4 Popular Phrases That Are Killing Christian Marriages

Dana Che Williams

Speaker/Coach/Podcast Host
Updated Jul 18, 2024
4 Popular Phrases That Are Killing Christian Marriages
Brought to you by Christianity.com

I sat across the small, circular table, gripping my warm coffee cup as “Michelle” told me her story. I was zoned in, but at any time, I could have stopped Michelle and volunteered to finish telling the rest of her story. As a marriage coach and pastoral counselor, I’ve heard it all before. Michelle’s version included some more theatrical elements previously untold, but the main script was the same. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall madly in love. God sanctions the boy and girl’s marriage. Boy and girl have two kids and shortly realize, thereafter, “they have fallen out of love” and “don’t feel called to be married any longer.” 

I don’t know if the questioning expression dripping from Michelle’s deep brown eyes beckoned my approval, understanding, or sympathy. I could offer understanding, sympathy, and empathy, but I could not get approval. 

“Michelle, what biblical reason do you have to divorce your husband?” I asked. 

She looked stunned. Her eyes searched the corners of the coffee house for answers before they returned to mine. “I just don’t believe all this conflict is healthy. It’s not healthy for us or our kids. I don’t think God wants us to be this unhappy anymore.” 

The problem with Michelle’s summation of her marriage and the problem with over 50% of Christian couples who divorce is a lack of understanding of God’s purpose for marriage. God is more interested in holiness than happiness. That does not mean he wants women in long skirts, no makeup, and at the beck and call of their husbands to their detriment. It does mean that He is constantly at work to make us more like His son than he is working to make us happy. Yes, marriage is one of God’s discipleship tools to sanctify and unify us. Happiness is a byproduct of obedience, not the precursor to obedience.

Because we live in a social media, snip it and tweet it in society, popular catchphrases can rage like wildfire in seconds. Some of these catchphrases seem sensible, but they are quite shallow. Here are four popular phrases that are damaging the purpose of what God intended marriage to be:

Photo Credit:  Image created using DALL.E 2024  AI technology and subsequently edited and reviewed by our editorial team.

Couple arguing at the grocery store; 4 common phrases wrecking Christian marriages.

1. "I'm/We're Not Happy Anymore."

Oh, to be happy. That’s the American dream. We spend countless amounts of money, time, and other resources trying to make ourselves happy. And, as you’ve probably discovered, we rarely are. Happiness is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s aspirational and also fantastical. It’s the cherry on top, not the main dish. There are no Scriptures that declare God wants us to be happy. There are Scriptures, however, that advise us to trust the Lord to fulfill our desires, thus creating a happy heart: 

  • Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4
  • Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces (Psalm 34:5)
  • How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the LORDs instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

Happiness is an inside job. When you look to your spouse to “make” you happy, you are setting them and yourself up for failure. People can contribute to your overall feeling of well-being, but no one on Earth can make you happy. What couples are really saying when they say, “We just aren’t happy anymore,” usually means they have grown bored with the marriage and are tired of doing the work to create lasting love. Remember, feelings are fickle. Happiness comes and goes. But steadfast love endures. 

Photo Credit: Image created using DALL.E 2024  AI technology and subsequently edited and reviewed by our editorial team.

Married couple sitting on the couch back to back, angry with each other; 4 phrases that are wrecking Christian marriages.

2. "It's Just Not Working."

There are lots of thunderstorms where I live. It’s not uncommon for the power to go out in my neighborhood as a result of one of these sudden storms. Several years ago, my husband and I purchased a generator so that our food wouldn’t spoil in the refrigerator and we wouldn’t die from heat stroke waiting for the power company to restore our service. The first time we used the generator was a disaster! It was pouring rain. The darkness was so thick you could touch it. Using the light from our cell phones, my husband yanked the starter cord over and over. The machine choked a few times but wouldn’t start. Finally, I laid my hands on the generator and prayed it would come to life. And it did! 

We could have easily taken the generator back to our local home improvement store and told the cashier we were returning it because it “didn’t work.” But we knew better. We know that generators do not work if they do not receive the proper amount of power. Too often, people expect marriage to “work.” I often say, “Marriages don’t work; people do.” Your marriage is inanimate. It requires someone to power it up for it to work. One of the first lessons I introduce in my premarital counseling sessions with couples is Needs and Expectations. Too many couples approach marriage like a fairy tale, and when Prince Charming stops charming, or Princess Peach stops being peachy, they’re ready to quit. Marriage is for the mature. The wedding vows say “for better or for worse” for a reason. As Christians, we must stop selling ourselves short, thinking our marriages are over when they stop working. Remember, a good marriage isn’t one that works. It’s one where you put in the work. Oh, and prayer helps a lot, too. 

