Written by: Robert R. Cassman, LPCC
There is a lot of disinformation or myths about marriage that have been promoted over and over again. Even though these myths may sound true or appealing, the research by John Gottman, Ph.D., shows otherwise.*
Myth #1: Mental or personality problems ruin all marriages. Because we all have our own deficiencies, it is in how we handle them that matters, not simply that we have them.
Myth #2: Common interests keep couples together longer. What is really important, again, is how couples interact. If you are doing something with your spouse, do you do it with a pleasant attitude or a poor attitude?
Myth #3: Reciprocity is the source of all good relationships. This too is not true. Reciprocity can lead to couples resenting each other. For instance, if a wife keeps track of all the things she has done for her husband, and then compares it to the things he hasn’t done for her, that will inevitably lead to resentment. Instead, do nice things for your spouse simply because he is your spouse, not because you want something in return.
Myth #4: Avoid conflict at all costs to save your marriage. The theme here is in how we handle issues, not that those issues are avoided. Being overly blunt or sweeping concerns under the rug is not healthy.
Myth #5: The root cause of divorce is an affair. Affairs happen because of some pre-existing issue in the relationship. This is not the same thing as saying that one spouse caused the other to have an affair. The affair could certainly serve as the “final straw” but it wasn’t the “first straw” either.
Myth #6: Men are not biologically built for married life. There is much research that shows that it is more of a social and cultural issue and not a biological issue. Women who are in the workforce have affairs at almost the same rate as working men. Believing this myth is simply avoiding the real issues in a marriage.
Myth #7: Men and women are simply from different planets. Sex differences are major contributors to the overall differences in men and women but they do not cause divorces. If that were the case, then why bother writing a book “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus?” It’s because the differences can be overcome. There are also many common factors: 70% of both men and women said that friendship is the key to a good relationship.
*The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman, Ph.D. is a great resource for couples.