OK, so before we jump into all of this, let me just say that the title of this article is a bit of a play-on words. I think that’s important to mention because I don’t believe there is actually something called a “love lie”. I have too much respect for love to be out here signing on to toxic resolves like “love hurts” or “love makes you do crazy things” — love doesn’t cause this; people do. No, what I mean by a “love lie” is it’s something that two people, who love each other, sometimes will lie to themselves about when it comes to their approach to their relationship. And when that love is the kind that is shared between a married couple — oh, there are all kinds of lies that have the potential to cause some real drama. Unnecessarily so.
It is indeed the Good Book that says it’s the truth that sets us free. So, let’s do just that today, shall we? Let’s tackle some of the things that many husbands and wives tell themselves about their relationship that really, at the end of the day, are delusional thinking more than reality-based.
“I Can Change My Spouse”
Listen, engaged people, if when you sit in your premarital counseling sessions (because you ARE going to those, right?) and your therapist/counselor/life coach mentions some red flags or areas of incompatibility and you either hear your partner or yourself say, “That’s OK. I can get them to change that,” it really is time to pump the breaks a bit. I’m not exactly sure who started the straight-up lie that it’s a good idea to marry someone who you feel you can control, manipulate and push to change in order to fit into your particular mold, but if you know who it is, I would like to have a word.
While I do believe that healthy relationships can inspire two people to improve, I also think that it is wrong to go into any kind of serious dynamic expecting them to change (check out “The Right Relationship IMPROVES Not CHANGES You”). Anyone who feels otherwise is already saying (whether they realize it or not) that they aren’t satisfied with who their partner currently is and/or that they think it is their role and responsibility to try and make someone be who or what they are not. If it’s the first issue, why marry someone you aren’t happy with? If it’s the second, why do you think that someone needs to fit your ideal? That sounds like ego speaking, not love.
A lot of married people have had long discussions with me because they are spending more time trying to change their spouse than accepting them. What’s super fascinating is the main ones who want to do the changing of someone else can’t even handle mild criticism from their partner (see what I mean about “ego”?). Anyway, before getting into other “love lies” that spouses tell themselves, there’s no way that I couldn’t start out with, perhaps, the most common one — I can change them. That’s not your job. And that’s the God-honest truth.
“If I Give You What I Need, You Should Be Satisfied.”
Hands down, one of the biggest issues in marriages (or any serious love-based relationship) is folks spend way too much time giving their partner what they want instead of what their partner actually needs. Then, to make matters worse, they try and play the victim when their partner isn’t thrilled about it. Remember how I spoke on manipulation a second ago? Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize that when you give in order to get, that is a low-grade form of manipulation.
For instance, say that when it comes to your love languages, your top one is gifts. And so, you constantly buy your husband things and, while he does say “thank you,” he’s not over the moon. Plus, you still don’t really receive many presents outside of special occasions. As a result, you start feeling underappreciated by his lack of gratitude and dismissed when it comes to your own needs (and sometimes wants).
Something that I hear a lot of pastors say that really is true is the Bible doesn’t instruct wives to love their husbands; it says that they should respect them (check out Ephesians 5). However, because we like to feel loved, we will totally overlook that and love on them the way we want it to be given. For some men, this doesn’t translate well because respect is what they desire. And again, if you are trying to give your man what you need/want from him so that he will give you more of it, not only is that a form of emotional manipulation, it’s not the most effective approach either.
Communicating your needs and then listening to his (check out “How You And Your Partner Can Listen To Each Other Better”) are the keys to both of you feeling “fed.” Giving what you need is only focusing on you and selfishness in marriage is never a productive or beneficial thing. Get off of giving what you need to the point where it totally ignores giving your man what he needs — even if that totally differs from you (which it oftentimes probably will).
“I Didn’t Marry Your Family. I Married You.”
Chile. OK, let me speak to engaged couples again and say that if your fiancé is already showing signs of poor boundaries with his family members, this is another reason to pump the brakes because while I do think it’s completely delusional to think that you do not have to deal with your partner’s family on a pretty intimate level, I also think that the Bible speaks of “leaving and cleaving” (Genesis 2) by design. In other words, when it comes time to get married, it’s time to start your own traditions and to have your own way of doing things.
That said, I’ve got a close friend right now who has basically been in therapy since she got married (over a decade ago) and about 70 percent of the issues surround her husband’s mother and how unhealthy his attachment to her happens to be. She underestimated it when they were dating. She totally regrets that now. She knows that she didn’t just marry him. She also married how he’s been affected by his family, his bond with his family members, and his expectations for how she interacts with his family. That is A LOT.
You know, sometimes, it’s not until this time of year (the holiday season) when family issues really creep up, and then it ends up putting a ton of stress and strain on your relationship. To that I say, when the two of you decided to become husband and wife, one of the things that you both signed up for was to put each other’s feelings and needs above ALL others. This requires finding the balance between making sure you both feel safe and secure when it comes to how you both deal with family stuff. But if one or both of you thinks that you didn’t agree to deal with each other’s family, that is one of the biggest lies that you’ve ever told yourself. Let that one go today (if possible).
