“We had an ugly fight over something dumb on the way to the airport, just before we left for our honeymoon,” said my young friend “Lauren.”
“The day before we had promised forever, now we just hoped to make it through the first week.”
My husband and I attended Lauren’s wedding a few years ago. It was a Pinterest-worthy occasion, complete with white roses, his and her monogrammed cakes, and tiny sparkling lights strung across the dance floor.
The couple looked so happy; they had dreamed about their wedding day for a long time. And it was perfect.
Until the next morning.
“Our argument on the way to the airport took us by surprise,” said Lauren. “I thought our honeymoon was supposed to be the most romantic trip of our lives, but we weren’t even speaking for half of it. It seemed like our marriage was doomed.”
Thankfully, Lauren is happily married now, in spite of a less-than-perfect start.
Like Lauren, I entered into marriage believing certain myths—idealistic, storybook ideas of what marriage should be like—that just aren’t true. Some of these marriage myths took me years to recognize. While marriage myths are dangerous and misleading, it’s amazing how quickly the truth can dispel them.
As I’ve talked with Lauren and other women, it seems like most of us got married believing many of the same, commonly held myths. Maybe you did, too.
In an effort to change this, I’ve made a list of five dangerous marriage myths you shouldn’t buy into:
Myth #1: “The honeymoon should be the most romantic trip of your life.”
We’ve been married for over 30 years and honestly, while our honeymoon was fun, I wouldn’t rank it as our “most romantic trip ever.” Back then, we felt pressure to make everything perfect. Nowadays we’re much more relaxed. We’ve got “who does what” down to a science. Since we often know what the other is thinking, we don’t bicker as much. And now, we’re more free just to be real with each other.
Several of my happily married friends argued through the honeymoon and the first year. This isn’t necessarily a bad sign. For some couples, adjusting to “we” instead of “me” is difficult, but with time and patience, it can be done.
Reality: The honeymoon is just a trip.
Some of our best, most romantic times are the simple, unplanned moments: a random, heartfelt compliment, holding hands just because, or winking at each other across a crowded room. The honeymoon is merely the beginning of a romantic relationship, not the end.
Myth #2: “Now that we’re married, dating is over.”
Even if you’re married, it’s important to keep on dating because everyone wants to be pursued and valued. One of my marriage counselor friends believes dating your spouse is so important, she advises couples to spend 24 hours alone together every month. That’s pretty wise advice (and it sounds like fun, too).
Reality: Married couples still need to date each other.
Like a car, a marriage needs energy, regular maintenance and the occasional jump-start. Dating and romancing your spouse keeps you attentive, thoughtful and appreciative. I love this quote: “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” (Mignon McLaughlin)
Myth #3: “Marriage is one tough, heavy burden.”
Some references to marriage are kind of funny, such as the “old ball and chain,” “being sentenced for life,” or “gettin’ roped in.”
But seriously, it doesn’t have to be like that. God designed marriage to be a great blessing, not a curse. Here’s the reason He created marriage: “God said: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.’” Gen. 2:18 NLT
Reality: How you view your marriage has a big effect on how you live it out. Even though marriage can be tough, it can also be a wonderful blessing. Assigning negative labels to marriage causes you to think of it that way. However, thinking and saying positive things often, such as “I’m so grateful for you,” helps reverse a negative perspective.
Myth #4: “Marriage will complete me.”
Expecting a spouse to complete you is expecting way too much. I thought marrying my husband would make me happy, and it did, for a while.
But over the years, I learned that no husband could fix what was broken inside. Only the Lord can heal the broken places within your heart (Ps. 103:2-4). Finally, when I got serious about my relationship with God, my heart began to heal. Since then, (praise the Lord) my life and my marriage have changed dramatically.
Reality: Only God completes us—no other relationship can.
This verse contains wisdom I wish I had known years ago: “When you have Christ, you are complete . . .” Col. 2:10 NLV
Myth #5: “If my marriage doesn’t make me happy, it means I’d be happier with someone else.”
As a married person, you just can’t let your thoughts go down this dangerous path because dreaming about leaving makes it much harder to stay and work it out.
Here’s the truth: some days your marriage won’t make you happy. But marriage is not solely about your happiness—it’s about belonging to another person, through good days and bad. Believing this grass-is-always-greener myth is harmful because wishing for the ideal keeps you from enjoying what is real.
Reality: If your marriage isn’t perfect, it only means you’re normal. Welcome to the club!
This saying is true:
“A ‘perfect marriage’ is just two imperfect people who refused to give up on each other.”
So what marriage myths are you holding on to? Recognizing these can be difficult, but simply being aware of commonly held myths is a great first step.
Take some time to think about your marriage this week. What is important to you? What is unrealistic? What one thing could you do today to make your marriage better? Discuss it with your spouse. Listen. Pray together*, often. Ask the Lord to help you let go of marriage myths and unrealistic expectations, so you can embrace the truth and each other.
This article first appeared on Crosswalk.com. Read it here.
*Praying together can bless and strengthen your marriage like nothing else can. But praying with your spouse can be awkward and hard and it’s easy to skip doing it. To help you, I’m offering this FREE couples’ prayer guide filled with helpful ideas and Scriptures:
Email me to request this prayer guide for couples and I’ll be happy to send it to you.