~ By Terri Mudge ~
Relationships are hard work and when we find out that many of the known “facts” are wrong, it changes your perspective! Here are 3 of the most important myths of marriage that I have found often in my practice and you need to know.
MYTH #1 Conflict Means You Are in a Bad Relationship.
Conflict is a part of all relationships. It is unrealistic to think that you could have a perfectly, peaceful existence with no conflict. In fact, I am always curious if there’s no conflict, I am looking to see which partner is not speaking their mind, or is being submissive.
There are positive ways to fight fairly, to get your point across while still respecting your partner’s opinions. I recommend setting up rules, similar to having rules in a football game, to allow you to play the game without being seriously injured. Setting up the right system will allow each person to communicate about differences, negotiate and/or compromise, so that you both get your needs met. If you continue to have destructive conflict, you will be continuing to erode your love for each other. There is another way.
MYTH #2 All We Need Is Love
Love is a fickle feeling. Love is something that has to be worked at on a regular basis, and most couples aren’t doing the needed work, to keep the love alive. Many of us get into the rut of busy-ness or distraction, and forget to put in the time and energy that’s needed to make a relationship thrive.
Commitment should be a constant, while loving feelings can come and go. I often use the metaphor of parenting, to examine this commitment level. If you are a parent, Do you always feel like being loving towards your child? When they are cranky, mean, or disrespectful, do you want to sit down and talk to them, or play a game of Monopoly? Or do you, like me, sometimes feel like running away screaming? But, you don’t. You stick with your children and care for them, even when you don’t feel like it.
It’s the same in our marriages. We don’t have to always feel like it, but we do need to act loving – as much as possible, if we are to maintain overall good feelings and a long-term healthy relationship.
MYTH #3 All Conflicts in Relationships Can Be Resolved
Actually, the majority of our relationship problems are recurrent. John Gottman, who has researched relationships extensively, has found that 69% of conflicts between partners fall into the category of what he calls, perpetual problems.
Even though, this could cause a lot of frustration, I also think it can give us hope. It lets us know that we are not alone in this frustration, of fighting over the same things, over and over again. It’s important to acknowledge, if these “problems” never go away, it’s Okay! We can do better at talking and listening, and we can be better at respecting each other about those issues, and we can even be better at negotiating around those ‘stuck’ places.
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These myths and more were included in the article: Debunking 12 Myths About Relationships, by John Gottman, a professor of psychology known for revolutionizing the study of marriage.