Growing up I remember shows like The Walton’s, Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, Happy Days, Bewitched, I Love Lucy and others. Most of these shows showed us a traditional family of mom, dad, and kids. They didn’t seem to have any real problems because there are no story lines about prior marriages, step-children, lack of sex, chores, physical abuse, infidelity, drinking problems, drugs, dropping out of school and threats or even thoughts of divorce.
We got the idea from shows like this that marriages were perfect, every one’s needs were always met, children raised themselves and never caused problems. And no matter what, you always lived happily-ever-after. Wow, how untrue.
I require in every wedding I do that I have premarital counseling with the couple. I also do some marriage counseling for couples who have been married and are having problems. In counseling there are always some things I pick up on that are myths or untruths about marriage that we have created in our minds over time. Here are a few I’ve noticed…
- GOD WANTS ME TO BE HAPPY: I’ve heard this phrase more than any other. Most of the time it’s from the person that’s wanting out of a marriage and they are looking for a reason. “But I believe God wants me to be happy in marriage and I’m not,” has been muttered a million times. Understand this, happiness comes and goes in marriage. You will not always be happy all of the time. It’ll take work from both sides to be happy.
- THE KEY TO A LONG MARRIAGE IS ROMANTIC LOVE AND SOME LUCK: I can’t help but smile when young couples who are wanting to get married tell me, “Trey, we’ll be alright. When things get bad, we’ll live off the love we have for each other.” It’s at this time I’m usually looking for a trash can so I can throw up. Believe it or not, marriages that last are built on good old-fashion work; no one ever “lives on love.” Good marriages and even great marriages don’t just happen, they take work. What kind of work? Read a book, attend a weekend marriage seminar, go through a His Needs Her Needs class, take a weekend to get away without the kids, be willing to make changes in your own life or simply start by asking your spouse “How are we doing?”
- HAVING KIDS WILL BRING YOU CLOSER TOGETHER AS A HUSBAND AND WIFE: Actually most studies show the opposite. The stress of having children often pushes the struggling marriage of a husband and wife farther apart. If you have children make sure you maintain your relationship with your spouse. Continue to date, spend time together and go for walks to keep your relationship strong with your spouse. If you focus 100% of your time and energy on your children you relationship with suffer from it.
- COUPLES WHO LIVE TOGETHER BEFORE MARRIAGE HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF HAVING A LONG LASTING MARRIAGE: Actually that’s false. The divorce rate is quite a bit higher for couples who have lived together before marriage than it is for those who didn’t.
- ALL MY NEEDS WILL BE MET ALL THE TIME IN MARRIAGE: That’s a big whopping lie. Hopefully your spouse will do everything they can to meet your needs, but thinking every need will be met at just the perfect time is unrealistic. There will be times in your marriage that “romance” will be lacking. Your spouse won’t always be there at your every beckon call for sexual fulfillment. Plain and simple, your goal is not to get your own needs met in marriage, but to meet your spouse’s needs and in turn they meet yours.
- MY SPOUSE WILL KNOW MY NEEDS WITHOUT ME SAYING ANYTHING: No way. Just because you are married doesn’t mean your spouse can read your mind. You have to tell your spouse what your needs are in order to have them met. Quit giving your spouse the stupid old phrase of, “We’ll you should know my needs without me having to tell you.”
- CONFLICT WILL NEVER HAPPEN IN MARRIAGE: Conflict happens in every marriage. In fact, conflict can often bring growth in your marriage. I’m not saying that the couple who is constantly having a knock-down-drag-out will have a healthy marriage, but that working through conflict can bring marital growth.
- A HAPPY MARRIAGE WILL NOT HAVE PROBLEMS: Every marriage will have its problems. Couples who truly love each other have problems and stress just as any other two people. In order to make it through the difficult times, the couple must have a commitment to each other and effective and honest communication. Seek help when you come to an impasse.
- MARRIED PEOPLE HAVE LESS SEX AND LESS SATISFYING SEX THAN SINGLE PEOPLE: I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this, but it’s just not true (read this). According to a national survey, married people have more sex than their single counterparts and report more physical and emotional satisfaction. Maybe it’s because it the way God created it to be!!!
- MY SPOUSE WILL CHANGE AFTER WE’RE MARRIED & THINGS WILL BE BETTER AFTER WE’RE MARRIED: People and things do change. However, the most accurate prediction of the kind of companion your spouse will be in the future is the kind of companion he or she is right now. Those who marry a person with the intention of overhauling their personality or of converting them usually face serious disappointments.
In the long run, marriage is built on good old-fashion work. Your marriage needs love, support, tolerance, communication, realistic expectations, caring, nurturing, and even a sense of humor to be successful.
Did I leave any “myths” off that you can think of?