Here’s some practical, counter-cultural advice on how to make marriage work.
This article is adapted from Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s new book, Preparing for Marriage Devotions for Couples, published by Regal Books.
For many years, e-mails have circulated the country with the outline of a speech attributed to Microsoft founder Bill Gates titled “11 Rules You Won’t Learn in School About Life.” It turns out that Gates never wrote these words nor did he deliver the speech—it was all taken from an article written by Charles J. Sykes in 1996. And it really doesn’t matter that Gates wasn’t involved, because the piece does a great job of unmasking how feel-good, politically-correct teachings have created a generation of kids with a false concept of reality.
I thought I’d not only pass on these rules, but also make a few of my own—on marriage.
First, here are the 11 rules of life that you won’t learn in school:
Rule 1: Life is not fair—get used to it!
Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will not make $60,000 per year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping—they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault. So don’t whine about your mistakes; learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes, and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you “find yourself.” Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
After reading this piece, I was inspired to take a crack at something I’d been chewing on: “11 Rules on Marriage You Won’t Learn in School.”
Rule 1: Marriage isn’t about your happiness. It’s not about you getting all your needs met through another person. Practicing self-denial and self-sacrifice, patience, understanding, and forgiveness are the fundamentals of a great marriage. If you want to be the center of the universe, then there’s a much better chance of that happening if you stay single.
Rule 2: Getting married gives a man a chance to step up and finish growing up. The best preparation for marriage for a single man is to man up now and keep on becoming the man God created him to be.
Rule 3: It’s okay to have one rookie season, but it’s not okay to repeat your rookie season. You will make rookie mistakes in your first year of marriage; the key is that you don’t continue making those same mistakes in year five, year 10, or year 20 of your marriage.
Rule 4: It takes a real man to be satisfied with and love one woman for a lifetime. And it takes a real woman to be content with and respect one man for a lifetime.
Rule 5: Love isn’t a feeling. Love is commitment. It’s time to replace the “D-word”—divorce—with the “C-word”—commitment. Divorce may feel like a happy solution, but it results in long-term toxic baggage. You can’t begin a marriage without commitment. You can’t sustain one without it either. A marriage that goes the distance is really hard work. If you want something that is easy and has immediate gratification, then go shopping or play a video game.
Rule 6: Online relationships with old high school or college flames, emotional affairs, sexual affairs, and cohabiting are shallow and illegitimate substitutes for the real thing. Emotional and sexual fidelity in marriage are the real thing.
Rule 7: Women spell romance R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P. Men spell romance S-E-X. If you want to speak romance to your spouse, become a student of your spouse, enroll in a lifelong “Romantic Language School,” and become fluent in your spouse’s language.
Rule 8: During courtship, opposites attract. After marriage, opposites can repel each another. You married your spouse because he/she is different. Differences are God’s gift to you to create new capacities in your life. Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different.
Rule 9: Pornography robs men of a real relationship with a real person and it poisons real masculinity, replacing it with the toxic killers of shame, deceit, and isolation. Pornography siphons off a man’s drive for intimacy with his wife. Marriage is not for wimps. Accept no substitutes.
Rule 10: As a home is built, it will reflect the builder. Most couples fail to consult the Master Architect and His blueprints for building a home. Instead a man and woman marry with two sets of blueprints (his and hers). As they begin building, they discover that a home can’t be built from two very different sets of blueprints.
Rule 11: How you will be remembered has less to do with how much money you make or how much you accomplish and more with how you have loved and lived.
Pass on the rules to a friend who will enjoy them!