Monday, August 13, 2007

Ten Marriage Myths: A Primer for Young Persons Looking for a Mate

Of all the actions of a man's life, his marriage does least concern other people; yet of all actions of our life, 'tis most meddled with by other people. –John Selden, 17th century English Statesman

Marriage is as old as the human race, a God-ordained bliss that happy couples wouldn't exchange for the world. However, in recent years, both the institution of marriage and the bliss seem to be going out of style—the institution because of a secularization of the marriage mores and the bliss because of the theologizing of certain time-honored basic marriage myths. Perhaps this information will aid you in your questioning of some of these "facts" that have been taught to you by well-meaning but erring persons; even those included in this article should be questioned and studied before being accepted.

Marriage as our forefathers knew it is fighting for its existence, and it doesn't take much of a prognostication to foresee that the planners of our lives in this world want marriage to be a temporary arrangement for convenience. A young person growing up in America gets little positive marriage input from the world's mismarriage managers, and our culture doesn't provide a good system for helping a young person select a life's mate. For many, choosing that person is an impossible task because they have had no relevant training. Such a young person often gives up without finding the "right" mate "because it is impossible anyway." This defeatist posture is met with daily by those working with marriageable persons.

Our churches and Christian training should make it easier for the Christian young person to select a mate and have a happy marriage. While a successful marriage does come about more often inside the church environment, the young Christian couple that can cut through all of the myths of television, movies, school, pulpit, and even some Christian homes, and come out a winner in choosing a mate for life in the marriage game is blessed. Following are a discussion of ten of these myths that seem to cause grief in Christian marriage exploration today. Perhaps you can find yourself doing this type of thinking.

Myth 1. God Has One Certain Man/Woman Chosen for Each Woman/Man to Marry

That this would be a myth is a disappointing reality to some, especially those not wanting the responsibility of the commitment of choosing a mate. It even seems that the more serious Christian young person is more prone to fall prey to this myth than the nominal Christian. Not only does God not have one certain person for us to marry, He doesn't even require us to marry. For the very young this sometimes comes as a revelation. A friend of our family has a beautiful little girl, Melissa, who was talking to her mother and my wife about a young woman she knew who was getting married. In the course of the conversation Melissa casually mentioned that she also would have to get married. Her mother voiced the instant conjecture that she wouldn't have to get married, and Melissa was flabbergasted.

"I don't have to get married?"

"Well," the quick, anxious reply came back, "if you want to have children, you should get married."

"But I don't have to get married?"

"No, you don't have to get married."

The mother could have gone on to voice Paul's opinion in his Corinthian letter:

It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. –I Corinthians 7:1-7

Paul makes some other salient points, but probably the most observable direction concerns marriage as a gift. Being able to marry or stay unmarried is the gift; the gift is not the person that one marries.

There are two major rationales for getting married. The first, and by far the most important, is that for some persons, marriage makes it easier to be and do what God wants them to be and do here on earth. The second follows this thinking but is sometimes hidden by all the other rationalities—to help continue the human race and to do it in a Christian environment. All those other motivations—love, sex, money, companionship, economics, everyone's doing it, getting a glorified housekeeper—whatever, must be secondary to our spiritual walk with the Lord. The entire thesis of this discourse could be summarized in the discernment of the following statement:

If you can't see how you can better serve God by marrying this person, then don't marry this person!

Be that as it may, Paul or no Paul, good advice or not, most young Christians think that they have the gift of marriage.

"So, who do I marry?"

"Well, I'll let God pick out my husband/wife," thinking, of course, that God will select the perfect person. Ben Tillett once wrote,

God help the man who won't marry until he finds the perfect woman and God help him more if he finds her.

It is this kind of imprudent reasoning that leads to a wife/husband irrationalizing a divorce the first time there is trouble, because "I didn't marry the right person in God's sight." We shouldn’t blame manmade predicaments on God. God gave us marriage to help us, not to cause us grief!

As you are contemplating marriage, use these thoughts in selecting those persons as possible marriage partners:

· I will pick out a dedicated Christian person that I can get along with, can talk to, and an sure that I can spend the rest of my days with and go after them.

