Are the promises you heard about marriage as a young adult true? Ever wondered why your current experience in your relationship is not very close to the cloud nine fairy tale that you believed it should be? Why do you have this overwhelming feeling that if you were given the full picture of a relationship, perhaps your choices would have been MUCH different?

I pondered over these questions (and more), over and over AND over again when I got married. I surely wasn’t expecting to experience a marked disparity between what I had dreamed marriage to be, and the reality I faced actually living in one.

The reason why these questions arise is nestled in the “glorious” myths that society and the media have fed human kind for as long as the marital institution has existed, regardless of your cultural background or socio-economic standing in society.

For us in the African setting, we are told;

If you do everything your spouse tells you to do, then you will be happy – that kind of marriage will make you feel like a second-class citizen and surely it won’t be long before you become the walking dead.

Speaking kindly to your spouse will keep all the fighting at bay – ever thought that even during conflict you can speak respectfully to your partner?

You must be compatible with your spouse (share the same interests, have the same temperament, love the same things) for your marriage to stand – Has it occurred to you that people evolve, things change and you surely can not dictate what your now “compatible” spouse will become in the future?

Here are a few myths that I have found are very common these days, causing very innocent and well intended newly weds to question their foray into the world of marriage:

Myth #1 – Marry someone exactly like you. Doesn’t help! Actually, that could make your marriage rather flat and boring. My belief is that God made every one of us and intentionally gave some a bit more spunk than others to liven things up, a little less to bring a bit more organization to things and intended for the two personality types to help balance things out! Opposites attract! Heard that? Now, if you are attracted to someone who has a different personality from you, ensure that the one thing you measure your compatibility with is how the both of you handle conflict when it arises. If you do not agree on either person’s conflict resolution style, those feelings of disagreement are actually what snuff out the life of your relationship.

Myth #2 – Communication and Active Listening will save your marriage from experiencing problems. While effective communication certainly helps a couple bring to light whatever issues they are facing, in itself, it will not keep you from experiencing problems. As a coach, I see many couples who have sought counseling previously, and after a period of bliss, fall right back in the same hole of an unhappy marriage. They tell me they have practiced actively listening to their spouse and communicating at all times, but find that they still fall back in a rut. I then explain that what is done with the information after it has been communicated is what counts!

What one person shares, is acknowledged and the two heads come together to work at handling any issues raised. If I effectively communicate to my partner that I do not appreciate a certain act he does…like leaving his clothes all over the house, I then listen to his reasoning behind doing it but neither of us does anything to address this issue (for instance, we agree that he will begin picking up after himself, or I decide to pick up after him, ungrudgingly), we have listened and communicated and done nothing and that issue will keep presenting itself.

Myth #3 – Resolving ALL your conflict will save your marriage – this is another popular myth. Knowing that you are two different people coming together to build a new family unit brings with it the hard fact that you are not always going to resolve your differences to the nitty gritty. What is most important is that the both of you recognize the areas where you disagree, AGREE that you feel differently about the situation and based on your compatible conflict resolution styles, make the decision if this conflict is worth tearing down your marriage.

The key instruction here is to agree because if one person is not happy with the way their spouse handles conflict, that in itself is what causes the resentment that affects your marriage. I can assure you that this is the same in my marriage. We are aware of the issues that linger, but jointly agree with the method of handling them (which sometimes means we put it on the sidelines) as we have agreed that no issue is worth damaging our relationship. In the event that similar conflict arises in the future, we tackle it together with the same focus of not letting it tear down our marriage. Knowing that it is quite impossible for all conflict you face to be resolved, helps keep all that pressure at bay and causes you to deal with the realities you face by following the principles of agreement. Again, if one of you still feels resentment after tackling an issue that means you both still have work to do to get to the point of no resentment.

Myth #4 – Infidelity is the main reason couples get divorced – if I got a dollar for every time I heard this! Of course some couples choose to end their marriage when infidelity arises, however, on further investigation, it is found that their marriage was already in trouble way before one partner chooses to run around on the other. Divorce is caused when the necessary connection needed by a couple is absent. The need for connection, intimacy, respect, affection and all round marital bliss is then sought after outside the marriage, then causing it to reach the end point much quicker. My point is, if the necessary ingredients to a healthy marriage are missing, it is just a matter of time before that marriage hits the rocks. Infidelity might just expedite its demise.

Myth #5 – It is difficult for men to be monogamous – causing them to be prone to infidelity. This notion can’t be further away from the truth as recent research has shown that since the economic standing and societal status of women has improved over the decades, so has their exposure. They now work the ‘same’ late hours men were expected to and if connection is lost at home, might equally seek it in persons other than their spouse. Gender has absolutely nothing to do with infidelity. It is simply a need for something lacking and the start to identifying this need would be in openness and vulnerability with one’s spouse.

There are many more myths out there about marriage! Staying in a bad marriage because of the kids will help fix your relationship. People seem to forget that a romantic relationship is between man and woman, two adults! Not an adult and the kids. Kids are very perceptive and as long as they sense that you are in a bad marriage, its effects are quite toxic on them. Research shows that the effect of divorce or a toxic marriage on kids who experienced either, caused depression, truancy, aggression, low self-esteem and many more negative outcomes.

I always advise couples to watch out for “myths” wearing “advice” clothing, mostly coming from well-meaning sources. Holding on to these myths will cost you the bliss you deserve in your marriage. If you are confused and need some guidance, reach out to a professional marriage coach for help.

Here’s to a wonderful beginning in your relationship! One filled with love, joy, happiness and TRUTH.

Much Love,

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About ZeeZee

ZeeZee is a certified Relationship and Marriage Coach who believes her purpose in life is to equip couples with the right tools for a successful relationship. Through her website and YouTube channel she shares practical tips and principles that help couples understand the inner workings of a healthy marriage.