Photo Credit:  Image created using DALL.E 2024  AI technology and subsequently edited and reviewed by our editorial team.

Married couple fighting outside; 4 popular phrases that wreck Christian marriages.

3. "We're Just Not in Love Anymore."

Love is not a feeling. It’s a verb: an action verb, to be more specific. There is a problem with looking at marriage from the lens of feeling in love. What most people are referencing is infatuation, not love. Infatuation is a real emotion and is defined as an intense and short-lived passion or admiration for someone. It’s not supposed to last. Sadly, we’ve been raised on rom-coms and fairy tales where that “feeling” of love is supposed to last forever. It’s no wonder couples are disillusioned when the realities of marriage set in. Bills have to be paid. Children aren’t always cute and cuddly—the storms of life surge on. Love is a continual action that must be cultivated daily. Love is not a ditch. You can’t “fall into it.” It’s a purposeful, intentional decision every day to center your spouse and not yourself. 

How different would our world be if we actually learned to love one another as Christ loved us (I John 4:19)? There would be much less strife, jealousy, apathy, and pain. Whenever a couple I’m coaching tells me they “fell out of love,” I jokingly think, “Well, you better fall back into it, then.” What couples are trying to communicate here is that the romantic feelings have waned. I understand. In my twenty-five years of marriage, I have not always “felt” like loving. Again, feelings are fickle. They will let you down. I will not tell a couple to fall back in love, but I will ask them what intentional acts of love they pursued that day. You can already hear the crickets chirping in the background, right? I expound on this thought in 4 Things Christian Marriages Require of Us Beyond Love. The way to get that loving feeling again is to BE love.

Photo Credit:  Image created using DALL.E 2024  AI technology and subsequently edited and reviewed by our editorial team.

Married couple arguing in a restaurant; 4 common phrases that are wrecking Christian marriages.

4. "We Are Better off as Friends."

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt have done a disservice to every contentious ex-couple in the world. They seem happier as friends than they ever did as a couple. We see pictures of them laughing together, walking side by side, looking into each other’s eyes, and even flirting. It seems so romantic. It’s no wonder when couples start to face strife and conflict in their marriages, they often believe they’d be better as friends. Some couples even divorce “pre-emptively” before things get worse. None of this is biblical! 

Over and over, Scripture describes marriage as a lifelong covenant that was never intended to be broken. Outside of significant marital trauma that may be grounds for divorce, the vast majority of marriage problems are fixable. Why settle for friends when God can make you one? More divorces are acrimonious than not. Children are hurt and often feel pressured to choose a side. Both spouses can suffer financially, dreams are shattered, and your legacy becomes tarnished. To those who have already divorced, I hope that you have received the grace of the Lord. There is no condemnation. But as Christians, we must be careful about romanticizing divorce as a viable option to ease the pain in our marriage. 

If you are on the verge of divorce, seek help. A reputable Christian marriage coach or counselor can help you see things from a different perspective, offer godly solutions to get your marriage back on track, and help you to experience God’s amazing mercy and help in your time of need. 

We are in the world, but not of it. It’s time for Christians to stop being duped by the world’s systems and its phrases. You are more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ, who loves you (Romans 8:37), and God is able to work all things together for your good because you love him and are called according to HIS purpose (Romans 8:28). 

RELATED PODCAST: Dana shares five ways to pray for your marriage, using the acronym C.O.V.E.R. The key to prayer is trusting in God's timing and His ways.

Photo Credit:  Image created using DALL.E 2024  AI technology and subsequently edited and reviewed by our editorial team.

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Dana Che Williams BoDana Che Williams is a speaker, marriage/relationship coach, and the host of the Rebuilding US podcast, where she helps people uncomplicate relationships and build deeper connections. She is also a devoted daughter and friend of God and serves as a Teaching Pastor at a multi-site, multi-ethnic church in Virginia Beach, VA. In groups, large or small, Dana's mission is singular: to help lead people into more fruitful and connected relationships with the Lord and each other. On the podcast, she is known for her graceful candor, humor, and encouraging yet challenging advice. Dana holds a B.A. in communication from Regent University. She has a fierce passion for fashion and a fiercer passion for truth. She shares her life with Shaun, her childhood sweetheart and husband of twenty-four years, their four amazing children, and their “multi-cultural” dog in beautiful Virginia Beach, VA. Connect with her on social media @mrsdanache and find helpful relationship resources on her website at https://danache.com.

Originally published Thursday, 04 July 2024.