When it comes to marriage and long-term relationships in general, there really aren’t any easy answers. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to happy relationships. But unfortunately, society often convinces us that there ARE hard-and-fast truths related to marriage.
This couldn’t be further from the truth… And buying into these ideas can actually take a toll on your love life. Here are four myths you need to forget immediately so you can pursue a happier love relationship.
There’s A Perfect Age To Get Married
In her piece for The Atlantic, Phoebe Maltz Bovy writes about the pressure placed especially on women, but to some extent men as well, to settle down during the magical period between, say, 27 and 32. In a woman’s early twenties, writes Bovy, she is warned by well-meaning relatives about the dangers of committing too early. Either she’s too young, she hasn’t achieved enough in her career yet or she runs the risk of unintended pregnancy.
“And then, suddenly, the message shifts,” writes Bovy. “A not-quite-as-young woman will learn that rather than having all the time in the world to start a family, her biological clock is about to strike midnight. That even if she doesn’t want children, she is now on the cusp of being too old to find a husband.”
It seems unfair that society has dubbed the late 20s and early 30s as the only time to successfully settle down. But here’s the secret: There is no perfect time in your life to fall in love. Some couples fall in love in high school, and others fall in love in their 60s. Forcing your love life to fit within a certain time parameter is only going to lead to problems. Wouldn’t you rather marry the right person at 45 than the wrong person at 26? I mean, this (presumably) is the REST OF YOUR LIFE we’re talking about!
You Can Only Have One Soulmate
Another myth that’s particularly problematic is the belief in “The One.” I’ve written before about how couples who believe in the concept of soulmates are more likely than others to break up. The idea that there’s one perfect person out there who completes us is extremely problematic for a number of reasons.
Firstly, if you believe there is a “perfect” partner out there for you, you’ll never find what you’re looking for. No one is perfect, and expecting this sort of deep understanding between partners is going to lead to disappointment.
Secondly, couples who think fate can do the work in bringing them together are likely to break up when things get tough, assuming that since things aren’t going well, they’re not paired with their “soulmate.”
Finally, believing that there’s one person out there for each of us suggests that widows and widowers—and to some extent, divorcees—can’t have another chance at romantic happiness, or that people who remain single are somehow unworthy of true love. Obviously, neither of those beliefs are true. Just ask the polyamorous community!
If You’re Unhappy, It’s Time To Leave
Obviously, cases of infidelity, abuse and total misery are legitimate and valid reasons to end a relationship. But mild unhappiness, boredom, feelings for other people, lack of passion and even periods of frequent fighting are not signals that your relationship is doomed.
Instead of taking these trends as cues to leave, successful couples lean into their relationships. They choose to love their partner, seek counseling, work on their own internal issues and spend more time together, attempting to rediscover why they fell in love in the first place.
Your Kids Should Always Come First
When you become a parent, everything changes. Your child will of course take a starring role in your life, but many relationship experts advise against consistently putting your child ahead of your spouse.
In an article for Your Tango, author, mom and wife Heather Morgan Shott explains unapologetically why she makes it a point to put her marriage first. A child of divorce, she explains her reasoning.
“It’s almost impossible to have a happy childhood if you have miserable parents. At some point I decided that if I were ever to get married and have kids I would do everything I could to have a happy marriage that lasted for the long haul.”
While every relationship is different, Shott’s relationship rules work well for her: She and her husband take adults-only vacations, ensure that their son sleeps in a separate room so they have time for bonding and sex, honor each other’s alone time and consistently present a united front on matters of life changes or childcare.
Ultimately, every couple is different, but the takeaway from Shott’s article is that it’s important to recognize how easy it is to let romance slip by the wayside when children come into your life. But like most relationship issues, it’s all about making the effort, and knowing that at the end of the day, your partner will do the same.