Are marriage myths keeping you from enjoying your spouse? Did you know 9 marriage myths could be hindering your relationship? Right now, in the next few minutes I am going reveal 9 Marriage myths and how the should be busted and removed from your marriage.
After a nearly six-year absence from private practice, I have to tell you that I am loving being back in the counselor’s chair.
Primarily because of Covid-19, I see a large number of couples. These beautiful people are across the entire spectrum, from newlyweds to couples married close to forty years. What do they have in common? Primarily the accumulated stress from the Corona Virus pandemic, which has put additional pressure on their marriages.
Hey, the past several months have been hard on all of us!
In this article, I will debunk nine of the common Marriage Myths.
My ultimate goal is to help you clear out some of the concepts that may slow your growth as a couple and show you how to fund your emotional bank account fully.
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane, pre-Covid days.
Remember the first years of your marriage? You were both filled with a fantastic mix of brain chemicals that made you feel heady and madly in love with each other. And there is absolutely no way you believe that those feelings could ever change. When you see that older couple sitting in a restaurant gazing at their phones and not gazing passionately into each other’s eyes, you silently say, “That will never be us!” And that couple in your small group that is in the middle of a divorce! No way this will happen to you and your honey! After all, you two believe that you are anything but average. You think that love will conquer all.
Eight years later, you have become that couple that stares at their phone at the restaurant. When things heat up, the “D (divorce)” word gets dropped. And the stellar sex you used to have has become routine, less frequent, and at times uneventful.
One couple recently told me, “We are roommates with benefits, we both go to work, participate in our kid’s lives, and have sex from time to time, but there is no fire.
Now, if you goggle the so-called experts, many of who have cashed out of their marriages, they will tell you to move on. And while we live in America, and you have choices, divorce is never as clean as it is made out to be.
So, what is the secret of turning a “less than stellar” relationship around?
Once I share it, you will probably be surprised and maybe even relieved.
This secret has been both research-vetted and scientifically studied in various cultural frameworks and is magnificently simple. Also, too simple!
It does not even involve working directly on your relationship at all.
Instead, all you have to do is think of your marriage relationship as an emotional bank account. This idea of an emotional bank account was first popularised by Dr. Willard Harvey’s 1986 book His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage. Remarkably, this book is still in print and has gone through a couple of updates. I still refer to it, even for couples who are attempting to repair their relationship after infidelity.
So, for many people, this is a mind shift. When you begin to look at your relationship as an investment fund, a type of trust that is consistently funded with deposits of optimistic, edifying, forgiving, and hopeful words and actions will grow. By this simple choice, you can invest your way from being in the red to fully funded and vetted in the black.
Pretty exciting, right!
Myths Couple Must Confront
Before jumping into why you should think about viewing your relationship as an investment opportunity, we need to look at some common myths that exist as to why marriages succeed or fail. I firmly believe that we must identify which ones hold us back or trip us up before we can begin a robust investment program without a spouse.
The 9 Relationship Myths (these come from my Get a Grip on Your Marriage Workshop)
Myth # 1: A Great Relationship Depends on A Great Meeting of the Minds
For years I have heard therapists and pastors teach that married couples should see things through each other’s eyes. I have been to training groups and have attempted to help couples develop a Great Meeting of the Minds, but it just will not happen regularly.
The truth is, you will never be able to understand your spouse completely. You will never ultimately be able to see things through your spouses’ eyes. You will rarely understand and appreciate how and why your partner views the world in a particular way. The reason that you won’t be able to be that you are different from your partner. The good news is that this is part of the mystery of long-term marriages. You are genetically, physiologically, psychologically, and historically different than your partner. The world has conditioned you; you have different learning histories, you have other priorities, and you value different things in different ways.
I am aware that many will beg to differ with me. The truth is that the more we try to blur our roles into a unisex world, the more we are spinning out of control, and confusing things become after the entire Bible talks about a man and a woman, Adam and Eve.
