Myth #1: A committed love relationship is a natural phenomenon. We all know how to have one if we really want it.
Reality #1: In reviewing our divorce rate, the prevalence of affairs and addictions, and frequency of violence in our homes, it seems that very few of us know how to have a successful, long-term love relationship. Healthy relationships involve learned skills.
Myth #2: Success in love requires no preparation. Doing what comes naturally will work.
Reality #2: Doing what comes naturally is reactive and damaging to relationships. Diane Sollee, founder of Smart Marriages says, “Sending couples out into life to make a happy marriage on ‘hopes and dreams’ is as ridiculous as asking a football team to win their division on ‘team spirit’ rather than allowing them to learn the skills and plays necessary to understand the game and how to play it well and will confidence.”
Myth #3: Finding the ‘right’ person is the key to a healthy love relationship.
Reality #3: Chances are you are already with the ‘right’ person, but neither of you knows how to have a healthy love relationship. Having a healthy love relationship requires education, skills, and practice. You can change partners, but you can’t change problems.
Myth #4: You should not have to work hard at a relationship if it is the ‘right’ relationship.
Reality #4: Couples often believe that if they have to work hard at their relationship, it must be ‘wrong’ and they need to move on to an ‘easier’, more pleasant partner. Long-term committed love relationships are usually the most difficult to maintain because there is the need for constant growth and change as the relationship evolves through the different developmental stages. This requires education, skills, and practice.
Myth #5: If my partner and I differ and fuss a lot, that is a sign that we are not compatible and should look for new partners.
Reality #5: The number one predictor of divorce in this country right now is the “HABITUAL AVOIDANCE OF CONFLICT”. That couples have conflict and differ on several issues is actually a healthy sign. It is how they handle their conflict that makes the difference, and helps them hold onto or let go of the love in their long-term relationship.
Myth #6: Partners should not have to verbalize what they each want and need in their relationship. If it is true love, they will automatically know.
Reality #6: This is one of the more toxic, codependent beliefs in relationships. Expectations set on this unrealistic belief, become “premeditated resentments”. It virtually sets up each partner to fail. It is our responsibility to give our partners this vital information about our wants and needs in the relationship.
Myth #7: If my partner truly loves me, he/she will want to have sex with me whenever I want to have sex.
Reality #7: Your partner is no more likely to want to have sex with you whenever you want to have sex than he/she is likely to be hungry, tired, happy, sick, worried or have any other feeling or urge you might have at any given moment. Satisfying sex in a long-term committed love relationship is a nurtured, crafted art, not just an urge.
Myth #8: My partner has problems that have nothing to do with me.
Reality #8: If one partner has a problem of any kind, even though it might not seem like the other partner is involved, the problem itself brings energy of influence, attitude, and expectations into the relationship that affects both partners. A healthy marriage is a ‘WE’ proposition that includes both partners.
Myth #9: If I love my partner, that is enough. No matter what, my partner will just know that and I don’t need to reassure or take care to protect that love.
Reality #9: We must guard and take care to protect what we value. If we don’t, we will eventually lose what we value. Our partner needs to see by our behaviors that we value our marriage above all and that we stand on his/her side against any threat to our marriage, i.e., families of origin, work, kids, friends. Nothing comes between us.
Myth #10: If partners hurt each other too much, the damage can never be undone.
Reality #10: When partners hurt each other, they often conclude the damage is too great and they “will never get over the pain.” The truth is that they always have an opportunity to work through the pain if both remain alive, in sane mind, and are willing to do the work of reparation: a) heartfelt apology, b) ask for forgiveness, c) genuine empathy for the injured partner, d) making amends, and e) a quick and lasting change of behavior in that specific area.
Myth #11: If I am “not happy” in my marriage or relationship, it is time to leave.
Reality #11: According to Frank Pittman, MD in Atlanta who has worked with thousands of couples in his career: The goal of marriage is not to make us “happy.” The goal of marriage is to help us, a) Grow up and b) Build character. I believe that as adults we are responsible for about 80% of our own happiness from within ourselves. When that is in place, partners can give and take and share the other 20% together. If we are dependent on our partner or anything else outside of ourselves to ‘make us happy’, we live at the mercy of whatever or whoever we believe can do that for us. And if they don’t, we are clingy, needy, and totally dependent upon others for our happiness.
Myth # 12: It is better to get a divorce than to make your partner angry or hurt their feelings.
Reality #12: You are probably already angry with your partner and by not talking about it and hiding/denying it, you are acting your unspoken anger out onto your partner and hurting them anyway. Sometimes I have asked one partner to just say how their marriage really feels to them. That partner will say, “Saundra, I could never do that! It would really hurt my partner’s feelings!” I ask the other partner, “Would you rather have your feelings hurt or get a divorce?” The answer 100% of the time is: “Please, hurt my feelings! Then we can at least have the opportunity to work on what is there!”
Certified Imago Relationship Therapist
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10203 Birchridge Dr., Suite G - Humble, TX 77338 (281) 358-3299 - TOLL FREE - 1-866-358-2150