· I will pick someone whom I as a husband can treat as Christ treats the Church, or, I as the wife will select a man whom I can treat as the Church is to treat Christ. (See Ephesians 5:21-33 [24-25])

Don't think too romantically about the relationship. Romance is for movies and television and makes for a wonderful evening (whether you are married or not), but don't think that you can substitute romance for spiritual love, the base of a Christian marriage. Think rationally; let your spirit (for Christians this is a part of the Spirit of God) rule your mind which in turn should always rule your emotions and actions rather than permitting your emotions to rule your thinking and actions.

Rationale: You as my potential mate are as much a child of God as I am, and so if we marry, I will allow you to be you and expect you to do the same with me.

It is important that you inform your potential mate as you develop this type of thinking, because he/she will almost always have what has become the traditional thinking taught to most persons from birth; understanding a mentality like you are developing will be impossible without much serious discussion. Furthermore, it will give you something to do mentally during those times together rather than the date turning into a physical-emotional event (or contest as is sometimes the result). Don't misunderstand this point; learning to know each other physically is part of the dating process, but in most relationships, the physical and emotional is overdone while the experiences involving the mental and spiritual is uncommon or even lacking completely. If that potential mate is only interested in the physical and emotional, you should run, not walk, to get away from him/her.

Corresponding Myth: Opposites attract.

Incompatibility is incompatible, period! Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you should look for someone who is not like you in order to have a successful marriage. If you are not compatible before marriage, it's not likely that you will become compatible after marriage.

Myth 2. Marriage Is Made in Heaven

As we study the message of Jesus, it is easy for us to miss subtle scriptural nuances that become important only when pointed out to us or when we receive a revelation from God; such a scripture could be when the Master was asked the following:

Of all the commandments, which is the most important?

Jesus seemed to be at his best when asked questions possibly intended to trap Him. Immediately, he answered,

The most important one is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:28-30)

If we replace the words—physical for strength, emotional for heart, mental for mind, and spirit for soul—the passage seems to make more sense to a modern person. You must love Him with all your physical makeup, emotions, mental capacities, and spirit. Not only is Jesus saying that we must love with everything that makes up our self, He is saying there is a difference between the makeup of self. Therefore, we must learn what happens in these different parts of the self. Consider this as a whole self:

Spirit/spirit—God, true love, heaven, soul, joy, peace,

Mental—learning, teaching, "loving," etc.

Emotional—feelings such as happiness, anger, joy, peace, "love," etc.

Physical—actions such as sleep, eat, sex, "love," etc.

True (real) love is "made" in heaven (God’s Spirit into our spirit) (I John 4:8; God is love!); marriage unions are made on earth (physical, emotional, and mental). In heaven there is no marriage (Matthew 22:30). When two people truly become "one" in marriage (Ephesians 5:28, 31), it means that they are one in the love that is Christ within persons here on earth. The closest we can come to being one physically and emotionally is sexual intercourse, and that is a poor but pleasurably fleeting experience, about all the world has to offer. This helps to explain why there is so much trouble with many worldly marriages. All physical experiences are fleeting. Emotional adventures or ordeals are also transient but can spontaneously return. Mental learnings generally stay with us throughout life, but are lost in death. Our spirits can live forever as a part of the Spirit of God (Colossians 3:1-4). (See Contemplations for a more thorough discussion.)

It is through our spirits then that we should be married which is only possible if both persons are committed to the same things in life and are permitting the
Spirit to make us one. Consequently, marrying a person who does not have the same commitment as you nullifies this principle.

Consider: Do I feel free to pray and be my spiritual, real self with and in this person?

If you do not have this freedom in Christ with your potential marriage mate, it is a sure sign that trouble is ahead.

Myth 3. A Person Falls In Love

A old popular song features the line, "Only fools fall in love". The world means by this that a person can be hurt by falling in love with someone; therefore, a person is a fool if he/she allows himself/herself to be hurt by falling in love. The world falls in love physically and emotionally and is thus hurt when a relationship falls apart, but a person cannot be hurt when they grow into love through the spirit. They may allow themselves to be hurt by the physical behavior of the person that they love, but growing into love is following the dictates of Jesus, and we can never be hurt by doing that. (I Corinthians 13) I have been told many times by a sobbing young woman or man that they were through with love because someone they loved "hurt" them. This was physical love (worldly love) because a person cannot be hurt by true love.

