You’re Being Lied To—The Truth About Marriage And How To Make It Work.

truth about marriage

I hate to break it to you, but you’re likely being lied to about what marriage is, what it’s for, and what makes it work.

What’s worse: 

It’s a pervasive issue, one that often goes unnoticed. Yet, it’s happening all around us, every single day, shaping our perceptions and expectations of marriage. 

The lies are spiraling out from multiple sources, thrown like candy at some hideous parade. They’re flying through the air from your TV shows, your music, CNN, FOX, Facebook, Instagram…and, unfortunately, from some of our most well-meaning friends. 

Why does this matter?

The lies are enticing, and the more you hear them, the more you will be tempted to believe them. And your beliefs about your marriage will eventually turn into your behavior inside of your marriage. 

Your beliefs about marriage hold immense power. They have the potential to shape your behavior within your marriage, giving you the control and empowerment to make it work or luring you down a path of disappointment.

That’s why you must recognize these lies and inebriate yourself in the truth. You read that right: inebriate yourself. Check it out: 

“Don’t be drunk on wine… Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

(Ephesians 5:18).

You’ve got to be under the influence of Truth Himself to spot these counterfeits.   

I want to help you identify the lies about marriage you’ve been exposed to— and then point you to the corresponding truth. As you read the following lies, consider how you’ve been tempted to believe and act on them in your marriage. Then, consider the facts. Think about them. Challenge them. Then, ask God to recalibrate the way you think about your marriage. 

The Lies You’re Believing About Marriage

1. Marriage Solves Our Problems 

Paul Tripp, a well-known pastor, best-selling author, and conference speaker, equates dating and courtship to nothing more than used car sales. I couldn’t agree more. 

When I started dating Star, I seized every opportunity to show off as many of my buffed, waxed strengths as possible. At the same time, I was doing everything in my power to conceal and touch up all of my weaknesses under the hood. I wanted her to like me, to “buy in” to me, and eventually, to sign the contract and marry me. 

As we spent more time together and got to know each other better, it became harder and harder to obscure my faults. This trend increased after the wedding day. Sometimes, I was hoping she wouldn’t classify me as a lemon. It wasn’t too many trips around the block before all my faults were exposed for what they were. 

Truth: Marriage Reveals Our Problems.  

2. Marriage Produces Happiness 

This lie is tricky because it has an element of truth. Marriage has produced some of the happiest times of my life. As I read about what God says about marriage, I think He also desires it to result in happiness. 

But I also believe God desires marriage to produce so much more. 

What could be better than happiness? (This one’s particularly tricky. The pursuit of joy is nearly religious at this point in our culture.) 


That’s what God is up to in our lives. As we change to become more like Christ, he is more glorified. And God’s glory should be the ultimate goal of our lives. What the liars will never tell you: It’s also when we’re the most satisfied, from the soul on out. Because of its most intimate, revealing, secure degree of community, marriage is God’s primary relational means (for those that are married, anyway) to reveal the areas of our life that beg His life-giving change so we can become more like Christ—and as a spectacular bonus, more deeply happy. 

Truth: Marriage should produce change that leads to holiness.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”

Romans 8:29

3. Marriage is Good If You Don’t Argue 

When you join a sinner with another sinner, put them in the same house and bed, and then throw a couple of sinners in the mix…it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s a wonder any of us are making it! Because of this, all marriages will fight. Good marriages know how. 

Get this: Marriages that avoid arguments at all costs are robbing themselves of the good God wants to accomplish through conflict. Conflict is an opportunity to honor God, grow to be like Christ, love each other enough to tell the truth in love, work together more fluidly in the three-legged marriage race, and listen and understand one another’s differing values. Arguments typically expose what’s precious to us—and areas we need to grow in. If we stay away from arguments, we will avoid one of God’s primary means to grow us like Him and toward each other. 

Truth: Marriage is good if you grow through your arguments.

4. Marriage Should Be Easy. 

Based on your knowledge of lies #2 and 3, I’m hopeful this lie is more apparent. I often hear people say, “I get along with everyone else. Why does my spouse think I’m so terrible?” 

The simple but somewhat painful answer? The people at work or church don’t know you as well. If they did, they would struggle with you like your spouse—that close friction that rubs a blister. It’s harder to love someone in all their revealed weaknesses the more you come in contact with them. As you know them better, you’ll spy more of their faults. 

Truth: Marriage will be difficult.

“Those who marry will face many troubles in this life”

1 Corinthians 7:28  

5. Marriage is About a Feeling. 

Marriage has been the source of some of my most pleasant and most painful emotions. Emotions can be like a pinball machine, ricocheting all over the place. They can also be incredibly sinful yet feel so right, so overwhelming. Consequently, they can’t be trusted to determine my love for my spouse. 

Looking back on my marriage, I’m so glad I didn’t act according to some of my most painful or tempting emotions. If I would have, I would be brimming with regret today. Great marriages experience intense emotions, but they aren’t led by them. Great marriages are led by commitment. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien: “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” 

Truth: Marriage is a commitment despite feelings.  

