Marriage Rebranded: Modern Misconceptions & the Unnatural Art of Loving Another Person

Marriage Rebranded: Modern Misconceptions & the Unnatural Art of Loving Another Person

by Tyler Ward

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802411839
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Publication date: 07/01/2014
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.39(d)

About the Author

TYLER WARD calls the east side of Nashville, TN home. He creates and consults web-centric businesses to support his wife and two boys and writes about relationships and spirituality to feel alive. Connect with him at www.tylerwardis.com.

Read an Excerpt

Marriage Rebranded

Modern Misconceptions & the Unnatural Art of Loving Another Person


By Tyler Ward, Stephanie S. Smith

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2014 Tyler Ward
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8024-9074-2



CHAPTER 1

A PICTURE WORTH FIGHTING FOR

My Story. A Modern Story.


I could feel the veins in my neck bulging.

The veins in my neck never bulge. I'm the emotionally unhealthy guy who internalizes everything—no matter how much the circumstance warrants a reaction.

The more she explains how my negligence of our relationship makes her feel, the more I want to jump in my truck and spend the weekend alone on the open road—neglecting our relationship.

Instead, I apply the proven tactic of bringing up unrelated issues as a means to make her feel shame. And voilà—she backs down and the night ends right on queue.

We then resort to our increasingly popular nightcap. I walk out slamming the door behind me for dramatic effect. She crawls under the covers in tears—but not before setting up her wall of pillows down the middle of the bed just to remind me, when I do come to sleep, that things are not okay.

Needless to say, Analee and I didn't come into marriage expecting, after only eighteen months, that screaming matches, excessive amounts of frustration, and pillow walls would become our norm. How did we get here? How does anyone get here?

To answer that question, we should probably start from the beginning.


IN THE BEGINNING.

I used to think I was a decently articulate guy, reasonably comfortable in my own skin. Then Analee would walk in the room.

Instantly, I had nothing but unintelligible things to say and a deep urge to be someone cooler and wiser and generally better than myself.

She was everything I wanted—everything I dreamed of in a woman. Electric personality. Exotically gorgeous. Lit up a room. World-travelled. She had a faith that was real and seasoned. She did most of the talking so I didn't have to. The list went on, and as it did, I became more and more convinced I wouldn't mind spending the rest of my life waking up next to her.

Of course, that meant she would have to feel the same way about me—a risky endeavor for any woman.

It took me six months of running in the same social circles to work up the courage to talk to her. Fortunately, I found the grit to mumble words in her direction and after a handful of texts—which may or may not have involved a few helpful Justin Timberlake lyrics—we found ourselves dating. Nine months later, I convinced her to marry me.

Saying "I do" to Analee is one of the better choices I've made in life. Anyone who knows us would concur and secretly wonder how I married so far up.

Our first year and a half of marriage felt like a perpetual sleepover with my best friend. We lived in a tiny cottage, in a quaint city, and bought a cute dog—all the makings of an absolute dream.

Then it happened.

It only took me eighteen months and a few blunted expectations to feel sincerely disappointed with marriage. There was nothing "wrong" with Analee. In fact, she was as lovely as she had ever been. This disappointment had little to do with her, and everything to do with my own misinformed ideas about marriage and their inability to support the very unnatural art of loving another person.

I had brought suitcases of misconceptions to the altar. And as these misconceptions were tested in the face of a very real relationship, we slowly but surely waved goodbye to our best friend slumber party and Norman Rockwell picturesque life.

Unresolved conflict soon became a staple of our relationship.

Failed expectations, yelling matches, and sleeping with a pillow fortress between us was not entirely new to this season. Yet these episodes seemed to be more frequent and less forgiving than in our first year of marriage.

We weren't supposed to be the ones in a perpetual fight. After all, we had all the tools to have a successful relationship. We knew each other's love languages. We had navigated conflict in the past. All throughout year one of newlywed life, we spent two hours every other week in counseling so we could avoid meltdowns like the ones we were now consistently experiencing. We were the couple who underlined and dog-eared their marriage books. Yet despite having all the tools at our fingertips, we often found ourselves too angry, exhausted, and generally uninterested in using them.

Something was missing. We both felt it. We both wondered why.

We exhausted those books early on, subtly believing that if we could expose ourselves to all of the best three-step formulas and tab them for easy reference, we could somehow avoid all of the ugly, uncomfortable realities of life with another human being.

But we couldn't. And as it turns out, we were never meant to.

