In the 1960s an interesting book was written by William Lederer and Don Jackson titled "The Mirages of Marriage." The authors contended more than two decades ago there were several myths about marriage that, if believed, were harmful to a marital relationship.
Last week I noted a recent paperback book written by two psychologists from Los Angeles. Melvyn Kinder and Connell Cowan have written a new book titled "Husbands and Wives: The Guide for Men and Women Who Want to Stay Married." One of the reasons half the married couples in the United States eventually divorce, they believe, is because of unrealistic expectations we initially or later come to expect from the marital relationship.Their book has an interesting chapter on "Letting Go of Marital Myths." They note, "Most of us learn about marriage firsthand through an often frustrating, sometimes painful process of trial and error, occasionally hurting ourselves and our mates. We haven't been taught in any systematic fashion what we might expect or what might be expected of us. Instead, we pick up bits and pieces of information along the way from parents, early romantic adventures, and the media. Some of it is accurate and helpful, but unfortunately much of it is inaccurate and distorted."
Before presenting their list of current marital myths, the two psychologists state: "You will notice that some of these myths are old and traditional in the sense that couples have always believed them to be true, and they have always created dissension in marriage. A number of other myths, however, are new, unfortunate byproducts of the `me generation' and the excessive psychologizing of marriage to the point where anything seems possible and reasonable if only you just talk about it and negotiate it long enough."
Here, according to Kinder and Cowan, are some common beliefs about marriage under scrutiny for the 1990s:
Myth No. 1: Marriage will always make you feel complete and whole.
Myth No. 2: Your mate should change for you if he or she really loves you.
Myth No. 3: If you truly love each other, romance should continue to flourish. (See last week's column, which considered this particular myth.)
Myth No. 4: Your mate should automatically understand you.
Myth No. 5: Differences in marriage should always be negotiated.
Myth No. 6: In a good marriage the partners always have identical dreams and goals.
Myth No. 7: The more open you are with your mate, the more satisfying the marriage.
Myth No. 8: If two people are growing individually, it will automatically enhance their marriage.
Myth No. 9: Sexual disinterest is inevitable in marriage.
Myth No. 10: If you're not feeling fulfilled, your marriage must be at fault.
Myth No. 11: Being a full-time wife and mother is a waste of potential.
Myth No. 12: A woman or a man can be devoted fully to work, family and marriage.
Myth No. 13: If you have to "work" on a marriage, something is wrong.
In summary, the two California marriage counselors concluded, "Those who cling tenaciously to these myths fail to understand a fundamental truth about change in marriage: There must be a void created for any new patterns to be established. And releasing one's mate from the burden of having to meet unrealistic expectations allows him or her to perceive you in a new way and to think about being different on his or her own terms."
Do you agree with Kinder and Cowan? Is it food for thought? Or not? I'd like to hear from you. Write to the Hartford Building, 3355 N. University Ave., Suite 275, Provo, UT 84604.