Love Month: Marriage Myths

February 4, 2011

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” – Rita Rudner

I don’t think anyone is every fully prepared to be married.

Still, we think we’ve got it all figured out, we know what to expect when we dive in.  We think we know someone, how it will all be…well, we hope we know.

But a lot of what we think marriage is (or what we thought it was going to be), is fed to us by fantasies and movies and other silly things.  In a lot of ways, marriage has exceeded my expectations.  In other ways, what I expected just wasn’t realistic.  So I’m kicking off Love Month with the top three myths that were shattered for me once I got married.

Myth: Your Wedding Day is the Best Day Ever

Most people look forward to their wedding day.  Some people, especially girls fantasize and fetishize their wedding days from the day they turn six years old.  Guys just look forward to getting the wedding done.  I think the the closest guys get to a girl’s wedding-fantasy-induced-emotional-high is the starry-eyed ecstacy that comes with watching Steve Jobs play with the new iPhone.

That’s why we have shows like Bridezillas.  These are pitiful women who act like their lives have been nothing but crap sandwiches until this day, when their crap sandwiches become fairy princess rainbow sandwiches, and the men who are so pitiful, they will marry said women because they have no self esteem.

Fact: Weddings are momentous days.  But if the day you wake up in a daze to cram yourself into expensive, uncomfortable clothes you will only wear once, get your photo taken a thousand times, give awkward toasts, and collapse, exhausted after probably not eating for sixteen hours is the best day of your life, your marriage is in trouble.

Myth: Everything is Better Shared

Most couples know going into marriage that each person will have their own things that the other won’t want to take part in.  But there are actually a lot of things that are better done alone.

For example, most soon-to-be newlyweds look forward to sleeping in a shared bed, cramming and contorting themselves to spend all night as close together as physically possible, as if they’re posing for a mattress commercial.

Fact: Pillows are great to snuggle with all night because they do not have bones, they do not snore, do not weigh as much as a person, and do not generate a thousand BTUs of body heat an hour.  Girls are colder-natured then guys, generally, which only increases their primal “cuddling” instincts, but a lot guys find they need to get as far away from their sweetie as possible and get a fan blowing after about five minutes.

Fact: In talking with other couples, I have found that no one dresses for bed like TV couples.  In fact, I have found that most girls, not having their cuddling/body heat needs met by their men, resort to all kinds of utilitarian sleep-wear, with the sole purpose of conserving warmth.  Acceptable female sleep fashions include flannel pajamas, wool socks, fingerless gloves, stocking caps, overcoats, scarves, and earmuffs.  Guys, be sure the person getting in bed with you is actually your wife, and not a homeless person, though a trash bag full of aluminum cans is not necessarily a dead giveaway.   

Myth: Pre-Marital Counseling

My wife and I didn’t make time for pre-marital counseling.  But I’ve always been puzzled by why so many people just go for pre-marital counseling.  I get that you’re learning about conflict resolution and all that.  But how much practice can you really get at conflict resolution, especially if A) you don’t live together, and B) your biggest (or only) source of conflict is planning the wedding? 

Fact: Most married couples have much more need for help after the wedding than before.  How long does an engagement last?  Surely some unforseen problem is going to come up sometime during the rest of your life (i.e. money, kids, jobs, the house.)  I can’t tell you how many couples I’ve seen break it off just because they didn’t want to see a counselor. 

There is nothing wrong with getting professional help, or a mediator, or just checking up on your relationship, even if everything seems okay.  Sometimes you need to have a neutral third party.  Nothing wrong with that.

Those are my top three marriage myths.  What are yours?  How did your relationship defy your expectations?

35 responses to Love Month: Marriage Myths

  1. Hello Matty,

    An iPhone? Excuse me, but who is pitiful?
    I sleep buck naked and spooning is for the perpetually insecure.
    I’ve had counselling before and after and it is well worth the second mortgage.

    You make me laugh.

    Lazy Silly Girl

  2. Hi Matt,

    Another great post.

    Although I am not a pastor or a marriage counselor, over the years a number of couples considering marriage have sought my advice. Ginny and I have even had complete strangers off the street ask us about this; I suppose we must look happy.

    Anyhow, we usually tell them to do one thing:

    Go to the store and buy a bicycle still in the box. You’re going to give it to some poor kid in the slum. Take the bike home and the two of you together assemble it.

    If you still want to get married after putting a bicycle together, your marriage has a good chance of lasting.

