Great Expectations: 7 Lies about Marriage

Couples therapist and author John W. Jacobs, M.D., has found a pattern in the people he counsels: Their expectations of marriage are often so unrealistic that even the strongest of relationships doesn't stand a chance. In this excerpt from his book All You Need Is Love and Other Lies about Marriage, he explains what he calls "The Seven Lies of Marriage":

LIE #1: All you need is love.

The reality is that marital bliss is a myth. Unconditional love, necessary for babies and small children, doesn't--and shouldn't--exist between marital partners. We live in a culture that stresses a preoccupation with personal happiness above all. As long as we raise our children, especially girls, to believe that marriage is the solution to life's problems and essential for personal happiness, we will continue to have many couples marrying with little appreciation for the true difficulties and complexities of married life.

Couples come to my office deeply shocked: "We love each other so much. Why are we so unhappy?" Myths that suggest that romantic love is sufficient to create marital bliss leave people unskilled in developing and unprepared to manage sustained intimate relationships. As wonderful as love is, love doesn't conquer all, and alone it certainly won't prevent or solve your marital problems. For that, you need to understand the nature of marriage, learn specific skills and accept that regularly applying these skills requires diligence and hard work.

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