Most of your friends are married and you’re feeling a bit left out. You still haven’t found the love of your life and you’re feeling pretty desperate. At this point, you’re starting to lose hope. Now that friends, family, co-workers, and even your neighbors are asking if you’re ever getting married, the pressure is on. Before you make a decision that you’ll regret later, remember that marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s not rainbows and glitter unicorns everyday (or even most days). Here are five marriage myths you shouldn’t believe.
1. The sex will be awesome
Um … OK. Married sex can get stale — really stale. Don’t believe all your married friends who tell you that once you get married you’ll be having dirty sex non-stop. After you’ve been married for a couple of years, it’s just not as exciting. You’ll have to work at keeping things fresh and tingly. And as your partner’s body starts to age (and expand), you may not even want to do it at all.
If sex has gotten boring, it will be important to strengthen your communication as a couple. A less-than-satisfying sex life is often a result of some disconnect in communication. Perhaps you got too busy to have meaningful conversations, or your children have taken up all your time and energy. Therapist Bob Taibbi recommends reconnecting through common interests. “If you have lost common interests because the kids are gone, because you’ve both fallen into a rut and shackled by routines, you need to go out, explore and act on anything that catches your attention — the tango lessons, the Saturday hiking, taking a class together, or starting up weekend dinner parties — the wilder the better,” Taibbi told Psychology Today.
2. You’ll never be lonely
If this were true, there wouldn’t be a website called Married Singles Meet. Yes, you can be married and “single.” For example, the wife of a husband who regularly comes home at two or three o’clock in the morning after a guy’s night out. Or the husband of a wife who always has to work late to get the latest important project done.
If you are married but lonely, you do have some options. Dr. Gail Saltz says there are a few things you can do to help alleviate loneliness within a marriage. She says on her website:
Give [your partner] the same kind of attention and interaction you’d like to receive. Be a model of the change. Then ask [your partner] to do the same for you. [Your partner] may not realize what’s missing for you and the more specific you can be about your needs; the more likely you are to get what you want.
In addition to going to [your partner] to get more from the marriage you also can improve the marriage by finding satisfaction on your own. Allowing for some separate time for each of you to explore what interests can actually be very stimulating for you both when you later come back together. By nurturing some independence, you build your own confidence and will feel less needy. This “self-possession” will translate into a partner that each of you want to know more about and have fun.
3. Marriage is like living with your best friend
Sometimes marriage is like living with that stranger who sits next to you on the bus and just won’t shut up. You want to move to another seat but you’re stuck there for another 45 minutes because there’s nowhere else to sit. When it comes to marriage, you can change your seat. It’s just going to cost you money — lots of it.
Marriage isn’t like living with your best friend. Some relationship experts say that it shouldn’t be, either. If you want a shot at developing a satisfying marriage, make sure to have other meaningful relationships that are separate from the one you have with your spouse.
Therapist Corey Allan says cultivating other relationships will help your marriage not only survive but also thrive. “While I don’t discount that there should be friendship between husband and wife, having him or her as your best friend will be the death-nail to the marriage. … While I believe that friendship within the marriage is vital for the relationship, close friendships outside of the marriage are equally important, especially if you want a marriage with lots of passion, eroticism, adventure, and energy,” writes Allan in an article for Simple Marriage.
4. Marriage will make you happier
Studies have shown that marriage — specifically a bad one — can ruin your health. So you won’t necessarily be happier once you tie the knot. Marriage-related health problems can even take such a huge toll on your health that complications could result in your death. Doesn’t sound too happy, does it?
Psychologist Jana Staton’s research proposes that even marital discord in the absence of physical abuse can be just as detrimental to your health. “Even without physical conflict, marriages that are high in negative distress and discord carry health hazards by creating a high-stress environment that may increase the likelihood of divorce, which is strongly associated with poorer health outcomes for both men and women,” writes Staton in a research paper for National Healthy Marriage Resource Center.
5. Children make marriage better
If your marriage was already on the rocks, children won’t make it better. Depending on the situation, adding children to a dysfunctional relationship could even make your marriage worse. Sometimes issues surrounding children can complicate a marriage and cause partners to drift apart. For example, differences in parenting style are one of the reasons couples divorce.
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