Many, if not most, expectations for marriage are based on idealized myths. If realities within a relationship do not match the myth, one or both partners may think they have made a terrible mistake. A few of the myths about marriage are:
MYTH: A good marriage will always be romantic.
REALITY: Virtually all relationships experience peaks and valleys. Sometimes, the realities of married life will often cloud over romantic feelings. Scott Peck, in his book The Road Less Traveled, stated — “Every couple falls in love; every couple falls out of love.” Just because the feelings of love are not always present doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of love; love is more of a choice than a feeling.
MYTH: Marriage will make me happy.
REALITY: A marriage partner does not have the power or ability to make another person happy. A person’s sense of happiness must come from deep inside himself. Relationship in marriage has the potential of complementing individual happiness and well-being, but it cannot be the primary source.
MYTH: If we really love each other, everything else will fall into place.
REALITY: Marriage needs constant nurturing. Because of individual, societal, and environmental changes, marriage is always in a state of flux; it is a dynamic relationship rather than a static one. Constant sensitivity to one another’s needs and continual adaptation to relational changes are necessary to keep love alive.
MYTH: My partner should intuitively know my needs.
REALITY: Regardless of a spouse’s intelligence or personal strengths, she does not have the ability to read her partner’s mind. Needs for security, affection, emotional support, encouragement, or physical assistance often must be verbalized in clear language, sometimes repeatedly. If the need is something the spouse can realistically provide, she must first know the need exists.
MYTH: Conflict means a lack of love.
REALITY: Conflict is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be damaging to the marriage relationship. Partners have different viewpoints and different feelings based on their background and previous experiences. Those differences do not mean that one partner is right and the other wrong; it just means they are not alike in their thoughts or feelings. Conflict, when dealt with appropriately, can be healthy for a relationship in that new ideas and new ways of looking at things are introduced to each partner and to the relationship.
Taken from “Marriage–A Many-Splendored, Sometimes Splintered, Thing” Written by Daniel Wayne Matthews, Ph.D., Human Development Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, North Carolina State University.
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