Misconceptions About Marriage – 5 Myths and Realities

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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.

Five misconceptions about marriage and how culture peddles far more myths and lies about marriage than it does truth. 5 truths to embrace

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.

Five misconceptions about marriage and how culture peddles far more myths and lies about marriage than it does truth. 5 truths to embrace

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 rewarding.

It’s beautiful.

It’s mind-blowing.

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.

40 Comments

  1. Smartgirl1214 says:

    It’s just a piece of paper…How do you respond to that?

    1. Marriage is God’s idea (Genesis 2:21-25), the joining of two hearts and lives to become one, representative of the relationship that Christ has with His bride the church. Hebrews 13:4a says “Let
      marriage be held in honor among all….”

      Marriage is not something we should rush into or get into irreverently. We walk into it with soberness and wisdom and counsel. Otherwise, it might one of the reasons people end up with a “it’s a piece of paper” idea, because they did not understand/or cared for the real meaning of a marriage union and covenant from the beginning.

  2. Awesome wisdom you draw from Scriptures and experience! It kinda goes with this article Aggressive Wives and Passive Husbands, giving a Scriptural perspective on how to handle the difference in personality.

    On the last point though, I’ll say that marriage is shown in Scriptures as a model to reveal Christ’s love for the church. If parties in marriage can understand their roles in light of Christ and the Church, marriage will be easy(ier)

    1. I’ll check out the article Moyo, glad to have you here. I agree with you,marriage does reveal the kind of relationship and love that Christ has with his bride the church. Nonetheless, i believe that for many married people, it’s a standard they are aiming for – they have not reached there yet. It’s a journey, and that’s where the work comes in. It’s true that as we learn to do marriage His way, it gets easier.

  3. This post says it so well Ngina.

    I’ve come to the same realisation that ‘society and pop culture spreads far more misconceptions and outright lies about marriage than it does truth.’

    The misconceptions you listed tick me off too because they rip people off from all the fulness of what a godly marriage can be like!! It’s so much better than pop-culture tries to tell us.

    Thanks for an inspiring post – I hope you have an awesome day!

  4. “…you don’t have to start off from the moon. You are firmly on earth” Hahaha, really funny line there Ngina. These misconceptions are right to a T.

    I am glad to have such real people in my life. I also have attended bridal showers where married ladies have shared their lives. The first years I have accepted are not heaven at all. Your point just cements that!

    You are not far from the truth about the misconceptions about marriage out there. The most that irritates me is when those advising others about their issues are not married at all, and bluntly say they don’t intend to wade in those murky waters soon. Will be looking forward to your book – it’s needed! Some fresh breathe of truth from someone who gets their information from the Marriage Manual (Bible). Much love Ngina. Thanks for this community as well!

    1. I see we share the same pet peeve Jep! “Advisors’ who have no qualifications and have no intention of getting some..but they can’t stop dishing out counsel. Now that am married one of my biggest irritation is singles who nitpick and look for advice in all the wrong places (and you know there’s no shortage of wrong marriage advice) and are permanently stuck on shortwave.. i.e they will not accept any positivity.

      I know many singles have been hurt and it’s easier to continue in negative cycles. Just that i think everyone owes it to themselves to search for good information, not just what tickles their itching ear (and hurting heart)
      ‘nuf rumbling! lol
      Thank you so much. Love being part of your community too. Maybe one of these days we can put together a conference in +254!

      1. Hahaha Ngina. Your passion is great, I love it!

        At the point where rumbling stops 🙂 we just realize something has to change. We shall be the change we want to see in this – your idea of a conference is very welcome. +254 would find real advisors with the right perspective useful.

  5. messymarriage says:

    Amazing words and list, Ngina! You’ve gained so much wisdom through your years of marriage and I’m so glad you’re passing it along to the rest of us! Thanks so much, my friend!

  6. This is excellent! I’m sure I had misconceptions of marriage but after 37 years I can’t remember them. ha!

      1. Six months gone, it hasn’t been easy like we are more like strangers. But I strongly believe in God for the best. Thanks Ngina, I am motivated.

  7. GREAT thoughts Ngina. I noticed much of the same in my 2 years of marriage. There’s almost 2 worlds of marriage: the one the world thinks exists, and the one God intended to exist. Choosing the latter is so much sweeter.

    1. I agree with you Grayson! Doing things God’s way is so much sweeter and so much more rewarding! I don’t know why we don’t get it right off the bat. It’s like we have to dip our feet into the bad waters of ‘world view’. before we get burned and go looking for God. Am glad He’s ever loving and forgiving 🙂

  8. It’s on the job training and learning. When I got married I was 24 and now 13 years later we have learned so many things. We did everything wrong in marriage, or should I say I did. We learned from our mistakes and made adjustments. It has t been easy which I think is the biggest misconception. Great post.

    1. “we did everything wrong, or should i say i did” I am glad you see the the three fingers pointing back at you if you point one towards her ..lol :). I don’t always see that myself. But am learning. I also like your observation after 13 years of marriage – it’s on job training and learning. great perspective.

