Conversations about marriage continue to reveal how our romantic myths set us up for disappointment.
In preparation for an article, I recently posed this question to readers over social media (and in off-the-cuff conversations): When did you figure out what marriage isn’t? While I did not receive very many answers, the ones I did get were fascinating. As I expected, some people took the opportunity to rant, to suggest new marriage laws, entirely new social mores, and others spewed transparent sociological theories. If we implemented what these (always anonymous) people advocate, they would finally get what they really want, always at the expense of someone else’s desires. Conversations about marriage seem to bring those people out of the woodwork.
I will summarize the complete findings of my inquiry in a future post. Today I’d like to share this response that came from someone whose identity I have personally chosen to hide. It came virtually at the moment I thought I had gathered enough answers to finally start composing my article. I think his answer is worth reading all on its own and requires no commentary.
I’ve never been married. I’m twenty. Some might say that disqualifies me from commenting. But I do believe I have realized what marriage isn’t. All idealized images of love and romance we find in movies and books aren’t completely real, however desirable. I just realized there were many myths surrounding relationships and expectations. Here are some of myths I discovered.
If you find the ‘right person’, everything will work out
Well, no. This fosters a very egocentric view of a relationship where nothing can be your fault. Even if you are highly compatible with someone, there are going to be mistakes and imperfections you’ll need to navigate. The famous relationship psychologist Gottman talks about the golden ratio – that is, healthy and happy relationships and marriages have a ratio of 5 to 1 between positive and negative interactions. That should be sought after, but there is still the likelihood that you will have a less than golden ratio with your partner and you’ll have to learn to navigate through it with maturity.
If you get married, all your sexual desires will be fulfilled.
This myth is common among singles. I don’t know why. I don’t know anyone who has been married for any prolonged amount of time who will tell you this honestly. I guess this myth is perpetuated by those who advocate for abstinence and sex only inside of marriage. Perhaps this myth helps people believe waiting is worth it. The truth is that married men still watch porn, and developing a satisfying sexual relationship isn’t as easy as most people think. Sexual intimacy is more complicated than we’d like to believe. Like Jeff Foxworthy said, “Getting married for sex is like buying a 747 for the free peanuts.”
Those are the two main myths that come to mind. I think people underestimate how hard marriage can be. Maybe people idealize it to make it easier to desire and fit in with society’s or their family’s expectations.
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