    • That’s got to be the best marriage test I’ve ever heard of!

    • love this.

    • That is great advice for those couples who have to do everything together.

      Actually, riding tandem bicycles is also a really great exercise in either building or breaking up marriages. Because both rider’s pedals are connected, you have to tell each other when you want to stop pedaling, start pedaling, adjust your tush, turn right or left. Having one person try to stop pedaling while the other is still trying to pedal is rather painful. Any movement in the back other than pedaling is exaggerated in the front and makes steering more difficult. The person in the back, called “the stoker” has to be comfortable with views of the “captain’s” backside and views to the right and left. The stoker also has to deal with gaseous emissions from the captain. The captain has to put up with the person behind turning around to look at something they passed, which makes the bike want to turn. Both riders have to put up with other people telling them that the stoker isn’t really pedaling, because everyone thinks they haven’t heard that joke yet, when in fact, most tandeming couples hear it at least three times a ride, maybe more if they are in an organized ride. And yes, the captain can tell when the stoker isn’t pulling his/her weight in pedaling. So next time you see a couple on a tandem bicycle, please just smile and wave and resist the urge to tell the stoker joke.

  3. You are so right about expectations and how sometimes they are based on movies and television programs. No one really knows about marriage until they ARE married.

    As always, Matt, you knocked this out of the park! Great post.

  4. This one is wonderful. Really well done! My wife and I have been married 10 years and it’s great (now).

    The wonderful thing about marriage is that your wife will often meet you at the door in slinky lingerie and made passionate love to you all night long after a day at the office. Oh wait…no, that was a myth. Probably a pretty bad expectation too.

    It’s a myth that surely every man knows is false, but several of us believe it anyway. Oh, the pain that would have been avoided had I ignored my beliefs on that one!
    Dan Smith recently posted..The Necessity of Prayer- EM Bounds

  5. Having a child will bring you closer together. Ok, I didn’t actually believe that because I knew it would sometimes be stressful, but I had no idea our marriage would take a total nose dive after the birth of our firstborn, lovely, colicky, never-sleep-for-more-than-30-minutes, projectile-vomiting, sweet baby girl. Sleep deprivation almost killed me. Sex deprivation almost killed him (or so he says). We fought about things that we’d never fought about before – division of labor, money, free time, sex.

    Good news is that after a second child and a few years, things got easier. The mojo eventually came back, the kids learned to sleep through the night, and we actually get a night alone once in a blue moon. I find the older the kids get, the better our marriage becomes. My advice for newlyweds? The romantic feelings wax and wane. If you’re not feeling the love, love anyway. The feelings will come back.

  6. Lol, some of that is spot on! And I totally agree with John, though my husband’s and my “bicycle” was a two person kayak. We kept going in circles and yelling at each other for not paddling right, but we still wantedto get married! To this day we recommend it to all our engGed friends.

    I have to say I disagree about the counseling though. We lived together before marrying, but most of our issues centered on our goals for the future, some leftover resentment from a difficult time in our relationship, and different views on our roles and careers. Counseling was immensely helpful and to this day (5 years later) we still refer to things we learned in our premarital counseling sessions.

    • Sure, and it’s not that I’m saying “don’t go to pre-marital counseling.” I’m just pointing out the fact that for most couples, that’s the last counselor they’ll ever see, until their marriage is truly in trouble.

  7. My wife and I have been married 9 years, and we are always trying to give our single friends a realistic evaluation of marriage. I don’t think they hear a word we’re saying. Some things you have to learn on your own.
    David N. recently posted..An American geeks Childhood- No 15

  8. My wife and often laugh about how men want their wives to stay the same, and woman want their husbands to change. I mean she married a guy with a guitar collection, what did she think that meant?

    Our wedding day was special; in fact we enjoyed creating a service that was uniquely us. We have a bulletin in a frame on our wall in the bedroom. But you are right, the honeymoon was awesome.

    I like to do things together, she doesn’t. Walking the aisle at the grocery store together is better than sitting around the house having shallow Facebook conversations. I have a band, and she is not involved – but we are planning on going to the gym together stating in a few weeks. What we really need is a kid that stays in bed all night (7 years is a long time), and a walk on the beach alone.

