And They Lived Happily Ever After?10 Myths About Marriage

The fairy tales we were told as children always implied a wedding and concluded with “…and they lived happily ever after.”  This leads us to believe a couple’s happiness begins the moment they are married—as if the wedding was the end of the story. In reality, the wedding is just the beginning of a couple’s life together as they learn how to really love each other.

We all have expectations regarding marriage and when these expectations aren’t met we find ourselves disappointed. The following are some common myths about marriage that can get in the way of marital satisfaction. If a couple can let go of these myths they will be better able to enjoy a healthy relationship.

Myth #1: “And they lived happily ever after”

Movies and stories create the illusion that a couple who is truly in love never has problems. The reality is that a relationship is something you have to work on every day. Because of this, it is crucial to learn to communicate with respect and to discover how best to show your partner love. Everyone is different—some may enjoy giving gifts or having help with housework; others may enjoy holding hands and taking a walk.

Myth #2: “You are my other half”

This idea sends a message that we are only whole as a person when we are with someone who completes us in every aspect. Your partner won’t be able to fulfill your every need—but this doesn’t mean your love has ended. Friendship is one of the keys to a lasting relationship, even during difficult times. Take the initiative to spend time together to cultivate the friendship in your relationship.

Myth #3: “My partner will make me completely happy”

This phrase gives the impression that our partner is responsible for making us happy. But each of us is responsible for our own happiness. A healthy relationship is made up of two fulfilled individuals. The more you know and accept yourself, the more capacity you will have to love your partner in a healthy way.

Myth #4:  “We are soul mates”

This phrase makes us think that when a couple really loves one another they will always be in agreement and perhaps even guess each other’s thoughts. However, each individual is different. You don’t need to have the same likes and interests to identify with your partner. In fact, these differences can enrich the relationship. At the same time, it is important to embrace your similarities since these will likely be the base of your identity as a couple.

Myth #5: “Marriage destroys sex”

Some people think sleeping next to the same person every night will lead to sexual boredom. However, studies show that married couples have more frequent and satisfying sex. Boredom results from treating the subject as a taboo and not talking openly as a couple. Expressing your wants and needs to your partner will help you feel more connected and can result in a more enjoyable sex life. Books or workshops can also help you understand the different needs of men and women.

Myth #6: “Only couples with really bad marriages need marriage counseling or education”

Many people dread seeing a marriage counselor more than visiting a dentist. But a little preventative maintenance in your marriage can save you both from a lot of heartache down the road. Too often, people postpone visiting a marriage counselor until their relationship is in dire straits, at which point issues may be harder to resolve. Another excellent way to strengthen your relationship is to take a marriage and relationship education (MRE) workshop together. These workshops are held in group settings and focus on building core relationship skills such a communication and conflict resolution.

Myth #7: “If we fight, we must have a bad marriage”

If you find yourself really enjoying a fight, check yourself. We shouldn’t relish arguing with our spouse—but we should do it anyway, at least occasionally. Why? Because in any marriage, conflicts and differences of opinion will naturally arise. Failure to communicate about these issues can lead to mounting resentment and emotional estrangement. In fact, habitual avoidance of conflict is one of the leading predictors of divorce. While fighting itself is not bad, how you fight can be very destructive to your relationship. Being able to communicate about difficult issues with respect is crucial to maintaining a healthy marriage.

Myth #8:  “Ours is true love and it won’t change with time” 

When we are in love we think the wonderful feelings will never end. The reality is that couples go through stages as their relationship matures. The first stage, the honeymoon stage, is distinguished by strong attraction between the partners. However, daily life, stress and other challenges (sickness, financial problems, job loss, etc.) can lead to a dissipation of these feelings. This may cause couples to think their love for one another has disappeared. Couples must make an effort to not allow life’s challenges to rob them of their happiness. Work to keep the spark in your relationship alive.

Myth #9:  “I will help him/her change”

When people enter a relationship, they tend to change somewhat in order to adapt to one another. However, many people think they should be motive enough for their partner to change his/her habits, beliefs and practices. When these changes don’t happen, dissatisfaction with the relationship can result. It may be helpful to attend a marriage and relationship education (MRE) workshop where you learn skills to communicate about any issues in a productive way. If your partner has deep-rooted problems such as substance addiction, he or she may need professional assistance.

Myth #10: “Alone at last”

Many times we think we only need our partner to be happy; as a result, we shut off other relationships. However, isolation is one of the biggest risks for a couple. Being around other healthy couples can provide support and set a good example for your own marriage. Extended family can also be a great support network. However, it is important for a couple to establish limits in order to protect their couple identity and the decisions they make as a couple.

Life as a couple can be a satisfying and fascinating experience. However, a good relationship is the fruit of daily effort, dedication and commitment. True love isn’t just feeling butterflies in your stomach when you are with the person you love. It is fighting for the relationship during hard times. You can have a strong marriage by contributing 100 percent of your commitment and love to the relationship. It is possible to have a happy ending to your own love story!