If you are paying attention to the state of relationships in the developed world today, you cannot help but recognize our utter failure to “stay in love.”

As I talk to young adults and many of my friends who are married and struggling in their marriages, I realize our relationships aren’t working because we are basing them on lies.

How do I know this?   I know this because we made these same mistakes in our marriage much to our detriment.  The old saying goes, “takes one to know one.” As someone who made these same mistakes, it is easy for me to spot them in others.

It would be easier for me to sit back and thank God for His grace and deliverance in my own marriage and not say anything, but I just can’t do it.   God has given us marriage for a reason and when done right, it is beautiful and joyful. But when it is done poorly, it brings brokenness and utter despair. I have been in both and hope to save some of you from the same mistakes.

 

Lie #1: True Love is Romantic Most of the Time

Most of us realize that love is not going to be all hot and heavy all the time. We are willing to compromise, but we are still very shocked and unprepared by what it becomes when we get married. We are prepared for less romance, yes, but not the ugliness that ensues when two imperfect people try to live together forever. We are not prepared for the seasons where romance doesn’t exist at all.  Why?

Think about where you get most of your expectations and hopes for marriage. Your parents? Maybe. Movies? TV? Probably.

There is of course a small percentage, and if you are in this percentage you need to be grateful because it is indeed small, whose parents have a marriage to be admired. For most, however, when we look at our parent’s marriage, or divorce, as is often the case, we think and hope we can do better.

If we think we can do better, who is teaching us what that better looks like? Most of the time, it is magazines, movies, and TV.

We take them as an example to emulate, but they aren’t real.

Now, I know you know that. If you are reading this, you have some sense about you and you realize the movies aren’t real. BUT while you know they are not real, and if you may even admit they are not an example to emulate, ask yourself where you ARE getting the example to emulate. For most of us, the answer is that we are not getting a good example anywhere so while we know the movies aren’t true, we do not have a better example.  Without a better example of what true love really looks like, we are left to rely on some compilation of our own hopes, the movies and our default, our parent’s marriages.

Think about it.

 

The Damage

I would guess many of you are living in the damage, so I don’t need to spell it out completely. But in case you are not there yet, here is what happens.

You get married with these high hopes, it works well for a season, you are happy and content and then you realize you married a jerk.   If you are not ready to go that far, at the very least you realize you married someone who has very different expectations on certain things and you now live in a maddening world of repeating the same argument over and over again.

It is more than frustrating and it leaves most of us feeling utterly alone and in utter desperation because we have no idea how to fix it.

 

The Truth: What True Love Really Is

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16

You have probably heard this before and you are also probably thinking that this isn’t all that helpful to you today. Take heart, I have more practical posts coming on how you can turn your marriage around.

BUT, before you can turn your marriage around, you have to realize what love is and is not.   You have to stop living in the make believe world of movies and start living in the real world.

Jesus was the perfect example of what love looks like in its purest sense. If you read about Jesus you read about sacrificial love. You don’t read about Jesus getting what he “deserved.” You read about Jesus GIVING to others what they DID NOT deserve. To put it in simple terms, while we were still being jerks (see reference to spouse being a jerk above) he laid down his life for us.

This is true love.

While a romantic feeling is good, hot and heavy sex is wonderful, and having an amazing time, even fun with our spouses is great, it doesn’t prove we love them. It is easy to “love” someone when all of that is happening. It is not a remarkable in any way to “love” someone when things are easy. Luke 6:32 says it this way,

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”

True love loves another when they don’t deserve it, when things are ugly and broken. It is actually living out the vow for better or for worse and laying down our lives for another.

Be sure this is not easy and you may not even like what I have said. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. And if you want to know true love in your life, you have to have a right expectation and the right role model.

We tried it without Jesus and you might be doing that as well.   My guess is that it isn’t working well for most of you.  Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The good news is that through his word, Jesus provides a way for us to live on this earth. In Jesus we find our life, know the truth and find our way because we have the perfect example to follow.

Coming soon: Marriage Lie #2: You Complete Me

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