Marital Myths to Avoid
by Michelle Grant Scott, LISW-CP with Dr. David Scott, LPC
Looking into the faces of my rosy-cheeked daughters, I often feel overly eager to meet their needs and forget the rest of the world. At times, I feel my sole purpose in life is to give them reason to shine those dimpled smiles. Despite my love of motherhood, I’ve learned it’s not meant to come at the expense of other relationships, especially my marriage.
Considering that divorce rates are continuing to soar, knowing the potential pitfalls in our marriage can help us avoid the traps of the following marital myths:
MYTH 1: I shouldn’t have to tell my spouse what I need – he should know! Believing this way fosters resentment. We cannot assume our mates can read our minds and know exactly what we need. Even the strongest marriages require regular time alone for spouses to communicate their needs. Sometimes when we take the time to simply ask, “Would you help me with this?” we actually get help!
MYTH 2: I need my mate to understand me at all times. Couples can grow tremendously from learning to better understand one another. However, despite honest efforts, there will be times when one partner may not understand the needs or viewpoints of the other. This is not a reason to abandon the relationship. Instead, learn to accept your differences and show unconditional love while continuing to give your husband the respect he yearns for.
MYTH 3: My husband should be strong when I’m weak. In an ideal world, our spouses would have the strength and energy to take care of us when we feel emotionally or physically weak. The reality is that spouses often feel weak at the same time (during illness, loss, childbirth, job changes). These are vulnerable times when some mates turn to a relationship outside the marriage for support. To avoid this trap, couples can focus on communicating their individual needs to each other and seek counsel from trusted godly individuals such as family, clergy, friends or therapists.
MYTH 4: When I give to my spouse, I should get back just as much in return. The giving/receiving ratio in marriage is ever-changing and trying to keep score of who gave what can destroy a marriage. We cannot control or “make” our spouses behave in a certain way. We can only control our own behavior. As 1 Corinthians 13 teaches us, love is meant to be given without any expectations or scorekeeping.
MYTH 5: If we argue, our marriage is unhealthy. It’s normal to disagree with our spouses from time to time. Discussing and resolving our disagreements is actually a component of healthy relationships. However, these discussions should be respectful and should not cause harm to a spouse or family member. Take time to discuss how to “fight fair” when you’re not having an argument. And remember, emotional, sexual and physical types of abuse are never acceptable in a marriage or family.
MYTH 6: Love is enough to make our marriage strong. Love should definitely be part of the foundation of any marriage. But as any experienced married couple can tell you, some life changes make us feel less loving than others. Even though some days we’ll feel less like being married, the commitment is what keeps couples together – not feelings. Remaining committed through difficult times serves your spouse and, in turn, strengthens the love relationship.
MYTH 7: I need to change my husband so our marriage will be stronger. We can certainly (respectfully) voice needs and opinions. But many women tend to repeatedly tell their husband how they need to change. This can take the form of “nagging” that tears their husband down and can cause them to want to avoid their wife. Just as Proverbs 25:24 states, “Better to live on the corner of the roof than to live with a quarrelsome wife.”
Michelle G. Scott previously participated in a MOPS group in Greensboro, North Carolina. She’s a part-time therapist and freelance writer. Her husband, Dr. David Scott, is coordinator and assistant professor in the Clemson University Community Counseling program. They’re the parents of Taylor Grace (7) and Caroline (4).