1. Marriage Fixes Everything (Anything)
The idea that everything in your life will get better, even a little better, when you’re married is pretty silly when you think about it. Imagine two people who are miserable — bad jobs, bad health, bad habits and toxic attitudes. If these two people were to somehow meet, fall in love and marry, how on earth would their union create a better set of circumstances for either of them? Yes, that’s the extreme case, but as a general rule, the life attitude you bring to a marriage is the one that soon asserts itself within the marriage. You may have a honeymoon period of irrational happiness, but you may not, and either way, living with this person isn’t going to change the root causes of your life attitudes.
The idea that marriage fixes anything does the most damage when we think about bad habits. If you’ve ever heard some engaged person say, “Yes, it annoys me when she drinks too much, but after we’re married she’s going to work on that,” then you’ve heard the kind of hopeful thinking that dooms many marriages. In fact, a good rule of thumb is that any habit, tendency or addiction that your love has BEFORE your wedding day will probably get worse after you’re married. It will get worse, or just annoy you more. Either way, the time to see change is before you say, “I do.”
2. Married People Have Less Sex than Single People
A University of Chicago study established that married couples have more sex than their single counterparts. Married couples have 25% to 300% more sexual activity than non-married people, depending on age. 43% of married men reported having sex at least twice a week, while only 1.26% of single men, not cohabitating, had sex that often. Single men are 20% more likely to be celibate than married men.
Clearly, there are times in a marriage that sex can suffer. Babies are not, for example, known to have a positive impact on the parent’s sex life. But on the whole, marriage is the gateway to more sex.
3. Married People are Less Lonely
Being single can be lonely. There’s no doubt. But being married can be just as lonely, and in the context of a marriage that loneliness is worse. It’s certainly sadder to be within a life long commitment and experience the pain of loneliness. A lonely single person can meet someone in an instant, and experience love, romance and joy. Men or women who find themselves in an empty, lonely marriage are often further depressed by the long road back to a fulfilling relationship.
Single people will sometimes think, “If I was with someone, at least I wouldn’t be so lonely.” It’s an understanding thought, but it’s a siren song. As eHarmony founder Neil Clark Warren wrote, “Being in a bad relationship is a million times worse than having no relationship at all.”
4. Marriage Makes You Happy
If you’re not a happy single person, the chances are good you’re not going to be a happy married person.
Marriage doesn’t make you happy. You make you happy. Marriage can bring you great joy, companionship and satisfaction. It can also bring you frustration, annoyance, anger and confusion. So many new couples are shocked when they find one year into marriage that they aren’t automatically happy. A kind of cynical depression can creep in. You hear it in the voices of women who say slightly demeaning things about their husbands to friends. You see it in the faces of men who are now much more interested in hanging out with their buddies.
One of the most important ideas to bring to a marriage is proper expectations. Some things about marriage are naturally joy producing, but much of the logistics of living with someone and sharing a life can be stress producing. Nothing adds to those stresses like a mate who expects the relationship to provide some constant source of happiness.
Your mate isn’t responsible for your happiness. If you’re looking to your spouse to make you happy, you’re putting unrealistic pressure on the relationship. Just because you now have a life partner doesn’t mean that you give up responsibility for your own happiness.
5. Marriage is a Finish Line
Since a wedding is the beginning of the marriage it might seem unusual that some people view that day as the finish line, but many do. Consciously or subconsciously, some feel that they’ve “made it” and achieved something. It’s a dangerous attitude to take — like celebrating for reaching the bottom of Mount Everest.
Of course, it’s fine to be happy on your wedding day, but all too often couples stop putting in the real effort when it counts. Husbands stop calling to see how her day is going. Wives stop giving him a shoulder rub while they watch TV. The idea of possession starts to enter in, “I’ve got her/him now. Why do I have to try anymore?”
With a 50% divorce rate, you’d think couples would know that looking attractive, being attentive, staying romantic, sharing intimately and remaining connected are vital to building a long lasting relationship. But, sadly, many don’t.
6. “I’ve had my fun. Now, I’m ready to settle down.”
It seems like a joke, but this stand-in for the “I’ve sown my wild oats” phrase misses an important point. You’ve never “had your fun.” The idea that a 45-year-old man needs less fun than a 25-year-old man is absurd. It could be argued that as responsibilities and expectations mount, we need more fun the older we get.
Simply put, if you see marriage as some sort of tremendous sacrifice, that’s a warning sign. Healthy couples acknowledge that marriage brings new responsibilities — fidelity, consideration of the other’s schedule and feelings, sharing yourself in new ways — but believe that the union is a net plus in the fun and satisfaction department. If you don’t, you’re going to be resentful in a matter of months. Human beings aren’t meant to live without large helpings of fun!
7. Marriage is work
You’ve heard it a million times. “Marriage is a lot of work.” Really? No. Marriage is lots of work only if you consider sex as work. If you consider talking to your spouse as work. If you consider taking a long weekend trip together where you stroll hand in hand, stay up late, and act like young lovers as work.
Marriage doesn’t need work. Marriage needs attention. Your spouse needs your full and undivided attention at times. In fact, one of the best marriage therapy exercises is to make a point, at the end of the day when both people come home from work, of sitting on the couch facing each other and talking for 5 minutes about what happened that day. That’s it. You just sit, talk, share and reconnect. It’s a way of saying, “You matter to me.”
Marriages often fall victim to the same behaviors that wreck our bodies, our friendships, and our dreams — we don’t dedicate focused time to our most important priorities. The time that you give to your marriage will pay exponential dividends in joy, companionship, sexual satisfaction, and teamwork, but it shouldn’t feel like work. More often than not, it should feel like play!