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Top Ten Marriage Myths and Truths

Improving your chances of marital success can be as easy as understanding the difference between myths and truths about marriage. For example, it is a fact that if you get married before the age of 24 in the USA, you have a MUCH higher chance of getting divorced than those who get married at 25 and beyond. In fact, the divorce rate for those getting married after the age of 25 is only about 30% -- less than half the 65% divorce rate for those getting married before the age of 24!

The facts about marriage reveal that people who get married older, who have higher education levels, who do not have children when they get married, and who marry someone of their general social class, have a much higher chance of marital success than those who do not meet these thresholds. In the end, what really matters are the ”truths” about marriage, not the mythologies about marriage.

Here are our Top Ten Mythologies about Marriage in America based on our three decades of marriage research in 46 countries and on six of the world’s seven continents.

MYTHOLOGY 1 – Married couples have sex lives that are less satisfying than those who are not married. REALITY – Not true! In fact, the research evidence supports the opposite conclusion– those who are married have far better sex lives and enjoy it more than those who are not married. There is no debate in reputable circles about this fact!

MYTHOLOGY 2 – Cohabitation works as well as marriage. REALITY – Those who cohabitate are not as committed to their relationship as those who are married. In fact, those who cohabitate before marriage have a significantly higher divorce rate when married than those who have not cohabitated!

MYTHOLOGY 3 – Married women have a higher risk of domestic violence in their marriage than unmarried women. REALITY – Simply not true!! In fact, women who are married have a far LESS chance of being abused than those who cohabitate without being married.

MYTHOLOGY 4 – Marriage can survive infidelity. REALITY – While some marriages do in fact survive infidelity, the overwhelming majority do not. Think long and hard about what you will lose before you engage in infidelity.

MYTHOLOGY 5 – The more educated a women is the less likely she is to get married. REALITY – There is no basis in fact for this mythology. In fact, college educated women are more likely to get married than their less educated counterparts.

MYTHOLOGY 6 – Bringing children into a marriage strengthens the marriage. REALITY – Nora Ephron once said, “Having children is like throwing a hand grenade into a marriage!” Children are wonderful, but they bring stress and challenges to a marital relationship. Be prepared for the ups and downs!

MYTHOLOGY 7 – When you get married you lose your individual identity for the benefit of the oneness of your marriage. REALITY – Nothing could be further from the truth. In the best marriages neither spouse loses their individual identity or subjugates their individual strengths.

MYTHOLOGY 8 – The one you are married to does not have to be your best friend. REALITY – Our three decades of research across cultures and continents reveals the opposite. In fact, the most successfully married couples report to us in our interviews with them that their best friend in life IS their spouse.

MYTHOLOGY 9– The most successfully married couples don’t argue. REALITY – Simply not true! In fact, all couples argue – those married successfully and those who are not. The difference is how they argue. The best marriages fight fair. If you decide to submerge your feelings, let the anger fester, and go to bed mad at each other – well, you are heading down a path that could ultimately lead to the destruction of your marriage. Arguing is healthy for a marriage. Just fight fair!

MYTHOLOGY 10 – There are no particular advantages to being married. REALITY – In our own research and in the research of others, there are clear advantages and benefits to being married including living longer, being healthier, and accumulating more wealth. The health benefits accrue more to men and the financial benefits more to wives.

The truth of the matter is this – the best marriages survive and thrive – many for a lifetime. And those successful marriages know the differences between truth and mythology. They practice truth and ignore the mythologies.

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

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