There’s a lot about marriage you don’t know until you take the plunge. The only myth about marriage that’s true is that no matter how long you are together, you likely will never ever agree on whether the milk should sit on the table during breakfast or go back in the fridge (it should always go back in the fridge). Marriage is different for everyone, and commitment levels vary across the board. Still, the standard marriage myths are mostly just myths, like…
Myth 1: Happy couples do not argue.
We sure do! If we didn’t, the only thing on TV would be golf and the toilet paper roll would always be the way the Type-A person wanted it. There’s a time to give in and a time to stand your ground. Arguing is not only an excellent form of communication, it also demands the other person respects that you have opinions that aren’t theirs. How do couples get happy? Certainly not by flipping the damn toilet paper roll every time you use the bathroom.
Myth 2: If I marry the “right person,” we will always feel in love.
Remember those boots you absolutely adored and took better care of than any of your children? Gradually as the months went by and the seasons changed, they got hit with rain, wind, slush, and mud. They don’t look as smooth and polished as when you first bought them, but they’re still stylish. They even have a worn, rugged, and rough look about them that give them character. Plus, they’re broken-in and comfortable. That’s how marriage is. You will never love those boots like you did when you first bought them, but will have grown to appreciate how comfy they are and all the flaws they acquired along your journey together. You may not always feel that deep longing of love for your spouse that you once had when it was all so new, but you will have a deeper-rooted love that can’t replaced by, or with, anyone else.
Myth 3: Our kids need us so they should always come first.
And what happens when they are gone and too busy for either you or your spouse? Yes, kids are needy. Yes, you should be a great parent and be there for them and spend time with them. But you shouldn’t replace your marriage with parenthood. Remember, you said yes to each other long before you said yes to kids. If you don’t nurture your marriage through the grueling years of raising kids, you won’t have a marriage when they’ve grown and flown. It’s not easy to make kid-free time for each other, but it’s one of the most important things you’ll ever do for your relationship.
Myth 4: Marriage is work.
Marriage requires effort if you want to make it work, but marriage itself isn’t work. Marriage is a commitment, so if you think committing to things is work, then maybe it is. Still, there is more in life that requires commitment than just marriage. Hobbies, sports, jobs, computer games, any kind of interest or skill requires some level of commitment — it’s not always rainbows and butterflies when you are learning to tap dance. So, just like your most desired interest or activity, it is what you put into it. And more often than not it doesn’t feel like “work.” It simply is.
Myth 5: Having kids can save a troubled marriage.
Let’s be honest here, for as much love and joy as children can and do bring into our lives, it’s stressful. Parenting, especially small kids, is taxing and physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. So if you’re looking to save your marriage, try counseling first — not a baby.
Myth 6: The first years are supposed to be the best years.
I always thought this was true, but it turns out our seventh and eighth years were by far the single best years. We were past learning to communicate with each other. We had accepted the way we were, and that was just who we were. I wouldn’t change the first years — without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Still, I wouldn’t want to revisit them. They were awkward, like junior high school.
Myth 7: When you marry someone, they will fix their flaws.
It’s true — you do change in a marriage. There are many things you can change for your spouse, but not who you are. A person will only change if they want to, and even then, they can only change some things. At the end of the day, we are who we are, flaws and all. It’s a big thing to accept about someone, and that is part of loving them — for better or for worse.
Myth 8: Marriage eradicates loneliness.
I suppose on some level this can be true for a variety of reasons. But if you aren’t comfortable with yourself and your “you” time, marriage won’t fix that. For as often as you are with another person, marriage carries its own fair share of loneliness during heavy times. Sometimes that feeling is worse than actually being alone.
Myth 9: Marriage is 50/50.
Marriage is 100/100. That’s why it feels unfair, because it often is. It’s not supposed to be equal because sometimes you give more, and sometimes you take more. Same goes for your spouse. Sometimes the scale is balanced, but not always and not for long. When you give yourself to someone and truly mean it, that means 100% self-sacrifice. If not for this one minor detail, I think the meaning of commitment loses itself.
Myth 10: Marriage is boring
Like anything in life, it is what you make it.
There’s a lot to be said after you get over those rough bumps they call the “honeymoon period” (whatever that is). For me, the best season of my marriage is now, around the 10-year mark. We argue less, but we still fight. We respect each other more and don’t need to guess what the other one needs. We can tell each other, or we can figure it out by the other’s actions and moods.
It’s true that as you get to know someone, you have a stronger bond with them. You have committed so many tears and so much time to this person, and they have committed in return, even though it may be in different ways. After all, everything in life is about perspective, including the decision to leave the milk on the table at breakfast or put it in the fridge.