I am not saying that two people of the opposite sex should not try and be compatible. The Bible talks about mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21), which requires mutual respect. Instead, it means loving the other person enough to acknowledge your differences and learning to work with them. Although our primary characteristics might be different, we can secondarily have certain traits and tendencies that are “somewhat” opposite sex’s direction. Get rid of the notion that your relationship will be worse off than those of your friends if you and your partner don’t seem to have both male and female perspectives and characteristics. The male in your relationship may not be in touch with his “feminine side.” And the female may have absolutely no inclination and interest in “muscle up” and defend the cave.
We will talk later about how we can biblically meet our partner, where they are naturally in their hearts and minds.
Myth # 2 A Great Relationship Demands a Great Romance
I can hear you right now? What do you mean it is a myth to want great romance?
I’m talking about expecting the unrealistic Hallmark™ romance. Trust me, your life with your spouse should include plenty of excitement. There are times when you and your spouse need to make an effort to be romantic; to go out on real dates as you did when you first met, to fill your life with unforgettable memories.
Have you ever had a picnic in your backyard or a green space near your home? One without kids, smartphones, just the two of you making memories and making out? Add a couple of blankets-lay back and watch the stars appear after sunset?
Why not try it sometime. Just lay there and share memories from your past, laugh together, maybe even shed a tear together. And while you are at it, a little snuggling and making out would be a bonus. It’s a lot cheaper than dinner and a movie and will satisfy you on a deep level.
Fill your years with simple, beautiful memories.
But don’t fool yourself! As shocking as it may sound, the truth is that being in love is a lot different than falling in love. I have spent hundreds of hours in the counseling office listening to married couples tell me, “John, the thrill is gone, I just don’t feel like I am in love anymore, the spark is out.” Having heard this more times than I care to remember, I had learned that what they are saying is that, “I don’t feel the way I did when we first were falling in love.” The person says that they genuinely miss that dizzy feeling of infatuation at the start of the relationship. This is a normal part of the first phase of love – the idealized love, which, according to the latest research, is based on a host of different emotional, psychological, spiritual, and biochemical reactions, which can last a few weeks to two years.
The idealization/infatuation stage is an addictive experience; review songs about love, and you will see what I mean. There is nothing like the thrill of the chase, the initial courtship, the feeling that you have found someone who is the salvation for all else that is lacking in your life. Falling in love not only brings our surging sense of desire, but it also makes you believe that you can overcome anything. You are convinced that your loneliness is over for good. You are confident that you have found your soul mate-a person whom you can talk with about anything. This person will not only listen to you, they understand you!
Over the years, I have seen scores of couples who believe that their love will conquer all only to discover that after some wear and tear, they feel that life has gone out of their marriage, and they feel like giving up.
If you have been deluded by this myth or are in the midst of the infatuation stage, enjoy it, exploit it, but don’t think that it will last forever.
Remember, live in the real world. Great romance can be caring and checking on where your spouse is if it is getting late. Great romance can be as simple as sharing the newspaper in the morning, sharing a cup of hot chocolate, or spontaneous snuggling. Great relationships and great passion? It is all in the yardstick that you use to measure. It is all in defining what “great” means in the real world.
Myth # 3 A Great Relationship Requires Great Problem-Solving Skills
Once again, in years of clinical experience and training, I was taught to help couple solve their problems-something at times I found nearly impossible to do. I remember how frustrated I would become an individual who didn’t get it; they wouldn’t try and solve their problems. The myth goes something like this: if you and your partner cannot learn to resolve your differences, you won’t have a good relationship because it will be riddled with conflict and confrontation.
One of the “deal changers” for me was when I begin reading Dr. John Gottman’s research. One of his enlightening findings was that up to 96% of what we fight about is what we fought about the first six months we were together. So his insight was don’t waste time on perceived unsolvable problems, instead work on some that are solvable.
Having been married for nearly fifty years and have spent over 53,000 hours with hurting and confused clients, I have come to believe that there are only two types of problems—the ones you can solve and those that will never be solved. The key to a good relationship can differentiate between the two.
Here are the signs of unresolved conflict:
The conflict makes you feel rejected by your partner.
You keep talking about it but make no headway anything changes.
You become entrenched in your positions and are unwilling to budge.
When you discuss the subject, you end up feeling more frustrated and hurt.
