If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

I don’t really like marriage enrichment programs. Considering that I spend a great deal of my life traveling and presenting my own marriage seminar, that sounds quite strange. It’s not that I don’t believe it’s important to educate and enlighten couples on how to have a successful marriage, rather, I am just not a fan of the sorts of groups, classes, weekend retreats, books and conferences that end up creating more issues than they solve.

Let me explain. I actually know of couples that have been to a marriage seminar and their marriage ended up a mess because of it. Prior to attending, they were perfectly happy with their relationship but that came to a screeching halt when seeds of discontent were planted.  Men and women may be very content in their marriage until some expert or pastor tells them how things “should be” or what they “should be” doing if they want to have a great marriage. You should be praying together everyday, you should be having sex 3-4 times a week, you should be spending at least 30 minutes of time each day sharing your thoughts, hopes and dreams…do you get the point?

Some of the advice we get in marriage classes actually ends up making things worse, not better. Let’s say that you were fine in your relationship having sex once or twice a month. Both you and your spouse were extremely happy with this arrangement. Then you hear somebody say that in good marriages you are supposed to be doing the horizontal hoochi coochi at least every other day. Well, now your life sucks! People can get really bummed out by this stuff.

My seminar is not like that…mostly because I hate that other stuff. I know that these instructors are well meaning, but they can do more harm than good. At one well-known marriage enrichment seminar they have you write down the ten things you dislike about your spouse.  Of all the moronic stupidity! I mean, who on earth does this stuff? I’m sure there are at least ten things (probably many more) that my wife doesn’t like about me, but quite frankly, I don’t want to hear it! These guys may have PhDs and may have helped many people, but they really think that the way to enrich the marriage is to emotionally vomit all over each other?!

Marriage groups in church can be good if you do a marriage study here and there, or do other kinds of bible studies; if you are using it as a way to meet other couples and create social relationships. That way you get to know one another and can share your problems and struggles with other couples. But this idea of constantly meeting to evaluate your marriages is—in my opinion— ridiculous!

Do my Laugh Your Way small group study, work on fixing the problems and getting rid of the stinking thinking, but seriously, how much more can you say?  Why dissect it over and over and over? My wife and I have never done all these marriage enrichment things. I get it—I’m supposed to love my wife like Jesus loved the church…but I don’t always, I’m trying to do better. I tell you one thing, I don’t want to go to a class on a weekly basis to hear how far short I am falling. Don’t suck the life out of your marriage over thinking, going from one class or seminar to the next and the next, thinking that it’s helpful.

The opposite can happen when it sets up so many unrealistic expectations and requirements that you end up feeling discontent when you were probably fine in the first place. Don’t let anyone else ruin your marriage—even your pastor— just because they tell you what your marriage should and shouldn’t be.  So your marriage doesn’t look like someone else’s, what do you care? So what if your husband doesn’t act just like someone else’s husband or your wife isn’t just like the neighbor’s wife. Be content.

If you are perfectly happy in your marriage, leave it alone.  Live your life, clean the toilet, pay bills, take the kids to school, be nice to each other. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

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16 Responses to “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It”

  1. Martha Hdz. says:

    Hello Mark! Here is the thing, my husband and I were dating for 6 years and 1 more live together bofere marring, now we have 1 year of marriage and I really want to have a baby, but I see him like:yeah yeah maybe the next year. I tried to talk with him about it but as soon i saw his look when i tlod him that I wanna talk to him, I just decided not to talk about it.

    Please helpme how to star a conversation with him and talk about this, because I really want to know if he really wants to have a family or not, so I canl decided what to do with our mariage.

    Thanks, blessing.

    • Carol says:

      I am not sure I agree because anyone who goes on one of those programs, at least one of the couples believes they need help. Also, I have been through a similar experience, where essentially I believe it brought us closer to God (it was through the church), and it opened our eyes more clearly to God’s plan for a good sex life.
      It also was possibly instrumental in discovering my husband is a sex addict, and I have had to deal with the disclosure of the worst nightmare I could imagine. It is a make or break situation, and I believe even though it has been the worst experience in my life, at least I know why I was so unhappy for 20 years. Also, if I can cope with it, it will be the best thing that ever happened to us as we have the chance of living the real Plan. He has also been given the opportunity to experience the real thing, and appreciates me more than he ever has. He has experienced a healing process, that even if I cannot remain with him, he will continue to heal his life. However, I do agree that statistics of how may times a week one should have sex etc, are nonsense and destructive. Also, one must choose the course carefully, and it needs to be a course based on God’s plan. It seems that there is a lot of untruth spread amongst men, that they really believe, almost a form of “old wives tales” regarding sex. It is about time this is erradicated once and for all. Your dvd watched at our church was brilliant (laugh yor way to a better marriage), and I encourage you to reach out to as many people as you can – especially teens, as they are the next generation. I just wish I could get hold of more of your DVD’s. I am in Gauteng South Africa, and the shipping costs make it very expensive. I wish you could recommend an outlet, and I would buy DVD’s for my teenage sons.