If a person falls in love, he/she can just as easily fall out of love. Worldly falling in love is physically, emotionally, and mentally oriented; true love is spiritual.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.... No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (I John 4:7-8, 11)

John is saying that we should love our selves in to love. It really makes no difference whether it is with a marriage mate or a friend mate; the love is the same. And how do we practice this love in selecting a mate? We start by telling ourselves rational things rather than untruths. Such defeating untruths could include the following:

· "I can't live without her/him."

· "I will never find another person to marry me."

· "Being married to him/her will make me happy."

· "We can live on love."

These and many other inventions of the mind (lies) that we say to our selves are all irrational statements with which we sometimes try to fool ourselves. So, how does a person be rational about this process? We as Christians have a fantastic "magic" to rely on, true love.

Consider the following:

Corresponding Myth: If a person is truly in love, he/she doesn't need to say "I love you" to his/her mate.

Saying I love you (and understanding the true meaning behind it) is fantastically therapeutic both for the doer and for the recipient and should be used wisely but often. You might ask, “How do I know when to use it?” I might answer, “When God tells you to." but that probably would be considered a cop out. Why don't we just say to use it every time you mean it? "But I don't know when I mean it?" You mean something when you decide you mean it, not because of some outside influence (the action of another person, for instance). For most couples, saying "I love you" is an emotionally and/or physically produced fabrication. While there usually is nothing wrong with this, a person should know when and why he/she is saying "I love you" and understand the magic behind it. In your mind substitute God for your love (I John 4:8 and 4:16). Can you see and be God-like with and to this person? Does the relationship still have meaning using this concept? If not, it probably means that you should consider another person for your potential marriage partner.

Myth 4. A Person Cannot Be Happy If There Is Trouble in the Relationship

We will define "trouble" as anything outside of physical abuse that interferes with a relationship. Physical abuse is in another category and is not dealt with here. Suffice it to say that if a potential mate physically abuses you in any way, drop him/her immediately!

In any relationship there is bound to be some frustrations, and this paradox is especially true as the love-developing union strengthens. Some persons shift alliances every time they have these frustrations and then wonder why they can't find somebody to love them. Understanding yourself and why you react to something as you do may help in the process of courtship and marriage.
A potential normal frustration that is not always recognized as such is the intensifying sexual tension over time as two couples grow closer and closer. For Christians the dilemma associated with this tension often blends freely with guilt. It is only normal for young people to want sexual experiences. It is abnormal not to be able to control these sexual urges. Each couple must learn to control themselves in their own way, understanding the frustration levels of each other and rightly dividing the word of God respecting the scriptures about immorality.

Knowing then that there will be frustrations, what can a person do to help themselves with these frustrations? Many persons will have a problem accepting for themselves the truth in the following statement:

A person makes him/herself happy or unhappy, satisfied or unsatisfied, or you might say it thusly, I happy or unhappy myself.

When we study the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) the truth of our happying ourselves jumps out of the scriptures. In these passages Jesus put a premium on spiritual things to help persons happy themselves. Those who are poor (humble) in spirit, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful, the ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness are the persons who will be blessed with happiness. Interpreting these virtues, we might say that happy persons are those who exhibit the following: showing a consciousness of spiritual need; not seeking comfort in this world's enjoyment but being serious and sober about seeking God in his/her life; having humble, gentle, trustful natures accepting God's will rather than asserting personal rights as a human being; wanting more than ever to be conformed in all things to the will of God; showing sympathetic and empathetic actions to others in need; opening his/her spirits to God alone; being peacemakers—those quieting fires of anger, harmonizing contrariety, working to bring friends, neighbors, family, social groups, fellow workers, and nations together. Ironically, there are times when a person will be persecuted for exhibiting these qualities, but Jesus said you can then be happy because the rewards will be tremendous! The case in point here is a happy marriage.

All of these things are things you do to happy yourself. Nobody else outside of you can make you happy (or unhappy); you do it yourself.

Jane goes out with Donald and finds that she comes home from the date extremely excited and happy. She presumes that Donald will call the next day, but he does not. As the week goes on he does not call, and she becomes increasingly unhappy. How is Donald making her unhappy? He is not even there! She is making herself unhappy and blaming Donald.

