For something most of us have either done or plan to do someday, getting married sure comes with a lot of myths. We can credit old-school mindsets and princesses living “happily ever after” for most of them. Here are six of the biggest things most women get wrong about marriage. You’ll be thrilled about some. Others, not so much.
1. Half of All Marriages End in Divorce
Flip a coin: Heads you get divorced. Tails you don’t. Sounds pretty bleak, right? Luckily, it’s also false. The 50/50 stat came from a 1970s projection after courts legalized no-fault divorce and people started getting them left and right. In the mid ’80s, the divorce rate actually peaked around 66 percent, says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great. And it’s much lower now. According to 2009 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 30.8 percent of all marriages ever have ended in divorce, and research shows that in 2011, just 3.6 people got divorced out of every 1,000 adults.
2. Happy Couples Don’t Argue
“A lack of conflict means you aren’t dealing with things that matter,” says Orbuch, who has followed more than 350 couples for 28 years and found that, yes, happy pairs fight. What’s more, research from the University of Tennessee shows that couples who recognize that there’ll be rough patches in their relationship are more satisfied over the long haul. “What makes happy marriages different from unhappy ones is that the spouses learn how to deal with conflict and disagreements in a healthy, productive manner,” says Orbuch.
3. Couples Who Have Kids Are Happier Than Those Who Don’t
Sorry to break it to you, but the exact opposite tends to be true. Research from the United Kingdom’s Open University found that married couples without children are, on average, happier in their relationship and with their partner than parents are. “The decline in happiness doesn’t always mean the two spouses love each other less,” says Orbuch. “It merely means that the more responsibilities and roles you have (spouse, parent, employee, boss, student, volunteer, etc.), the less time and energy you can give to any of them—and the less happy you are in any one role, as well.”
4. Married People’s Sex Lives Suck
Research from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University shows that married women have more sex than those who are in a relationship but haven’t tied the knot. However, there’s more to a good sex life than frequency. Luckily, research from Penn State also shows that love and commitment tend to make sex physically more satisfying for women. Marriage FTW!
5. If You Live Together Before Marriage, You Have a Higher Chance of Divorce
In 2014, after studying more than 7,000 couples, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that whether or not a couple has exchanged “I do’s” before moving in together doesn’t really affect their chances of marital bliss. What does is the age at which those two people shack up—ring or no ring. In fact, researchers found that couples who committed—either to cohabitation or to marriage—at the age of 18 had a 60 percent rate of divorce. Those who waited until 23 to commit had a 30 percent divorce rate.
6. If You Truly Love Your Spouse, Passion Never Fades
“Passion is fueled by newness and mystery,” says Orbuch, who notes that the fire tends to begin fading when you’re about 12 to 16 months into a relationship. “Passion declines over time, but it is replaced by a different type of love that is associated with marriage longevity and happiness.”