Marriage & Divorce: Myths & Misconceptions
Everyone seems to have an opinion about marriage and divorce, but few are based on facts. And when you consider the statistics surrounding these two major life events, it’s no surprise that so many myths and misconceptions have popped up as such misguided advice.
Here, we’re debunking some of those myths and misconceptions, in the hope that you can find a clearer path to navigate your relationship.
Myth: Getting married fixes your relationship.
Reality: We’ve all heard the myth that once you get married, you and your partner will settle into the marriage and all your problems will go away. The reality is that once you’re married, it’s just more difficult to walk away. If your partner doesn’t trust you, or you can’t stand how messy they are, getting married won’t stop them from accusing you of cheating or shoving their dirty socks in the couch cushions.
Getting married might make you feel more secure and committed, but if you question whether or not you can spend the rest of your life with your significant other, you may not want to sign a legally binding contract. In fact, getting married could make everything worse, because vowing to stay together until you die might guilt you into staying in your marriage long past its expiration date.
Myth: Your spouse should be your best friend.
Reality: While it’s true you need to choose a partner you actually want to be around, and your bond should be strong, the reality is that your spouse does not need to be your best friend to make a great partner. In fact, if you and your partner are too much alike, share too many of the same interests or spend too much time together, you could feel suffocated, fight more and eventually get sick of each other.
Choosing to spend the rest of your lives together is about supporting each other as individuals. While it is important that you share some common interests and make time for each other, it’s just as healthy to spend time apart and explore interests that make you unique. Thinking you have to be best friends with your partner can actually sabotage the marriage before it begins.
Myth: You should never go to bed angry.
Reality: This is one of my least favorite myths. As someone with a short temper, I have more than a decade of marital experience to disprove this horrible advice. The logic behind this myth is that going to bed angry will only allow you to stew more, which will lead to a poor night’s sleep and cause you to wake up even more angry and resentful. Unfortunately, if you force yourself to discuss an issue that you have not fully processed, you could make matters worse.
It took me 10 years with my partner before I realized that walking away from a fight is the best move for both of us. I’ve found that going to bed angry lets the issue settle, and you can approach it with a fresh perspective in the morning. If you need to process your last fight, give yourself permission to take a break, even if it means going to bed angry.
Myth: Marriage counseling will fix your marriage.
Reality: If you’ve reached this point in your marriage, you may have heard that counseling can fix everything. Unfortunately, marriage counseling simply provides a safe space and professional perspective on the issues in your marriage. You and your partner will get help to process these issues, but you still need to put in the time and energy to overcome your conflicts.
The hardest pill to swallow with marriage counseling is that it often leads to the truth about your relationship, and that truth might be that it’s time to end your marriage. Fortunately, many couples who enter counseling prepared to work through their issues will find strategies to rebuild communication, overcome resentment and reinvigorate their marriage.
Myth: Getting divorced ends your problems.
Reality: While divorce might be the right choice, don’t fool yourself into thinking it will resolve all your problems. Once you file for divorce, you have at least a year before the legal dust will settle, and during this time, all the problems that plagued your marriage will make ending it even more difficult. When children are involved, you also have to figure out custody arrangements and co-parenting.
When a marriage ends, many factors lead to the final divorce, and these disputes can cause lasting damage both emotionally and psychologically. Once a marriage ends, the process of regrowth must begin. The most important takeaway from a divorce is that personal growth should never stop, and as you learn more about yourself, you can build a new relationship that avoids the mistakes of your failed marriage.
Write your own rules
After years of listening to the same tired clichés from friends and family who seem to know it all, I’ve realized that one certainty of marriage is that you need to stop listening to myths that can harm your marriage and allow your own values and personalities to dictate your dynamic.