Jan 022018 10 Responses

4 Dangerous Marriage Trends in 2018

The old saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” While times change, human nature is consistent. There truly is nothing new under the sun. It’s true for life and especially true for marriage. For the most part, marriage today is the same as it has always been. Nuances have changed, but the basic interaction between a husband and wife is no different today than one hundred years ago. In part, this is why the original design for marriage still applies today. (See this book.)

While the fundamentals of marriage have not changed, some elements threatening marriage ebb and flow. Here are 4 threats to marriage in 2018:

1. Apathetically accepting a bad marriage. While there isn’t a magic pill, some simple actions can dramatically improve relationships. Far too many people assume their marriage is what it is and there is nothing they can do about it. This is a tragic mistake. Relationships which could be dramatically improved with just a few actions, continue to languish because the couple resigns themselves to a bad marriage. It’s sad when both spouses do this, but it is heartbreaking when one spouse is willing to do the work, but the other is not. Generally, the acceptance is born of fear. They are afraid of what a counselor, retreat, or book might reveal so they prefer to protect the safety of the status quo rather than risking change.

2. Being married without getting married. One of the great threats to marriage is attempting the connection without the commitment. People have been deceived into thinking that the institution of marriage hinders love or at minimum is just unnecessary for a meaningful relationship. But they are wrong. A healthy relationship has a natural progression–meeting, dating, engagement, ceremony, living together, children, etc. While changing the order isn’t a fatal blow to a meaningful connection, it does have consequences. Living together before committing to each other hinders a good marriage. Sleeping with one another before deciding to get married blurs our decision-making process. Doing everything a married couple does but not officially being married hurts the connection. Individuals think it doesn’t matter; time has proven it does. While society continues to downplay the importance of the institution of marriage, couples desiring a healthy relationship will continue to honor it.

3. Expecting too much from marriage. While some resign themselves to a bad marriage, others expect way too much from the relationship. No marriage is perfect. No spouse can be everything you want them to be. Marriage is good and meaningful, but it cannot meet the expectations of some people. Whether sourced in a Hollywood movie, romantic novel, or just a Pollyanna outlook on marriage, some expect marriage to be void of struggle and full of wonder. And it is for a month or two, but eventually reality sets in. Sadly, when you marry a fallible human being, perfection is not an option. Proper expectations are some of the most important elements of a healthy marriage. With no expectations, a couple may never see their marriage reach its potential. With unfair expectations, husband and wife will likely live in a constant state of frustration and regret. (Side note: In many situations, we need a professional counselor to assist us in establishing proper expectations.)

4. Failing to make any intentional effort for marriage enrichment. With all the resources available–blogs, podcasts, books, retreats, etc–I’m shocked that the average couple rarely takes one single step in a year to intentionally build their relationship. Thinking their marriage is fine, they do nothing which might improve their interaction. Professionally they don’t do this–they get continuing education and continue to become better employees. With hobbies they don’t do this–they take golf lessons, listen to advice, and become better. But with marriage, they never do anything which might give them an insight, provide a new technique, or reveal an area of improvement. If something is important, we work on it. We learn, grow, reflect, and improve. If your marriage matters, what is one intentional step you will make this year to strengthen your relationship? (See: What You’re Doing Wrong in Marriage)

Apart from faith, if I could give people one thing to improve their lives, it would be a meaningful, compassionate marriage. When a relationship is healthy, it empowers someone to navigate the struggles and cherish the joys of life. While these are not the only four threats to marriage, these four do seem to have a unique prevalence in 2018.

What do you believe is the greatest threat to marriage in 2018?

10 Responses to 4 Dangerous Marriage Trends in 2018
  1. Jeff Reply

    Amen brother – especially #1 & 4.

  2. J. Parker Reply

    I love these, Kevin! One I might add is: Thinking the Grass Is Greener Somewhere Else. When things aren’t going really well in our marriage, we can imagine that life would be better if we had married that other person we dated, or if we had a spouse like so-and-so, or if we were with our flirtatious co-worker instead. But it’s oh-so-true that the grass is greener where you water it! Which really feeds into every point you made here, especially #4.