If you have a frustrating event in your life, say that special friend decides that he/she wants to date other persons, how do you accept such an eventuality? If you are like the great majority of young people, it will make you feel sad and unhappy. "The fact that he/she wants to date somebody else is making me sad! Right?" Wrong! When you have a frustrating event in your life, you have learned that you are supposed to feel sad whenever somebody treats you in this way. You tell yourself (and you believe) that the person who broke up with you (or the fact that he/she broke up) is the problem that caused the unhappiness (anger, depression, fear or worry). Practice telling your self that you don't have to be unhappy. Make rational declarations to your self such as the following:

· I am making myself unhappy.

· This is not a catastrophe.

· A potential mate can't make me unhappy (or happy for that matter).

· I don't have to have him/her as a marriage partner.

· There are a lot of other good men/women out there who will make better mates than her/him.

Frustrations alone in the relationship should not cause you to despair of ever finding a potential mate. However, it may be something that you must work on in your life. A good way to judge whether this is true is to look at your association with persons outside of the courtship relationship. If you have the same frustrations with other people, it probably is not the potential mate at all; it is you, and something you will have to work on before you will find happiness in a marriage. Jealousy, the art of exhibiting an inferiority complex, is often involved in this struggle. However, you may decide that the problem is with your intended, and you don't want to be constantly under the stress of practicing these magic methods of controlling your self with him/her. Sometimes you want to be happy, just because! And, your potential mate should provide the environment and atmosphere to help you be the happy person you want to be. If he/she can't (or won't) provide this kind of environment, it's time to look for someone else. Constantly having to struggle to make yourself happy with a person is a sign that you don't want to spend the rest of your life with this person!

Myth 5. You Can Change the Actions of Your Mate After You Marry Him/Her

It is best to not even consider a person as a possible marriage partner if you think you are going to have to change him/her after you are married. Change will occur, but it probably won’t be because of you.

A major consideration is marrying some outside of your faith. For a Christian, there is scripture to help in this (II Co 6:14-18). It only follows that you should not even consider a non-Christian as a possible date. If you never date a person, the risk of marrying him/her is highly unlikely. Therefore, persons should date and then marry other persons of their faith. Furthermore, since it is basic Christian nature for us to strive to please our Lord, and since our potential mate is also serving the Lord, why would we feel the need to try to change him/her? You should only consider helping a person change (whether it is your mate or some other friend) if change is his/her desire in order to be a better divine servant. When approached in this manner, the helper is usually surprised at how much assistance he/she can be because most persons really want to change but retaliate when another tries to change them unilaterally. A person can only change him/herself; you cannot change her/him.

Consider: I will accept him/her just as she/he is right now no matter what might happen in the future!

If you cannot accept him/her as is, using rational thinking (saying honest things to yourself), start looking for another potential marriage partner.
The person you marry will change during the marriage, and some of it will be because of love for you. However, it cannot be externally directed, and you can only trust and pray that it will be a change for the better.

Myth 6. We Are Completely Compatible

Most couples contemplating marriage feel that they are compatible. I have heard the "we are compatible" line so many times I just expect it when a young couple anticipating marriage talks to me. What they often mean is that they talk about "everything"—sex, how many children they want to have, how happy, satisfied, relieved they will be after marriage, where they want to live, etc. The problem with this is that everything only includes what each one knows and that is usually seriously lacking. Furthermore, most young people only talk about things with which they agree, and this is only natural. You want to please that potential mate, and if you say something for which the other shows a dislike, you will unconsciously try not to mention it again.

In order to better understand how much you do know about each other, it is usually of benefit to take a compatibility test. This is an instrument used by many ministers and counselors to help young couples in recognizing differences in thinking. Some of the better tests have been normalized through many administrations, and it often is an amazing revelation to couples at the things revealed about differences in thinking.

Included below are a few ways-of-thinking items that may pique your interest in learning potential differences between you and that intended. There is absolutely nothing scientific about this test; however, it may indicate to you areas that need more dialogue toward the importance of compatibility. On some of the items you may be tempted to hide your feelings or even be untruthful about your perceptions. Often this is the very area where there could tend to be problems.

It might be better to answer the questions separately and then discuss them. Some may want to read each question together and then discuss that question by itself. However you do it, be sure to voice your true feelings. Honesty is the best policy, and it is especially true when discussing questions such as these. Allow digressions in your discussion; they often lead to the real problem. Have an understanding before you start that you will listen to the explanation of the other with no arguments or pity. Be prepared to change your perceptions! And don't be surprised if he/she thinks of you in a way quite different from the way you think of yourself.

