We all go into marriage expecting certain things. Many of us have at least one of three common expectations - what I might call - marriage myths - about how our spouses should fulfill our needs. When these expectations aren't met, disappointment and conflict inevitably result.
By examining these myths, we can identify some of our unrealistic hopes for marriage as we draw closer to the ultimate source of our fulfillment.
Myth 1: My spouse should always make me feel good about myself.
Though my wife, Jeanette, often makes me feel positive about my looks, personality and wisdom, I cant always rely on my wife to say exactly what I need. At such times, I have to remember that my greatest affirmation comes from God.
As a person who struggled with low self-esteem in my non-Christian days, I found that no one but God could really satisfy this need. Verses such as Psalm 139:14-16 about being fearfully and wonderfully made by God have dramatically changed my self-image.
Myth 2: My spouse should always be encouraging.
When were discouraged, its natural to look to our spouses to give us a boost. My wife is usually encouraging when I feel down, but for one of my truly black moods, I have to find strength in Gods Word and in the power of the Spirit to build me up.
For instance, I experienced much discouragement several years ago about my writing. Id never had a "big" book, and I moaned and groaned about it for a while. Then it hit me: Why don't I just ask God about it? I began praying, and in a short time, the Spirit filled my mind with strategies for improving my writing and making it more accessible to readers. As a result, I've reached a new level in my writing with the Lords leading - something my wife couldn't give me.
Myth 3: I should never feel lonely when I'm married.
When I was single, I often battled loneliness. But I learned in time to find real intimacy and companionship from God. I read the Bible, memorized verses, meditated on them and listened to Gods still, small voice. Over time, God filled up many of the empty spaces in my heart.
When I got married, Jeanette provided the kind of companionship that can come only from a spouse. But one day, I realized I still felt lonely. It wasn't because Jeanette failed to tell me she loved me or to mention that I looked handsome. Rather, Id begun to slip away from having regular fellowship with God. I set about rediscovering the sweetness of that fellowship with God, and the loneliness dissipated.
Finding True Fulfillment
How do you find your deeper fulfillment in God? Here are several thoughts:
- Read the Bible, study it and memorize verses that touch your heart. God will speak to you through them and build the intimacy you need from Him.
- Serve God in church and other venues. God will respond by giving you encouragement through the people you serve.
- Give God a firm place in your life. Spend time with Him daily. If Jesus is with us always, as He said in Matthew 28:20, then we can be sure Hes always ready to listen and respond to our thoughts and needs.