Five Stupid Ideas Men Have About Marriage
Men can be brilliant. They can do amazing things, make noble choices, and use their God-given strengths to serve those around them.
They can also be idiots. They can be selfish, closed-minded, and jealous.
I often pray with single women who want a husband and I remind them, “No man is better than just any man.” When a woman falls in love with a good man, it is a wonderful thing. When she intertwines her life with a bad man, she is in for great heartache.
Even good men can believe the wrong things, especially when it comes to marriage. As I interact with men, there are many misbeliefs which are commonly held. Here are five:
1. If I marry the right person I’ll be happy. Many men make the mistake of believing happiness is a byproduct of marriage. It’s not. While a healthy marriage can expand one’s happiness, it is rarely the ultimate source of it. Happiness is something we bring to marriage far more than something we get from it. Instead of thinking we are unhappy because of a bad marriage, many men need to realize their marriage is unhealthy because they are unhappy. The danger of linking happiness with marriage is how easily we can write the story that if I’m unhappy, I must have married the wrong person. It’s a lie.
2. Living together is a good test run for marriage (or a good replacement of marriage). It makes sense. I understand the thought. You don’t buy a car without test driving it. You don’t pick a career without having an internship in the field. It only makes sense that living together would be a good test before making a deeper commitment. Except it isn’t. It’s been shown time and again that living together before marriage hinders a relationship. For many reasons, it lessens the likelihood of marital satisfaction. Marriage does need to be tested before it begins, but the test is dating for a year, getting good pre-marital counseling, and understanding your needs and weaknesses before the covenant is made.
3. Sex is worse in marriage. It can be. Being married doesn’t guarantee good sex, but it also doesn’t ensure bad sex. Marriage provides the climate in which the greatest levels of sexual satisfaction can be experienced. A great sexual experience can happen in a moment, but a satisfying sexual life takes time. Some never experience how great sex can be because they never take the time with one person to learn how to do it well. Sex is not meant to become boring in marriage (although ruts will be experienced). It is meant to become better as both partners better understand one another.
4. The bonds of marriage will limit my freedom. To an extent, it will. Choosing to marry someone should radically change how we interact with others. What we are free to do changes when a ring is on our finger. However, marriage does not limit our freedom to the extent that our happiness or satisfaction with life becomes hindered. Instead, freedom is better found in the midst of restraint and living out the vows we make to our spouse. Promising to love one woman for the rest of my life frees me to truly experience love whereas refusing to make that commitment hinders my heart from fully going to one person. Marriage is a source of freedom, not a hindrance to it.
5. A good marriage comes naturally. Even though nothing in life happens this way, many men wrongly conclude that marriage should come naturally to them. They assume being a good husband (and father) should be innate. When they experience struggles early in marriage they wrongly conclude that they married the wrong person or they just don’t have what it takes to be good at marriage. What they should conclude is that marriage takes work and it is time to make the effort necessary. Marriage may be easier for some than others, but it is a learned skill by all.
It wouldn’t solve everything, but the world would be a much better place if men believed the truth about marriage. Too many kids grow up without the stability that a healthy home can build and too many women suffer trauma because the man who should love them most often brings them the most pain.
A healthy marriage begins with the right expectations of what marriage can be, what it can and cannot do for us, and what is required of us to make marriage work.