There are many myths about marriage and relationships that abound in our society. Most have come from the media, either through the movies or television. But more recently myths have developed through social media. Although the media may contribute, many of the marriage myths may also originate from a person’s family of origin. The major concern about myths is that for many people they consider them to be fact, which eventually can lead to problems in their relationship or marriage. For some people the myths have become so embedded that it’s hard for them to separate fact from fiction. Below are the myths that I hear as a relationship counsellor in Wellington.
- “The hard part is over.” Many of us believe that once we have met our partner and have committed to marriage then the hard part is over. This is a long way from the truth. In fact this is the easy part. Maintaining a lifelong relationship or marriage takes hard work. It’s a lifetime commitment to another person which can be at times pleasant or painful, frustrating or rewarding. There are no guarantees that even if you work hard at your marriage or relationship that it will be successful.
- “I really know the person I married.” The person you married at 25 will not be the same person you are married to at 45. In fact neither of you will be the same person. Accepting that you and your partner will grow as the years go on is important part of any relationship. Give each other the room to grow and support your partner in their personal development. Statement’s like: “you have changed” and “you are not the person I married” can be unhelpful and destructive to your relationship.
- “We both know what it means to be married.” Gender roles have changed over the years and the expectations of our partner’s role may not be aligned with ours. We all come from different families and we bring our family values and beliefs into our relationship. One person may come from a family with a stay home mother where the father worked full-time. Or their partner may be from a single parent family where there was only one provider and principle carer. We all learn about relationships from our family of origin or extended family. And we bring those learnt behaviours into our marriage or relationship, so it’s not surprising that sometimes there is conflict or misunderstanding. Constant conflict can be damaging.
- “We will all live happily ever after.” Sooner or later there will be conflict of some type in a marriage or relationship. The conflict may not take the form of an argument or shouting, it can easily be silence or distancing. Conflict is neither good nor bad in a relationship. It’s just one of the consequences of the differences in people. But constant unresolved arguments can lead to break down in the relationship which may eventually lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. It’s important to respect the individuality of your partner and not to impose the, “my way is the only way rule.” Find ways to compromise and allow your partner to influence you.
- “We will always be this much in love.” The intense romantic love that couples first experience in their relationship will eventually wane. Neuroscientists suggest that this period lasts between one to three years. This type of intense love cannot last forever but what happens after? Usually if a couple can traverse this period then a deeper, more mature love will develop. This love is bound by mutual respect, friendship, a deeper level of intimacy, and a compassionate love.
Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand