Three Beliefs That Will Kill Your Marriage
Do you know that there are “deadly” beliefs about marriage that may be affecting you? Discover these “killer” beliefs before they destroy your marriage.
Most newlyweds anticipate the “happily-ever-after” when they say “I do.” They don’t expect their marriage to end up in divorce, but statistically about half of marriages in the United States do.
Though there are a wide variety of reasons that marriages fail, over my years as a counselor I have seen common problems that I call marriage killers. Knowing what these are can actually help you be proactive in fighting them! Whether you are single, currently married, or divorced but hoping to remarry someday, you need to know what these marriage killers are!
Marriage killer #1: Love is only a feeling
Falling in love is an intoxicating experience. As a culture, we love the idea of being in love. We promote it in every aspect of our entertainment industry. Being in love, however, has very little to do with what is required to sustain a relationship.
Most of us have witnessed a rocket launch at one time or another. According to an aerospace engineer I interviewed, NASA’s space shuttle used solid rocket boosters (SRBs) to get into space. Their solid fuel, once ignited, was extremely powerful, which is necessary to get the rocket booster off the ground. But solid fuel burns up quickly.
In the takeoff phase of a relationship the emotion of love is like that solid fuel. It burns hot and strong, and contains a lot of power to get you off the launch pad. But once that initial emotion burns up, it’s gone.
Unfortunately, people make life-changing decisions while under the influence of this solid fuel: they have sex, move in together, get married, get pregnant and become financially entangled. When there’s no more solid fuel to keep their relationship in orbit, they come crashing back to reality. That’s because it takes more than just solid fuel to sustain a lifelong relationship.
That’s where liquid fuel comes in to play. Liquid fuel can be regulated and controlled. Though the solid rocket boosters quickly fall away, the shuttle carried a certain amount of liquid fuel to keep it on course. So, too, must a relationship.
Passion and love play an important role in a successful marriage, but rather than the intensity of solid fuel, this liquid fuel is a slow, steady burn. Couples actively engage in keeping their love tanks filled with liquid fuel by taking time to be with each other apart from the daily routine and stresses of life. They date. They have romantic, intimate time together. They make their relationship a priority, so that they never run out of liquid fuel.
In other words, a marriage doesn’t last based on the emotional feeling of love—it lasts through the consistent work the couple is willing to put into the relationship.
A marriage doesn't last based on the emotional feeling of love—it lasts through the consistent work the couple is willing to put into the relationship.Marriage killer #2: “My needs come first”
Once the shuttle was outside of the earth’s atmosphere, it experienced no friction. That means there was nothing to slow things down.
In most relationships, selfishness causes friction. People rarely love unconditionally. Instead they love as long as the relationship is satisfying their needs. In other words, people enter into a marital union but don’t act unified. They put themselves before the priorities of the relationship. Selfishness on the part of one (or both) mates is one of the major causes of divorce.
Successful marriages require both husband and wife to practice self-sacrifice and selflessness.
These characteristics do not come naturally to human beings. We generally think of ourselves first (Genesis 4:9; 2 Timothy 3:2). To be happily married and stay that way, we must change our thinking from “how will this impact me?” to “how will this impact us?” Remember, you are one capsule traveling the same path, not two (Genesis 2:24). It takes selflessness to unite with another person to form a successful, unified marriage.
Marriage killer #3: Love makes everything easy
After the space shuttle was away from the gravitational pull of the earth, it had to guard against other gravitational forces. Gravity can interfere with the shuttle’s trajectory, causing it to be pulled off course or even to fall out of orbit.
Couples, too, face gravitational pulls. But problems in the relationship are not a sign that it’s doomed or that they no longer love each other. Rather, problems are inevitable. Successful couples understand that there will be highs and lows throughout their marriage.
They must share common values to keep them on the right trajectory—values like commitment, trust, fidelity, integrity, loyalty, patience and perseverance. Those values are what keep couples hanging on when their emotions may be saying “we have nothing in common anymore” or “we’re no longer in love.” In fact, facing those pulls together and overcoming them, often strengthens the attachment couples have.
Are any of these beliefs killing your marriage? It’s never too late to rededicate yourself to building or rebuilding your marriage. The Bible teaches that the marriage covenant between a man and a woman has a great purpose in God’s plan (Ephesians 5:31-32).
The Bible contains many instructions on the purpose of marriage and how to develop the committed, unselfish love that will keep your marriage in orbit forever.
For more insight into building a successful marriage, read “How Great Marriages Work,” which was featured in the July/August 2014 edition of Discern magazine.