We are 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 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 twelve of the most common and destructive relationship myths below.
Marriage 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 solid and lasting relationships take lots of hard work.
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.
Marriage Myth #2: Soulmates Should Be Able To Read Each Other's Minds
Falling in love does not give us mind-reading 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.
Marriage Myth #3: Romance Never Dies For Couples In Love
Often, people assume that feelings of romance, passion, and sexual urging never disappear for couples who are genuinely in love. The truth is that intensity diminishes naturally in all relationships as couples become more comfortable with each other.
Do not mistake comfort for lack of chemistry—a bit of playfulness and exploration can resurrect passion in a relationship that is in a dry spell.
Marriage Myth #4: Healthy Couples Never Fight
Many couples interpret conflict as a bad sign, assuming that a happy, healthy couple would not fight.
A complete absence of conflict in your relationship indicates you may not be addressing critical issues. A crucial part of forming a lasting and happy relationship is learning how to argue in a healthy manner.
Marriage Myth #5: Having A Child Brings You Closer
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.
Marriage Myth #6: Leading Separate Lives Brings You Together
To keep a relationship fresh and exciting, it is essential for both you and your partner to each have your hobbies, interests, and friends. However, if you lead entirely 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.
Marriage Myth #7: Constructive Criticism Helps Your Relationship
It's possible to remain open and honest with your partner without being critical of them to incite feelings of defensiveness and inadequacy.
Even if you have good intentions, frequently giving your partner criticism that you believe to be "constructive" can cause a lot of distance between you.
Marriage Myth #8: Jealousy Is Necessary For A Passionate Relationship
Couples sometimes misinterpret jealousy as a sign that their partner truly loves them. Jealousy is more a reflection of insecurity and lack of confidence as both a 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.
Marriage Myth #9: Your Relationship Would Be Better If Your Partner Changes
It's easy to point fingers during rough patches in our relationship, blaming our partners for their problems.
However, it takes two to make a relationship work, and both partners have a responsibility to determine what they can do to make changes and improvements.
Marriage 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 satisfied when you are in a relationship.
While a loving relationship will undoubtedly contribute to your happiness, your emotional well-being is contingent on various things beyond your relationship.
Marriage 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 instead of a negative thing or a sign of a doomed relationship. No one can just get married. Instead, two people can only become married with education, skills, and effort.
Marriage Myth #12: Marriage Counseling Should Be The 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 get help before a small conflict erupts into something much more severe and destructive.
Regardless of the strength of your current relationship, you and your partner could benefit significantly from a relationship checkup. If you consider trying out relationship therapy, the best relationship advice I can get you is to attend the "Get the Love You Want'' Imago Couples 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.
If you are struggling with the reality of marriage or relationships, we're here to help. Check out our Imago Relationship Workshops and Relationship Therapy. We also have Online Couples Therapy and Online Couples Workshops right now!
This blog post was written by Damian Duplechain, the co-founder, and chief clinical officer for the Center for Marriage & Family Relationships in Houston, Texas.
Damian brings decades of experience to his practice, helping hundreds of couples and families discover how to co-create the relationships they want. He has also supervised many clinicians in couples and family therapy over the years.
His work in helping couples and families learn to communicate effectively and connect more strongly, and to practice understanding and empathy is rooted in Imago philosophy. He is a certified Imago therapist with additional training in the Emotional Freedom Technique, John Gottman’s model, Terry Real’s model, and PACT (Psychological Approach to Couples Therapy) by Dr. Stan Tatkin.
He has presented 200-plus Imago Couples Workshops that have served more than 2,000 couples and has collaborated with a number of his colleagues on clinical presentations both in the United States and internationally.