What misconceptions about marriage have you heard?
While I loved the idea of marriage when I was single, I balked at the thought of life-long matrimony.
I thought about all the things that could go wrong, all the “work required to keep a man happy” (my terrible idea of a happy marriage), all the loss of personal space. And I couldn’t take it.
But I am now happily married; clearly, marriage won. But not before I had to confront some misconceptions I had about marriage.
Over time, I have realized that culture peddles far more misconceptions and lies about marriage than it does truth.
I am still learning, but I’ve discovered a few giant balloons that need to be popped. Aka 5 myths about marriage.
Lets talk about them today.
Five misconceptions about marriage couples have
1. Trust is freely given, never earned.
Let me start by saying I am not referencing the regular trust levels needed for a relationship to function.
In this scope, I am addressing occasions where a spouse has broken trust. When trust in marriage is broken, it’s common for the spouse who broke trust to get offended by the effort of building up a broken heart.
I’ve interacted with spouses who betrayed their partners. They repented and changed but feel frustrated by the long process of restoration. “But I thought she forgave me? Why is she still holding out? Why doesn’t she trust me even after reassuring her I’ve changed?”
Here’s what I believe: When you break the trust that your spouse gave you, you don’t get it back automatically. You have to prove yourself to earn it back.
Trust is not earned by mere words only. It’s certainly not achieved by coercing your spouse. The very act of pushing your spouse is an indication you still have some work left to do.
Trust is earned by consistent lifestyle, behavior, and action. And it takes time.
When trust is broken, it’s okay to have expectations on behavior and to hold each other accountable.
There’s a process to rebuilding trust. When we don’t expect the process, we end up frustrated, hurt, and stuck in the same mess we are trying to get out of.
Along the same lines, it’s important to note that forgiveness and trust are two different things.
Spouses who broke trust don’t have to prove themselves to earn forgiveness because we are to “forgive each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 We forgive freely because Christ forgave us.
But we earn trust.
Now, “earning trust” doesn’t mean constant suspicion, lashing out, and punishments. If you are struggling to move along in your restoration process, please bring it up with your counselor or mentor.
Rebuilding trust is hard: that’s why we need outside input because we default to hurtful reactions when we are wounded. So seek counsel from trusted sources (licensed counselor, pastor, mentor) who are invested in your growth to help you move forward.
2. Once married, the relationship becomes your sole source of happiness.
As a single girl, I had no intention of getting my happiness from a man. Then I got married and discovered I had underestimated my desires.
And society said that if he wasn’t making me happy, he had a problem!
I am not alone. Many spouses sign up for marriage, fully expecting their spouses to be their only source of happiness. And I get it. Marriage is not supposed to be a source of misery: it should bring an uncommon delight, beauty, and contentment.
But the way relationships are created, they squeeze the currency out of us first: They reveal what we have on the inside of us.
If we consistently lack joy, our spouse will not fill us up because that’s not a problem with the relationship. It’s a problem on the individual.
When we expect our spouse to be for us what we are not willing to be for ourselves, we place a burden on the marriage it was never meant to carry.
Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It’s something we cultivate from the within as we grow in faith and relationship with God.
So yes, our marriage should be a source of joy, no doubt. Our spouse is meant to add happiness to our lives, not remove it. But even a healthy marriage cannot make up for our lack of inner joy and contentment.
3. Misconceptions about marriage: the early years of marriage are heavenly
Society said, “If your first year of marriage is hard, there’s something wrong with you.”
My husband and I had a rocky beginning. We didn’t know how to solve conflict without driving each other nuts. We were struggling financially. And we moved countries before we could set some roots down in marriage.
Some couples enjoy a problem-free start to married life, and that’s beautiful. But if you don’t have a problem-free beginning to marriage, I want you to know that your rocky start doesn’t have to define the rest of your lives.
Just because you fight or feel like you made the biggest mistake of your life now doesn’t mean you have to feel the same way the rest of your married life.
You are not doomed to a life of misery. There is hope. You can work your way out of problems. My husband and I are proof of that.
Now, I want you to know it takes two spouses to turn a marriage around. (In cases of abuse, infidelity, unrepentant sin or any behavior that damages the marriage covenant, it takes one the spouse owning up to their problems and doing the necessary work to change and repair the damage done.) If you are the only interested in turning a marriage around, then you might be in a chronically problematic marriage and you need outside intervention in the form of individual counseling and other steps. Check out this page for resources that might help.
4. Men and women are the same
Some of the communication issues my husband and I experienced at the beginning of our marriage stemmed from the fact that I expected him to be like one of my female friends.
I unloaded a lot of emotions and information, fully expecting him to connect all the dots with me and keep that loop going. But the conversations left him exhausted.
Generally, women are used to talking about their emotions and connecting through conversation with other women. Men are not socialized to talking about their feelings with other men or using conversation for emotional connection.
“Men tend to use language to transmit information, report facts, fix problems, clarify status, and establish control. Women are more inclined to view language as a means to greater intimacy, stronger or richer relationships, and fostering cooperation rather than competition” Source
Like all metrics, these statements are not representative of all marriages. Plenty of men might use conversation to connect, and many women might see conversation as transactional.
The point I am making is that our different genders play a significant role in how we approach marriage.
After all, it is God who said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18 ESV God designed marriage to be a complementary relationship where our individual strengths and wiring add depth and beauty.
We are not the same in that sense – we are designed to be different on purpose. When we don’t acknowledge or even celebrate these individual differences, we take away a massive part of what makes marriage awe-inspiring.
5. All marriages are the same
The online dictionary defines rhythm as “a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.”
Happily married couples have found a rhythm of some sort; a unique dynamic that sets them apart. It is the repeated pattern in how they do life together, what makes them laugh, how they do vacations, how they parent, the sacred space to express their individuality, how they solve conflict, the way they see the world, their values e.t.c
A healthy marriage settles into a rhythm over time – the cadence is not a mold we try to fit into; instead, it’s a fruit of growth and discovery.
It’s okay to settle into your rhythm. We hate the word “settling.” As we should when used in some contexts. But in this context, it is important to celebrate how your marriage flows: You are unique and were not meant to be like other couples.
Fighting against who we are as a couple or trying to be like others couples is a recipe of discontentment in marriage.
And to answer your question, yes we can be inspired by other marriages. Yes, we can learn from others. But we should never abandon who we are at the alter of comparison.
Marriage has it’s seasons.
It’s all that.
But it also what we make of it.
Now it’s your turn: What other misconceptions about marriage have you heard? Let’s chat in the Comments.