    We enjoyed the Gary Smalley Marriage Institute DVDs. We watched them with some other couples and had small group type discussions. The 5 Love Languages were very helpful to both of us. The best part was about unmet expectations. We had an argument over conflict resolution. :(

    Great blog – and you may add Myth 4: Everything is 50/50, not a chance.
    David recently posted..Redemption- Judgment and Time

  9. Too funny!

    After 15 years (yes, that’s twice as long as some of you!) “Post Marital Counseling” is very underrated! Although I will say this, be careful with any counsel you get, one ‘Christian’ counselor almost cost us our marriage.

    Finally, only in the past five years have I realized that if I take the needs I am looking to be met from my wife to God, only then will they truly be met. To think of the $$ and heartache I’d of saved if I knew that 15 years ago!

  10. Myth: Every “intimate encounter” will be as romantic as what you find on soap operas. Fact: Wrong!
    seekingpastor recently posted..Empty

  11. “Crap sandwich?” Make sure it’s not a homeless person? FUNNNNNY!!

    Myth 4 – All we need is Love. A good job and a little money doesn’t hurt to make things better. A vacuum cleaner is good too.
    Myth 5 – It’s just going to be sex, sex, sex all the time! So you have sex, what about the other 23:55 minutes of the day?
    Myth 6 – like on TV when we wake up we will start out by kissing. Right! Ever smell a toxic waste dump?

    Great stuff!
    Brian recently posted..Cowards and Heroes

  12. Myth: THE OTHER PERSON WILL ALWAYS THINK YOU ARE RIGHT!! My wife and I deferred to each other’s judgement waaaaaaay more often when we were dating than we do now. We don’t argue, but compromise is more difficult.

    Myth: POOR PERSONAL HABITS WILL ALWAYS BE COUNTERED BY YOUR MATE! I am notoriously messy. Not filthy (food, hygiene issues) but messy. Need a newspaper from 2004? I may have it sitting under the couch. Or more likely, it is under my keys, hiding the remote. I thought when I got married, my wife would certainly have the superpowers to combat my bad habits….Nope
    Lazarus recently posted..And the Award for Best Actor goes to

  13. Okay. I think I laughed out loud four or five times. 200 points for a great post, and the cartoons are priceless.

  14. Myth: All girls fantasize about being a bride. Honestly, I don’t think I knew those girls growing up because this has been something I have been hearing since I’ve been an adult and it never happened where I was. The only reason we didn’t just go to a judge was that it was important to my parents to do a mostly traditional ceremony.

    Myth: Being married is all about being together, and people who can saw they’ve never been apart a day in their marriage are closer than the other kind. If that were us, one of us would be widowed. We’re both introverts who need down time to recharge. Know yourself, know your spouse, and don’t assume motives for the other’s actions.

    Myth: If you think it, they must think it too. Just because you hold an opinion that is deeply rooted in the core of your being, love that other person, and they love you doesn’t mean that the opinion or believe oozed over by osmosis. Or that it should. It’s the differences that make it interesting and challenging.

    Myth: Good marriages have clear role distinctions. This one I learned in the church. Just because you love Jesus doesn’t mean you need an ovary to wash dishes or that if you drive together the one with an adam’s apple gets the keys. If you’re focused on the Husband-Wife stuff you are at risk of forgetting the Bob-Mary stuff. You’re individuals that God put together to form a unique and fabulous new creation.

  15. My husband and I had an amazing wedding day. I will give significant credit to Kenny Loggins and the Guinness kegs. ;0)

    However, we have grown so much in our marriage since then. One thing is for sure: Love is not a feeling; it’s a choice.
    Sarahbeth recently posted..Josie

    • Okay, first off, it’s true that love is a choice. But I gotta tell you that all of the sermons (official and ad hoc) that I’ve heard on this convince me that this is why Christians shouldn’t write greeting cards. “To my wife on our anniversary – I will always love you! It’s a choice – I feel nothing” just won’t sell as well as many folks might assume. 😀

  16. Awesome post, Matt. I think this was your most hilarious one I’ve read!
    Brooklyn Cravens recently posted..I just want to be Holy!!

  17. All of our expectations went up in smoke somewhere in month 3-4 of our marriage when we discovered God’s sense of humor – we said that we wanted to have kids after a year. God gave us our first child for our 1-yr anniversary. Actually a month early.

    Letting go of them has been difficult over the years, but I think we’re finally getting there 5 yrs in (well, as of next Friday!).

    An interesting one that came up recently was that my husband expected that by now in our marriage, we’d be finishing each others’ sentences and would know everything about each other. That sounds really boring to me.
    Princess Leia recently posted..Shoeboxes!

