Many couples struggling with "curable" issues, have bought into 4 common marriage myths.
1. If I try, I can change my partner. Give it up! If you think following the "right" plan, struggling harder and refusing to give up will change them, think again. The Bible says, "Do not think you are better than you are" Romans 12:3. The truth is, you can only work on yourself. Once you change your steps in the marriage dance, your mate will begin to adjust theirs. Plus, by identifying and working on your own shortcomings you will gain credibility with your mate, and create an environment that is conducive to change. Now, here are some things you can do:
- Praise the qualities you admire most and build on them. Anytime you see positive change, recognize and encourage it.
- Do not let things escalate. Make a habit of asking, "Is there anything on your mind we have not talked about lately?" The Bible says do not go to bed angry (see Eph 4:26), so deal with things before they lead to hard feelings and cause strife.
- Try to be more understanding. When people do not feel understood, they dig in their heels and resist change.
- Lessen you dependence on your mate. Remember, no one can meet all your needs all the time. You need friends to talk to and share activities with.
- Above all, be patient; neither of you is perfect. Ask God to "give you a spirit of unity." And bear in mind that self control is the result of God's indwelling Spirit, not just human effort (See Gal 5:23).
2. We are just not compatible. Marital disagreements fall into 5 categories: money, sex, in-laws, children and household responsibilities. Too many couples think if they argue about these things they are automatically headed for divorce. No, conflict does not kill relationships. What is important is how you deal with it, not the fact that it exists. One woman said, "My husband hates confrontation so when problems arose in our marriage he just walked away. I went ballistic and nothing got settled. Eventually we learned to talk about handling our disagreements; he cannot walk away and I cannot get hysterical. It works...now we work together to resolve problems." Anger is just part of your emotional make-up; God did not make a mistake when He included it. But He wants you to handle it right (Matt 16:15). Being upset does not give you license to yell and slam doors. Solomon said, "A fool gives full vent to his anger...a wise man keeps himself under control" Proverbs 29:11. In other words, think, listen, and calm down before you react. And never resort to name-calling (Matt. 5:22); it serves no purpose but to intentionally hurt the other person.
We live in a culture of lawsuits and revenge, but a marriage built on retaliation is headed for trouble. God said "Do not insist on getting even...I will take care of it" Romans 12:19. You can become physically and emotionally sick by hanging on to bitterness. So release it and ask God to fill your heart with His love. He will do it!