  2. alyssa carton says:

    mark, I absolutely love the way you think things through. Its so refreshing to see someone in the christian faith actually use their brain and reason things through. Thank you for being a breath of fresh air in the kingdom of God. God Bless

  3. Jim says:

    really, you all didn’t think to talk about this while dating and shacking up?? Or were you just scared you’d lose this man if the topic came up? Well here’s an adult suggestion. Look your man in the eye and say, “we need to talk”. If he can’t talk then, set a time to talk. And just put it on the table and start a dialogue. If your man refuses to talk about it, ask him what he thinks a family is about?

    • Carol says:

      Yep, you are right, Women are not taught to be assertive enough in a relationship. If they were, they would not need to ask advice. I wish I had been more direct,and less trusting in my dating years. I would have played the role of a detective before marrying, and may still be single. Maybe our stupidity in this respect is a hormonal function designed to keep the population going? However, it also keeps the divorce statistics up when we realize we have been conned. It is Hans Christian Anderson, “Happily Ever After”, or is it God’s word that has us girls wrapped in hope? Maybe just our parents feeding girls fairy tales of what to expect. I have two sons and I see both sides of the story, so I am not on anyone’s side. Oh I wish children were taught the truth for a change and kids could start life in “real mode”.

  4. rhonda says:

    Glad you put this out there Mark. I’ve felt that way, but thought maybe I was just weird & was too embarrassed to say anything. My husband & I have done a few of these over the years & they did just that-created problems where there usually weren’t any & it would usually take forever to recover from those “enrichment” seminars. Those seminars unfortunately-more often than not, cause more problems than they solve.

  5. Shelly says:

    Your blog emphasizes that our relationships are all unique. Bravo!!!! My husband of 3 months shuts down when we have an argument and rarely apologizes for his part in it. This isn’t a new issue as I encountered this during our 2 1/2 year dating life. We go to counseling once a month to talk through things and work on strategies to over come out communication issues as neither one of us wants this marriage to fail. I guess my question is it possible for a man to change this behavior when he has been evidently doing it for many years…..yes he is 50 years old. Opinions?

  6. Mark says:

    I was reading the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” and Mark said “I am supposed to love my wife as Christ loved the church”.
    My wife told me that I was disobeying scripture because I was not loving her the way Christ loved the church. The fact that she was depressed and unhappy in our marriage was proof positive to that and she asked me to move out. (Which I finally did, thinking that the tension and anxiety would go down and we could look at this thing differently. It has been almost 2 years and it isn’t getting better!) Here is what I wanted to share (please bare with me and don’t blow me off right away): What if we really aren’t commanded to love our wives as Christ loved the church, giving himself up for her to make her holy, cleaning her by the washing with water through the word, and to present to her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Actually I have never met a husband who has achieved this and I have known a lot of good Christian husbands!)
    It struck me one day when our pastor said in passing that the punctuation was not in the original greek scriptures but added later. What if it read like this:Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands love your wives! v.26 Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy……without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless, in this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.
    I believe that I can love my wife as my own body, but not as Christ loved the church! Jesus is radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, holy and blameless, so that is how he loves His body. I am not quite there, (I am a zillion miles from there actually) but I believe that I can love my wife as I love MY body!
    What do you think?

  7. Carol says:

    Stop splitting hairs, It seems you love her. Communicate with her, understand her. If you still don’t make progress, maybe she is not committed.

  8. Carol says:

    Oh yes, also to respond to your “praying together” comment. My husband is Jewish in fact, and because of that, I felt it was wrong to push him towards Christianity. However, after deciding to get my family to a Christian Church regardless, and attending marriage counseling courses at the Church, we came across the “praying together” advice. We still found it weird (as we prayed in our heads), and it was recommended AGAIN by a sponsor after the discovery of my husband being a sex addict, and the traumatic effect it had on my life. Well, it was probably the most effective of all during the process of recovery. I felt as though I could believe his words for once (as deceipt had been a problem), and I felt as though God listened to him as he asked God to take away my pain. It was as though I could see inside his soul for the first time in 20 years. If praying together is done without meaning, it is ineffective, but talking to God aloud with your spouse must be one of the most intimate experiences one can have.