Religiously, I believe _______________ (open end).
We should attend the _______________ church.
We should attend about _____ hours a month.
We should tithe ____ (%) of our income.
We should have most of our good friends from our church (true/false).

We should have good friends (male or female) outside the marriage (true/false).
We should socialize about ____ times a week.
My favorite form of entertainment is _______________.
We should have a date away from the children ____ times a month.
We should take vacation ____ days a year.
We should spend ____ (%) of our yearly income on socializing/entertainment.

My ultimate career goal is to be a ______________.
I think I will need to spend about ____ hours/week at my job.
Women should have a job and help with the income or women should make their career as homemakers.

Housework, Cooking, Yard Work:
I believe that I should do ____ (%) of the housework.
I believe that I should do ____ (%) of the cooking.
I believe that I should do ____ (%) of the yard work.
We should go out to eat as a family ____ times a week.

I want ____ (#) children in our family.
Women should do most of the raising of the children (true/false).
Children are a gift from God (true/false).
Children should be quiet unless spoken to (true/false).
I believe a child should be punished by ______________ (spanking, scolding, talking to, etc.).

Political/Governmental Opinions:
I consider myself to be a _____________________ (moderate, Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, etc.).
I believe we should pay no more than ____ (%) of our income in taxes.
Voting is an obligation and duty as a citizen of the United States (true/false).
I worry ____________ about environmental issues.

I am a money _______________ (hoarder, spender, etc.)
I think _______ (wife/husband) should pay the bills and control the money.
I think we can pay out _____ (%) of our income for debt.
We should spend ____ (%) of our income on insurance.
We should spend ____ (%) of our income on things we want (as opposed to things we need).

My life-style (values/morality. etc) can be best described in the following word ___________.
I will be a user of tobacco (true/false).
I will probably have about ____ alcoholic drinks a week.
I think a person should have ____ days a month completely for themselves away from the family.

I consider myself to be _______________ (frigid, easily aroused, etc.).
Married couples should have intimate relations about ____ times a week.
A man/woman should never be alone with a person of the opposite sex (true/false).
I have viewed pornography _____ times in my life.

Spiritual Orientation:
I am a(n) _____________ (atheist, agnostic, Christian, etc.)
I am ______________ (weak, average, strong, fanatical, etc.) in my beliefs.
I pray about ____ times a week.
I think about spiritual things about _____ a day/week.

Mental Orientation:
I feel that the level of my mentality is _______________ (below, average, above, extremely high, etc.).
I will want to read ____ books/magazines per week taking up ____ hours per week.
I consider learning of _____________ (no, little, high, extreme, etc.) importance.
I intend to take ____ years of college after we are married.

Emotional Orientation:
I am happy about _____ (%) of the time.
I am angry about _____ times each day.
I am depressed ________ (most, a little, etc.) of each week.
I feel fearful ___________ (sometimes, never, most of the time, etc.).

How closely do your feelings and perceptions match? If they are far apart in some of the orientations, agreement needs to be sought before you decide that this is the one. You decide which of them is of most importance to your being able to take for a lifetime. Talk in depth about the areas in which you are far apart. It makes a difference in the type of person we choose as to what we expect him/her to do and be after the marriage. For instance. if a male feels that his mate should stay home and take care of the house and children, then he shouldn't look at possible mates who are studying for a lifetime profession. It is unlikely for such a person to want to give up her career, and there is nothing wrong with that. It may turn out that you are not as compatible as you thought. Don't be afraid to say, "I had better look further." It may save you from a life of misery.

Myth 7. There Are Actions for Which a Spouse Could Never Be Forgiven

What might that be? Leaving? Lying? Infidelity? Murder? Adultery? I once heard a Christian woman say that she would kill her husband if she ever found him in bed with another woman.

For if you forgive men [or women] when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15).

I like to think of this scripture as a direct addendum to the Lord's Prayer since it appears along with it. “But,” you might say, “surely there is something that can't be forgiven?” Jesus said in Mark 3: 28 that any sin of man can be forgiven; it a sin against the Holy Spirit that is not forgiven.

Consider: Will God forgive him/her for what she/he has done?

If the answer to this question is yes (and it must be since neither of you are the Holy Spirit), then it follows:

I will forgive too!

Even though there are biblical grounds for divorce (Matthew 5:31; 19:1-12; Luke 16:18 [?]), as you are looking for a marriage mate

Think (and mean it): There are no grounds for divorce!

