May 24, 2006 -- There are a lot of lies out there about marriage that prospective brides and grooms, newlyweds, and long-married couples believe.
Psychologist Robin L. Smith debunks many of them in her best-selling book, "Lies at the Altar: The Truth About Great Marriages."
Smith's book includes 276 questions for people to ask themselves and their partner if they're thinking about getting married, or have been married for years and are looking for a new road map.
Here are four of the biggest lies Smith says people tell themselves -- and others -- about marriage.
No.1: The past is over.
The truth is that the past is driving you to the chapel or the temple or the synagogue. Until you deal with the past, it will follow you. It's like luggage that you pack and you think you can leave in one city. When you arrive in the next one, your luggage is there too. You can't just get rid of it. You have to deal with it.
No. 2: It's important to be right.
The truth is that it's more important to be in a relationship than it is to be right. You need to realize that means honoring someone who may have a different worldview and perspective than you do. Agreeing with a person and honoring them are two different things, of course. What I always tell people is when you are smart in marriage, your ego dies.
No. 3: Marriage magically changes people for the better.
Marriage does not magically do anything other than bring out who we really are. The truth is that the person at the altar will be the person at the breakfast table every morning. You cannot change them. Believing you can change a person is a fantasy that can sabotage the ability to create a vibrant, healthy marriage. So many people marry with the unconscious plan that they will change their spouse. This is insulting to your spouse and really undermines any chance you have at a good marriage.
No. 4: Anything is better than being alone.
The truth is that being alone and free is better than being together and controlled. Growing into the human beings we are is our birthright that we are given by God and born to do. Marriage is the best place for that to happen when we show up as grown-ups.
"Lies at the Altar: The Truth About Great Marriages" is published by Hyperion Books, the publishing division of Disney, the parent corporation of ABC News.