“Sex Isn’t As Big of a Deal As Some Make It Out to Be”
There’s a guy that I know who, shoot, for well over 25 years, wasn’t sexually satisfied in his marriage. He and his wife weren’t sexually compatible and his libido was way higher. Still, they had kids together and so he basically just hung in there until everyone went off to college. Then he filed for divorce. Now he’s married to someone else and grinning more than I’ve ever seen him do it.
I remember about 15 years ago when his wife and I briefly had a conversation about sex. She said to me, “Girl when you get married, you’ll realize that sex isn’t that big of a deal. There are just higher priorities.” Hmph. I wonder what she thinks about that now. Y’all, I will say it until each and every cow comes home — one of the main things that set marriage apart from other relationships IS sexual intimacy (check out “10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important”). Not only that but a lack of it is STILL a leading cause of divorce and even the Bible says that inconsistent sex gives the devil room to do…all kinds of foolishness (I Corinthians 7:5). Besides, if you are talking yourself out of enjoying your partner in this way, that’s sending a red flag up, even outside of the bedroom. Bottom line, there is absolutely no way around the fact that if you are physically capable, sex MUST be made a TOP priority in your relationship. If you shrug this off, it’s not going to go well for you — if “it” lasts at all.
“We Can Get Through This Without Therapy”
I have a few friends who work with couples, just like I do. And if there is one thing that we all say wears us all the way out, it’s the people who fight the purpose of counseling all the way…until they are on the brink of divorce. I’ve used the comparison before because I wholeheartedly believe it to be true — if you took your vows seriously (Ecclesiastes 5), then you know you signed up for a LONG journey with your spouse, and if a car needs its oil changed every 3,000 miles, what makes you think you can — or should — go years without getting another perspective on your relationship so that you can receive insights, tips, and assistance on how to get through the challenging times (ones that I promise you will come, more than once)?
Prayer is great. Talking things over with the right friends is cool too. Oh, but looka here — another Scriptural reference. Proverbs 12:15(NKJV) says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” Counseling doesn’t need to be seen as a last resort; it needs to be treated like a necessary investment. Commit to seeing a professional, at least a couple of times a year. If you want to go the distance, it’s very necessary that you do.
“Divorce Will Make It All Better”
There’s another Scripture in the Bible that says God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). The reason why that is given is because it “covers one’s garment with violence.” When two people are all lovey-dovey about each other, they are all for hearing that marriage starts the “becoming one” (Genesis 2:24-25) process. Yet isn’t it interesting that when they are ready to call it “quits,” they don’t want to address just how violent trying to sever that oneness can actually be — not just for them but those around them; especially if children are involved.
Listen, I know that there are some extreme instances where divorce seems like the only route to take. What I also know is some people were more committed to an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend than they ever were to their spouse before breaking their marriage vows. There are studies to support that around one-third of divorced people regret ending their marriage. That’s why I write articles for the platform like “What Some People Regret About Their Divorce,” “7 Men & 7 Women Tell Me Why They Think Their Marriage Ended,” “6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Ending Your Marriage,” and “Before Getting Divorced, Consider Separating First.”
So, if you’re currently going through some challenges right now, please don’t fall for the lie that divorce is an automatic solution to your problem. A lot of us have years and years’ worth of wounds and scars — whether we are the ones who got the divorce or the children of the people who did — who can easily challenge you on that. You enter into your marriage sober-minded, right? Give at least that much energy to exiting it.
"Love Conquers All."
Love is probably the most beautiful thing that there is. Still, when it comes to making a marriage work and last, it’s not all that’s needed. Respect is needed (check out “7 Signs That You Truly Respect Your Spouse (& Your Marriage)”). Patience is needed. Clear and consistent communication is needed. Empathy is needed. Forgiveness is needed. Emotional intelligence is needed. Maturity is needed. Friendship is needed (check out “Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?”). Consistency is needed. Honoring your commitment is needed.
The reason why a lot of people end their marriage is 1) they chalk love up to nothing more than a rom-com level emotion and 2) they act as if love is supposed to do more work in their marriage than they are. Love may serve as the fuel and motivation for a marital union yet there are many other characteristics that must be factored in and, even with those, you’ve still got to choose to want to make your marriage last. To tell yourself that love, alone, is supposed to do all of the heavy lifting is a surefire way to put an expiration date on your marriage before it even begins; especially if you only see it from a “feelings” perspective (feelings change all of the time).
A wise person once said, “Truth is not for comfort; it’s for liberation.” That is definitely some real food for thought when it comes to the truths you believe about marriage vs. the lies. For the sake of your relationship, y’all, please choose wisely.
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