Let’s not beat around the bush – there’s a LOT of misinformation out there. Incorrect assumptions about marriage have a variety of sources, from old adages and wives’ tales to simple lack of information, from outright mistruths to wishful thinking…
Whatever the source of the confusion may be, it’s time to set the record straight. If we don’t stop these myths in their tracks, we won’t be able to approach marriage realistically – and even more importantly, understanding what’s really “normal” in marriage means knowing what you have to work on, what to worry about, and what to just brush off as a natural part of being a long-term couple.
So, let’s jump right in to it. Here are six common marriage myths – and the reality behind them:
1. With True Love, Passion Never Fades
First of all, this is a faulty idea in the first place… Who’s to say what love is “true” and what love isn’t? Beyond that problematic idea, this myth is simply a matter of an unrealistic viewpoint. Passion – that feeling of wanting to spend every moment pressed against the other person, that feeling that you just can’t get enough of their company – comes with mystery.
That’s not to say that you can’t be passionate about someone you know well, but that unbridled, uncontrollable passion stems largely from “newness” and the excitement that comes with it. The more you get to know someone, the more that passion transforms into deep, intimate love. It’s no less powerful, just different.
If you go into marriage believing this myth, you might panic when that passion starts to fade a little bit. If you know how normal it is, you won’t worry – you’ll do exactly what you need to… Work on it!
Passion may fade with time and familiarity, but that doesn’t mean it disappears completely. If you make an effort to bring some excitement into your relationship, you’ll find that elusive passion a little easier to maintain.
2. Living Together Before Marriage Increases Chances of Divorce
This is just ridiculous, but you might be amazed at the number of people who still hold this myth to be true. It likely stems from olden days, where cohabitation was taboo and marrying a stranger wasn’t totally out of the question…
Research from UNC Greensboro found that whether or not couples lived together before marriage didn’t have much effect on divorce rates, but the age at which they moved in together made all the difference. Moving in at age 18 led to a 60% divorce rate. Waiting until 23 reduced that figure to 30%.
This just goes to show how important maturity is for relationships, and especially for cohabitation. Just a five-year difference cut divorce rates in half!
If anything, it would seem wise to spend time cohabitating before marriage to make sure you can share a space with someone! Every couple is going to be different, of course, but the more maturity you bring to the practical parts of your relationship (like living together), the better you’ll be able to resolve problems and handle any disputes.
Moving in together doesn’t lead to divorce, but immaturity about what it’s like to share a space with another human being… Now that can damage a relationship.
3. Happy Couples Don’t Argue
Spend enough time with someone and eventually you’ll disagree about something. This goes for friends, family, and especially spouses!
Not only do you live in close proximity with your spouse, you also have to make numerous joint decisions together. Whether it’s about the house, finances, kids, household responsibilities, or just what you’re having for dinner, you’re constantly making collaborative decisions about what’s best for both of you. With so many choices to make, disagreement is all but inevitable.
It’s also important to think about this: if you aren’t experiencing any conflict at all, you might not be addressing underlying problems.
Now, arguments don’t necessarily have to be hostile. In fact, discussing disagreements civilly is an excellent skill to develop, and will likely minimize the number of arguments you have…
Even with that said, though, no relationship is 100% perfect, and no two people are going to agree on every little thing every single time. It simply isn’t realistic.
Don’t worry if you and your spouse butt heads a little bit – it’s completely normal. Just make sure that you’re focusing on the issue at hand, and arguing your case respectfully.
4. Half of All Marriages End In Divorce
This bleak and commonly referenced statistic creates some unfair issues for married couples – namely that it leads them to believe that no matter what they do, no matter how hard they work, there’s still a coin toss’s odds that the whole thing will fall apart. It paints marriages as inherently imperfect – that half will fail as a matter of course.
First of all, it simply isn’t true! The numbers come from the 70s, when no-fault divorces first became available and the number of couples splitting up skyrocketed.
Divorce rates have been high in the past (as high as 66% in the 80s), but modern statistics aren’t nearly as hopeless. As of 2009, the divorce rate was 30.8% – not great, but definitely not half of all marriages either!
Some relationships are problematic, and there will always be couples who don’t put in the work to keep their marriages strong (as well the other personal, individual problems that can damage relationships). With the correct stats though, couples can start to understand that it isn’t just a coin toss, that effort pays off, and that your marriage is exactly what you make it – not something decided by fate.
5. Couples With Kids Are Happier
No offense to the parents out there, but the myth that children bring marital bliss isn’t just off base; it’s actually the opposite of the truth!
This doesn’t mean that parental couples can’t have happy, fulfilling marriages, just that actual data points toward married couples without kids as reporting the happiest relationships.
Couples can take away a couple of key lessons from this (somewhat) harsh reality. First, if you don’t have kids, don’t assume that adding members to your family is the key to happiness – parenthood is a big deal, and not a decision that should be made lightly.
Second, for those couples with children, this can serve as a reminder that being a good parent and being a good spouse are not always the same thing. While they are both tremendously important, people often neglect their marriages for the sake of the kids – and this leaves a hole in the quality of the marriage. It may not be that people with children are less happy, just that they don’t put enough energy into keeping their marriages passionate and fulfilling.
6. Married People Have Worse Sex Lives
This couldn’t be further from the truth! People have this image of married couples growing bored with each other the moment they exchange rings, of their sex lives drying up to the point that they become little more than roommates…
But in reality, married couples (of a wide range of ages) have far more satisfying sex lives than singles and even people in unwed relationships. It comes down to intimacy and deep connection. The depth of the connection that married couples share leads to more emotionally charged sexual activity, and that component beyond the physical ultimately leads to more satisfaction.
Married couples are also likely to have sex more frequently, and because of the inherent trust of a strong relationship, more likely to discuss and resolve any issues they may encounter.
Sexless marriage only happens if you let it!
Stop these myths in their tracks! They only serve to build false expectations and inaccurate assumptions about married life, and what it takes to have a healthy, happy, truly satisfying marriage. Don’t let these old stories color your perceptions.
Make your marriage a priority, and build the relationship you want to have, not one based on myths.