As I took inventory of our relationship, the one thing I couldn't seem to find was a vision for our marriage worth fighting for. Don't get me wrong, I thought I knew what we were—by default—trying to build together: a happy life. A loving relationship. Two successful careers with a cushy joint bank account. A someday-family we could spend the rest of our lives driving to soccer practices, sending to college, and pushing out of the nest so we could retire into wild motor home adventures. But in the midst of a relationship that internally demanded so much, something told me a dream lifestyle wasn't the kind of vision that our marriage needed.

What we needed was a better picture of what marriage could be ... one that didn't stop at a well-insulated life with a good partner and kids who don't do drugs. We needed a picture that answered in the deepest part of us why marriage is

important,

and valuable,

and worth investing into as much as it asks of us.

The interesting thing is that most of us today have a vision for marriage—whether or not we recognize it or can put it into words. We all bring to the table some construct of what we hope it will be. It's not a lack of vision that threatens many marriages today. What threatens our marriages is that many of our visions for matrimony have been crafted by modern and misguided ideas about love.

The next one hundred or so pages are about exposing these misguided ideas and exploring a vision of marriage worth fighting for.


MODERN MATRIMONY IS A STALE BRAND.

My general disillusionment with marriage is a popular place to land these days.

Sociologists say marriage is fundamentally broken.

Historians say it's outdated.

Progressives say it's not even necessary.

And tragically, statistics seem to say it's not worth it.

In America, one marriage ends every ten to thirteen seconds. Almost half of the weddings you go to this year will celebrate the union of a couple who won't stay together. And if they do stay together for more than ten years, one out of every four of them will say they are unfulfilled in their relationship—but too comfortable to leave.

The number of Americans saying "I do" has dropped each decade since the 1950s and cohabiting-but-unmarried partnerships have risen 1,000 percent over the last forty years. "The question has become," as social scientist Andrew Cherlin says, "not why fewer people are getting married, but why so many are still getting married?"

The disheartening statistics go on. Yet the statistics are also incredibly understandable.

Our parents' generation was handed a vision of marriage that apparently wasn't worth more than a 50 percent success rate. They added their own dysfunctional patterns, as did any generation before them, and passed on this mediocre brand of what is supposed to be the height of human relationship.

As the infamous Newsweek article "The Case Against Marriage" put it, "Many grew up shepherded between bedrooms, minivans, and dinner tables, with stepparents, half-siblings, and highly complicated holiday schedules. You can imagine, then—amid incessant high-profile adultery scandals—that we'd be somewhat cynical about the institution [of marriage]."

Then again, your parents may be about to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary of being happily married. Or maybe you've been fortunate enough to grow up with very functional and loving divorced parents. Or maybe you're just now entering marriage with nothing but the very best hopes and dreams. Regardless of the good, bad, or ugly exposure we've had personally to the institution of marriage, it's hard to deny that the path to marital disappointment is all around us. It's put on display every day—in the news, in celebrity relationships, in our friends' and coworkers' lives—and the truth is that even in the healthiest relationships, we will inevitably have moments with our spouse that cause us to entertain this exceedingly popular misunderstanding—the key word here—that marriage, as an ideal, is simply broken and disappointing.

However, the flip side of the divorce statistic tells a dramatically different narrative—one that perhaps we have not given enough attention.


MARRIAGE ISN'T BROKEN—IT'S SIMPLY MISUNDERSTOOD.

Yes, many marriages end in divorce. The research is clear. But research also shows that when marriage "works," it really works. In fact, if cultivated, marriage is actually better for you on all fronts—physically, materially, and emotionally. Studies show that healthily married people live longer, have better health, earn more money, accumulate more wealth, feel more fulfillment in their lives, enjoy a more satisfying sexual relationship, and have happier and more successful children than those who cohabitate or get divorced.

Happiness? You are twice as likely to be happy if you stay married. And married people, in general, report lower levels of depression and stress than non-marrieds.

Health? Robin Simons, a sociologist at Wake Forest University, has done research that reflects that "married people overall do better on virtually every indicator of health and well-being."

Sex? According to Linda Waite's research for her groundbreaking book with Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, over 40 percent of married women said their sex life was emotionally and physically satisfying, compared to about 30 percent of single women. The same trend is seen among men—50 percent of married men say they are physically and emotionally content versus 38 percent of cohabitating men. And 40 percent of married people have sex at least twice a week (not to mention those who have more!), compared to 20–25 percent of single and cohabitating men and women.

The list of perks goes on, but only perpetuates the countertrend that marriage is not, in fact, disappointing. It's simply misunderstood. And we as a modern society seem to be largely unaware of its unique purposes.


IT'S TIME FOR A REBRAND.

