It only takes a couple episodes of popular TV shows to see that what culture says about relationships, sex, and marriage is not the same thing the Bible says. Attraction seems to be the only requirement to jump into bed with someone, but even that’s not always a requirement. The order of things isn’t really important: meet someone, sleep together, move in together… then maybe get married somewhere down the line. Culture presents us with a compelling package, but what does research say? Are the guidelines set up for us in the Bible really that helpful?
Here are 5 cultural myths we found about relationships:
1. Living together is a good test-run for marriage.
It may seem like a good idea to “try things out” and move in together before getting married. This is becoming more and more common in our culture. However, studies also show that couples who don’t move in together until they’re married have a higher chance of staying together than those who don’t¹. The beauty of the marriage covenant is that you have the safety of someone who is committed to staying by your side for life, not leaving when things get tough.
2. If I get some “practice” with other people beforehand, I’ll have better sex when I’m married.
Usually, practice is a big help. Sports, music, art, and even jobs all take some time and experience to get better. However, practice doesn’t actually help when it comes to sex before marriage. A recent study interviewed a variety of married couples and found that those who waited to have sex until married rated sexual quality 15% higher than those who had sex before marriage². The practice comes in after you’re married. You don’t have to be great at having sex with everyone, you can just get great at having sex with one person: your spouse.
3. I need to have sex with my partner before marriage to make sure we’ll be happy together.
Sex is an important part of marriage, but it’s not everything. According to the same study mentioned above, people who waited until marriage to have sex rated their overall satisfaction with their relationships 20% higher than those who didn’t². There are many aspects that add to relationship satisfaction and even sexual compatibility such as trust, history, commitment, etc. The physical act is only a part of something that involves not only your body, but your spirit, soul, and mind as well. All of these things add to a great relationship and a great sex life.
4. Community is not that big of a deal.
“It’s us against the world,” makes for a pretty romantic movie line, but it’s not necessarily the best mindset for entering a marriage. Being surrounded by an entire community of family and friends to help guide you, give you wisdom, support you, and walk you through the tougher parts of marriage is a huge help. Studies show that couples who have a lot of friends and family attend their wedding tend to rate the quality of their marriage higher than those with lower numbers³.
5. Half of marriages end in divorce.
This statistic became wide-spread in our culture. Although there are many different ways of looking at the divorce rate, most researchers agree that it’s not as simple as the statistic above would lead us to believe. In Shaunti Feldhahn’s book The Good News About Marriage, she tells us that research shows 71% of women are still married to their first spouse, and among those who are not still married are widowed, not divorced4. Her book goes on to share other encouraging statistics about marriage.
God knows sex is powerful. He designed it to be that way. He created it to bond two people together in a way that nothing else does. If God is the inventor of sex, marriage, and relationships, then why look to culture for advice on how to do these things well? Why not look to the One who designed it? He’s the Father who cares enough to set boundaries, and loves us enough to gives us a standard. Even as culture and times change from one day to the next, He remains the same.