The Christian Broadcasting Network

Six Marriage Busting Misconceptions

By Claire Cloninger and Karla Worley Life Ministries) Misconception #1: The Degree-of Difficulty theory

To begin with, I thought marriage would be easier. I thought we'd fit together more or less automatically, like Barbie and Ken. I thought love would glide us through the "bonding process" without a hitch. Or at the very least, I thought that any struggles would simply take on the romantic sheen of a classy melodrama in which we had been cast as the romantic leads.

But I have found that very little seems to happen automatically in a marriage relationship. Marriage is work - sometimes gritty, sweaty, uncomfortable work. In fact, I figure that the degree of difficulty in combining two lives ranks somewhere between rerouting a hurricane and finding a parking place in downtown Manhattan.

I am of the opinion that only God Himself can make a marriage happen really well. And when He does it His way, it's one of His very best miracles. I mean, the Red Sea was good, but for my money, this is better. What God can create out of the combined ingredients of two surrendered lives is indeed "infinitely more than we ever dare to ask or imagine" (Eph.3:20).

Misconception #2: The Clairvoyant Spouse Theory

When I was a newlywed, I thought that if Spike really loved me, he should be clairvoyant (or at least Claire-voyant!). He should automatically know what I was thinking and feeling and what I needed without my verbalizing a thing. If my needs weren't being met exactly as I felt they should be, I would jump to the conclusion that he didn't love me.

It was an enormous breakthrough for me to realize that Spike really wanted to be there for me. He wanted to be able to meet my needs the best he could. But he wasn't a mind reader. He couldn't know what I needed unless I told him!

And so, over the years, we've gotten better and better at sharing our thoughts and feelings, clarifying our hopes, needs, and expectations for each other and our relationship. As a consequence, we've gotten better at meeting each other's needs and helping each other realize some of those hopes and expectations.

Misconception #3: The Key-to-Happiness Theory

Before I was married, I thought being happy meant getting what you want. I have learned, after thirty-seven years of marriage, that being happy means loving what you get.

Misconception #4: The Beef-Stew Theory

In the early years of our marriage, when we were both in school and working a couple of jobs and not seeing nearly enough of each other, I had the misconception that a marriage can survive that kind of benign neglect.

I've learned since then the truth of what my friend Chris Kelly always says: Making a marriage is a lot like making a stew. It will only be as good as the ingredients you put into it. If you are not taking time for long talks and long walks together, for special dinners and afternoons off, for laughter and romance and celebrating each other, your marriage is going to be a bland and watery dish indeed.

Misconception #5: The Major Moments Theory

I somehow assumed early on that the most important days in a marriage would be the anniversaries, the weddings, the Christmases, and the family reunions. I have found instead that the most important day in any marriage is today.

My dear friend Mr. George told me something when he was a very old man-something I've never forgotten.

"Claire," he said, "Don't wait to be happy. Don't put it off. Martha Lee and I were always going to take a fancy trip out to California when Bubby was through with college. We never made it to California."

He chuckled a little, sadly shaking his head. I imagine he was remembering his Martha Lee. And then he said, "Call up Spike right now. You two ought to go out and do something wonderful together…tonight!"

Misconception #6: The Grin-and-Bear-It Theory

I've got to confess that I used to have a major misconception about God and marriage. I thought that if we do get stuck in a lousy marriage, God wants us to hang on by the skin of our teeth and simply gut it out until the bitter end. I was wrong about this - terribly wrong. This is not what God wants at all. He wants us to stay together, all right. But it's not enough just to gut it out. He wants us to stay and pray and work and to keep loving. He wants us to give Him all the time and space He needs to make that lousy marriage into something not just tolerable, but beautiful and brave and strong - something that will witness to His mercy and His presence in this world.

I think He's saying something to married couples, if we will just hear Him: "Don't settle for a bad marriage, or even a mediocre one. Don't lower your expectations. Raise them! Trust Me! I'm still a God of miracles!"

Excerpted from the book When the Glass Slipper Doesn't Fit by Claire Cloninger and Karla Worley. Used by permission of New Life Ministries. New Life Ministries has a variety of resources on men, women and relationships. Call 1-800-NEW-LIFE or visit

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