Don't go into a marriage thinking there is a way to get out of it. If you do, a seriously weak link has already developed in the bond. The first time trouble shows itself, divorce is thought to be the answer. It is not an answer! It is only a way out. When your special person drives you up a wall with some unbelievable behavior, try this:

Think: I don't have to have my way just because I'm right.

Think: Everybody has the right to be wrong.

Think: He/she is not a bad person; her/his behavior is bad.

If these are impossible statements about him/her, don't go into the marriage. You must be able to

Think: No matter what he/she does, I will stick with her/him.

Myth 8. Sex Is the Most Important Part of Marriage

During discussions with marriage age young people, I sometimes ask this question: "Why do you want to get married?" Invariably, one of the major "reasons" is sex. Before marriage it is only natural to visualize how nice it would be to be able to have sexual relations any time desired as a couple is able to do after marriage. Since a great deal of sex desire is a learned response and since the hormones are running high in the teen aged and early twenties years, probably as high as or higher than ever again, controlling one's self is a perplexing task. It also is one which adults have a hard time understanding because sexual urges seem to lessen in persons as they age (some right after marriage).

There is an additional problem that besets the modern young person—the onset of sexual development is several years earlier than it was 100 years ago when much of our social mores of today were being developed. Thus, a young couple of the early 1800's would have had less time to "burn with lust" before marriage would occur. This means that in some cultures couples were getting married just after the man had his first sexual emission and the woman had her first menstrual period. Today, the average couple usually waits until their early before getting married and the age differential is widening.

The worldly way to solve this problem is developing living-together arrangements, one night stands, and marriage for convenience; these all lead to divorce. Christian couples, from the statistics that I have been able to gather, are also not handling this crisis well. They are often told by well-meaning but misleading mature church leaders that anything they do to satisfy these urges results in sin. Guilt is the natural result. I remember one young lady who sat quietly sobbing in my office because her boyfriend always became visibly aroused when she was around. Instead of her accepting this as natural, she believed her mother who had told her that she was sinning if she aroused a man. When I explained to her that it seemed to be pretty normal to me, she said emphatically that it never happened to her dad!

One of the biggest mistakes that a couple can make is to get married because of guilt, guilt of any kind. Not that a guilt ladened marriage can't make it if both of them work at it. As a matter of fact, if the facts were known, probably a great number of your parent's Christian marriages were conceived on guilt. A great number of them worked, but such a marriage has great potential problems to overcome.

Much of sex is physical with some emotional, directed by the mental; a good marriage is a combination of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual with the most "unreal" and most unimportant to the most "real" and most important going from physical to spiritual. We should always allow our spiritual to rule our mental which should be in charge of our emotions and physical actions. Paul understood how difficult this is.

But if you can't control yourselves, go ahead and marry. It is better to marry than to burn with lust. (I Corinthians 7:6-9)

Most Christian young people that I have been acquainted with are "burning with lust" long before they are ready for marriage.

Ask yourself: Is physical and emotional all there is to it with this fellow/gal?

If your answer is "yes" or even "I'm not sure," it's time to look for another person. You must be able to share the spirit for a relationship to be whole.

Myth 9. A Good Marriage Never Has Arguments

Since a couple is two physical beings (each a part of this world) as well as spiritual beings, behaviors will reflect our part of this world occasionally resulting in frustrations. Such differences of opinion can result in arguments and arguments sometimes lead to anger.

Anger is the greatest single cause for problems in a relationship. However, if we understand our anger, it can be controlled. Most persons are "triggered" into angering themselves by something done by someone, and then the anger is blamed on that other someone (or something).

To help us understand anger, let's look at the steps usually taken in making ourselves angry.

Rational thinking
1. I want something.
2. I didn't get what I want and I'm frustrated.
Irrational thinking
3. It is awful and terrible not to get what I want.
4. You shouldn't frustrate me. I must have my way.
5. You are bad for frustrating me.
6. Bad people must be punished.

