.
I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27)
2. It doesn’t matter what we believe in, as long as we love each other. My grandparents’ generation usually got married young, and a majority of them stayed together until death. People weren’t perfect decades ago, but they understood that a quality relationship took growth, forgiveness, patience and similar core values. There are a lot of interfaith marriages today with opposing beliefs that just don’t offer the same sense of security. Setting that type of foundation is bound to cause conflict that could lead to splitting up and blaming the fairy tale of marriage as the problem.
3. Staying a virgin until my wedding day means I won’t have to deal with sexual temptations. There are many factors that can cause a wedge between you and your spouse in your most private moments. You may have different desires about the frequency of sex. Addictions to porn that you both thought were in the distant past may start to surface again. Dwindling excitement for your one and only isn’t necessarily a sign that your relationship is headed for the marriage cemetery. It may just be time for a serious check-in with each other.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
4. I’ll feel ready to get married when I find the right person. Just like feeling “ready” to have children, I haven’t met anyone who felt “ready” to get married. There’s nothing you can do to assure you are prepared, other than completely put your trust in God and be led by the Holy Spirit when entering into a relationship. The opposite is also true. Just because you really want to get married right now doesn’t mean you should run to the chapel. Marrying out of desperation can also lead to a loveless marriage that ends in “I don’t.”
5. I’ll always feel in love, secure and happy if I marry “The One.” You might think that you’re with the wrong person simply because it’s not fun and easy, but instead, you may be making room for the enemy to plant seeds of doubt and cause you to start looking for a better beau. I’ve scoured the Bible trying to find where we came up with the idea that there was a perfect person we were destined to marry. The Word states that our husband will someday find us, but it doesn’t say that he will be without flaws.
The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD. (Proverbs 18:22)
This is just a sample of the many myths you can find about marriage in the modern world. Do you think marriage is meant for a lifetime?