If you hear a certain notion about marriage over and over, it must be true, right? Actually, that’s pretty much wholly wrong. There are almost too many myths about marriage to even begin counting, but some of them are heard so often that even I — as a general skeptic — tend to believe them. My least favorite of these myths, which we’ll get to in this article, is that you should be married by a certain age. Since I’m single and not exactly a spring chicken, it couldn’t please me more to tell you all that it’s by far the truth.
In addition to the age myth, there are many other non-truths related to marriage that I wanted to try to uncover. To get to the bottom of some of the most common myths about marriage, I spoke via email to Mara Opperman, relationship etiquette expert, co-founder of I Do Now I Don’t, and Director of Communications and Client Relations at DEL GATTO. What I learned from Opperman is that many of the things I’ve thought to be true about marriage actually came to me from the rumor mill. Ultimately, every marriage is different, so what might be a huge issue for one couple — like, a terrible problem with a mother-in-law — might be a complete non-issue for another couple. Likewise, what works for one couple — like, having all of the same interests — might not necessarily be a needed component of a happy marriage for another couple. Let’s talk a little about these notions and more. Here are 11 myths about marriage, debunked by an expert.
1. 30 & Still Single? There’s A Problem
I’m going to start with this notion because I’m rapidly approaching 30 and about as single as could be. When I hear my older relatives tell me that I really should be married by my age, it feels like a stake to the heart. However, the reality is, if you’re not settling down by 30 it’s certainly not a problem, according to Opperman. Why do we tend to hear the “around 30” number when discussing marriage these days? “I think what makes 30 such a common number is because it’s at an age where most people have finished schooling, have been in the workforce for a few years, and are inherently ready to find a life partner and truly settle into adult life,” Opperman says.
2. You Should Be Married By A Certain Age
OK, so if not age 30, is there another age number we should feel we need to be married by? According to Opperman… no way. “You should know that you shouldn't feel forced to get married just because you have hit a certain age,” Opperman says. “After all, it's really not about what age you marry, it's all about the person you marry.” Amen to that.
3. There’s A Precise Chain Of Events Related To Marriage
Meet, date, live together, get engaged, get married, have children, and so on. If you’ve heard this one before, you can dismiss the idea that it must happen this way. According to Opperman, while there is a typical chain of events couples tend to follow are they become more serious and committed, it’s not to say if the order isn’t followed the relationship will crumble. Opperman does note, however, that each of these major steps should be well thought out by the couple before they’re taken.
4. Having Children Will Make A Marriage Stronger
I’ve heard this many times: A couple is married and having some problems, and think having a baby will help resolve the issues and bring them closer. Well, turns out this really isn’t a good method of handling marital problems. “Many studies show that having a baby can bring lots of stress to a marriage and even push couples apart,” Opperman says. “Having a child also means less time to focus on your relationship with your partner.”
5. You Should Have The Same Exact Interests As Your Spouse
While it’s nice to have some common interests in a marriage, it’s not true to say you must have all of the same interests in order to have a happy partnership, according to Opperman. In fact, it’s great for maintaining a sense of independency if you maintain a couple of things you enjoy doing on your own.
6. It’s Not A Huge Deal If You Don’t Share Common Values
Common values are actually a huge part of a successful relationship. Opperman says they’re more important than common interests, for sure. Why? “Interests often change drastically with time, while your core values tend to remain consistent throughout your life,” Opperman says.
7. Married Couples Have Less Sex
Wrong. According to Opperman, studies have shown that many married people actually have more sex than a singles. Shocking, but true. One particular study, for instance, was published by the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and confirmed the sex habits of married couples were more religious than singles. Specifically, a mere 18 percent of married people said they hadn't had sex in the past year, compared to a whopping 61 percent of singles. What's more, the study showed 25 percent of married people were still having sex two to three times a week, compared to less than percent of single folks.
8. Married Couples Have Boring Sex
So, married people might be having more sex than their single counterparts in many cases, but it’s probably really boring sex, right? Also wrong. In fact, according to Opperman, statistics show married couples tend to have more varied sex as well when compared to singles. For one, a survey conducted by ABC News showed the largest percentage of people who cited their sex life as "very exciting" were those who were married.
9. In-Laws Tend To Be A Complete Nightmare
In-laws get a bad rep, but they’re not always bad. Some might actually be quite pleasant. “In most cases, your in-laws are not your enemies,” Opperman says.
10. Mother-In-Laws, In Particular, Are Usually Monsters
Admittedly, maybe I've watched one-too-many J Lo movies, but I have this assumption mother in-laws can be particularly monstrous. Again, this is just a myth, Opperman notes. Where does this theory come from, though? “This myth stems from the theory of the untouchable relationship between a mother and son,” Opperman explains. “[The theory goes] that wives often have a hard time sharing the spotlight as one of multiple very important woman in their husbands’ lives, while mothers have a hard time adjusting to sharing the spotlight.”
At the end of the day, it simply all depends on the relationship, Opperman explains.
11. Romance & Passion Are The Biggest Keys To Marital Success
Let’s close here on the myth Opperman told me is what she considers the biggest marriage myth of them all. “I think the biggest myth about marriage is that romance and passion are the keys to long-term marital success,” Opperman says. “It's not about the passion which tends to fade, it's more about the commitment and communication and overall companionship which makes a happy marriage.”
It’s true what they say that you can’t always believe everything you hear, and it’s especially true when it comes to marriage. There are countless myths that tend to circulate about marriage, however as we’ve just learned, many of them are just that — myths.