Marriage Still Works?
[This is a two part series. Read part II here.]
This past week, a blog post went viral called, Five reasons we can’t handle marriage anymore.
The post was written by a 29 year old man who married his girlfriend of 8 years in 2012. Over the last six months, he’s become a successful blogger about marriage. This is particularly interesting because he has already divorced his wife and, based on interviews he’s done, they’ve been separated for two years. I am by no means an expert on this man or looking to throw stones but, based on what he has said, his marriage pretty much fell apart within the first year. With even the most generous interpretations, he was married, divorced, and ready to write about marriage all in two and a half years.
If you Google the article, you’ll find that apparently he’s being declared a “Relationship Expert.” Let that sink in for a moment. He’s an expert on relationships because he writes about his marriage which collapsed in a shockingly short period of time. As a point of reference, he was married right around the time my oldest was born, and he was probably filing for divorce before my son learned to say, “Dada.” This is who our culture is clamoring to hear his wisdom on marriage.
His posts on marriage have resonated with people so much that multiple national media sources have reposted his articles. I missed the first round of his posts, but someone forwarded his latest post to me as a suggestion for me to respond to (wisely so because I have many thoughts). Honestly, I can see why his writings resonate with people.
He has great insight into the relational struggles of Millennials. The problem is that his conclusions about those struggles are dead wrong. It was frustrating for me to read because I am acutely aware of the marital tensions he was describing as being real, but he took it to defeatist conclusion. It was as if he was claiming that, because Millennials face unique struggles, there’s no way that Millennials can handle marriage (actually, that’s exactly what the title says).
He’s good at pointing out the struggles of a generation.
But he thinks his generation is the victim generation.
Here are his five reasons Millennials can’t handle marriage:
Five Reasons “[his] generation isn’t equipped to handle marriages”
- Sex becomes non-existent
- Finances cripple us
- We’re more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time (social media and smart devices)
- Our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved
- Social media just invited a few thousand people to bed with you
Marriage Has Always Been Hard
He starts off his piece with these words:
Marriages today just don’t work. The million dollar question? Why not?
It’s a pretty simple concept — fall in love and share your life together. Our great grandparents did it, our grandparents followed suit, and for many of us, our parents did it as well.
Why the hell can’t we?”
Reading his article, his insights into the hurdles of 21st century marriage are dead on, but his conclusions about marriage are dead wrong.
Marriage itself has always been hard. When you put two sinners in one house, and they become one family, of course there will be tension. This has taken different forms at different times.
Every generation has its own unique struggles. Every culture and sub-culture has its own unique struggles. I don’t want to simply make light of the struggles of American middle class, white suburban Millennials but, compared to human history, we’ve had it pretty good. Rising housing costs and social media do not compare to some of the obstacles marriages have faced in the past, or even today.
Just stop and consider what his great grandparents, grandparents, and parents had to face:
- High infant mortality rates prior to modern medicine
- The Great Depression of the 30’s
- World War II of the 40’s
- Vietnam in the 60’s
- Slavery, segregation, racism & systematic issues of inequality
In light of what humans around the world and throughout human history have faced, cell phones and social media seem awfully pedestrian. And the pursuit of attention over love seems just as narcissistic as it sounds.
I don’t want to downplay the struggles he mentioned, but I absolutely do want to point out the absurdity of his conclusions. It’s pivotal that we can acknowledge the struggles we face without falling victim to them.
As you look at how to marriage can still work, what you’ll realize is that marriage requires daily choosing to put someone else first. You can’t make choices for someone else. There are scenarios where one person is trying and the other is not. But you can choose to do everything you can to make your marriage work.
Five Ways Marriage Can Still Work
#1 | Keep Dating Your Spouse & Have Lots of Sex
“Sex becomes non-existent” – Original article
Please excuse my bluntness, but I would not describe the first three years of my marriage as, “Sex [became] non-existent.” Now, I can’t speak as someone who has had more than one sexual partner. I’m utterly ill-equipped to speak from experience as someone who has accepted culture’s view of sexuality. But, I can say that sex has existed during all of the years of my marriage.
With that said, sex doesn’t just disappear from marriages. He described things this way, “It becomes this chore. You no longer look at your partner wanting to rip their clothes off, but rather instead, dread the thought.” To be fair, he calls this crazy. I would agree. But you don’t go from wanting to rip their clothes off to dreading sexuality without making HUGE mistakes in between.
What happens is that couples stop pursing each other once they’re married. Once people are married, they tend to take the marriage for granted. The small and large romantic gestures become less frequent. Initially, the passion came naturally from the daily romance. Eventually, the romance becomes infrequent and so does the passion.
The simple solution is keeping the romance and the passion alive. Pursue one another.
The interesting thing is that 2,000 years ago in the Bible, God gave good reason why married couples should have lots of sex.
1 Corinthians 7 (emphasis added)
1 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps 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.
If you’re married and looking for a good life verse. 1 Corinthians 7:5 isn’t a bad one. God actually commands married couples to keep having sex. God intended sex to connect people. God intended sex to build the bonds of love.
Therefore he put a harsh command in scripture, “Do not deprive each other!”
With that said, sex is the easy part.
Daily choosing to put your spouse first is hard.
Daily choosing to pursue your spouse is hard.
Daily choosing to deny yourself and serve your spouse is hard.
When you spend hours, days, weeks or months putting yourself first, why would you be surprised that your spouse doesn’t want to share something as sacred as sex with you?
- Do you make an effort to serve your spouse?
- Do you make an effort to look attractive to your spouse?
- Do you make an effort to encourage your spouse?
- Do you make an effort to honor your spouse?
- Do you make daily effort to pursue your spouse?
- If not, what were you expecting?
Love your spouse the way they want to be loved!
Gary Chapman wrote a great book about the five love languages.
#2 | Learn to Handle Your Money
Years ago, it didn’t cost upward of $200,000 for an education. It also didn’t cost $300,000-plus for a home. – Original Post”
The number one cause of divorce in the United States is money and money fights. With that in mind, it goes without saying that, if you want to divorce proof your marriage, you need to learn to handle your finances as a couple. Before you get married, you need to talk about money and standard of living expectations extensively.
Honestly, I went to a private college out of state with no scholarships, and my education didn’t cost $200,000. Our home now is over 2,000 sq/ft and it cost less than half of $300,000. We’ve had some financial advantages, but we’re currently living off my income alone.
- We live in a community with a low cost of living.
- We bought a foreclosure.
- We’ve never had cable.
- We’re not great about strictly living on a budget, but we’re pretty good about not spending lots of money.
Why do I say all of this?
Because you can have financial peace. You can tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. We’re not even good at living on a budget, and still money isn’t a big issue in our marriage. You have to live realistically, and you have to live within your means. If you do that, money won’t cripple you.
When you handle money right: money is a responsibility instead of a liability.
I encourage all married couples to go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. If you can’t afford it, then I would highly encourage you to at least read his book, “The Total Money Makeover.” I actually give copies out to engaged couples frequently and with great joy.
If money is an issue in your marriage, please get your spouse to read this book with you.
When I started writing this post, I did not realize how verbose I was going to be. With that in mind, I’ve decided to split it into two posts. Come back tomorrow for PART II. There, I will discuss the THREE remaining reasons that marriage can still work.
DO YOU THINK MARRIAGE STILL WORKS? COMMENT BELOW!
Read part II here