Just as Analee and I were entering the painful epiphany that our marriage was missing something, we were invited to a friend's home for a "marriage day." We spent the day hearing timeless perspectives and honest reflections on marriage from older, more seasoned couples, and with every story they shared, a bit more color filled my picture for what marriage could be.

This day at a friend's home challenged my paradigm of matrimony. It painted just enough of a new picture that I couldn't help but want more. It marked the beginning of a personal journey to cultivate a vision of marriage worth fighting for.

It's a journey I'm still on today and a journey in which I'd love for you to join me.

I've spent the last three years putting the most basic assumptions about modern marriage to the test. Along the way, I've interviewed three New York Times bestselling authors, a molecular biologist devoted to family development, a prime-time TV star, a personality psychologist, two marriage therapists, and several couples whose relationships I simply admire. I've exhausted resources by Israeli Breslov rabbis, modern sociologists, sex therapists, Orthodox priests, university professors, and Christian counselors. And perhaps most importantly, my wife and I have explored these various ideas we've come across by conducting several experiments in our own marriage—every one of which has helped us change our marital narrative and learn the very unnatural art of loving another person.

I began sharing some of my experiments and findings over a year ago and was astonished at the responses. My first article on the subject, "3 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Got Married," was shared online over 350,000 times and the conversations started by readers clued me in to a few things.

I've noticed I'm not alone in my desire for a new brand of marriage. In fact, I'm walking alongside a vast amount of people—like you—who aren't interested in accepting "marriage as usual."

I've noticed that most of us want something more from marriage than some quick fix for loneliness or romantic obsession or a tool of self-fulfillment. We want to invest ourselves deeply and see a deep return.

I've seen that many of us believe God created marriage for more than the American dream and idyllic family Christmas card. We want to know what He originally designed it to be.

Most of us know there's more to life than happiness. Instead, we want a version of marriage that actually deals with the realities of life in radical proximity with another person.

We all want to see the end of broken homes and raise children who grow up emotionally connected and confidently commissioned into adulthood.

We want relationship. Real, challenging, relationships that don't just enrich our lives, but play a role in showing the world a better way of life.

In the end, we want a better vision for marriage—one that answers in the deepest parts of us why we stay married—a vision that's worth fighting for.

I have no intention of spending the next few chapters handing you a step-by-step formula to a better marriage. You can pick that up from your local Walmart. I simply want to paint a picture of marriage that's worth endlessly investing into.

Join me on this endeavor and we'll talk about four misconceptions about love that accompany modern marriage—happiness, me-centricity, falling in love, and privatization. My hope is that by the end of this book, we'll have replaced them with timeless truths that will play a leading role in writing a better marriage narrative for us all.

However, before we jump in, here are five thoughts—in no particular order—that may help us get started.


1. Different strokes for different folks

This book is written under the assumption that if we want to change our reality, we must first change our own minds. Accordingly, we'll use three types of content.

Mindset. These sections deal with debunking common misconceptions and offering a better way to see marriage.

Best Practices. These sections suggest practical ways to help walk out the proposed mindset shifts.

Case Studies. These sections document real-life experiences, primarily through interviews, of those who have seen these mindsets and best practices make a difference.

These three chapter elements are for people like me whose mood often dictates whether they want to chew on deeper ideas and philosophy, acquire practical life tools, or get proof via real life accounts. My hope is that when all three elements converge, a greater vision for marriage will start to come together.


2. Reflection helps

If you would like to dig deeper than this book has the page space to go, I've produced a downloadable PDF with questions as you read for personal or group reflection. It also includes suggested experiments and tools to try on your own. To download, simply visit www.tylerwardis.com/marriage-rebrandedreflections.


3. Formulas are for institutions

Don't be fooled by the term "Best Practices." I'm not suggesting a one-sizefits-all approach to marriage. These are simply practical insights and suggestions I've come across that have proved worth some experimentation.

Though we'll read plenty of cause-and-effect stories throughout the book, let's be clear that every relationship is profoundly unique. The success or failure of every relationship is a combination of many variables. The goal of this book is to look at a few of those variables from several different perspectives—not to offer a comprehensive guide. If you're looking for a way to avoid the process of trial and error required in developing any real relationship, there are plenty of books out there offering A + B = C. However, this is not one of them. Comprehensive formulas are for institutions, not relationships. And I think what we're all after is the latter.


4. My wife is going to join us

I've invited my wife into our time together. At all the right moments, she'll offer her own brilliant thoughts and perspectives.


