My wife Trisha and I have three boys. There are certain shows on TV that are their shows and certain shows that are my shows. There are a few shows that we love to watch together. One of our shows is “Myth Busters.”
The premise of the show is take a common thought or a popular saying or belief and either prove it as a fact or disprove it as a myth. Often their tests involve blowing stuff up or setting things on fire, which helps make the show our show. Some examples are:
- Can you make a candle out of earwax?
- Can Christmas tree lights really cause a fire?
- Is an elephant really afraid of a mouse?
- Will dynamite clean out a cement truck?
When Trisha and I got married almost eighteen years ago, I had some beliefs about our marriage—core things I knew would be true about our future together. But the tests of trial and error and time have blown them up, and I’ve realized they were simply myths.
Here are some of the myths of marriage I believed that have been busted:
1. We will have sex all the time.
I think all guys think this as they enter into marriage. Sin-free, guilt-free, and frequent were the first three thoughts I had about sexual intimacy as I entered into marriage. God had a sense of humor, as this myth was busted early in our marriage . . . really early. The first night of our honeymoon, I found myself buying feminine products in WalMart at 4:00 a.m. as Trish started that time of the month. The very next day we were at the beach too long, and she got blistered from head to toe. Blistered.
What we’ve come to understand is that sexual intimacy is an overflow of the spiritual and emotional intimacy in our relationship. As we allow ourselves to be fully known by God and one another, sexual intimacy is mutually offered and enjoyed.
2. Conflict should be avoided at all costs.
I equated the absence of conflict with the presence of intimacy. So if I could get through a day, week, weekend without an argument, then our marriage must be doing well. I thought that we would grow closer by avoiding conflict, rather than embracing it and resolving it. So often in our marriage, God uses conflict to expose problems, bringing light into weak areas and illuminating what we need to address. Avoiding conflict will never improve your marriage. It is fool’s gold. Avoiding conflict allows you to believe everything is okay, when everything isn’t okay. Leverage conflict; don’t avoid it.
3. Saying “I’m sorry” will make everything okay.
I had this belief that if conflict couldn’t be avoided, then I would just apologize, and everything would be okay. I would say, “I’m sorry,” and Trisha would forgive. That is how marriage would work. But saying you’re sorry and being sorry are two different things.
When you simply say you’re sorry, you’re attempting to fulfill the minimum requirement for restoring peace and making conflict go away. Your behavior rarely changes for the long haul, and when you simply say you’re sorry, your intention is to end the argument, not resolve it.
Being sorry is completely different. Being sorry often doesn’t require an apology, because your actions demonstrate it. Being sorry brings heart change, not surface-level behavior modification.
4. Good intentions are the same as being intentional.
I believed the myth that I could drift into an incredible marriage. I had great intentions to be a good husband; I just failed to be intentional. The truth is we don’t drift into an amazing marriage—we choose it. Desire and commitment are not the same. I have a desire to lose weight, but I won’t lose weight until I am committed through diet and exercise.
Our desire to start out right and maintain a great marriage won’t give us a great marriage. We achieve a great marriage by being committed to it.
Your next move
Maybe like me, some of the things you thought were true about marriage have turned out to be myths. Where do you go from here?
- Be grounded in God’s Word. Marriage is emotional and physical, but more than anything, marriage is spiritual. It will be the truth of God’s Word that will help you stay grounded.
- Don’t avoid conflict; allow conflict to mold and shape you more into Christ-likeness. Marriage at times is a mirror held up to our souls. Allow God to speak to you in conflict.
- Be sorry; don’t just say you’re sorry. When you wound your spouse, don’t try to apologize it away. Be committed to understanding the wound and asking for forgiveness.
- Be intentional. Good intentions won’t change anything. Heart change comes as we are intentional. We can’t stop doing the things that caused us to fall in love and expect to stay in love. Go out to dinner. Buy her flowers. Write him a love note. Surprise her with a weekend away. Say I love you. Text-message him to let him know you’re thinking about him. Be intentional.
God’s vision for your marriage is better than any vision you may have. He longs for you and your spouse to experience a fullness of love and intimacy. Don’t believe the myths of marriage. Allow God to change you, and watch him transform your marriage.
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