3 Common Marriage Myths Busted Three common marriage myths that may be hurting your marriage. BY DALMA HEYN
Don't let these myths tear your marriage apart.
There are many different conceptions about the institution of marriage. Some hold true while others are false and continue to falsely carry on. Here are three common marriage myths busted.
1. Marriage is About Becoming One
No! Those who like the idea of becoming "one person" may have in mind that wonderful state of sexual union when all boundaries fall away and you're freed from the sense of isolation that is the self alone. Then you really do feel like you’ve merged. But such ecstasy, while at the heart of great sex, is a temporary state.
Where did the myth of oneness come from? At one time, a wife’s whole self was subsumed into a husband’s for the simple reason that something called "couverture" gave a husband total control over all his wife’s finances, property and decisions. She did many things, but the "one" person in that couple who had any power in the world (as opposed to influence in the home) was the husband. It became a cultural necessity to be the kind of woman who not only accepted "couverture," but liked it. And so, the over-praised notion of oneness-in-marriage was born.
We know now that all of us need to stretch the walls of our marriages—to make it accommodate two very big, smart, space-occupying people—if we’re to be happily married.
2. After a Few Years, Husbands and Wives Don’t Talk Much
It’s true that research shows that we begin to talk mostly about daily issues like, "Did you get the car fixed?" Or, "Did you remember to tell the Smiths about dinner on Friday?" Rather than about the deeper, more soulful issues once shared. This sad truth is a product of entropy, of being busy and of being part of a business team that has more work to do than the love team it was before it became a business team.
On closer look, pulling away from intimate conversation can be a way to hide from a partner we feel can criticize or hurt us; and it can reflect an assumption that we already know each other so well that no more probing is necessary—that nothing said by our partners will surprise us.
Conversation, though, is the very heart of love. ("Sexual intercourse" is, in fact, conversation through sexuality, no?) And it takes two people committed to being surprised and delighted by the other, to keep conversation open. For that, we all must listen, listen, listen.
3. You’ve Had an Affair So You Must Confess It
My impulse is always to suggest telling the truth to your loved ones. But in the case of an affair, I've learned to sometimes to go against my impulse!
Men in most cultures have long been given tacit permission to stray—on the theory that men are "by nature" straying beasts and that women should understand this and not take it personally. Not long ago when women were totally financially dependent on their husbands, they almost had to do so.
But, as any woman who has confessed to an affair has learned, few men understand a woman's infidelity as just part of her nature. Few men turn the other cheek. Rather, because men tend to think women are essentially monogamous, they see women who stray as horrible creatures—not "real" women at all—and not even worth listening to. Rare is the man who accepts his wife’s infidelity as something that doesn’t deeply involve his own ego and elicit a primitive rage.
This gender discrepancy not in the feeling but in the acceptance of betrayal can be dangerous and result in male violence that the culture has long forgiven. (In life as well as in art, innocent wives—like Desdemona in Shakespeare’s Othello—are killed in the name of "love.")
Of course you want to be truthful, but unless you know what you’re up against you may find that you never get a fair hearing. Truth-telling, noble as it can be, can also be far more fatal to a relationship than discretion is.
Dalma Heyn, M.S.W., founder of The Love Goddess, is the author of several bestselling books on marriage and relationships. Dalma is a widely read columnist and sought-after speaker. She has appeared—without her wings—on national talk shows including Oprah, The View, Charlie Rose, Good Morning America, and Larry King Live. For more information visit www.thelovegoddess.com or www.dalmaheyn.net.