8 Lies that Can Cripple a Marriage

8 Lies that Can Cripple a Marriage

“I just don’t see how this is going to work.”

I hear this a lot when I’m talking to women who have reached out to me for marital help. I’ve said it before in my own marriage. When you have a marriage relationship that has deep wounds, grievous sins, and seemingly impossible situations, it can be easy to let your mind wander to the hopeless places. But part of what helps us all through those messy, long, hard times is identifying crippling lies that seek to hinder our relational recovery and discovering the truth of who we are, who God is, and what He desires for our marriages.

As you go through each point, ask yourself, “Have I told myself this lie lately? Am I believing this about my marriage?”

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  • 1. “They” have it easy.

    1. “They” have it easy.

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    Anytime you find yourself comparing your marriage with someone else’s, it's a red flag. We can so easily fall into the social media trap where we see a picture of a smiling couple, then create an entire fairytale backstory on why they’re so happy (we can do this off social media, too). We make assumptions about what they have or haven’t encountered. We assume their smiles are genuine. We think because they have x, y, or z, that’s the reason they’re great and since we don’t have that same thing, it’s the reason we’re not. Comparison breeds envy and/or pride, neither of which is healthy for you individually or for your marriage. When you see joy, celebrate it. Allow it fuel your own sense of hope and well-being.

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  • 2. “If he/she really loved me, s/he would ______________.”

    2. “If he/she really loved me, s/he would ______________.”

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    It is true that love must be shown to be known, as my pastor says, but when we box love in with a statement like this, we stifle it. I used this statement with my husband all the time: “If Craig really loved me, he’d stop looking at porn.” Is it loving to look at porn? No. But the amount of his love for me was not enough to surmount his addiction. Loving me wasn’t the cure—he needed an entirely different set of tools to help him overcome a battle that had nothing to do with me.

    TRUTH: Our actions must back up our words, yes. But sometimes what we want our spouse to do, or how we want our spouse to be, requires them to receive additional help, healing, or unpacking of their life experiences. 

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  • 3. Sex isn’t really important.

    3. Sex isn’t really important.

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    God gave us sex as a gift that we get to use to enrich our relationship. Because the world has tainted the holiness of what God intended and because so many of us have experienced abuse in this area, it can be hard to see it as a gift. If you’re struggling with sex, it’s so worth it to pursue health in this area because, at the core, God gave it to us as a precious reminder of our wedding day, when we consummated our relationship. It reminds us of our vows, it helps keep us vulnerable and open to each other, and it keeps us from being just roommates.

    TRUTH: Sex is more than just an endorphin rush. It has a true and lasting impact on your relationship. It’s an opportunity for you to find pleasure in each other, to be fulfilled and to also be selfless.

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  • 4. Our marriage can never recover from ________________.

    4. Our marriage can never recover from ________________.

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    I am continually surprised by what God can do when we let Him into our relationships. I have seen people overcome addictions, adultery, adultery with prostitutes, financial struggles, medical diagnoses, wayward children…you name it. In our wedding vows, our minister quoted Matthew 19:6: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” No one. Nothing. God is working with you and for your marriage. When both parties are open to change, reconciliation, and healing (though most of the time, one person is ready before the other), God can do incredible things.

    TRUTH: It’s not the severity of the sin that determines whether or not recovery is possible, but rather, it is the level of willingness to earn back trust and show forgiveness.

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  • 5. I’ll show you love when you show me love.

    5. I’ll show you love when you show me love.

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    It’s tempting for me to withhold my love from Craig when I feel unloved, when I don’t see him actively loving me in ways that I can perceive. But what happens when we’re locked in a stalemate of who’s going to show love first? One person has to make the first move. It can make you feel very vulnerable to take the first step of loving your spouse well because you’re not sure s/he will respond with love in return. But remember, God’s love for us is unconditional, not contingent on whether you’ve earned it or not. We can use this to empower us to show unconditional love to our spouse.

    We can also broaden our definition of what it means to be shown love. We all have different love languages and it’s easy to dismiss some valid ways of showing love just because they don’t immediately resonate with us. Sometimes we have to take a step back and take in consideration how our spouse may be communicating his/her love.

    TRUTH: Marriage requires us to love even when we don’t feel like it, but God doesn’t expect us to just fake it. He promises to give us what we need so that we can love others well.

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  • 6. My spouse is the only one I’ll ever need. (Or my spouse should fill my every need.)

    6. My spouse is the only one I’ll ever need. (Or my spouse should fill my every need.)

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    There is a reason there is a God-shaped hole in each one of us. No matter how great our spouse is, s/he will never take the place of God. This is by design—His power, His love, and His grace are crucial to our health.

    There is also a reason God loves community and friendship. All over the Bible, you see incredible examples of how God strengths people through their relationships with others. Allowing others into our hearts and lives in order to share ideas and burdens gives us new vantage points in which to see things and is an incredible resource that will enhance, not detract, from your relationship with your spouse.

    TRUTH: Just like it takes a village to raise kids, it also takes a village to sustain marriages. Your spouse is not designed to be your everything, nor are you designed to meet your spouse’s every need.

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  • 7. After the kids are out of the house, then we will focus on us.

    7. After the kids are out of the house, then we will focus on us.

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    Kids can take over your life and your marriage. It’s so easy to become consumed by their development, their activities, and their emotional states (hello, teenage girls). But if you spend eighteen plus years giving your kids all your attention, when they leave the house, you will be left living with a stranger. Think about how much you grow and change in almost two decades? Your partner is changing, too, and his/her development is just as important (if not more) than your kids’.

    TRUTH: Relationships take continual work in order for them to be fruitful and healthy. If you neglect them, they will wither and die.

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  • 8. The most important part of marriage is companionship.

    8. The most important part of marriage is companionship.

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    Friendship is so critical in marriage and it’s a valid reason to get (and stay married). But it’s not the most important. What is? Holiness. God made marriage so that man wouldn’t be alone, yes. But He also created it to be a picture of how much Jesus loves the Church. The way we love each other as married people is supposed to be an example of how much Jesus loves us and wants to care for us. It is a way of witness to the world.

    But this kind of love takes much intention and much sacrifice. Truly loving each other requires selflessness and, oftentimes, confrontation of our own flaws. Our partners often chafe us, but in the long run, they end up refining us, making our rough edges smooth. In essence, we end up looking more like Jesus.

    TRUTH: Marriage is not just about us. It’s about sharing Jesus with the world.

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    Jen Ferguson is a wife, author, and speaker who is passionate about helping couples thrive in their marriages. She and her husband, Craig, have shared their own hard story in their book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornographyand are also creators of the Marriage Matters Prayer Cards. They continue to help couples along in their journeys to freedom and intimacy at The {K}not Project. She’s also a mama to two girls and two high-maintenance dogs, which is probably why she runs. A lot. Even in the Texas heat.