6. Marriage Is About Getting Our Needs Met 

Again, this is challenging because there is a nugget of truth within. God intends for us to engage in life with other people fully; it was God, in the Garden of Eden—when Adam had complete, unmarred intimacy with God, without sin—who said, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

In immersing ourselves with other people, including this most intimate context of marriage, we will support, respect, and appreciate each other. This “need meeting” will result in a certain level of satisfaction. But if we see our spouse primarily as God’s provision to meet our needs, we will be disappointed. Why? Because they won’t ever measure up. They weren’t designed to. Instead of seeing our spouse as someone to meet our needs, God wants us to see them primarily as someone to serve sacrificially. 

Truth: Marriage is about meeting our spouses’ needs.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Philippians 2:3-4  

7. Marriage Should Be 50/50 

A 50/50 marriage implies there is a give and take. You give 50%, I’ll give 50%. It says if you give this amount, I’ll provide the same. Like a contract, right? In a biblical marriage, both spouses should give 100%, 100% of the time, regardless of each other’s performance. Love isn’t about making sure we’re giving equally—and thankfully, it’s not how God loved us, which was blissfully, shockingly asymmetrical (check out Romans 5:8). 

Truth: Marriage should always be about giving 100%.

8. Marriage Is About Acceptance Based on Behavior 

Many people early on in our marriage advised Star and me that we were justified in rejecting each other and the marriage because of how we treated each other. Some declared we both had biblical grounds for divorce because of how we sinned against each other.  

However, another group helped us to part the cultural curtains and glimpse that our acceptance of each other should mirror Christ’s acceptance of us. 

That’s an astonishingly tall order. Christ’s acceptance of us plunges far more profound than our behavior, reaching down to our identity. Christ accepts us because of who we are: His children. Nothing can alter that. God calls a husband and wife to accept each other because of who they are: one flesh in His sight. By marrying one another, we entered a covenant that eclipsed our behavior, extending to our identity. Based on that, Star and I stood by our vows to stay by each other’s side, regardless of behavior

Truth: Marriage is about accepting despite behavior.

”Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.” 

Romans 15:7

9. Marriage Is About Equal Rights 

Equal rights assume marriage should be fair. 

Hear me: If you’re striving for a fair marriage, it won’t work. Fair marriages fail. (Remember the 50/50 lie?) 

They’re about everyone getting and giving the same. Fair marriages are based on judgment rather than generosity and mercy. They’re closer to a business deal that goes sour because of a partner who doesn’t follow through. 

Let me ask you. Which one of us consistently and faultlessly performs up to standard? 

Equal rights assume that we deserve more than what we think. The truth is we don’t deserve anything—anything, that is, but death. The Bible’s pretty clear that death is what we have coming to us when we sin. And anything we receive from God or our spouse is an undeserved gift. 

Focusing on our rights in marriage will always lead to rebellion. We focus on our rights or what we think we deserve from our spouse because we don’t believe God will take care of us in the way we think we need to be taken care of. It’s a focus on our achievement… and the scary accompanying truths…than trust in the God who loves us far past our behavior.   

When a husband and wife trust God with their rights, sheltering beneath God’s protective wings, they are free to focus on their responsibilities within the security of grace. 

Truth: Marriage is about surrendering your rights to God and trusting him to provide.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place…”

Philippians 2:5-11  

10. Marriage Is Motivated By Our Spouse’s Love 

We will be motivated to love our spouses in return for how they love us. But If this is the only time we love them, our marriages will be destroyed. Think about if both a husband and wife have this attitude. If a husband and wife only love each other to the degree they are being loved, their love will eventually die. All it would take is for one spouse to produce a bad day, and their love for each other would instantly be short-circuited. But when we love our spouse in response to God’s perfect love for us, we have an unending supply of motivation. 

Truth: Marriage is motivated by Christ’s love for us.

“We love because he first loved us.” 

John 4:19

11. Marriage is a contract 

A contract can only be broken if one partner performs as promised. If this were the biblical truth concerning marriage, both Star and I would have had legal grounds for divorce within the first week of our relationship! In a covenant, both spouses agree to fulfill their promise regardless of whether the other spouse does or doesn’t. Why is marriage a covenant and not a contract? Marriage is a picture of Christ’s covenant of love for us. 

Truth: Marriage is a covenant.

“The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”

Malachi 2:14

12. Marriage is About Showing Love So We Can Be Loved in Return 

Loving your spouse isn’t enough. Loving your spouse with a pure heart is. Caring for our spouse to receive love can be selfish at times. The motive behind our passion should be to genuinely care for our spouse for their benefit, not our own. Ultimately, our love should be precipitated by desiring to bring glory to God. 

Truth: Marriage is about the motivations of our hearts.

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

13. Marriage is About Trusting Our Spouse 

Trust is a vital characteristic of any healthy marriage. But the reality is we aren’t trustworthy. I trust my wife, and my wife trusts me. But we don’t trust each other 100%. We would be fools to. I think we would be sinful to do so. God is the only Person unfailingly and seamlessly faithful. Jesus, John tells us, “would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all people” (John 2:24). 

