Like many things in life, marriage is one of those topics that tons of people have opinions on how to do it ‘right’. But with an average 42% divorce rate, our understanding of what is ‘right’ in a marriage is falling a wee bit short (okay, a whole lot short).
There are thoughts and beliefs about marriage that are total lies, and need to be debunked.
It still amazes me, as a married woman, how many of these stereotypes make their way into everyday conversation.
It sets up standards for marriage that are just wrong and don’t do anything to help nurture a loving relationship.
So hold on ladies because I’m here to bust some of these lies about marriage in an ass-kicking ninja kind of way.
1 – All Couples Fight
I really want to swear and call BS on this one because it honestly is alarming when you consider how many young women believe this (and don’t even get me started on how this belief helps fuel and perpetuate the domestic violence cycle).
First, let me say, there is a big difference between arguments and fighting. If you’re unsure of the difference keep this in mind:
Arguing looks like:
- Disagreements about a particular topic
- Sometimes heated discussion, usually able to be discussed calmly
- Able to listen to each other and hear each other’s point of view
- Sometimes emotional and may need to take a break
- Able to be respectful and still feel like you can cuddle after
- Come to a conclusion that may be a compromise, or may be an ‘agree to disagree’
Fighting looks like:
- Yelling and loud protests
- Always heated discussion
- Name calling and swearing
- Personal attacks
- Feeling uneasy, scared or threatened
- Actual threats being made
- Not focused on a solution, only on who is ‘right’
Even just writing that makes me feel uneasy and that’s exactly what fighting does.
Often people confuse the two and feel like all couples fight so they are totally ‘normal’. But this isn’t the case.
I would say most couples ‘argue’ and this is because you have two different people, with two different upbringings, two different set of morals and values and who are able to have two different opinions on a topic – but still be respectful of each other.
Fighting isn’t about discussing a topic and respect. It’s about making the other feel bad, or proving that one person is ‘right’. When fighting is present, respect is not.
Not all couples fight, and not all couples that do fight are doomed to fail. But you do need to know the difference between arguments and fights.
If you want to talk to someone please reach out. Not all domestic violence is physical. You can find local helplines to talk or call 1800RESPECT for services here in Australia. (Remember to open these searches and sites in an ‘incognito’ window if you are worried about someone finding out you have been searching them.)
2 – Everything Changes When You Get Married
This may have been true when couples didn’t live together until they were married (this may still be true if this is you), but chances are, you’ve been living together for a little while.
With around 80% of couples living together before marriage, you’ve already had a chance to understand the ins and outs of life together.
Domestic situations can be difficult to work out together, especially if you have very different living habits.
It’s important to discuss your expectations of your relationship and each other before you get married.
Divorce happens when expectations aren’t met – and if you don’t even know what these expectations are, you cannot possibly meet them.
This doesn’t mean expecting that the wife will instantly become the stay at home mom who takes care of all the cooking and cleaning while the husband provides for the family.
This isn’t the 1950’s. It’s about discussing your options, talking about what each of you wants, and allowing each other to voice their expectations.
Things like, expecting that you always speak to each other in a respectful manner, expecting that if you’re going to go and spend $1000 on a new whatever you discuss it first. Money and domestic chores are huge topics of contention, be sure to discuss them first.
I’d bet you’ll have more than one person say to you ‘everything changes when you get married’ – but I’ll also bet that most of them are of older generations. Just smile, nod and move on to the next topic.
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3 – Once You’re Married You Need To Have Kids
There’s nothing quite like a newly updated status from Miss to Mrs to put the pressure on having kids.
People will now move from ‘when is the wedding’ to ‘when are you having kids’ which, in my opinion, is no one else’s business.
You absolutely do not need to have kids as soon as you get married, unless that is what you want of course.
Regardless, you should have an understanding of each other’s expectations and desires around when you want to have kids, and be on the same page (or at least the same book) for when you’ll start to grow your family.
Don’t feel pressured or rushed to start a family. Enjoy the wife life for a while, enjoy spending time with each other and getting comfortable in your wedded bliss. While getting married doesn’t change everything, kids tend to.
4 – Now You’re Married You Have To Do Everything Together
I remember years ago a friend of my Nan’s telling me that she never spent a single night away from her husband in the 45 years they had been married.
At the time I thought it was incredibly romantic – having the one you love with you all the time. So sweet. Now I realise it’s not for me. At all.
I love my husband more than I could possibly describe.
We work the same job and I honestly would happily work with him every day because I not only think he is incredible at what he does, but we genuinely enjoy being around each other.
But, we also need time alone to recharge our batteries.
Not necessarily from each other, but more so we have time to ourselves, to do what fills our cup, without needing to think or worry about someone else.
We don’t scoff when the other takes time out to do things they want to do, we encourage it.
I book in days for him to go fishing, he makes sure I have days to myself (and I’ve even gone away and stayed at a hotel for a few nights on my own).
When you’re married you don’t have to do everything together.
It’s perfectly okay to show up to an event on your own, your husband doesn’t have to be by your side for everything.
If you feel like he does because of your own insecurities, then that’s something you need to work on together.
If you feel he does because you’re worried about what other people think, screw them.
42% of marriages end up in divorce, your marriage can be whatever you want it to be and as long as you’re happy then who cares what other people think.
My husband is a major introvert and the thought of going to any event and having to talk to a bunch of people is about on par with having his fingernails pulled out with pliers.
I’m not going to force him to come with me, but I’m also not going to miss events I want to go to because I should only go with him.
While you are a married couple now, you are still two individual people with your own likes, wants and needs. That doesn’t change when you get married.
5 – Marriage Counseling Is For When Your Marriage Is In Trouble
With my first marriage, when I said I wanted a divorce, my then husband said he wanted to try counseling.
Of course, I obliged because I felt like I should exhaust every avenue.
But the truth is I was already checked out of the marriage and no amount of counseling was going to change that.
When I was dating my now husband, we started counseling around 12 months after we started dating.
Not because we had problems, but because we wanted to make sure our relationship had a strong foundation and we didn’t want our previous baggage and our own insecurities to encroach on our happy relationship.
We learned skills to strengthen our relationship, skills to discuss topics with each other and had someone help us to communicate in ways we hadn’t been able to verbalize ourselves.
Here’s the difference. If your relationship is like a car, you don’t wait until it breaks down and the motor falls out of it to get it serviced.
You take it in for regular check-ups, or you learn how to check things yourself so you can keep it running well.
So why do we treat our relationships with so much less respect?
We don’t just magically know how to be in a relationship or know how to have a successful marriage. It takes time to learn and skills to learn.
It is a deliberate and thought-out process, even if you don’t realize it at the time.
Seeing a counselor before issues arise can help you have a much happier and much more communicative marriage.
The stigma around marriage counseling needs to be changed from one where people believe their marriage is in trouble, to one where people believe marriage is something we need to be educated and skilled in working on.
No two marriages are the same, just like no two people are the same.
Over time there have been so many phrases that have started to formulate our opinions and beliefs about marriage, that sadly are just straight-up lies and are totally untrue.
If you feel like there’s a belief you have about marriage you want to change, then educate yourself, communicate with your partner and speak to a professional. Your marriage can be happy in any way you want it to be.