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Strengthening Marriages: Time To Face the Myths of Marriage With Honesty

Marriage is a journey that requires dedication, understanding, and continuous growth. In today's blog, we delved into the complexities of marriage, debunking common myths, and exploring how to foster a stronger bond with your spouse.

A healthy marriage requires momentum. Marriage momentum is like a train gaining speed. When a train’s engine starts and the wheels begin to move, it moves down the track. As the train begins to roll and speed increases, the engines relax. Then momentum takes over, so much so that the train would have difficulty stopping.

Once momentum begins, then friction becomes the focus. The more friction, the more work it takes to maintain that hard-earned momentum. Your marriage is the same way. When there is friction in your marriage—financial stress, parenting challenges, physical health issues, communication meltdowns, or anything else, to maintain momentum, it takes more work. The more friction you have in your marriage right now, the harder you will have to work to move forward. The good thing about marriage momentum is that it is not fixed.

Marriage momentum can be measured with a simple formula. Marriage Momentum = (2x Commitment) x Direction

Your marriage momentum equals the level of commitment you each have multiplied by the direction you want to go. If you both are committed to improvement, and you agree on the destination of your marriage, your momentum will increase. 

One thing that slows our momentum is believing some common myths about marriage. Let's tackle some of these myths about marriage and set the record straight.

Myth 1: Expecting the Same Things from Marriage

Contrary to popular belief, spouses often have different expectations from marriage. When you got married you brought a number of conscious and unconscious expectations into the relationship. This is where conflict can easily arise. Most of our unnamed expectations in marriage fall into two categories: Unspoken Rules and Unconscious Roles. It is our responsibility to uncover the unspoken rules and unconscious roles that may be causing friction in your marriage. Addressing these can lead to smoother interactions and less tension.

We also expect different things from marriage because we each enter the marriage with a different mindset. There are 5 marriage mindsets that research have discovered. Are you resolute, rational, romantic, restless, or reluctant?

*Resolute: This segment, 22% of the population, prizes marriage and holds tight to an unyielding determination for making it go the distance. When it comes to marriage, they are dedicated to ensuring that it’s for life.

*Rational: This segment, 23% of the population, takes a more practical approach to marriage than most. They view this lifelong commitment with more caution than others.

*Romantic: This segment, 19% of the population, brings a heavy dose of idealism to marriage. Romantics expect love to be lived out with unending passion and ongoing intimacy. Love, for the Romantic, is a bit like a movie. It is adventurous, poetic, starry-eyed, chivalrous. In a word, love for the Romantic is idyllic. They see love as standing strong, overcoming all, and being the source of unending bliss.

*Restless: This segment, 22% of the population, isn’t so sure about marriage – at least for now. They often lack confidence in their skills to make marriage work

*Reluctant: This segment, 14% of the population is “not the marrying kind.” More than any other segment, Reluctants are cynical about matrimony. In fact it’s the only segment to lack a desire to wed, probably because their own homes were examples of how not to do it. *Parrott, Les; Parrott, Leslie. Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. HarperChristian Resources.

Understanding your approach to marriage can help you navigate tension more effectively. It's crucial to communicate openly to align your goals and desires.

Myth 2: Everything Good Will Get Better

Marriage isn't a fairy tale where everything improves magically. The truth is, not everything gets better. Many things improve, but somethings become more difficult. It involves trade-offs and accepting that some aspects may become more challenging over time. Too often couples marry and then never change their lifestyle. This happens because we fail to discuss expectations, failed expectations turn into disappointments and disappointments mount up and turn into resentments.

Myth 3: My Spouse Will Make Me Whole

The idea that your spouse will complete you is a misconception. It might be the most dangerous of the myths we believe about marriage. Marriage is about complementing each other, not filling voids. Marriage is a God-given way to improve ourselves.

When we believe the myth that our spouse will make us whole, we become dependent on our partner in a way that is unhealthy. Experts call it an enmeshed relationship.When we are dependent we focus on happiness, not personal growth. The opposite of an enmeshed relationship is one that is too self reliant. Experts call this a disengaged relationship.  This is an unhealthy dynamic because we are seeking wholeness in isolation and independent from our spouse and God. Wholeness is found in an interdependent relationship, in which two people with self-respect and dignity make a commitment to nurture their own spiritual growth, as well as their partner’s.

Your marriage can only be as healthy as each of you are individually. What we mean by wellbeing is your emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. A few months ago we did a serious on mental health and I defined it as:

The capacity of an individual to mentally, emotionally, psychologically, socially and spiritually experience the fullness of abundant life that Christ offers. Your individual well-being directly affects your marriage. Take time to assess your emotional, psychological, and spiritual health and work on areas that need improvement. A positive mindset can significantly impact your relationship. Research has found that happy relationships are characterized by a ratio of 5:1. This means that for every negative statement or behavior (like criticizing or nagging) there needs to be five positive statements. Strive for a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions to foster a happier marriage.

Myth 4: Everything Bad Will Disappear

Marriage isn't a cure-all for life's problems. Many people marry to avoid or escape unpleasantness. But no matter how glorious the institution of marriage, it is not a substitute for the difficult work of inner spiritual healing. The bad traits and feelings you carried around before you were married often remain with you long after you say “I do.” While it can be a healing journey, it's not an escape from personal issues that need to be addressed.

The healing process begins gradually by uncovering and acknowledging our unresolved childhood issues. The healing continues through the years as we allow our spouses to love us and as we learn how to love them. Part of that healing process involves our family and friends. After all, family and friends sustain us. They shape our sense of identity. They provide us with shared understanding and shared norms. Ultimately, our friends and family give us a sense of belonging. 

Your social circle, including friends and family, influences your marriage. Evaluate how these relationships support or challenge your marital bond.

Something To Think About This week, challenge yourself to initiate conversations that address unspoken expectations and work towards aligning your marriage momentum with your spouse.

Questions for Self-Reflection

  1. How can we improve our marriage momentum together?

  2. What unspoken rules might be affecting our relationship?

  3. How can we support each other's individual well-being to strengthen our marriage?

Remember, marriage is a partnership where both individuals contribute to its success. You have to work together to build a loving, resilient, and fulfilling marriage. It's essential to engage actively in conversations with your spouse and approach each topic with kindness. Remember, marriage is a shared experience, and communication is the key to navigating it successfully.

If you've never taken the SYMBIS Assessment to discover the areas in your marriage reach out to us so that we can get you started! ~ Pastor Robert & Kellee Gentry

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