  3. Kim Dhaiti Reply

    As I’ve learned from a very smart pastor/author/wise man, being intentional is to me probably the most important aspect of a marriage. Complacency begets bad marriages. Intentionally loving your spouse, especially when they are unlovable can quite literally change a marriage. Jesus still loves us and look how unlovable we are! Lol INTENTION IS A GAME CHANGER!

  4. Ron Stauffer Reply

    One of the biggest threats I see, is not new; it’s been going on for half a century or more. Namely, a faulty mate selection process. People don’t know how to become good marriage material, don’t know how to identify good candidates for marriage, and have no idea of the personal character traits which make one successful at marriage.

    They don’t get into “pre-marital counseling” until after they’ve already committed to marry a person. Sorry, the horse is already out of the barn then. It’s often too late, they are committed, their faces are set.

    As a pastor I tell the congregation that I want to meet with them long before they get engaged. I want the discussions to begin when they are thinking “maybe I’m getting serious, maybe.”

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Great point Ron. Pre-engagement counseling is much better than pre-marital counseling in my opinion.

  5. Husband Reply

    I think 1 and 4 hit the mark.

    Marriages are not one-way streets. What I mean by that is that it takes both spouses to make a marriage work, enhance it, address and resolve problems and help his or her spouse feel cherished and wanted – meeting needs and fulfilling them.

    When problems surface (and they always do), it is devastating to a marriage (in my opinion and experience, now) for both spouses to recognize the issue but only one will endeavor to make things better or work or try to address or resolve the issue.

    The complacency of the “unwilling” spouse is, ultimately, viewed (or, possibly better worded, felt) as rejection of the “willing” spouse, which plants the seeds of doubt and discontent, that over time turns into anger, that turns into resentment, that turns into contempt – as complacency continues. Contempt gives birth to justification, and justification further hardens the heart and leads to separation, emotionally if not completely.

    I see 1 and 4 as both leading, worst case scenario, to the possibility of a contemptuous relationship or at least feelings of contempt by the willing spouse toward the unwilling spouse. THAT I think is the biggest risk to the undoing of the marriage.

  6. David Drake Reply

    Here’s one that always eludes me – men (and women) are often sorry and regretful AFTER they’ve been caught cheating on their spouses. How much intelligence and foresight does it really take to just know in advance that you’re going to get caught sooner and later and NOT DO IT and avoid the hurt and anguish altogether? It would be much easier, and far less costly, to put whatever effort and energy you would use to cheat on your spouse and invest it in your marriage. It’s not rocket science guys (and gals).

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      It’s the nature of sin. It always makes sense when we are outside of the temptation, but when we are in it we struggle much more.

  7. David Reply

    I agree that 1 and 4 are big issues and can lead to unwanted vulnerabilities.

    To me, the common thread running through each of them is how each spouse acts, reacts and the steps s/he takes in actively identifying, discussing and resolving issues that lead to apathy and loneliness in recovery

    When issues are recognized by a spouse, I find it incumbent upon both the husband and the wife to talk, discuss the issues in detail, address their feelings and then take it upon each of them to take action to try to deal with and resolve the issues. When only one spouse does so, and the other sits back and is passive, over time that leads the acting spouse to feel a deep sense of rejection of how he/she has expressed s/he feels, how important s/he sees the issue, and the other spouse’s interest in coming back together and overcoming the issue(s).

    That leads to a “one-way street” type of relationship, or least it seems to me to do so – which then leads to a deep-seeded anger, which brews resentment and contempt over time. When the issue is simply pushed away again, resentment brews that much more, and contempt becomes stronger. The acting spouse may then act out, feeling rejected, alone in the struggle, unloved and unwanted. For men, it’s almost, if not entirely, emasculating – leaving them feeling less of a man to his wife, yet unable to move her in a direction toward acknowledging and working toward a common goal.

    How, then, does one overcome this one-way street? Even so when counseling by the passive spouse is rejected or minimized? This, too, coming from a Husband’s (the active spouse) perspective?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Please enter your name, email and a comment.