  9. davejarnold16@gmail.com says:

    Great post, Ngina. I was pretty much clueless when I got married 🙂
    I think the biggest misconception I had was wanting (what I thought) was a “normal” marriage. But then it occured to me shortly after my wife and I got married that there is no such thing as a “normal” marriage. And if you are attempting to do marriage God’s way it will always be abnormal (especially according to the world). Gary Thomas’ book, “Sacred Marriage” really helped me. The idea of the book is that God created marriage for our holiness and not necessairly for our happiness. God bless!

    1. Dave, that’s a great perspective. What a great revelation God gave you. I think that was part of my problem as well when i got married. I thought I knew what normal was (which was mainly how other people did marriage). Doesn’t take long to realize that ‘normal’ doesn’t exist, does it. And the only way to learn how to do it well is to fall into the arms of God and have Him teach you.

      Sacred Marriage is in my to-read list. It sounds like a great book.

  10. Great misconceptions. Single people who think marriage is easy will have a chocking reality check when they get married. It takes work and effort to have and maintain a good and healthy marriage.

    1. Dan, is that a typo or you did mean ‘chocking’ …lol. It’s an apt description! i think we stop gagging once we let go of old thinking and accept new realities 🙂

      1. HAHA, yes that was a typo, I meant shocking:) But I guess both words would work.

  11. Have you read Gary Thomas’s “Sacred Marriage”? I find it really resonates with a lot of the same points you’ve made. Marriage is not easy, and it’s not about just making us happy. In fact, Thomas’s main point is that marriage is a tool God uses to make us holy, not happy.

    1. Loren, I haven’t read the book. I’ve heard great things about it and it’s in my to-read list. I believe that revelation – that marriage is a tool God uses to make us holy, not happy – would make the difference in many relationships.

  12. These are all such good points, Ngina. I think you should write a book on marriage. My husband and I had a very rocky first year of marriage – if I’d considered divorce as an option, I would have gotten one! I’m so thankful I didn’t, because I would have missed out on all the riches God had in store for through our marriage – many of them in the area of growth in my relationship with Him.

    Next week we’re skiing into a Forest Service ski hut to celebrate our 30th anniversary with three of our four kids. It’s good to enjoy each other and not feel like the other person has to measure up to our expectations so we can be happy.

    1. Happy 30th Barb! Wow, I feel little and young! (and we are! – in our fifth year now).

      I have a complete manuscript, would you believe. Completed it late last year and still tweaking it to date :). Hopefully the publishing process will be quicker 🙂

      Just like you, divorce was not an option. We didn’t allow ourselves to say the word. I think if we gave ourselves less options in life, we’d really grow and overcome much.

      again, congratulations to you and hubby and have an awesome time next week.

      1. Wow, that’s so great, Ngina. It seems like most of the marriage books out there are by men – I’d love to see a book by a woman. Plus I think you have really wise insights. I want that book!

        1. Thank you Barb for your kind words. it’s been a slow process…trusting God with my priorities. Trusting it will come out in not too long.

  13. I had a hard time with being submissive. In fact, I used to cringe when I read scripture related to it. So I prayed about it and God has shown me the beauty of His plan. It really is contrary to how our society operates, but there is liberty and peace found in following God’s design. It was a tough lesson to learn, in fact, I’m still learning it. I like to be in control, but it’s not nearly as rewarding as following God’s way.

    Being submissive doesn’t mean I’m a doormat or that I’m of lesser value. That was hard for me to swallow at first…only with God’s help was I able to view marriage how it was intended.

    1. ‘liberty and peace in following God’s design’ – I have found that to be the most liberating and peaceful way to do marriage too TC. it’s not easy to get there for those of us that are strong-willed. It takes revelation and His grace. And once there, we (at least I) wonder why i fought it so much :). It’s a process still, but what I love is that it’s upward progress..am not where i used to be. And that’s a blessed thing!

      1. Amen! I’m so glad I’m making progress in the right direction. I too wonder why it took me so long to realize it…but I guess I was just blinded by my own pride and self reliant attitude.

  14. Great balloons to pop. I’m not sure how we came to believe that someone else was responsible for our happiness. It’s just not logical. Neither is the misconception that people carry into relationships that assume the other person knows exactly how the feel and what they need without communicating it. They kind of go hand in hand. Great thoughts!

    1. Floyd, that’s another misconception – we can’t read each others minds!I think, and just as you mentioned in a previous comment, that society (media, entertainment, pop culture) tells people these things. Many people aren’t willing to dig out the truth for themselves. So they choose the easier path, feelings-driven instead of values driven.

  15. I can relate very well to this article. My wife and I are on the same team. I lead the team, and she is my partner. I also get the love language of service. That’s a big one for Shannon. It is a great principle to improve the love life

    1. Todd, so glad that you and Shannon are living out this truth. Many couples struggle and it’s awesome that you living it out.

      1. We so live it out. Yesterday, after church, I cleaned the carpets in the house. The dog made a horrible mess (very unusual), and it was really upsetting to the bride. I rented a carpet cleaner from Home Depot, and cleaned away. After about 1.5, she asked me to show her how to use it. We finished together.

        My goal in this next comment isn’t to be crude, but to make a point.

        If you speak your partner’s love language, “red hot monogamy” is easy to get to.

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