The Number 1 Marriage Killer

photo credit: David Legg

You’ve been to this wedding. Two of your friends are totally in love. Life for them is a dream. No two people could be more compatible. He finishes her sentences. She sends him to work with lunches tucked with love notes for him to find.

A year later, you ask how her marriage is doing. You listen, but some of her comments cause you to raise your brows. Phrases like, “he’s not not home enough,” “he doesn’t do <insert need here> for me.”  Two years later, you hear they are filing for divorce. Ouch.

Mismatched Expectations

The Lie: In the movie Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise’s character declares his love to Dorothy (played by Renée Zellweger) saying, “you complete me.” And all the ladies in the room went “aaaaawe.” Oh, the romance.

The Truth: Truth is, no one can complete us but God.

photo credit: Entertainment Weekly

Jerry Maguire had it wrong. This fictional relationship was grounded on the expectation of “my partner will complete me.” If we’re not careful, we’ll believe the lie that if my spouse loves me, he will meet my needs.  We see marriages start off like this all the time.

Let’s examine this. An expectation is something you look forward to that you regard likely to happen. Life happens, kids arrive, schedules get busy, and suddenly that spouse can no longer complete the other. The false expectation isn’t met, and the two people begin to doubt if they were even meant for each other.

The Number 1 Marriage Killer: Idolatry

Idolatry is any thing or person that we use to meet a need that only God can meet. Chip Judd has a great talk on how idolatry kills a marriage.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving-kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”   NASB, Exodus 20:2-4

An idol can be our spouse, or dare I say, even our children. That’s a tough one. I’ve witnessed a few loved one’s marriage dissolve because the wife placed her children in front of God and her husband.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength,and whose heart turns away from the Lord.'” NASB, Jeremiah 17:5

Who do you look for to meet your needs? The Lord is explicit, we cannot depend on man to meet our needs. Who do you look to? Your spouse? Kids? Job? Where do you look to feel good about yourself? If the answer is any thing or anyone else than God, they will fail you. No one is perfect. Only God is perfect (Job 37:16).

There’s Always Hope. The cool thing about God is there’s always hope. God always gives us a way out “if” we turn from our sins, even the sin of idolatry.

If… “My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  NASB, 2 Chronicles 7:14

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” NASB John 7:37-38

The Number 1 Marriage Killer-Preventer: Fullness from God
Fill your love tank with God. The bible says “the one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). You can’t fully love your spouse unconditionally unless you first receive that unconditional love from God.

Spend quality time with the Father with bible study and prayer. He will fill your love tank, and out of your completeness you can pour into your spouse. Chip Judd says our goal is to “not take from one another in our emptiness, but to fill one another with your fullness.” That’s when something beautiful happens. The couple serves one another out of unconditional love. It’s awesome.

Resources:  Here links are 2 talks Chip Judd gave at our church.
Marriage Killers: One True Love by Chip Judd
Marriage Killers: Chip Judd Follow-up

Photo credits: David Legg Photography, Entertainment Weekly

related post: No phone zone

15 thoughts on “The Number 1 Marriage Killer

    • Congratulations! I hope to say that one day. “I’ve been married twenty years”. Got any tips for this ‘young one’? I love to soak up wisdom from those who have been there.

    • Well, I am no expert, but just be aware that it is a lot of hard work. Stay open to each other, lean on each other and be there for the others to lean on you. Always keep in mind when things get tough, that God does not give us more than we can handle, and when we feel like it is, lean on God. The poem Footprints is my favorite and I remember it often. You also have to stop and appreciate all the little moments of joy or the times of peace when you think nothing can go wrong. The more you appreciate these, the easier it will be to get through the hard times, because you know better times are coming. And laugh. When you feel like crying, laugh. Your sense of the absurd will soar to new heights, especially with twins! I look forward to watching your journey through your blog!

  1. This is so true! I too had false expectations for my marriage and had to learn the hard way where I was wrong. It is funny because even when I would attend weddings of our friends I would get lost in the “aura of love”. I would sometimes leave resenting my own marriage and thinking I didn’t belong because we didn’t have all that fluff! I’m thankful God worked on me and showed me the truth. He redirected my heart and allowed me to focus on the true things. Now after 10 years I can catch myself when I get off track in my thinking. Thanks for this reminder.

  2. Reblogged this on Atlantamomofthree and commented:
    What truth!! I love this article because it is all about the Lord, not what we do or how we can keep our marriage strong. He is the one who brought us together and united us, and He will keep us together as long as we also remain in Him.

  3. I’ve never had expectations of what my relationship would be like with my love but thanks to my parents getting divorced when I was a child and creating 3 rather messed up kids I know that thos fights we have and disagrements are actually a good thing because WE (unlike my parents) use them to get back on track, touch base with what we both need out of our relationship and they help us grow. My first boyfriend had a “marriage until it ends in divorce” mentality and it still saddens me to think of how little he’ll bother to work at any relationship. Some divorces are a good thing but too many are avoidable and leave a trail of messed up people.

    • Yea, divorce can mess children up. Both my husband and i came from divorced families. Therefore, we took awhile to decide to get married and are really committed to making it work. Glad you use your disagreements to grow in your relationship. Building intimacy is a good thing, even if we disagree! 🙂 I appreciate your comments!

  4. Great post! We’ve been married over 5 years, and it’s amazing how things seem to click when you’re in a relationship where one person isn’t constantly trying to satisfy the needs of the other person. I also agree that putting kids before your spouse is a recipe for trouble. I love coming home and having great dinner conversation with my husband!

  5. This such a great post. God bless you. I am a strict monotheist and absolutely love the fact that you put your trust & faith in only God. Again, God bless you for the reminder and the wonderful post. ::hugs::

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