Your conversations about the problem are devoid of humor, amusement, or affection.
You become more unbudgeable over time, which leads to you vilify (demonize) each other during these “discussions.”
The vilification (demonization) process makes you more rooted in your position and polarized, more extreme in your view, and less willing to compromise.
Eventually, you disengage from each other emotionally.
Myth # 4 A Great Relationship Requires Common Interests that Bond You
First of all, let me say that a couple’s genuine common interest can be a tremendous boost to a relationship. Perhaps you and your spouse have a great common interest that makes the two of you happy. That’s fine! All power to you. But the greater myth is that if you don’t have one, you must find one to make the relationship more fulfilling. That is just not true-not true at all. There are thousands of couples that have been happily married for years. They love their time together, they love being great companions, but they respect each other’s quirks and don’t feel that they have to engage in lots of activities together.
It’s not what you do as a couple; it is how you do it. If forcing yourselves into everyday activities creates stress, tension, and conflict, then don’t do it. It’s wrong to think that there is something wrong in your relationship if you don’t have many common interests and activities.
Myth # 5 A Great Relationship is a Peaceful One
Truth: Two people living in the same space will produce stress, anger, discomfort, and a lot of love.
Many people are fearful of volatility because they think arguing is a sign of weakness or relationship breakdown. The reality is that arguing in a relationship is neither good nor bad. The key is that, as the Scripture says, “And don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Ephesians 4:26 NLT, if arguing is done by some basic “rules of engagement,” add fighting fair at some point can help the quality and longevity of the relationship in many ways. For some couples, such fighting provides a much-needed sense of release of tension. For others, it brings an absolute peace and trust because they know they can release their thoughts and feelings without being abandoned or rejected, or humiliated. Think about rain showers, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Which ones are not destructive? I am not saying that you should look for a fight, but research does not support the notion that couples who fight fail in their relationships. A connection is more likely to fail if the conflict is never aired or if the encounter turns to violence.
Myth # 6 A Great Relationship Lets You Vent All of Your Feelings
We are currently living when we are repeatedly urged to let it all out, tell it like it is, get in touch with our inner self. Some therapy types support a cathartic projection whereby the client is encouraged to do whatever he/she needs to do to verbally or physically release emotions.
The problem with this view of emotional health is that it doesn’t work. No data supports the notion that venting all of your feelings is good-quite the opposite-it hurts self and others. We all have an infinite array of thoughts feelings about our partners, a lot to which we have given a voice because it seemed like “a good idea at the time.” But upon reflection, the thoughts shouldn’t have been communicated for several reasons, not the least of which is that you didn’t mean it. Think about the number of times that you have blurted out something in the heat of the moment about your partner’s weakness. Let’s be honest; it felt good to let it go, to feel like you got the upper hand finally. But what good did it do? None. For a brief moment, you felt the power of rage-and you possibly damaged your relationship, and sometimes the damage can be permanent.
Remember, you cannot backspace or delete what you say.
The point is clear. Before you say something that could be disastrous, you must give yourself breathing room, you must (perhaps literally) bite your tongue, you must allow yourself time to deliberate. This is critical to the future of your relationship. I’m not telling you to hide truths and be dishonest. But I am telling you that to meet the criteria of being open and honest, and you need to be sure how you genuinely feel, you need to know if what you’re about to say is going to be said most appropriately. That may take more deliberation than is available in the heat of the moment. If what you say will turn into a “life sentence” either for you of your partner-you’d better think about it and think hard.
If all else fails, remember You can’t backspace or delete what comes out of your mouth. So be careful!
Myth # 7 A Great Relationship Has Nothing to Do with Sex
Don’t believe that for a minute. Appropriate sexual relations between a married man and woman provide a necessary time-out from the stress and strains of fast-paced work and adds a quality of closeness that is extremely important. Sex is a needed exercise in vulnerability wherein you allow your partner to get close.
Many falsely believe that sexual intimacy dries up after a few years of marriage. And while childbirth and work demands can certainly dampen things, sexual intimacy should still be a priority.
You see, when sexual intimacy stops in a relationship, it’s a sign that both partners may need to work on some underlying issues.
