Bigfoot. The Loch Ness Monster. The Hover Board from the 1989 classic Back to the Future 2.
All myths. All cool ideas (especially the hover board) but nothing to validate the claims to their existence. Similarly, I’ve run across a few myths regarding love, marriage and romance. These myths continually resurface like pictures of Bigfoot on the internet, as men and women make their way down the path of romance. Here are a few I’ve identified, I hope this helps bring your romantic interest back into reality!
1. The Myth of “Falling in Love”
I have issues with the term “falling in love.” The notion that love is something that just happens between a man and a woman because of fate or maybe a Christianized version of fate. I believe love is a choice made in and through EXPERIENCE. We don’t "fall in love." Falling implies being out of control or accidental or even deceived (similar to how we use the term, “he fell for the prank”). I do believe you can fall into infatuation or fall into lust, you can certainly fall into temptation - but you don’t fall into love. This myth seems to disregard the kind of love we see described in the Bible. First, the Bible presents love in the context of God’s love for us. 1 John 4:19 "We love because He first loved us." It is in and through our experience with God’s love that we find the ability to love our spouse. Also, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 serves as a north star of sorts in our understanding of love. Those famous first three words set the tone for each of the 16 qualities of love described in this passage, "Love is patient.” Have you ever fallen into patience? Is patience what “sweeps you off your feet!?” The risk of this myth is thinking that love is out of our control. This kind of thinking undermines the durability of our marriages. “Falling in love” does more damage to marriage than it strengthens marriage. Under the influence of this myth, all it takes to kill a marriage is to, “fall out of love.” Marriage suffers when people treat love only as a feeling/emotion versus a conscience choice in the face of imperfection.
2. The Myth of “The One”
This myth has been popularized by TV and movies. Everyone seems to be looking for “the one.” (Remember, people are still looking for the Loch Ness Monster too.) I’ve grown up in churches that teach this as if it’s THE Biblical stance on love, romance and marriage. I disagree. I believe this myth has more to do with our fears than anything else.
It’s a convenient, comforting ideology. If there’s a “perfect one” out there for me, then I won’t ever need to change or deal with my imperfections. Fears of feeling like a failure or being unwanted or left alone create the hope that there is someone “meant to be” for me. Granted, I would never want someone to have those painful feelings of being unloved or unwanted or alone, however, believing this myth stands to create more harm than good.
It assumes that God (or some other invisible matchmaker) is most concerned with your happiness. I get it, the idea that God or fate is hand-selecting your mate sounds foolproof; it comforts you to think that because Almighty God did the picking, it’s predestined to work. When you finally find “the one” your work is done! I believe there are potentially multiple people any one person could marry and enjoy a lasting, God-honoring, fulfilling marriage. I know this doesn’t sound as romantic as finding your “soulmate” (another term I don’t like). however, I think it is far more romantic to say, “I choose you” than to say, “God made me marry you."
Ultimately, “the one” does exist, but just not like most people think. “The one” is the one you choose to marry. God’s sovereignty and providence are certainly factors but the choice is ours to make. Your choice matters. The difference in uncertainty and knowing for sure is choosing. You know when you decide.
3. The Myth of Compatibility
Compatibility defined: able to exist, live or work together without conflict – this definition is impossible in marriage anyway! Again, this is a myth built on the idea that if you find someone who is compatible enough with you, you eliminate the risk of problems. Obviously, there are a few basic requirements God establishes for marriage: same God, opposite sex and a lifelong commitment. This idea that you must like all of the same movies or music is foolish. That’s like saying, “my love and commitment is contingent on how much we have in common." People change too much for this kind of thinking. And this myth empowers a selfish perspective that if acted upon can help justify leaving a marriage on grounds of “not enough compatibility.” This myth also drives the idealism that you must look around to find someone that fits you perfectly. The truth is every healthy relationship will require you to change. No one wants to be with someone who is unwilling to be influenced by the relationship. Compatibility is another attempt to protect you happiness, appease your fears and take the focus on what you want instead of what God wants.
4. The Myth of “the Checklist”
How arrogant to assume that you know what you really want, much less what you need. You must be careful not to make the grave assumption that you know what is in your best interest all the time. This arrogance combined with the fear of missing out causes you to develop a checklist of attitudes, actions and affinities to ensure that you get everything you want. Again, similar to compatibility, you base your view of marriage solely on what you stand to gain versus what you must give. Many will end up missing out on wonderful opportunities for marriage because of the myth that you know what you want and need.
Consider the following statements as items you’d NEVER see on a pre-marriage checklist…but maybe you should!
“A woman who will expect me change some bad habits.”
“A man who won’t let me get away with my selfishness.”
“A woman who won’t let me settle for being less than the man God wants me to be”
“A man who will do what’s right, even if I disagree with him.”
Trust me, what you want 10 years from now will be different than what you think you want today. Trash the checklist and make a choice!
5. The Myth of Predicting the future
Humans have never been good at this. We need to be careful not to place unrealistic expectation on ourselves or someone else because of a lack of certainty about the future. God’s definition of love makes room for the imperfections of all of us – Love considers the human factor. You do not have to predict the behavior, commitment levels, feelings, compatibility or attitudes of someone for the rest of your lives right now. This myth shows up very strong during the stages of seriously dating and engagement. When you reach that place where you are truly contemplating a lifelong marriage commitment it’s very easy to let fear get the best of you and attach the phrase, “for the rest of my life” to everything your significant other might say or do. The truth is, none of us can predict the future. This is why marriage is lived one day at a time and the only power you have to build a good marriage is always in your court, nothing can stop you from choosing love.
6. The Myth of Wasted effort
No act of love is ever wasted. Sometimes, even after your best efforts, a relationship fails. You may then begin to think that you wasted time or effort. There is no such thing as wasted love. Every time you love, you promote the value of people and remind them of their worth to God and to others. God is love and anytime you love, you reflect Him toward others and you display the best version of yourself.
I hope this post helps you think through your romantic journey more clearly. Dump the myths. Choose love. No excuses!