Marriage has quite the reputation around it, don’t you think? Some see it as a drag, while others spend their entire lives with a cutout photo of their head glued to a wedding dress clip out on the very top of their dream boards.
But what happens when the wedding bells have chimed and the Pinterest worthy “I Do’s” have passed? We are told so many great things about what marriage is and what it means, but with that, comes a lot of terrible advice and straight up myths that leave many couples in a position of stress and distress in their nuptials.
My hope is that by tackling some of these myths, we can all move towards fuller, healthier marriages.
So here is my list of thirteen myths about marriage:
ONCE YOU’RE MARRIED, SEX GOES OUT THE WINDOW
This one, I swear. Sometimes I want to write very strongly worded letters to the people who think it’s hilarious to write this myth into movies, television shows, talk-show-host-jokes, etc.
There is no written rule, clause, or even guideline that states marriage is some sex-sucking vortex that will undoubtedly deny you of physical pleasure. Unfortunately, so many people subconsciously believe this, so the minute there is a hiccup in their sex life they assume their marriage is just naturally progressing to a state of no sex (as expected) and don’t bother to challenge that.
CHILDREN SHOULD COME BEFORE YOUR SPOUSE.
Grab your torch and pitchforks, because I’m about to bust this one wide open and I know there are plenty of people who won’t like it. A few years ago I wrote about how I believe your spouse should come first and I stand by it.
Your marriage is a foundation for your children. It will teach them about romantic love and guide them to their own spouse one day. And at the end of the day, it’s going to be you and your main squeeze living out your days together while your children are grown living their own dreams. So it is absolutely vital that you continue to nurture that relationship and make it a priority in your life.
MARRIAGE IS HARD WORK.
Look, marriage isn’t always easy, but it is also not hard work. This is a dangerous phrase because it implies that your relationship is a job, rather than a connection with another human being. You don’t punch in and out of your marriage, get holidays off, or have reports due by Monday—why then, do so many people refer to it in terms of an occupation?
Our language matters, so pay attention to the way you speak about your marriage as well as the other relationships in your life (parenting, for example). Just like with all connections we share with other people—be it our parents, our friends, our spouse, etc.—you are bound to run into roadblocks. Nobody’s personality meshes with anothers 100% of the time. You can work hard at communicating and overcoming obstacles in your marriage, but that doesn’t make the marriage itself, hard work.
IF YOUR PARTNER REALLY LOVES YOU, THEN YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO TELL THEM WHEN SOMETHING IS WRONG BECAUSE THEY SHOULD ALREADY KNOW.
Expecting your spouse to be able to read your mind is like going to a foreign country and expecting them to be fluent in your language.
We, women, like to believe that we are all straight up psychic when it comes to our relationships with others. And honestly, there is some merit to that. Women, in general, tend to be more in tune with other people’s emotions and mannerisms, as well as more empathetic. But to expect your spouse, or anyone for that matter, to be able to decipher what your shoulder shrug means is not only unrealistic but also super unhealthy for your relationship.
EVERYTHING SHOULD BE 50/50
While it is true that there should be a healthy balance in your relationship, this does not mean that every task should be distributed evenly. You need to be willing to play off of one another’s skills and availability in order to find a groove that works right for you, rather than keeping mental tabs of who takes out the trash the most or does the dishes every night. If your spouse leaves at 5 am every morning and you don’t get up until 8 am, it makes sense for them to be the one to take out the trash bins every week. Likewise, if you stay at home and your partner works, it makes sense for you to contribute more to household chores than they do.
Highlight each other’s strengths and respect one another’s time rather than focusing on the areas your partner lacks in. My husband hates doing the dishes and I hate sweeping, so he rarely touches a dish and I rarely touch a broom. Things are not always going to come out 50/50, but you shouldn’t be keeping score anyway.
CHILDREN WILL BRING YOU CLOSER TOGETHER.
It’s a sweet picture: You and your spouse become parents to a perfect little angel baby and you spend your evenings giving that little ball of squish calming lavender baths. Then the three of you cuddle up in bed and read bedtime stories until sweet squishy gently melts away to dreamland. Then you look into your partner’s eyes and think, “how perfect our life is!”
Don’t get me wrong, moments like these do happen, but they are mixed in with a mess of other moments that are guaranteed to rock your foundation if it isn’t solid. Exhaustion, late night feedings, excessive tears, limited mobility, diaper changes, I-don’t-know-what-the-heck-I’m-doing-moments, and everything in between often make for two adults who barely spend any one-on-one time together anymore.
Children will challenge you in incredible ways, but they will also challenge your marriage as you learn to navigate life as a wife and a mother.
YOUR HAPPINESS LIES WITHIN EACH OTHER.
“You make me feel like I’m talking to myself!
“You made me really upset when you said that.”
“I’d be happier if you would just…”
Too often we believe that our happiness is deeply rooted in other people’s words and actions. But in truth, you and only you are responsible for your happiness. Expecting your spouse to control your emotional wellbeing would be like asking them to swallow and digest your food for you.