A synopsis might be as follows: A "friend" lies about you and your special potential mate; friend says that you had sex relations when you went out at one time. It makes you very frustrated. You feel that this is about the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Why would friend do such a thing? You’ll show friend. Friend works for your uncle, so you get him fired from his job.
What happened? For the Christian it is a fairly natural, but irrational feeling to want everybody to love you (1). When you find out friend doesn't by telling a lie about you, you are frustrated (2). These are basic feelings that don't produce anger. Anger actually begins when we start catastrophising by telling ourselves that it is awful when we don't get our own way (telling ourselves a lie) (3). As rational (true) statements can't produce anger, statements 1 and 2 can't make you angry. If we go on to the final two steps, it often calls for action that is not Christian by its very nature (punishing bad friend by getting him/her fired).

I purposely did not use an example of problems that couples have with each other (although I suppose the example could apply to couples) because I want you to select your own example. What angers you about your potential mate? Selecting that mate is hard enough without wearing yourself out being repeatedly frustrated and/or angry in the relationship.

If you are angry, don't sin by nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly! (Ephesians 4:26)

Peter had his own way of giving us advice in this.

Don't repay evil for evil. Don't snap back at those who say unkind things about you. Instead, pray for God's help for them, for we are to be kind to others, and God will bless us for it. (I Peter 3:9)

Think thusly: I make myself angry; therefore, since I control my own anger, I can make myself un-angry.

You are the only one who can control your anger because you make yourself angry, not the other person; control it, forgive him/her, ask for forgiveness, and go to sleep.

Think: I'm going to forgive him/her sometime (for a few it might read someday), why not forgive right now!

Don't worry about what the other person does when you forgive. If he/she doesn't accept, that is his/her problem. Read that scripture from Ephesians again; can't you read that into it?

Counterpart Myth: Being in love means not having to say "I'm sorry".

A key to a successful marriage is learning to "argue" without being angry. By stopping with frustration in our anger steps and staying rational, there probably will not be problems, but sometimes we become irrational, and irrationality can lead to punishing each other (cold shoulder, screaming, withholding love, etc.). We say to ourselves that bad people should be punished. (Parents you are close to probably do it; study their methods.) Learn to say "I'm sorry," and mean it without getting to the punishing stage. If this is hard (or you think even impossible) for you, just swallow your pride and try it anyway; it's magic!

I remember the first time I said I'm sorry and I was 18 years old! I was working in a supermarket for the stock manager named Tom Mix. Tom was told by management not to let anybody come in the back doors of the store. One day it was raining very hard. We had to park in the back so customers could park in the front. When I came to work I jumped out of the car and ran to the back door and banged on it until Tom opened it, just enough to look out. He would not open it further. Some very nasty things were said to Tom. I had to run around front in the driving rain and come in the front door. For days this incident haunted me. Just before I quit working there, I swallowed my pride and asked Tom to forgive me. I remember how surprised I was when he flashed a big smile and said, “O, that's alright." Additionally, I was even more surprised at how wonderful it made me feel for having done it.

However wrong or right it may be, there probably will be persons to whom we cannot say "I'm sorry." Such persons may be called "hookers" because they are able to hook our frustrations. For these hookers it is better for us to just leave them alone (unless we want to practice talking ourselves out of anger). It becomes a serious matter when the boss or a relative is a hooker. It is an impossible situation when you choose a mate that is also one of your hookers.
If you can't say "I'm sorry" to a potential mate or if he/she cannot (or will not) forgive you for your "misbehaviors," you need to look further.

Myth 10. What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander

Looking at the way some couples get along, I can't tell which is the goose and which is the gander. It is like a tennis game—one does something “wrong” and knocks the ball into the other court and the other must get back at them by knocking it back into the other court. This game becomes a way of life or even the marriage game itself for some. I once knew a woman who every time she had problems with her husband would go out and spend a lot of "his" money. He would then scream at her when the bills came in and out she would go again.

Recognizing this in a potential mate is difficult as he/she will usually be on constant good behavior. However, a few negative adjectives of which we can look for might be in order. Sullenness, petulance, tetchiness, jealousy, covetousness, and suspicion, even on a temporary basis, are warning signs that can say, “Do I want to have this as part of my marriage?” On the other hand, look for love, joy, peace, gentleness, long suffering, and kindness; there can never be enough of these traits. Almost always, what you see before marriage is what you get after marriage, magnified.

There are other myths that you will meet as you live your life with your mate, but these will cover the major ones as you contemplate marriage. Marriage can be a most wonderful thing in your life, but it also can be the most frustrating thing in your life. Only you can decide which way you will go.

I pray for you a blissful marriage with overwhelming happiness.