- “Every person has one true love.” Through the influence of the popular media some people believe that there is only one Mr or Ms Right. They believe there is only one true soul mate and without developing a relationship with that person they will never find true love. However we may have different soul mates for different aspects of our lives we may have different soul mates for different times in our lives.
- “The ideal partner will have a personality similar to mine.” It’s important to share things in common with your partner just as it’s important to accept difference and individuality. Even with couples who have a great deal in common there are always differences. Couples who accept their partner’s differences but who are also willing to put the time and effort into their relationship, may develop stronger and healthier relationships than those with a lot in common. Couples counselling can assist you both in building a stronger relationship where you appreciate each other’s differences and similarities.
- “Love solves all problems.” These words may be great in pop songs but they are far from reality. Love is only the starting point in a relationship. Couples who share common values and beliefs and who are also respectful to each other. Couples with good communication and listening skills who are also able to problem solve are more likely to have a successful relationship. Being able to manage anger and be intentional on forming ‘us’ are also very important assets to have in your relationship.
- “Each person gives 50-50 in the relationship.” Although this is very important, most couples state there is not an even division of labour in their relationship. What is important is the partner who is giving more than 50% in the relationship doesn’t become resentful of the partner who gives less than 50%. John Gottman suggests that it’s more likely that the woman will give more emotionally in the relationship than the man.
- “I can change my partner over time.” Who you marry is usually who you experience in a relationship. Except over a life time people do change. Many people enter a relationship believing that they can change their partner. To fundamentally change a person you would need to go back to their child hood. A person may be able to change behaviour if they are willing. But core values and beliefs are much harder to change. It is better to accept your partner for who they are and begin to appreciate them for all their faults and assets.
- “Marriage will cure promiscuity.” Marriage will not ensure monogamy. It is only by choice that a person remains monogamous in their relationship. Infidelity or breaking of someone’s trust is very hard to accept in any relationship and this is true for men and women. Once the trust is broken it is very hard to get it back. Although there is still a strong focus on monogamy in relationships increasingly couples are looking for alternative ways to maintain their relationship that satisfies both partners.
There are many different marriage and relationship myths. What are yours? Myths are neither good nor bad but they may have an impact on your relationship. To have a successful marriage or relationship a little realism goes along way.
Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand