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dna-inception staircaseIs the fear of divorce holding your desire for marriage in a headlock? Maybe even holding it hostage for a million dollar ransom in unmarked bills delivered in an aluminum briefcase?

Then this post is for you.

The far-too-frequent failure of marriage shouldn’t be a mystery. Any number of easy-to-grasp realities explain why marriage in our culture isn’t working.

Why should that make you feel less stress over marriage and divorce? Because once you clearly comprehend what marriage is, what it offers and what it demands then you can confidently and prudently prepare for and discern the call of marriage. No fear necessary. Just faith. And a lot of preparation.

One of the simple explanations for the divorce epidemic is expectation incongruity. Sounds complicated, but it’s a cinch to grasp.

Marriage Expectation Incongruity: Our expectations for what marriage should deliver to us are insanely high, while our expectations for what marriage will demand of us are extremely low.

Unmet expectations always lead to disappointment and frustration, but in other areas of life, we more or less expect that the time and energy we invest in a certain endeavor will be consistent with the benefit we hope to receive.

This is why we spend a minimum of 12+ years in the education system before looking for that perfect job, but we’ll only spend a few minutes writing up a list before grocery shopping. It’s also why we’re only willing to drop a couple bucks at McDonald’s, but we accept the fact that we’re going to give up an entire day’s salary if we want a Ruth Chris’ steak.

However, when it comes to marriage we seem to expect a Ruth Chris’ steak at McDonald’s prices. And that’s why we have divorce.

To grasp the full impact of the incongruent expectations we hold for marriage, consider the thoughts below (and tweet out any or all that speak to you). Which of these expectations do you hold for marriage? Or which ones might you find tempting to believe, or at least hope for?

We expect to have our way and hold onto our rights. And that’s what we mean by “to have and to hold.”

We expect a healthy marriage, but don’t expect to do much to keep it that way. As if that kind of commitment could even keep a plant alive.

We expect marriage to change us because we made a promise, instead of determining that we will change because we made a promise.

We expect marriage to heal all of our brokenness, as if two broken people just magically make one whole.

We expect our partner to mean it when they say, “For better or for worse,” while we hedge our bets.

We expect marital bliss instead of a blessed mission.

We expect a promise to sustain a feeling. As if you could just will your emotions to always feel a certain way.

We expect the right partner will complete us, as if “completion” were just one relationship away.

We expect our marriage to grow richer and richer, and therefore never prepare for the inevitable seasons of “poorer.”

We expect our partner to love us at our worst, while we expect to enjoy their best. Because they love us that much.

We expect feelings to preserve a commitment. As if something as fickle as feelings could even preserve peaches.

We expect marriage to ensure our happiness, as if any one person could do that.

We expect health, even though we promise something about sickness.

We expect the thrill of romance to last unabated.

We expect a commitment to keep us, instead of us keeping the commitment.

We expect marriage to end our loneliness, as if feeling lonely was the result of being single, instead of being human.

We expect that only death will “do us part.” And by that we mean the death of our desire.

We expect marriage will be easy because of the way we feel. After all, how hard can a life-long sacrificial commitment really be?

Every quote above has been previously shared on both:

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OH and click here to check out a post on setting REAListic dating expectations.

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better?  And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!