Sex can be of enormous symbolic importance in a relationship. The sexual urges and needs are natural, appropriate, and essential to act upon in the proper marriage context. When I say that, I’m not just restricting myself to the act of intercourse. I’m talking about sex as a physically intimate experience, combined with a mental and emotional connection. In this context, I define sex as all forms of private (and to some extent public) touching, caressing, holding, and any appropriate means of providing physical comfort.
We view physical intimacy as a super glue that makes our marriage sweeter and more resilient. We want to encourage you to continue to grow in this critical area of your marriage.
Studies show that couples in long-term relationships have more meaningful sex than their single counterparts. So, when spontaneous passion stops in the bedroom, don’t leave things to change. If you want your sexual intimacy to be fantastic, work at it and bathe often. Recommend Keven Leman’s books Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secret of Sexual Intimacy, Have a New Sex Life by Friday. Some other recommendations: Pam Farrel’s The Good Girls, Bill and Pam Farrells” Red Hot Monogamy: Making Your Marriage Sizzle Guide to Great Sex, Michelle Weiner-Davis, The Sex-Starved Marriage. Tommy Nelson’s The Book of Romance, which is an excellent study of the Song of Solomon.
Myth # 8 A Great Relationship Cannot Survive a Flawed Partner
Most professionals in my field of counseling will tell you that if you have “craziness” or even extreme weirdness in one or both partners’ character makeup, a healthy relationship is impossible.
I have known many a marriage that has come to an end because “The person I married turned out to be crazy.” “He (she) was a nutcase.” “I don’t know what happened. After the wedding, they started acting bizarre.
When you stop and think about it, what does healthy mean? When working as a therapist in a Mental Hospital, patients would often ask; what makes you different from me? My standard response was that I either had keys or know the key code to get out. The patients would usually laugh-because there is sometimes a very short distance between normal and abnormal.
Everybody you know has some characteristic or quirk that is unique. Even though that trait may not be known to you, or also they might choose in a perfect world, it should not be allowed to frighten or dominate your thinking about who they are. And that applies to your relationship.
You and I have baggage that we are not rational about. I heard a term that I like that refers to our brokenness. One author calls them “enduring vulnerabilities.”
All of us are imperfect. The trick to making a marriage work is to maintain a growth mindset and tolerate each other’s “crazy side” to appreciate each other’s enduring vulnerabilities. We are called to understand and learn how to handle our partner/s Enduring vulnerabilities with care, affection, love, and respect.
And as long as the quirks or nuances are not abusive to you or blatantly destructive to your partner, you can certainly learn to live with them.
Special Note: Situations like severe mental, physical illness, depression, addictions, phobias, and PTDS require the support of a knowledgeable, trusted, and experienced mental health
The beauty of the Gospel is that we are all broken, and we all have issues, but the Lord’s grace and mercy will help us with and through them.
Myth # 9 There is a Right Way and a Wrong Way to Make Your Relationship Great.
While there are clear guidelines about building a life-long relationship in the Bible, they are wrapped up in trans-cultural principles. There is no right way to show affection or support. There is not only one way to raise children, relate to each other’s families, handle disputes, worship God, or deal with life.
What is important is that you find ways of being together that works for you. Whether it meets the same standard as your parents, some popular book, or the latest talk show is a moot point. Ephesians 5:21 say that a couple is to be mutually submissive. One application to that principle is that I find unique ways to serve my spouse, not out of a sense of duty but out of joy.
I hope that this segment has been helpful. I cannot understate how important it is to be aware of some of the myths that I might believe about my relationship.
With this in mind, I will show you how to begin investing in your spouse’s love account. Be sure to look for it next week.
In the same way, you husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way [with great gentleness and tact, and with an intelligent regard for the marriage relationship], as with [a]someone physically weaker, since she is a woman. Show her honor and respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered or ineffective. 1 Peter 3:7 Amplified Bible
I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to share your comments.
Call to action:
If you and your spouse are needing help feel free to email me of call my landline 505-243-2011. I offer a free 15 minute telephone consultation and who knows maybe I can help you out. BTW I provide in person and virtual appointments.