Hollywood and greeting cards have hijacked society’s perceptions about romance and marriage. The old grumpy couple in your community who have been married for decades has been replaced by an unattainable knight in shiny armor and his perfect princess. The misconceptions of what marriage is about undergird misguided courtship practices. Men want to marry the princess even though they are not a knight, and women are waiting for the knight yet they are no princess. Instead of looking for a principled, responsible man, women find themselves in search of a man who buys them flowers. In turn, men think buying her flowers makes him the perfect guy.

In popular culture, marriage revolves around the two individuals and that their love for each is supreme—nothing else matters. When marriage is perceived this way, it also becomes the way courtship is pursued. Counsel from godly mentors is disregarded, as is advice from parents and well-wishers. Individuality is sacrificed on the altar of misdirected devotion in this broadly accepted form of idolatry. Passion replaces reason, as it is misconstrued as love.

When the passion dies, as passion is known to do, the couple are left feeling as though they married the wrong person because “true love never dies.” Since it was for this passion, mislabeled as love, that they got married, if the passion cannot be rekindled within the relationship, they may find themselves seeking it outside the relationship, and before you know it, they’re committing adultery, getting a divorce, or resigning themselves to a miserable existence for the rest of their lives.

In the biblical ideal, the married couple’s focus is outward—the world should be a better place because they are married. Their purpose is not to take from their surroundings whatever will please them but rather to bring blessings to every one of their interactions. As they choose to love each other day after day, they bring love to those around them. In ministering to each other and to others, they find happiness.