5. Why I wrote this book

Let's be honest. If I picked up a book about marriage by an author who had only been married for five years, I'd be skeptical too. In our digital age when seemingly anyone with access to Wikipedia can become an overnight guru, I'd be apprehensive to read on as well. If I'm being honest, I initially turned down the request to write this book because of this exact stigma. However, after months of feeling drawn back to the project, here are two reasons I decided to write it.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Marriage Rebranded by Tyler Ward, Stephanie S. Smith. Copyright © 2014 Tyler Ward. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

A Picture Worth Fighting For
My Story. A Modern Story. 

Carving to the Skin
Happily Ever After Isn’t the Point 

Real Romance
Consumers Don't Make Good Lovers

One + One = One
Love Isn’t Something We Fall Into

You, Me, and Everyone We Know
What Happens at Home Doesn't Stay at Home

Bonus Chapter: Cave Talk
Success, Porn, and Other Things Men Must Overcome to Win at Marriage

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Marriage Rebranded marks the debut of a gifted writer, astute thinker, and earnest believer. Tyler Ward asks all the right questions about marriage and comes up with compelling answers. If you want to think more deeply about marriage, more biblically, and more thoughtfully, this is the book for you.
Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage and A Lifelong Love

I am not a fan of 'marriage' books because they tend to be formulaic and boring. Marriage Rebranded is neither. Witty, entertaining, and thoughtfully authentic, Tyler has delivered an unusually artistic conversation starter and enhancer worthy of your time and attention.
William Paul Young, author of The Shack and Crossroads 

In Marriage Rebranded, Tyler Ward approaches the fearsome subject of marriage with caution, humility, and a refreshing dose of humor. In a culture where the sacramental vision of marriage continues to erode, Ward asks the big questions and invites the reader to contemplate the mystery of love.
Jonathan Jackson, actor, author, and musician 

Tyler Ward cleverly and clearly uncovers some of the most commonly held misconceptions of marriage. At a time when many singles and married couples have been confused by popular societal myths regarding relationship, Marriage Rebranded sets a solid foundation to build godly relationships. We highly recommend this book to singles and married couples alike.
Barry and Lori Byrne, marriage and family therapists, authors of Love After Marriage

I just finished reading Marriage Rebranded and I'm blown away! Tyler Ward isn't just teaching us how to dream, expect, and get more out of our marriage—he has also raised the bar for what an advice book can and should be. Wrapped in refreshing vulnerability, compelling storytelling, and uncommon insight, Marriage Rebranded is a life-giving resource for any marriage and an absolute must-read for young couples.
Chance Scoggins, Grammy-award winning producer and blogger

Marriage Rebranded offers an all-too-necessary re-vision for the working power of matrimony in a couple’s life, while not shying away from the unanticipated realities that marriage brings out in each individual. Tyler gathers the best of the best in relevant marriage materials from a wide range of authors, teachers, and thinkers, to construct a beautifully renewed model of marriage, hand-painted from his own testimonies of trial and error.
Jared Black, speaker, writer, and theologian

The best artists often take the most common or familiar subjects and represent them in a way that unveils the divine essence within. In the following pages, Tyler Ward masterfully infuses the sacred colors back into the often tired, black and white world of holy matrimony. Whether single, newlywed, or seasoned in the art of marriage, the following pages are sure to enhance your view, grace your understanding, and strengthen your resolve to love more deeply.
Brady Toops, singer, songwriter

I’m honored to be one of the voices Tyler sought to speak into “rebranding” your marriage. But I think it’s Tyler’s wife, Analee’s voice who makes the strongest case for why you should read this book. She writes, “I am incredibly thankful he (Tyler) has been so committed to finding the greatness in marriage and leading us towards it.” That’s EXACTLY where you want your marriage to go! So if you’re ready to “rebrand” your marriage from good, ordinary, or even deeply disappointing, to simply “GREAT,” this helpful, hopeful, hands-on book is a must-read. 
John Trent, president of Strong Families and author of The Blessing 

What I love about this book is that speaks to your heart and your mind which honestly is rare in a lot marriage books. It’s real, humorous and insightful which is also surprisingly refreshing. Love is a wild ride as we know. It’s ever changing and extremely crazy at times but I am happy to say that I will have this book on board with me as a companion during its adventure. Very thankful for the truth in these pages, very thankful indeed.
Phillip Larue, Billboard Top 100 songwriter

Marriage Rebranded shifted our paradigms. It built a more realistic perspective about marriage and how to do love well. This book is a must read that will build determination and hope in your hearts no matter the season of marriage you're in.
Colin Benward and Caitlin Crosby-Benward, founders of The Giving Keys

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