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?

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