Marriage Myths — We Don’t Have Anything in Common

Harvest Moon (click for image source)

Last week I wrote about a marriage myth I’ve been hearing lately – I never really loved her/him. It’s been tossed around effortlessly by friends, folks looking for an out.

But is debunking that myth enough to protect a marriage? Evidently not. Truth is, if one lie doesn’t get you, another might. After all, Butch Cassidy drew a six-shooter not single shot Derringer. Or so they say.

Marriage Myth No. 2 – We don’t have anything in Common.

It’s the second myth we’ve heard too often, one used to justify separation and divorce. I know that relationships are complicated and people change over time, don’t get me wrong. But in those early years, there was enough commonality to lead both to the altar, right? That kind of commonality does not disappear over night.

Today I’m strapping on some relational Kevlar; I’m bullet proofing here. I’m Exploring this second myth and debunking it in my own marriage. And I’m writing it down because memorializing the truth in the good times protects you from believing a lie in the tough times.

And Mr. Cassidy, you can have my box car, but you can’t take my marriage.

***

When we were in our early twenties, we created commonality. You played Ben Harper, told me to get past those bawdy lyrics and listen to his slide guitar. I played Patty Griffin, asked you to listen to the layering in that song about Tony. We met in the middle, opened ourselves to the possibility that the other’s music was the best.

We fought hard to make common memories. On Valentine’s Day you tracked down a risky present, made me drive into the back alley of a Memphis tattoo parlor so that you could pick up that Cuban Cigar at 10:00 sharp. I’m still not sure how you set that up, but I remember the excitement, the racing heart, the running getaway car. You handled it so coolly, knocking on graffitied back door and making the exchange with graffitied biker . It was almost too much for my twenty-one years of Baptist upbringing. That was sexy, Lady.

We were helpless wanderers, hapless explorers. We shared the common struggle of each other.

We made vows with God and each other. Till death do us part, we said. Then we walked out to a Gaelic tune.

The ties of covenant are our most permanent commonality.

We shared peach brandy on our honeymoon night, slithered shamelessly into a rented bed. We woke to fresh coffee and a new start. We shared a blank slate, a multitude of possibilities.

We grew to love the deep south, the Spanish moss that hung like stagnant smoke from cypress branches, the way the sun wakes the Bayou, and how the wood ducks tie sky and water together. We watched flying squirrels at night. We watched my grandparents dance the jitterbug to Louis Armstrong.

We choked and gasped our way through burned out Christianity, each begging the other for a fresh taste of Jesus, each finding the inability to deliver. We were common in our failure, too. I’m not proud of that, but it’s true.

We found the hope of redemption in a piece of key lime pie in Fort Lauderdale.

We found actual redemption in the arms of a right good church and the birth of our first son. Jesus has this infinite sense of timing, I think. We both know that.

We have grown together, have been saved together, are continually sanctified together. And ultimately, at the end of the day, we are in covenant together.

Last night, you dragged me out to see the Harvest Moon. We stood for less than a minute and looked into the sky, both in wonder. I patted your rear and kissed you on the lips. It’s those small moments that remind me.

We share the same hope of glory.

***

Finding commonality takes intentionality, sometimes. But intentionality is where the holy work of marriage begins. Have you taken a moment to remember your common experiences or celebrate your common interests lately? Have you written it down? It may take a little work, but debunking myths before they take hold is easier than repairing a marriage after the myths have rooted down deep.

And in the end, isn’t marriage worth all the effort?

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12 Responses to Marriage Myths — We Don’t Have Anything in Common

  1. Rae says:

    I’m tearing up. Beautiful. I think this is one that I could be susceptible – thanks for the push to think on it and find our common ground.

  2. Lindsey says:

    This is beautiful, Seth. Love it.

  3. Nascardad says:

    Seth,

    This reminds me of a family friend with four boys. His faith was contagious, but he had problem. He came to my dad about three years before the last boy left home.

    “Bud, I don’t know what I’m going to do when Ty goes to college. I just don’t have anything in common with Maggie anymore. I’m really concerned.”

    My Dad – “Garret, do you love the Lord?”

    “Yes, with all my heart.”

    “Do you believe marriage is for a life time?”

    “Yes.”

    “Well Garret, you better get to work figuring out now what you have in common with Maggie and find out quick. You ain’t got much time. If I was you, I’d start with why you fell in love with her to begin with. I’ll be praying for you.”

    That was over twenty years ago. Garret fell in love with Maggie all over again and they are still going strong and honoring God!

    • sethhaines says:

      This is good, T. Really, man. The dude in your story saw the problem coming and met it head on. I love it when people get in front of a problem. I reckon that’s called proactivity.

      Thanks for sharing this one.

  4. Thank you, this is so true. As I also said in my latest post, we have a responsibility to make marriage work. It can be totally the right person we are married to, but if we don’t make any effort to make it work, it will eventually fall..

  5. Janna says:

    “It may take a little work, but debunking myths before they take hold is easier than repairing a marriage after the myths have rooted down deep.”

    Oh, I want this printed on a t-shirt, or stitched in thread. Heck, I’d hand it out on the street corners if you put it in a pamphlet. Thanks for this series, Seth.

    • sethhaines says:

      Janna,

      I have a better idea… tattoo it on John’s forehead. It’ll be a permanent reminder to you and he’ll join the likes of other face tatters like Mike Tyson and AI. Now that’s the Truth.

      Glad you stopped by here. If’n you do make a shirt, stich’n (or face tat) send me a pic.

      Oh yeah… and Jonnies and Ronnies… there’s always them. Tell ’em hey.

  6. Troy says:

    Great series, man. Preach–I love it.

  7. Dad Haines says:

    Seth, this is an important book. Get it , read it. You can use it to help a lot of people. You will be surprised . ” happy together ” by Bill Cloke, PhD . May explain a lot of things to you

    Would love to discuss with you in Oct.

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