What Can Go Wrong?
IT IS unrealistic to expect a marriage to be problem-free. After all, even well-matched marriage mates are not perfectly compatible. Hence, difficulties of some sort are inevitable. Just as rust can corrode metal under a coat of paint, a number of factors can eat away at a marriage. To understand what can be done to improve a marriage, let us first examine some of the things that can go wrong.
Times of Great Stress
The Bible predicted that many people in our time would be “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, . . . unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride.” (2 Timothy 3:2-4) Such traits can amplify the misunderstandings, miscommunications, and thoughtless remarks that come so easily to imperfect humans.
“It’s a confusing period in history to be married,” notes one researcher. “On the one hand . . . , we have access to an almost infinite amount of information on how to make our marriages stronger . . . On the other hand, we are faced with a host of social and economic forces which strain our capacity to have good marriages.”
“Unrealistic expectations,” explains a marriage therapist, “are one of the biggest causes of dissatisfaction in marriage.” Many married people become disillusioned when they discover that marriage is not all they had expected and that their spouse is not quite what they had envisioned him or her to be. They find themselves mired in disillusionment over a mate’s previously unseen faults or over failings more serious than they had anticipated.
The Bible, though, candidly admits that marriage can bring “pain and grief.” (1 Corinthians 7:28, The New English Bible) Why? One reason is because a relationship between two imperfect humans sooner or later exposes their respective faults.
Additionally, many people unrealistically expect to get more out of marriage than they put into it. Blinded by romantic notions of matrimonial bliss, they overlook the responsibility and hard work needed to build a happy marriage. They set themselves up for a tragic encounter with reality that is likely to leave them disappointed and bewildered. Often, the more inflated the delusions are about marriage, the greater the disenchantment is once reality hits home.
What communication errors can be avoided in order to forge a stronger marital relationship? Some couples get into a rut of hearing without listening and speaking without communicating. Warm and affectionate interaction is replaced by curt, cold routine. Purposeful, open dialogue tends to be overwhelmed by incessant arguments about anything, everything, and nothing. Misinterpretation generates misunderstandings; verbal attacks are countered with icy silence.
Sadly, many marriage mates either fail to notice their spouse’s positive behavior or notice it but fail to express their appreciation. In addition, in the present work climate, many married women become resentful because they are left to do most of the work at home in addition to holding down a secular job. Moreover, many wives feel that their emotional needs are being ignored.
What can you do to build a successful marriage? Consider the following practical advice from the Bible.
[Blurb on page 4]
Some couples hear without listening and speak without communicating
[Blurb on page 5]
Many expect to get more out of marriage than they put into it