Many myths that surround marriagecan give you unrealistic expectations. Disappointment is sure to come if you are looking for the Cinderella-like happily-ever-after storybook marriage year after year. It is easy to get caught up in believing such things when we look at what is surrounding us in books, movies, and television. Therefore, a frank discussion about myths that are harmful to your marriage is in order!
Myths From Media
If you watch late night TV, enjoy classic movies, listen to love songs, or read romantic novels, then you may have an image of marriage that never, ever was.
Do you remember or have you watched Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, Bewitched, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, The Donna Reed Show, Lassie, and Full House? What about Disney fairy tales like Cinderella or Snow White? And then we have movies such as The Notebook, An Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Woman.
Think about the fact that nearly all of these households were the traditional family of mom, dad, and kids. They did not 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, political discussions, civil disobedience, unemployment, severe economic problems, and threats or even thoughts of divorce.
The father was the breadwinner and the mother made the bread. Until All in the Family came along, plots seemed to focus on little white lies, mischief, and misunderstandings.
Movies may reflect more serious themes, but we can all get easily caught up in the "love conquers all" themes in popular romantic movies and novels.
Couples march off into the sunset no matter what difficulties they have encountered. Passion is never effected by challenging life circumstances.
These story lines may make you believe that life is always wonderful--that all of your needs can and should be met by your spouse, children are the icing on the cake, marriage will solve all your problems, and you will live happily ever after.
Marriage Myths and Realities
- MYTH: The Loneliness Myth that marriage will end your loneliness.
- REALITY: Many married people are still very lonely.
- MYTH: The Fulfillment Fallacy which makes you believe that being married makes you complete human beings.
- REALITY: A couple complements one another, not completes one another. (Sorry, Jerry MaGuire!)
- MYTH: Marriage is for everyone.
- REALITY: There are a lot of unmarried people who are extremely happy.
- MYTH: The Monogamy Myth makes you believe that you are the only couple who is dealing with infidelity or that it only happens to bad or weak people.
- REALITY: Infidelity happens to many couples.
- MYTH: Romance will always be alive in a good marriage.
- REALITY: Nearly all relationships experience peaks and valleys. The everyday problems and challenges of married life can often cloud over romantic feelings. This is when making the decision to love is important.
- MYTH: Marriage makes people happy.
- REALITY: You can't expect your spouse to be your one source of happiness. Your personal happiness must come from within yourself. Marriage can complement your own individual happiness but it can't be the primary source.
- MYTH: You won't have major problems if you truly love one another.
- REALITY: A good marriage doesn't just happen. It takes nurturing, openness, and commitment and lots of communication.
- MYTH: My spouse should know my needs without my saying anything.
- REALITY: Just because you're married doesn't mean you can read minds. You still have to tell your spouses what your needs are.
- MYTH: Conflict means a lack of love.
- REALITY: Conflict happens in every marriage. Fighting fair and for the relationship, and not just to "win" is healthy in a marriage.
Some television shows like Mad About You, Home Improvement, To Have and To Hold, The Cosby Show, Dharma & Greg, and Everybody Loves Raymond reflect these values and show that marriages can survive conflict, disappointment, and problems.
Your marriage needs many qualities to be successful and long lasting. Some of these characteristics are love, support, tolerance, a deep emotional connection, good communication, realistic expectations, caring, nurturing, and a sense of humor.
*Article updated by Marni Feuerman
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