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December 20th, 2014

Personal Growth

TV marriages: The good, the bad and the stereotype

Valerie Steimle

By Valerie Steimle

Published August 20, 2014

TV marriages: The good, the bad and the stereotype

From "I Love Lucy" to "The Cosby Show," "Everybody Loves Raymond," and even "The Simpsons," television marriages have been portrayed in stereotypical form. Or have they? What can we use as a good example of a good marriage, and what can we throw out the window? See if you agree with the following statements.

1. You stop having fun after you are married

False. This stereotype is prominent in many TV shows we watch today. The snide remarks from Modern Family's character Phil Dunphy does not hold true, "Trust me, I had plenty of fun in my time. Then, I met your mom." Yes, marriages can get stale and unexciting, but it is up to us to nurture the relationship.

The English author, David Mace, made this observation, "One of the great illusions of our time is that love is self-sustaining. It is not. Love must be fed, nurtured, and constantly renewed. That demands ingenuity and consideration, but first and foremost, it demands making the time for each other."

Relationships need nurturing. As dating couples we set aside time for each other, and as married couples we need to do the same thing. We need to keep a constant source of nourishment in our marital relationship which in turn will keep the fun in our marriage.

2. Forgiveness is always necessary

True. This idea has been shown in many TV shows of husbands and wives getting themselves into trouble or planning some scatterbrained idea which doesn't work out. In many of the episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Home Improvement" and even "The Simpsons," there are great examples of forgiveness between husbands and wives.

For example, in the show "The King of Queens," the husband, Doug, has a good friend, Spencer, who is dating a girl who is at cooking school and gives Doug a taste of her finished assignments. Doug becomes crazy over her cooking and starts meeting over at Spencer's house for meals. Doug's wife, Carrie, becomes upset over his constant rendezvous for dinner even under the guise of testing the girlfriend's food and tells Doug. By the end of the show, they work out the whole fiasco but forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness for a spouse is a must to keep the relationship going. We are not perfect and shouldn't expect our spouses to be perfect. When a wrong is done, and an honest apology is given then forgiveness becomes necessary to continue good feelings between spouses.

3. You can only marry your "soul mate"

False. In most cases, there is no such thing as a soul mate. Yes, there are couples who come together and feel that they are made for each other but in many cases that is rare. It's the commitment both people have in the relationship which makes it work. From Criss Jami in his book, "Venus in Arms," he writes, "To say that one waits a lifetime for his soul mate to come around is a paradox. People eventually get sick of waiting; take a chance on someone, and by the art of commitment become soul mates, which takes a lifetime to perfect."

The idea of a soul mate is very dangerous. If you search your whole life to find what you consider a soul mate, you might never get married. Many singles have such high expectations that happiness will never be achieved because no one can measure up.

4. A fair fight can do some good

True. There are many TV examples of what a fair fight is and what isn't when couples get into an argument. When we use the word "fight," this means to express one's disagreement or anger to a spouse constructively. There are times when both spouses need to discuss a hot topic to understand each other but there are some ground rules here which apply.

From 25 Ways to Fight Faircomes some good points for couples to remember in discussing a hot topic: No name calling or making fun of your spouse. Keep your cool or leave to cool off. Negotiation and compromise are essential in the discussion. Speak honestly and clearly in conversation. Keep the discussion between both of you only. We all have seen positive examples and poor examples of TV married couples "discussing" their concerns, and how this will hurt the relationship more than help. A fair fight is only helpful if both parties keep the rules.

5. It's OK to swap spouses for a break to your own marriage

False. The idea that it's fun and OK to swap spouses for a short time is very damaging to a healthy marriage relationship. In wedding vows, we are promised to each other and should be devoted to that person. Swapping spouses only causes more contention and jealousy in a marriage. American author, Robert Sexton says this: "In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced."

With the longevity of couples staying together, it is ridiculous to think that taking a break from the other partner would help the relationship. That would be like comparing a married couple to a car that ran out of gas. You don't trade in your spouse for a better model, even temporarily.

In society it seems that examples of TV marriages are not to be taken seriously. At times, sitcoms can be considered thought provoking in showing good examples of a good marriage but thinking TV marriages are what a good marriage should be went out the window with "Leave it to Beaver" or "Father Knows Best." From the theme of "Married with Children," Frank Sinatra reminds us: "Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell ya, brother, you can't have one without the other."

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Valerie Steimle is the mother of nine children who lives happily on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. She is the author of five books all about strengthening the family.

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