  9. Miz T says:

    Mark, I have a question. I saw an article yesterday about a new sex book out by Pastor Mark and Grace Driscoll that is really ticking off Christians. I was wanting your thoughts on it, if you don’t mind.
    I read your book Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage and thoroughly enjoyed it so well that I bought the CD set since my husband isn’t a reader. We’ve only been through two discs but hopefully in the near future we’ll see the rest (hubby prefers regular TV when the kids are around).

  10. Michelle Wolff says:

    This is a very good reminder to me. Lately I’ve been nit picking my husband and struggling to shift things that, looking at it objectively, don’t need to be shifted. I plan to write a list of 25 things I love about my marriage and stick it on the fridge today! I love your reminders to just relax and quit over-thinking so much!

  11. Larry Perkins says:

    Dear Pastor Gungor,

    I love your work/ministry; truly, I do. That said, there are times when you could “turn the phrase” just a wee bit better.

    “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” is alright; but, my Dad always used to say, “Son, Don’t fix it until it is broken.”

    IMnsHO, his phraseology was superior because, while most people assumed that he meant “wait until you have a problem before you attempt repairs,” he often used it in another context entirely. In fact, I remember the first time he made that alternate context clear to me.

    I had an old-fashioned, double-bell alarm clock that I kept taking apart and re-assembling, with slight “tweaks,” in an attempt to make the “ringer” ever louder. Watching (pun intended) over my shoulder, he said, “Son, be careful you don’t ‘fix it’ until it is broken.” I said, “I’m just adjusting the ringer.” He said, “That’s what I mean! If you keep ‘fixin’ on it’ like you’re a doin’ it’s going to wind up (I think he intended that pun) broken!”

    It seems to me, this is what you are really trying to say here. To put it as my slightly less erudite Grand Pappy might have phrased it, “If’n whar always a fixin’ on our marriages ever chanct we get, sooner or later whar a gonna bust ‘em — or get busted ourselves (prob’ly right in the chops)! ”

    PBPWM,
    GINFWMY!

    –LP–

  12. Sylvia says:

    My husband and I are presenter for Marriage Encounter and Marriage Restored. I can honestly tell you that our weekend ministry is not like any marriage seminar where you sit and listen to “experts” on marriage. Our weekends are designed for the couples to learn communication skills and to practice them immediately. I would like to invite you and your wife to attend a weekend and experience for yourself what we present. I know you will leave with a greater understanding of your wife (and not the presenters).

  13. Fiona says:

    Mark, I agree if it aint broke don’t fix it. I have been married almost 27 years, 2years after we were married, I got saved. My husband still isn’t we wouldn’t still be married if I had insisted we pray together or do the things they say in Christian marriage seminars. I go by Jesus rule, love one another as I have loved you, I fall short at times but we have had a good marriage, raised 3 sons one is in a great Christian marriage now himself another about to get married, not a churchgoer but he and his fiancee are born again believers just needing to mature and be a little more obedient to Gods standards. Again not something you can force or nag people into, prayer and love got them this far and Jesus will bring them the rest of the way. My youngest 16 and serving God with passion, all without the example of father who is christian. What works is that we respect each other, I respect my husband despite his lack of faith and he respects and loves me even though I changed. My husband is a kind hardworking honest man, no small achievement and I am glad God put us together, only He knows how long it will take for my Man to wake up and smell the coffee. I am blessed he allows me to go to church, raise the kids christian, tithe off “my half” of the income even though I am a stay at home mother and he is the sole provider of monetary income. I would never insist we pray together,any more then I would insist we have sex more often even though I’d like that. We need to esteem others more highly than ourselves and even though I don’t insist he attend marriage events at our church from time to time he does it just for me and to socialize with some of our christian friends. Sometimes I ask God am I failing in some way, does he not see enough Christ in me to want Him for himself, but God reminds me that people have been rejecting Him for centuries and it is not up to me but up to my husband to choose so I keep praying hoping loving blessing and doing my part. Ironically I see that often we have a better marriage than some of the professing Christian couples I know, then again it is not a competition, I pray for all of their marriages too, different pressures come to all of us. We have had our share financial, illness, deaths in the family, children with school problems,a son with depression going onto the streets and using drugs for a while (Jesus brought him back Hallelujah) but our marriage survived it all and I know God brought us through and one day my husbands eyes will be opened to that.

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