Let’s have a chat about common myths around marriage.
Stories about relationships date back to time immemorial.
In Greek mythology, we have the story of Hera, the Goddess of marriage, who longed to be a bride and a wife. Perhaps in her relationship with Zeus, she represents the story of a modern-day woman who stays stuck in a relationship humiliated by her husband’s affairs but not directly expressing her anger to him.
Instead, she channels her rage at the other woman, blaming her instead of confronting the person who, up until this point, has been the most important someone in her life.
Then we have the romantic fairytales, Snow White, Cinderella and the like, where on the one hand, women wait for the arrival of their handsome groom or rescuer to feel a sense of aliveness, safety, fulfilment and care. On the other hand, perhaps another way of looking at it is that these stories call us to wake up and become conscious of our unconscious part, including our power and ability to take action, qualities we often project onto partners.
Now we have modern myths about marriage created in Married At First Sight, Love Island. Instagram stories and TikTok. And am I the only one whose Apple News feed had been filled with stories of a famous couple’s son’s ‘fairytale’ wedding? Or perhaps the algorithms tell me that I, too, get caught up in the gush of romance, the modern portrayal of myths about marriage. It can be rather addictive!
The Myth Of Eternity
It’s easy to romanticise marriage and sign up to the belief that once you’ve found your life partner, that’s it and all will be well in the world. You’ll feel at peace and never be romantically lonely or disappointed again. That perhaps is the first myth about marriage.
All things change.
Love is authentic when it stays intact through all phases of change. David Richo
But what happens is once the reality of a long-term commitment sets in, couples often feel like there’s something wrong with them or their relationship because the marriage hasn’t lived up to these expectations.
This is why people often don’t get help with their marriage. They think they’ve failed and feel shame.
But none of this represents a fault in you. Most long-term relationships go through ups and downs.
Love doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s important to know what reality looks like so you don’t have to feel like a failure every time it hits. As you accept what you and your partner struggle with, it means you can get help and deepen your marriage.
8 Myths About Marriage
Here are 8 myths about healthy marriages:
In a healthy marriage….
Myth # 1: You don’t need to work on your relationship. A marriage that needs to be worked on isn’t worth having.
Good relationships don’t simply magic themselves out of thin air. All satisfying relationships require two committed people to make an effort. The more difficult times you successfully come through, the stronger the relationship.
Myth # 2: The excitement and romance in our love will continue unabated over time.’
Relationships change, and they all go through normal, predictable developmental stages. The problem arises when partners resist and don’t progress through these stages. The growth is actually in gradually replacing that early buzz with a mature, more profound understanding of love.
Myth # 3. ‘Being in an intimate relationship should be the way to happiness.’
Your relationship is only one part of your life, so do not expect it to make everything in your life magically all right.
Myth # 4. ‘It’s the other person’s fault. If only they could change and be different.’
Buying into this myth about marriage dooms it to failure.
While you hold on to this belief, there is limited personal inner growth, limiting the couple’s expansion—couples who blame project their responsibility to each other. When you don’t accept responsibility for your actions, feelings and your life, you miss the opportunity for self-enquiry, which enables a deeper connection with yourself and deeper intimacy with your partner.
We each have to do our own inner work.
A significant part of improving relationships is about changing yourself and not directly expecting the other person to change. The changes you make in yourself will precipitate changes in others. Part of a good relationship is not about choosing the right person but being the right partner you want to be.
Myth # 5. ‘If my partner really loved me, they would react and behave in a certain way – the way I behave.’
When one person expects the other to be their clone, this is a sure sign that the marriage is stuck and hasn’t grown beyond the early stages of the relationship.
As a relationship evolves and progresses, the couple differentiates.
Ellyn Bader, PhD of The Couples Institute, describes differentiation as:
When individual partners can define their thoughts, feelings actively, wants, and desires to each other and be able to handle and allow the partner to do the same.
What makes this so important is that it enables partners to be more known to each other, and in doing that, there is an inevitable amount of anxiety.
Differentiation is a sign of development. When couples aren’t developing, the relationship begins to stagnate.
Our partners are different from us and that’s a good thing. When we can accept and respect differences our relationship has a chance of blossoming.
Myth # 6. ‘My partner should always know how I feel and should anticipate my needs.’
This belief is perhaps one of the biggest blocks to connection and intimacy. Yes, it’s a great feeling to experience moments of synchronicity with a partner and to know they are empathic towards our needs.
However, a relationship is like a dance with more than one step. If your partner knows what’s on your mind, they don’t need to ask. And when the questions dry up, your partner will make assumptions about how you feel over time.
The truth is no one but you can know how you feel. Our feelings are personal things.
Equally important when the questions dry up is the lack of curiosity that follows; a potential sign of low interest. Something becomes stale, overly familiar and boring. If they never ask questions because they always know how you feel you may miss the signs your partner has checked out and no longer wants to invest time and energy into the relationship.
Do not imagine that your partner telepathically knows how you feel. The ability to communicate honestly about how you feel and what you think is the essential ingredient in a healthy relationship.
Myth # 7. ‘My partner should provide everything I need; I do not need anybody else. Love means wanting to be together.’
No one person can meet all our needs. We all need to maintain a healthy circle of friendships to meet our varied needs. This is one of the myths about marriage that if followed, will rob you of your sense of autonomy, agency and responsibility for your life.
Myth # 8. ‘My partner should never hurt me, show anger or disagree with me on important matters.’
This myth about marriage is a symptom of a conflict-avoidant marriage where issues are sidestepped and covered up. At the other end of the spectrum, there might be a lot of drama expressed through acts of, retaliation, withdrawal, or violence.
Conflict is a normal part of a healthy relationship. I’m not talking about stressful drama or tolerating abuse, but about when a problem is put on the table, explored and confronted. As a couple, you look to ‘fight’ fairly.
In this myth, there is the presence of the needy inner child wanting to be right and needing your partner to give into you instead of working things out. ‘I need you to make me feel good, never betray me or disappoint me.’
So what does the healthy adult do? Understand that you and your partner are different from each other and, inevitably, from time to time, will frustrate each other. We can all be vulnerable to saying things in anger that we later regret. Anger and disappointment are part of the human experience. It is how we behave and how we express ourselves when these feelings seem to overtake us that discerns what’s okay or not. Compassion and forgiveness are also essential ingredients.
Over To You
If you’re asking yourself, ‘should I stay married?’ and want a safe space to explore this difficult decision, and what myths about marriage you’re holding on to get in touch for a clarity session. I offer video sessions online via a secure platform.
Or call me today on 07535 864836.
Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. PASS IT ON
Enjoyed this post? Use the icons below to tweet it, share it on Facebook, and send it to specific friends via email.
© Sandra Harewood 2022
Soul Centred couples therapist, counsellor and Jungian Shadow Work coach Sandra Harewood specialises in working with women and couples stuck at a crossroads in their marriage. Relationships are precious; this is your chance to begin a new journey and experience the connection and intimacy you most deeply desire.
Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore creative solutions to their difficulties and deepen their self-knowledge to discover what keeps them ‘stuck’ in their marriages to create and experience extraordinary relationships.