10 Relationship Myths That Could Hurt Your Marriage
(If You Believe Them)
By Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum
There has been an increase in divorce rates of long-term marriages. Boomers and empty nesters, expecting to live a productive life for another 30 or 40 years, don’t want to be stuck in a bad relationship. Gone are the days when a marriage survived because it was “the right thing to do”. Nowadays, married people who are miserable tend to end their relationship through separation or divorce. You could grow old together, though, by tweaking some expectations and changing some beliefs.
The following are some common myths that, if you believe them, could hurt your relationship. Remember these statements are not true.
1) If I left this relationship, I would find Mr. or Ms. Right.
Surely, there are couples that really don't belong together. However, the majority of these not-the-right-person complaints are rooted in unrealistic expectations.
2) Two people in a good relationship would automatically grow closer over time
How do people stay physically fit? A healthy body takes constant attention and work. The same is true for healthy relationship. The older the relationship, the more “tune ups” it may need. It’s not automatic.
3) When couples argue, it destroys the relationship.
Arguments are a sign the couple is working on making the relationship better. Couples who don’t recognize and confront their problems can distance themselves from each other. Fighting fair can be a positive force in a relationship.
4) Pursuing your individual needs is incompatible with making a couple relationship work.
Happy couples have learned to maintain a balance between togetherness and separateness. With changing roles or retirement that balance may need to be constantly negotiated.
5) As men and women get older, they become more stuck in their ways and are harder to change.
Obviously some men and women do get stuck in their ways, but research shows that as men age they become softer and less aggressive, and as women age, they become more assertive.
6) The more couples communicate verbally, the better their relationship.
In fact, only positive communication increases couples satisfaction. The quality of the interaction is far more predictive of satisfaction in the relationship than the frequency. In other words, avoid talking about the relationship if that means that a “complaint session” will ensue.
7) Sex should be spontaneous to be good. Planned sex kills desire.
Spontaneity may be desirable but reality demands planning. Planning, in fact, implies intentionality and intentionality conveys value.
8) Talking is the only communication that can fix problems in a relationship.
Talking can also make things worse. Sometimes not talking about something is the best course of action. Other “non-talking” approaches can also be valuable.
9) Happy couples don’t fantasize about having sex with other people.
Sexual fantasy has gotten a bad reputation. Many people believe it is limited to the dissatisfied or the immature, but, in reality, it is a natural and imaginative component of healthy adult sexuality.
10) If you are in a good relationship, you will receive as much love as the love you give.
This is true only if you give according to the love language of your spouse or partner, not yours. If you give in your own love language for too long, the "emotional tanks" will not stay full for long.
Sara Schwarzbaum, Ed.D., L.C.P.C.
Couple & Marriage Counseling/Supervision
233 E. Erie, Suite 400
Chicago IL 60611
312- 643-2447 / Fax 312 643 2331