Undoing Relationship Myths
OK. So you are married, you just got married or moved in with someone, or are thinking of doing something like that. Do you know what to expect? Are your hopes in line with reality?
Ignorance is not bliss in relationships. Many relationships fail after a commitment is made because one or both persons expects the ideal, rather than what’s real.
Sometimes it is easier to know what something is by looking at what it is not. So lets look at unrealistic expectations of relationships to anwer the question “What are realistic expectations after deepening a commitment to another person?”
MYTH: “If my partner loved me, they would know what I want or need. I shouldn’t have to ask.”
Dream on . . . most of the time (maybe all the time) you need to ask for what you want or need. This is also true at work or school, or with friends.
It’s important to let your expectations known. If you don’t, you will become frustrated and then think its all your partner’s fault. Love is not being able to read minds. Its about sharing.
“Most quarrels amplify a misunderstanding.” ~ Andre Gide ~
MYTH: “If my partner loved me, he/she would spend all their time with me.”
Are you kidding? That’s not even healthy.
Good relationships require two individuals who each have a life of their own. That includes the friends each of you had before the relationship, or new ones made at work or the gym.
NOBODY can be all things to you. Not even the love of your life.
“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” ~ Kahlil Gibran ~
MYTH: “If my partner loved me, he/she would stop leaving the cupboard doors hanging open.”
Excuse me for laughing.
Even people we love do irritating things. You can ask them to stop but you are probably asking them to change a long held habit, or their temperament.
You can’t fix people unless they want to make the change. So what are the options?
– Let your partner know how you feel when the irritating thing occurs. Say “I feel _______ when you ________.” (example: “I feel hurt when you call me dumpling.”)
– Get over it
– Accept it
– Find the humor in it
– Continue seething or fighting
– Get counseling
“Not only is our love for our children [our partner] sometimes tinged with annoyance, discouragement, and disappointment, the same is true for the love our children [our partner] feel for us.” ~ Bruno Bettelheim ~
MYTH: “If my spouse loved me, he/she would never change.”
That might work except . . . people do change over the years. Some not so much and others a lot.
Its NORMAL for people to acquire new skills, change behaviors they don’t like, switch careers, adopt new attitudes and beliefs or begin wearing black leather pants. It does not automatically mean you will lose them.
“Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz ~
MYTH: “If my spouse loved me, he/she should not (will not) do anything to hurt me.”
What planet did you grow up on?!
Partners hurt one another without meaning to and this will happen to you, and you will do it to your partner. Your partner also may hurt your feelings by telling you the truth about yourself. It can cause distress if you each see something from very different perspectives.
[If one partner hurts the other on purpose, several times in one day, or will never admit they are wrong, the relationship is not healthy.]
“Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them.”
~ Sara Paddison ~
MYTH: “If my partner loves me, he/she will be there to meet my conjugal needs and we’ll always have frequent, hot sex.”
That can happen. Or not. It depends on the couple, of course.
Long term relationships change over time as partners meet the challenging and mundane tasks of life. For every couple I’ve known, the “honeymoon” has worn off. It does not mean the spark is gone.
It means that whatever had been the ideal image of your partner or relationship is fading . . . because it wasn’t real to begin with.
Most couples light the fire less often after they’ve been together awhile and become more and more familiar, even if they haven’t had children. I’m not saying this is good or bad. Its just “what is” for the majority of couples.
“The best sex education for kids is when Daddy pats Mommy on the fanny when he comes home from work.” ~ William H. Masters ~
MYTH: “If this relationship was a good one, life would not be so boring.”
Guess what. You’re partner is not responsible for your happiness, nor are they responsible for the fact that everyday living is moderately to largely mundane. The world doesn’t change after you become a couple.
It’s like when we move somewhere, we can’t escape ourselves, we take ourselves with us. You will take yourself, as you were before the partnership, into the partnership.
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” ~ Dorothy Parker ~
MYTH: “If my partner loves me, he/she will get me the Olympic-size pool I’ve dreamed of.”
Money issues have destroyed many relationships, some statistics say more than any other relationship factor.
If he or she is tight with money before partnership, you’re stuck with that after the hook-up. If you marry someone with an average salary, that may never change.
If he or she spends impulsively, that won’t be cured with partnership bliss. A person not ambitious before moving in with you is not going to magically become ambitious after he/she puts a toothbrush in “your” cup.
Know how the two of you are going to manage money, hopefully before you buy the condo together.
“This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”
~ Douglas Adams ~
MYTH: “If my partner loved me, he/she would enjoy doing all the things I like to do.”
Yeah, right. Why would you want to marry yourself, anyway?
Of course couples should have things in common, particularly values and hopes for the future. But if your S.O. didn’t play chess before you shacked up they may never play it. They might try, but find they really don’t enjoy it. That’s like, so normal.
It is true, however, that couples who play together, have an easier time staying together. Its important to find activities you both enjoy, and let your partner enjoy his or her activities that are a snore to you.
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
~ Plato ~
MYTH: “If my partner loved me, he/she would not be over by the grill talking to that hot looking man or woman.”
A jealous partner can cause no end of problems and in some cases leads to abuse.
Just because your partner is talking to or laughing with another person, it DOES NOT mean they are unfaithful, or will be. It doesn’t mean something is going on that you don’t know about.
You don’t own your partner. They don’t own you. Many couples need counseling to quiet the green-eyed monster or monsteress.
“Jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening.” ~ Maya Angelou ~
MYTH: “If my partner loved me, he/she would always put me ahead of family.”
Don’t hold your breath.
It’s different for everybody, but close family relationships do not usually end after a member is with a partner, and that may change very little. If your partner has a poor or distant family system, it will likely remain that way.
Especially when people first get together, one or the other (or both) in the relationship may still have ties to apron strings or purse strings. That can mellow over time, but it may not.
“The family – that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.” ~ Dodie Smith ~
MYTH: “If my spouse loved me, he/she would act and dress the way I want them to in public.”
Learn to love, or at least accept, your partners eccentricities of dress and social style. We are all meant to flash our true colors and some will be flashier than others. But no one in a relationship should feel they can’t be themselves.
If your partner really embarrasses you before the commitment, they will after. If you can’t love them for who they are it will cause one or both of you relationship pain.
“The precision of naming takes away from the uniqueness of seeing.” ~ Pierre Bonnard ~
MYTH: “If this was a good relationship, my partner would realize I make the better decisions.”
Unless you’ve married a very passive person, that kind of thinking will not work. You are never right all the time. He/she is never wrong all the time. Both people need to feel comfortable bringing their feelings and ideas to the table.
Sometimes its actually OK, even wise, to let go of being right, even when you’re positive you are. Is it really worth having a battle over?
“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”
~ Peter T. Mcintyre ~
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