In Houston marriage counseling, I’ll sometimes meet someone who says something like, “My parents have been married for 50 years and are still crazy about each other… I want my marriage to be like that.” Hearing these kinds of statements have made me think about the idea of relationship role models and whether couples need other couples to look up to and emulate. I think there are pros and cons to relationship role models, and I’d like to talk about those this week.

Benefits of Having Relationship Role Models, from Houston Marriage Counseling

The most obvious advantage of having relationship role models is that it gives you and your partner the opportunity to see successful relationships and note the behavior that has helped those relationships endure. If you learn that they make an effort to eat dinner with each other every night and openly discuss relationship issues as they come up, those are things you can try out in your own relationship.

Relationship role models also give us hope because they show us that long-term relationships can work if we put in the time and effort to really understand our partners. If you’re struggling with relationship issues, it might be worth turning to someone you trust and admire to see how they cope with problems in their marriage.

Houston Marriage Counseling: Don’t Rely Too Heavily on Relationship Role Models

There’s always a flipside, though, and in some cases focusing too much on another relationship model might be detrimental. Let’s take the example of admiring a celebrity couple who always seem happy together and never exhibit any flaws. This is an unrealistic model to aspire to, because we don’t truly know the ins and outs of this relationship, and things are probably not as perfect as they seem. Everyone has disagreements with their partner sometimes, but if you’re a celebrity you’ll probably try to keep that off camera.

Another issue arises when we feel that we don’t have any positive relationship role models in our life to aspire to. I’ve talked to some clients who have said that because their parents divorced when they were young and because many of their friends are in unhappy marriages, they don’t know what a “good” relationship is supposed to look like.

The truth is, I’ve seen couples in Houston marriage counseling do just fine without relying on relationship role models. You have to remember that every relationship is unique, and what works for one couple won’t always work for you and your partner. The best thing to do is to just talk to your partner honestly about what you both want in your relationship, and to shape your own relationship model from there.