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TV marriages: The good, the bad and the stereotype

Can we trust the marriages we see on television shows as being an example for our own? What are the truths and lies we learn about marriage and how can we make ours better?
Valerie Steimle, FamilyShare Modified: June 3, 2014 at 10:32 am •  Published: June 9, 2014

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.”

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