If you place your happiness in someone else’s hands, you will be disappointed every single time. Not because they don’t love and care about you, but because they are a separate human being from you and they already have a full-time job being in charge of someone else’s happiness—their own.
LOVE CAN CHANGE A PERSON.
People do change. I myself have completely transformed from the timid woman I once was. But here is the kicker, and it’s a big one: People do not change unless they want to. At least not long term.
It’s easy to convince someone for a week or two to improve their habits to meet your needs. And because they love you, often times they will make the attempt. But at the end of the day, unless they see it as a problem themselves, nothing will change and you will both end up in a vicious cycle where both parties feel like they aren’t worthy. You feel like your spouse should love you enough to change, and your spouse feels like you should love them enough to accept them the way they are.
ROMANCE SHOULD COME NATURALLY.
If I had a dollar for every relationship that was ruined by the expectation that romance should come naturally, I would be one rich bitch. I get it, I do. John Cusack’s boombox serenade makes romance seem effortless. But if you’ve ever carried a boombox, you know that those things are not light, effortless, or easily portable. Homeboy put some serious thought and planning into that ish and that’s because romance isn’t always as simple as pressing an on/off switch.
We all speak different love languages, which means that what might be romantic to you, may not be at all to your spouse. So make sure you get clear on what romance is first, and then remember to have grace for your partner (and for yourself), because life isn’t a movie and romance isn’t natural for everyone, all of the time.
YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW TO PLEASE EACH OTHER AND DON’T NEED TO HAVE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT SEX.
This is sort of a hidden belief that nobody really talks about, but it’s a huge one that causes so many underlying issues in relationships. Why are we so afraid to talk about sex with our spouses?
America still treats sex like a taboo (despite it being one of the most natural parts of our existence) and because of this, so many couples feel embarrassed or ashamed talking to their partner about their needs and desires in the bedroom. But when you don’t communicate about sex, how is your partner supposed to know how to please you? The answer is simple: They can’t.
Our bodies are all unique, which means there isn’t a “one size fits all” for sexual pleasure. That is why it is vital to get a conversation going with your spouse about what works and what doesn’t in order to experience the level of closeness and connection that your marriage was designed for.
LOVE IS ENOUGH.
The Beatles paint a pretty picture of love being all that we need, but unfortunately, they’re wrong. While many of the things we need all route back to love, love itself is not the only basis for a solid marriage. Many people stay in damaging relationships because they believe that love is more important than mutual respect, communication, and desire. Obviously, love is a crucial piece to the puzzle, but it is not the only piece. The trick with love is that it is often left up to interpretation.
If you grow up in a home where your example of love is your father yelling at your mother, apologizing, and kissing her on the head, you will likely grow to see love as a tempered and apologetic. If you grow up with a single parent, love may look like devoting yourself to providing for your family. If your parents are super mushy, love will look like a sappy chick flick to you.
Because we all view love differently based on our environments, love cannot be the final say in a relationship’s well being. Because love by itself, while powerful, is not perceived the same universally. Love must be coupled with things like mutual respect and communication in order to work through those barriers and find a common ground of what love means as a couple, rather than two individuals from different love backgrounds.
FIGHTING IS HEALTHY AND NORMAL.
Don’t freak out! I’m not here to tell you that you’re headed for divorce if you fight. We absolutely, 100% all have fights. Hell, we fight with everyone in our lives at some point, so why would our spouses be any different? However, consistent fighting is not normal or healthy. Does that mean you’re headed to Judge Judy to fight over who gets custody of the giant flat screen in the living room? Not quite.
Occasional fighting is not a cause for concern because, hi, we all get on each other’s nerves now and then. But if you find yourself repeating the same fights over and over again, this is likely due to issues that have not been fully dealt with between the two of you, that need attention. Sometimes this can be resolved by having a heart to heart and laying everything out on the table with some constructive, open communication. And if that doesn’t work and you find yourself in the cycle again, don’t be afraid to seek outside help.
One of the best things a couple can do for their marriage is get counseling when there is an underlying issue that keeps seeping its way back in the form of anger and frustration. Talking with an unbiased third party is a strong, productive way to give your marriage the opportunity to thrive that it so deeply deserves.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER DOES NOT EXIST.
I know I talked trash about love movies in this article, but there is some merit to their overall message. Happily ever after may not look like Cinderella suddenly being able to buy every pair of shoes in the kingdom because she’s #rich and in love with the wealthiest, dreamiest dude in the land—but it can look like a modern day fairytale where you spend the greater portion of your days feeling hashtag blessed and truly enjoying your marriage.
I’ve spent nearly a decade with my husband and I can honestly say that I still feel like I can’t get enough of him. We have been through absolute heartbreak together but I truly feel like the joy we have experienced outweighs the sorrow, tenfold.
Happily ever after does exist, you just have to believe that you are worthy of it. (Which, you totally are).
Does your love life need a recharge?
If you’re looking to totally transform your love life and find yourself in the process, this book is for you! Several women have already begun their adventures to a fuller marriage. I double dog dare ya to join us 😉