7 Marriage Myths Worth Busting
Ditch unrealistic expectations and dive into what actually makes marriage work.
What do marriage and Valentine’s Day have in common? Both tend to breed high expectations which usually lead to sheer disappointment.
We all have ideas of what a healthy marriage should be, but I’d argue that some of these expectations are unhealthy myths. These myths have the uncanny ability to hurt a marriage before it even happens.
So let’s deconstruct them. By keeping these myths out of mind, you’ll be well on your way to choosing your spouse wisely and handling your marriage with grace.
Myth #1: Married people know what they’re doing.
In my single days, I’d go to a wedding and think, “Wow, these two people who have it all figured out!” Then I got married and realized pretty quickly that I didn’t have a clue. Anyone can have a great wedding. But it takes commitment, character, faithfulness and humility to make a great marriage.
Marriage doesn’t define you; you define it. Marriage doesn’t happen at your wedding. It develops slowly during the thousands of days thereafter.
Myth #2: Marriage is work.
You’ve heard this saying before. But metaphors are powerful. Be careful what you’re comparing your marriage to, because it might limit your marriage. You will have to work at elements of your marriage, but marriage is not work. Marriage is play. Marriage is an adventure. Marriage is a partnership. Marriage is a creative incubator.
Create marriage metaphors that bring life, not drudgery. Whether you’re dating or married, what do you want your relationship metaphor to be? Marriage is the metaphor that you make it.
Myth #3: Your spouse is your best friend.
Don’t force your spouse to be your best friend. Keep your best friends your best friends. Yes, I do believe your spouse should be the closest friend you’ve ever had. But many of us are determined to make our spouse our best friend, which really means trying to mold and mash our spouse into acting the way we think a best friend should act.
Make your friendship with your spouse into an elite category of its own. Don’t base it on your previous experiences or ideas of what a friend should be, but on what works for both of you.
Myth #4: Marriage completes you.
If you’re looking for a relationship to complete you, you will always feel like you’re in lack. Your spouse is not God, a magic genie or a unicorn with wish-granting abilities. Your spouse is human. If you’re putting unrealistic, mythical expectations on your relationship, it might end up more Greek tragedy than romantic comedy.
A good relationship should not complete you or fix you. It should inspire you to work toward your own wholeness daily.
Myth #5: Marriage is a one-time thing.
Marriage is not static. It’s not a one-size-fits-all pair of jeans that will always look the same. Your relationship will change because people change.
In marriage, you have to be willing to re-adjust and re-commit to new seasons. Sometimes that change is screaming in your face (take a newborn baby for example). But sometimes the change is more subtle and nuanced.
Whether it’s a promotion, a death, a new life or a new city, we must learn to adapt and grow. Though conditions will change, your commitment should not.
Myth #6: Who you choose to marry is the most important choice you’ll ever make.
Yes, choosing your spouse is important. But choosing your spouse every day after the wedding is even more so. There are countless moments throughout each day in which you are faced with the decision to choose your spouse, or not.
Will you start flirting with that co-worker? Will you start reconnecting with that person on Facebook? Will you start staying at work a little later every night?
Marriages don’t fall apart because of one big compromise. They fall apart due to a thousand small ones. Like a windshield crack, the longer you drive on without addressing the issue, the more shattered your relationship will become.
Myth #7: You need affirmation that your marriage is on the right track.
While it can be beneficial to have people you trust speaking into your marriage, you need to be careful who you’re giving that permission to. Those words can breathe life into your marriage, or unhelpful messes, depending on who they’re coming from.
Your marriage is your marriage. Be careful who you’re receiving marriage advice from. I’ve met too many hurting couples that are not actively working on their issues, but love giving other people marriage advice.
While it’s great to get input from healthy people, you can’t be constantly measuring your marriage by what other people think about it, even if they’re your own family.
So choose wisely who you are going to allow to speak into your marriage. If you’re listening to the wrong voices telling you where to turn, your marriage might end up on the wrong side of the road.
Photo by IVASHstudio/Shutterstock.com
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Paul Angone is the best-selling author of “101 Secrets for Your Twenties“ and the creator of All Groan Up, a popular community for those asking “what now?” He also speaks internationally to organizations striving to successfully engage, retain and lead Millennials, as well as to college students and twenty-somethings.