Star and I both desire to be trustworthy but accept the reality that the disease of sin still cripples us at times. We will fail each other. But in the midst of us failing each other, we can look to the only One who is genuinely trustworthy and find peace. 

Truth: Marriage is about trusting God.

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man… That person will be like a bush in the wastelands… But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends its roots by the stream.”

Jeremiah 17:5,7

14. Marriage Should Run Away From Suffering 

My most intense time of suffering occurred when Star’s and my marriage was days away from being rolled into its coffin. The pain was more intense than anything I had ever experienced. 

But looking back, it was also the best thing that ever happened to me. As a result of that season of suffering, Star and I both were strengthened and sanctified in ways only possible because of what we went through. It’s the reason why I’m able to write to you. 

In our culture of insurance, Novocaine, and refunds, somehow, we expect less and less to encounter hardship. But suffering is an entirely unavoidable element of life on earth. It’s a part of marriage. And it’s part of God’s plan for our growth. 

Truth: Marriage should embrace suffering.*

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Romans 5:3-4  

15. Marriage is About Loving Until it Hurts 

When you love perfectly, you will be taken advantage of. You will be laughed at. Your “spreadsheet” of love will always be in the red, giving more than it receives from all others except God. 

I know this by looking at Christ’s life. He loved perfectly, yet he endured all these things, which carried him all the way to a bloody, splintering cross. 

That’s what true love looks like. Loving perfectly doesn’t guarantee being loved perfectly in return. It sometimes results in the opposite. We must be willing to die daily to our perception of what we deserve. Perfect love is hard, hurts, and is willing to die to self. 

Truth: Marriage is about loving to the point of dying to self.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:13

16. Marriage is About finding Satisfaction In Each Other 

Maybe Jerry Maguire dialed this one up a notch with that fateful, melting phrase: “You complete me.” What’s the issue with this one? 

It implies—dangerously—that another human being can completely satisfy us. Remember, you’re married to a sinner. A sinner is not able to completely satisfy you. Without exception, they will disappoint. All the time! Only a perfect person can completely satisfy. 

That perfect person is Jesus. Jesus completes us. He satisfies us. Not our spouse. 

Truth: Perfect satisfaction is found in Christ alone.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

2 Peter 1:3

17. Marriage is About Assigning Percentages of Blame 

When we assign carefully calculated portions of blame, we typically use it to justify withholding love. This is especially true in conflict. If we believe our spouse is more wrong, it’s only fair to wait for them to take responsibility for their part before we address any minor contributions of our own, right? 

No. The Bible calls us to humbly accept and repent for 100% of our actions, regardless of who’s at fault. And here’s the kicker: We always underestimate our junk’s impact on others. 

Truth: Marriage is about accepting full responsibility for our contributions regardless of our spouses’ ownership.

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Matthew 7:5

18. Marriage is About Us 

If there’s a common thread among all the lies about marriage, it’s this one. We think marriage is about us. 

It’s not. 

We will struggle in our marriage to the degree we believe it is for our benefit. 

Plain and simple, marriage is about God. It was created by Him, is sustained by Him, models the “marriage” between Christ and His church, and is for His glory. Our marriages exist for His name’s sake. When our marriages exist for a purpose above Him—an idol—they careen into misdirected chaos. 

Truth: Marriage is about bringing glory to God. 

“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen”

Romans 11:36  

How To Make Your Marriage Work

Your marriage is struggling because you are believing one of these lies. 

I know this isn’t very counselor-like, but I have a message from your spouse and God. 


Yes, living out a truthful perspective of marriage will be difficult, painful, and demanding. It will require you to stop serving yourself and start serving God and your spouse. And I know it goes against every thought (Isaiah 55:9) and inclination in your body (Genesis 6:5). It’s nothing short of supernatural. 

But regardless of how your spouse responds, there is rich, profoundly satiating joy on the other side (Habakkuk 3:17-19). I know this according to the truth in God’s Word—but I also know because as I started to believe and apply these truths to my nearly-dead marriage twenty years ago, I found joy. Joy I’ll never have the capacity to express in any book—in any words. 

I didn’t find joy in my marriage, but I found joy in knowing that I was serving my Savior in response to what He had sacrificed for me.   

The Creator of marriage has defined the truth about marriage. And He desperately wants you to believe everything He says about it is true. 

As you reject these lies and believe and act on these corresponding truths, your marriage will be primed to experience mutual caregiving and intimacy the way God designed it. 

And having tasted it throughout the years—I can tell you it’s pretty spectacular! 


*Every marriage should be willing to endure suffering, but biblical suffering doesn’t include any type of abuse. Please note that our posts are not meant as specific advice for those in abusive relationships unless specifically mentioned. If you are in an abusive relationship, we strongly recommend that you seek the appropriate help needed to understand what love looks like in response to your situation.

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