I get deeply frustrated at all the couples who are settling for a bad marriage; or a poor marriage, or even an okay marriage. Why would people do this? Why would they accept a shadow of what they could have?
My conclusion is that people settle for one or both of two reasons: fear and ignorance.
Ignorance: I don’t mean stupidity, I mean just not knowing it can be any better. When I was growing up my parents had a fair marriage – not great, but not bad. Most others I saw were worse off than my parents, some much worse off. For some reason (I blame God), I felt there had to be something better. I had no example, but I believed it. When our marriage had problems, I did not accept them as inevitable or unsolvable; I was sure we could work through them and come out the other end with an even better marriage. And you know what, that’s what happened, over and over. I lived what I believed was possible.
The point here is that you are very unlikely to have a better marriage if you are not convinced that you can have a better marriage. Take my word for it, or ask God to put it in your heart as He did with me, but find a way to believe it can be better – far, far better.
Fear: I think some people would rather succeed at poor than risk failing at great. I think others want deniability – if they try to make the marriage better and fail, they worry they will be blamed for a divorce. Even if they are sure doing nothing will end in divorce, they would rather wait for the divorce than try to make it better and risk being blamed. I don’t know how to help someone overcome such fears, other than maybe by helping them see it’s possible, and thus changing the odds in their mind.
A friend of mine often quotes President Harry S Truman “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Let me change that to “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care if you get the blame.”
Bottom line: PLEASE stop settling! I’m begging you, there is so much more. Marriage need not be a battle ground, or boring, or just barely better than being single. Marriage can be deeply enjoyable and satisfying, a source of comfort and joy. Even if things are ugly now, it can change, and a change in your attitude and belief will start that change.
Speaking of change, my bride and I are looking to go into marriage ministry full time. You can help us by becoming a micro-donor.