Why Marriages Fail

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord…25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;    Ephesians 5: 22 & 25

Wedding RingsA lot of people get themselves in a twist over this chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. They get stuck on the idea of wives being submissive and don’t ever seem to make it to verse 25, which tells husbands they should practice the same, selfless, sacrificial love toward their wives as Christ practiced for us, His church.

So husbands have the duty to put their wives above themselves, and wives should respond in loving submission and respect for their husband’s selfless love.

In short, it’s about “You First” instead of “Me First” for both partners in a marriage.

Enter Dr. Finkel from Northwestern University, Department of Social Psychology. His October 2 headline for the London Daily Mail: Why modern relationships fail: Psychologist says we expect too much from our partners and should lower our standards

He makes both some good points and horrendous points in the article. I’ll classify the article overall as something a bit more toward the horrendous side just because it’s overall focus, as written, is completely wrong.  You can tell from the title that the focus is self, not other.  If that’s your starting place, you can’t help going wrong.  But let’s take this one point at a time.

Holding Door

You first…

We expect too much from our partners? Wrong focus.  This is the WIIFM question – What’s In It For Me?  In a bible-based marriage, the question is “What can I do for you?”  The expectation is that we will seek to work with our spouse out of love.  If both people do that, a lot of problems will go away.


…people are expecting their partners to be everything to them.  No argument from me there.

Dr Finkel says in order to have a happy relationship we need to ask less from this person and think of ways in which our friendships could give us more.  Let’s say he’s getting warm here. His problem is that the focus is still on self.  I think that strong marriages include a circle of friends.  Friends are the “swizzle sticks” that stir our marriages,  They add other dimensions, other stimuli to all of our relationships.  Marriages make friendships better and friendships make marriages better.

DancingIf you read my article, Activation, you might recall the idea that families develop their own “dances,” a set of stimulus/response patterns that become ingrained and, over the years, become almost unbreakable.  The additional input from a good circle of friends helps introduce new steps into our family “dances” and helps keep ALL of our relationships fresh.

This means scheduling in time to do things together – and stop trying to do relationships ‘on the cheap’, he said.  Absolutely!  I’ve seen too many couples with his and her friends and doing more things apart than together.  You and your spouse are a team.  Do things together!  Do you maybe want to do things on your own at times?  That’s good, but don’t let that become the majority of the time!

‘The idea of the book is that the changing nature of our expectations of marriage have made more marriages fall short of expectations, and therefore disappoint us’, Dr Finkel said.  Agreed!  But what should our expectations be?  Ephesians 5 lays it out pretty well.

‘There’s no shame at all in thinking of ways that you can ask less.  Well, OK, sort of.  Again, his focus is on self and how much we can healthily get from our partner.  His statement comes from a point of selfishness, perhaps greed.  I could almost hear someone asking themselves, “What can I get away with getting from my spouse?”  The question should be more about what can I do FOR my spouse?

Story Photo: Patient Picture

Not me, but similar to my walk from ICU to Step Down

When I had bypass surgery I was determined to be the staff’s favorite patient. I do NOT buy into the current social attitude of “I’m the customer, and you need to kiss my butt!”  My attitude is that you’ll help me, if I help you first.  And I don’t mean just a little, token effort!  They told me walking was the best thing I could do to aid my own recovery, so I walked.  I did what they asked and never complained.  About anything.


Believe me, you have no idea how tiring walking is after having your chest cracked open for heart surgery, but I did it. More than one staff told me that I was the “walkingest” patient they’d ever had; they might charge me extra just to replace the carpet I was wearing out!

Those people took care of me!  I never had to ask for anything from them, because they wanted to help someone who was being such a great partner in his own recovery!

If that sort of giving effort gets that kind of response from total strangers for just a few days, imagine how that servant attitude can affect your marriage for decades!

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:… 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

One thought on “Why Marriages Fail

  1. Pingback: Unforgettable | Jeffrey H. King's Blog

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