Bombarded by unrealistic portrayals of human relationships from a young age, it’s no wonder that many modern Americans are confused about love. While the romances in movies like Sleeping Beauty and 10 Things I Hate about You are certainly entertaining, they are far from realistic.
Far too often, couples come to me threatening to throw in the towel because their relationship isn’t fairy tale perfect or romantic comedy carefree. They formed misconceptions about love, relationships, and marriage based on fictional depictions from movies, TV shows, and magazines. The misconceptions can be incredibly destructive to a relationship by creating unreasonable expectations that will lead to confusion, frustration, and sorrow.
If you want your relationship to succeed, your expectations must be based on reality rather than fiction. To help you see your relationship in a new light, I’ve listed and debunked eleven of the most common and destructive relationship myths below.
Myth # 1: A healthy relationship is easy.
Too often, partners make the mistake of believing that a relationship will come naturally if they are meant to be together. But the truth is that all strong, lasting relationships take lots of hard work. And the work doesn’t end when you get married—if you want your relationship to grow and thrive, you both have to be prepared to take an active role in its caring and nurturing for the rest of your days.
Myth #2: Soulmates should be able to read each other’s mind.
Falling in love does not give us mindreading abilities. If you demand that your partner should be able to anticipate your feelings, needs, and wants, you are asking him or her to be a mind reader and setting yourself up for disappointment and resentment. As adults, both of you are responsible for communicating your thoughts and emotions with words. As a couple, you are both responsible for listening to those thoughts and emotions.
Myth #3: Romance never wanes for couples in love.
Oftentimes, people assume that feelings of romance, passion, and sexual urging never disappear for couples who are genuinely in love. The truth is that passion diminishes naturally in all relationships as couples become more comfortable with each other. Do not mistake this comfort for a lack of chemistry—a bit of playfulness and exploration can resurrect passion in a relationship that is in a dry spell.
Myth #4: Healthy couples do not fight.
Many couples interpret conflict as a bad sign, assuming that a happy, healthy couple would not fight. In fact, a complete absence of conflict in your relationship indicates you may not be addressing important issues. A key part of forming a lasting and happy relationship is learning how to argue in a healthy manner.
Myth #5: Having a child will bring you together.
Having a child is an enormous undertaking that comes with a whole new set of changes, challenges, and complications – and a lot less sleep! While you certainly won’t stop loving each other as new parents, you can’t count on a new baby to fix problems in your relationship.
Myth #6: Leading separate lives will bring you together.
To keep a relationship fresh and exciting, it is very important for both you and your partner to each have your own hobbies, interests, and friends. However, if you lead completely separate lives and never let your partner into your world, you may find yourself drifting apart over time. That’s why it’s important to try out new activities and explore new interests together as well as on your own.
Myth #7: I can help my partner with constructive criticism.
You should remain open and honest with your partner, but being critical of them can incite feelings of defensiveness and inadequacy. Even if you have good intentions, frequently giving your partner criticism that you believe to be “constructive” can actually cause a lot of distance between you.
Myth #8: Jealousy is a necessary part of a passionate relationship.
Couples sometimes misinterpret jealousy as a sign that their partner truly loves them. In fact, jealousy is more a reflection of insecurity and lack of confidence as both an individual person and a couple. While you can’t change your partner’s self-esteem, you can support them as they work through their jealousy issues.
Myth #9: The relationship would be better if the other partner would change.
It’s easy to point fingers during rough patches in our relationship, blaming our partners for its problems. However, it takes two to make a relationship work, and both partners have a responsibility to determine what they themselves can do to make changes and improvements.
Myth #10: Happy couples feel happy all the time.
No matter how healthy, happy, and strong your bond is with your partner, it is unrealistic to believe you will always be happy when you are in a relationship. While a loving relationship will certainly contribute to your happiness, your emotional well-being is contingent on a variety of things beyond your relationship.
Myth # 11: Everything will be easy when you find your soulmate.
“Soulmates” are not discovered or found, they’re co-created through mutual effort. Conscious couples understand that conflict is natural and an opportunity for healing and growth, as opposed to a negative thing or a sign of a doomed relationship. No one can simply get married. Rather, two people can only become married with education, skills, and effort.
Myth #12: Marriage counseling should be a last resort.
Many couples only seek marriage counseling out of desperation after a long period of suffering or conflict. But the happiest, healthiest couples can benefit greatly from counseling because it helps feed their relationship bonds and anticipate future problems. Relationship therapy should be seen as a preventative measure rather than a cure, so you should absolutely get help before a small conflict erupts into something much more destructive and serious.
Regardless of the strength of your current relationship, you and your partner could benefit greatly with a relationship checkup from a Houston relationship counselor. If you are considering trying out relationship therapy, the best relationship advice I can get you is to attend the “Get the Love You Want” Imago Couple’s Workshop. Through one intensive weekend of seminars, exercises, and group activities, you can experience powerful results for your marriage or relationship, and find yourself in a better position to determine whether relationship counseling is a good fit for you and your partner.