  18. I don’t see whats wrong with holding hands and making out forever? That is session 3 in my premarital that I do with couples!!!!!! :)
    jay sauser recently posted..…the gospel according to coffee part 2…

  19. Let’s watch the homeless people jokes, eh?

  20. We went through pre-marital counseling, and our follow-up is that the pastor who married us and his wife are also close friends. We talk marriage “all the time”. They did a great job in helping us realistically prepare.

    Also, that pastor and I take kids (junior high through college and up) on all sorts of trips. One of the college trips is a three-day conoe trip down the Verde River here in AZ. Towards the “end” of the river (it is actually dammed up) is Horseshoe Lake. My wife and I call it “Marriage Counseling Lake”; because if you can get through the two hour paddle across water with no current, no way of guaging how far you have gone or have yet to go, a wind blowing against you, and at the end of three long, draining days on a cold river without killing each other (kind of like the building a bike idea above, but we did that easily, actually. True story. But I am rather handy and we are both a lot of fun), you can handle marriage. We got into a *hushed* verbal fight due to lack of sleep, lack of remaining physical stamina, and the above reasons.
    Daniel M. Klem recently posted..Rising Second Title

  21. Marriage myths, eh?
    Well, until Cycleguy shows up, I seem to be the “expert” here w/ 20 years under my belt. Seriouly, I don’t know how we lasted that long, except by the grace of God.

    1. Marriage is something you are, not something you do.
    Once the honeymoon wears off, it is really stinking hard work!!! Dang, he can’t read my thoughts after all these years? He really should have known I was just joking around! Seriously, 20 years and he still can’t manage to get the socks in the hamper?

    2. The toddler years are the hardest.
    Sorry to tell you those are the cake years. More parents of teenagers divorce than parents of toddlers. We just had a blow-up tonight about whether to let our almost 18 year old quit going to church. Fights when the kids were toddlers were usually about whose turn to change the diaper, or get up when they cry at night. Not really live changing events.

    3. The longer you’re married, the easier it gets.
    Well then, we must be doing something wrong. As long as we are two seperate beings with 2 seperate ideas and 2 seperate wills, I don’t know that it will ever be easy. Or maybe it’s just us.
    We have participated in probably 10 marriage studies over the years. That’s probably why we made it this long. Bottom line, we are both committed Christ followers, and we esteem our covenant before God. So we will continue to die to ourselves daily to think more highly of the other than ourselves. Kinda sucks, cuz I like to be right, but I’d rather be pleasing to my Abba Father then always win.
    Ahh, grace.

    • I don’t think you’re doing it wrong, but I have found that marriage really does get easier at some point. Not when you have teenagers at home perhaps, but at some point.

      For us it’s because we paid attention to the *person* we married and I know him and his motivations so much better. I now know for sure that when he does something, hurting me will never enter into any part of the motive so I don’t get my feelings hurt. I may not like something he does, but that’s a different conversation. I know that he values our relationship and would do anything in his power to protect, support, and encourage me. In return, I would do the same. At the beginning neither of us had quite the same conviction, it was more of a feeling and a hope. I can honestly say that we are at a point in our relationship where we are reaping the rewards of all that hard work, we’re no longer pulling the marriage plow through the hardened earth of relationship 😀

    • As a parent of teens, I think whether parenting toddlers or teens is harder really depends on the kids. One of our kids was so difficult, moody, angry and clingy that everyone from her teachers to our pediatrician recommended psychiatric help. Never found anything wrong with her, and she’s turned into an empathetic, outgoing, funny teen. The other kid was much easier but turned out to be the more difficult teen.

      Still I prefer teens over toddlers. You can leave a screaming teen and go for a drive to cool off. Plus teens sometimes leave you alone to spend time together.

  22. ok…this post got me laughing out loud…especially the part about sleeping in bed together. Every night I jam my toes into the backs of my husbands knees for warmth. He always gets up 5 minutes later to open a window. It’s now kinda like the nightly ritual! :)

  23. Great post friend. Never tried to list myths I have heard before. As for pre-marital counsel, never had any. But the best advice/info I ever got about marriage was this: Woman eat toilet paper.
    Jason recently posted..About Biblical Womanhood- Brief Thoughts

  24. Getting married in May and this is a very helpful post, especially the last myth!

  25. Actually, riding tandem bicycles is also a really great exercise in either building or breaking up marriages. We had an argument over conflict resolution.

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