5 Marriage Myths that Keep You from Being Happy

Happy Life: Happy Marriage Series

It sounds rather simplistic to “Choose happiness,” or “Take charge of your happiness,” but in his book Secrets of Happily Married Women, Scott Haltzman, M.D., suggests we can choose to be happier in our marriages.

To begin with, this means unearthing five marriage myths and explaining why they make it impossible to feel happy in our marriages. These are the five most destructive myths he came across in his practice as a psychologist and marriage therapist. These are particularly true for wives, who initiate two-thirds of U.S. divorces.  However, I think husbands may also fall prey to these myths.

Myth 1: Marriage automatically makes you happy. While it’s true more married people (43 percent) report being happy than unmarried people (24 percent) despite age or gender, marital happiness and personal happiness are separate issues.  Dr. Haltzman says married people must put marital happiness first, considering how their actions and desires affect their partner rather than pursing personal happiness as their priority.

“It is an essential truth that sacrificing one’s own needs for someone else’s is a necessary and worthwhile part of human relationships. When that truth is denied in a marriage, the results can be especially destructive; abandoned spouses and children get left behind in the dust of misguided soul-searching for personal fulfillment focused on ego-driven needs,” he says.

Myth 2: Good marriages are always passionate and heart-throbbing. The number of women who report, “I love him, but I’m not in love with him,” of their husbands is astounding, says Dr. Haltzman. What it means is they have lost their connection or that their love is going through a temporary down phase, not that it is doomed. Falling out of infatuation may also be misconstrued as falling out of love, when the initial passionate loving feelings and heightened hormones dissipate. (Unfortunately, some people never understand this and move from relationship to relationship thinking they have the wrong person.)

Myth 3: In happy marriages, child care and housework are evenly distrusted. If this is a major divisive issue for you, I’d suggest you read the book, particularly chapter 6. There’s not a quick two-sentence explanation, but rather plenty of data and a need to understand the issues women grapple with regarding work and home responsibilities. The fact is that most wives do more household work than their husbands, but many of them have still found a way to be happy.

Myth 4: Both partners are responsible for the level of marital happiness. By taking charge of our own mood and actions, one partner can certainly improve personal happiness and affect his or her spouse, improving happiness within the marriage.

Myth 5: If your marriage makes you unhappy, the best solution is to get out. This very widely held myth is rich enough to write an entire post about, so stay tuned next week, and I’ll do just that. I’ll share Dr. Haltzman’s assessment of the most common causes of divorce that seem hopeless but are indeed solvable, and discuss why this myth may be the greatest cause of unhappiness in marriages.

Sign up for new posts in the right column either via email or RSS feed. Just a reminder, most weeks (unless something more exciting or timely comes up) Marriage Gems provides research-based marriage tips on Mondays, “Happy Life: Happy Marriage” series on Wednesdays, and “Keeping the Sparks Alive” series on Fridays. If you like the blog, please consider sharing with a friend.

6 responses to “5 Marriage Myths that Keep You from Being Happy

  1. I’d say a very high percentage of newlyweds are guilty(not sure if that is the right terminology) of buying into at least 3 of those myths. Especially those who are married fairly quickly after their courtship/engagement. If those who do buy into some of these myths were handed a print out of this post, I think their mindset would quickly be a healthier one just by reading it! Myth number 5 is the one that is perhaps the biggest cause of the growing divorce rates, in my opinion. A very interesting read.

  2. Sexy Christian Wife

    My husband said that he always wanted us to be passionate and heart-throbbing and it scared me, I knew there was no way we could maintain passionate for our entire lives. By definition, passion should be rare, it takes so much energy to keep passion high and sometimes you just need to relax and take a break. I have now discovered that he doesn’t care if we are not always passionate, he just needs to feel always wanted by me.

    • That’s an interesting distinction. Men do want to feel wanted by their partner, and certainly that is part of the passion. Thanks.

  3. I totally disagree with the quote after number 1.
    I think that you can self sacrifice to a point of resentment. Especially when only one of you is doing it. Taking time to figure out your personal happiness and taking responsibility for it rather than thinking it must come from another is valuable. 17 years of this has led to the separation of my wife and I. we are both working on ourselves for the first time in our marriage in order to become better, happier people for each other. We have always been “abnormal” so our separation is no different. We take time for each other, share what we are learning, and have date night including sleepovers at each others place. (she is still at the house). We are both getting healthier and looking forward to the new :us” that we both think is going to emerge victorious after a time of self reflection and therapy.

    This website, as well as others like it, have helped us to “refocus” on what is important to us.

    • I’m glad you are using this opportunity during separation to find a new and better normal for your marriage relationship. Thanks for mentioning that this blog has been helpful to you; I appreciate that feedback. I happen to agree with Dr. Haltzman’s quote, but as with anything, things can go too far in one direction. I do agree that we need to be aware of how to fulfill our own needs and take responsibility for that. However, our culture tends to skew more in the opposite direction with most people overly concerned with how others can “make them” happy without regard for their spouse’s desires and needs. In good marriages, I have seen that when both spouses are concerned with helping their partner be productive, happy and fulfilled, it creates a virtuous cycle that makes them both happier than if they were only concerned about each of their own needs. All the best to you both.

  4. Pingback: The Biggest Marriage Myth of All and How it Could Ruin Your Relationship | Marriage Gems

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s