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Relationship Relationships

Unhelpful Relationship Myths!

We both have different interests, so how can it work.

You don’t have to be doing everything together all the time. Both of you can have different interests as long as you are connecting in other ways.  If one party is not enjoying the other’s interest and it’s stressing you out, then don’t do it. It’s usually possible to find one thing you both like doing, so commit to spending time together enjoying that.

You both have to think similarly to have a great relationship

Men and women are wired very differently, and no two partners think the same. Each partner also comes from a different upbringing and with different life experiences. When opposites attract it gives us an opportunity to learn and grow from each other. Consider how boring it might be if the two of you thought exactly the same. The trick is to try not to make the other live by your values and expectations, but respect and accept the difference and work with it. Try not to control the other by bringing them around to your way of thinking, because this is manipulative and can foster resentment.

 

There should always be great romance & intimacy

We need to recognize that falling in love is not the same as being in love. Falling in love is only the first stage of love, and so it’s not possible to maintain that wild passion and remain in this stage long term.  Many people have affairs in search of that high again, only to realise that it fades as it should with time and familiarity. It’s important to recognize that your relationship will go through many different stages as you go through life together, both highs and lows. It’s a mistake to think that when the wild passion is over you are no longer in love any more. Your love becomes a different, more secure love, where you develop a richer experience. Learning to accept and work with change is the key here.

 

All problems need to be resolved

Not all problems in a relationship are solvable, because each partner has different sets of values, beliefs and experiences. If you can simply agree to disagree and reach closure, you can stop your disagreements from turning into major arguments. Conflict arises as each one of you tries to be heard and validated, or tries to get your own way and win.  The problem with one person winning is that the other person has to lose, so one of you is always left unhappy. When decisions need to be made, it’s important to work towards finding middle ground, with each party taking a step into the relationship to compromise. Sometimes it useful to buy some time and revisit the problem down the track at an agreed point.

 

A great relationship shouldn’t have arguments.

If you’re worried about how many times you argue, put the focus on how you argue instead.  Differences of opinion are normal in a relationship, but it’s how you handle the disagreement that makes all the difference. Keep focused on the issue at hand, and don’t bring in other issues from the past.  Don’t put down the worth of your partner in any way by criticizing, blaming, or name-calling. Work towards finding a win/win situation to a problem so that both of you can walk away with dignity.

 

I should be able to vent all my feelings to my partner

You do not have the right to dump your emotions on your partner just so you can let off steam, particularly if it’s verbally abusive and leaving your partner feeling hurt. Some hurts never go away, and chip away at the very foundation of the relationship. Many relationships struggle to be repaired, because things were said in the heat of conflict that can’t be taken back later, even after an apology. Before you blurt out how you feel in the heat of the moment, bite your tongue and consider what the consequences of your words might be. How would you feel if you were on the receiving end of them? Could they be potentially damaging?  Let your rational mind temper you emotions for a few moments and figure out a non-blaming, non-threatening way to express what is not right for you. This usually means using the word “I” not “you”.

 

A great relationship must have regular sex

Sex can provide an important time out and allow us to experience a quality level of closeness, vulnerability and sharing with our partners. Sometimes there can also be an unhealthy focus on sex at the expense of intimacy in the relationship. This is usually when sex is an expected given by one party in the relationship, and other intimate behaviours required by the other party are missing. Don’t restrict your thinking by believing sex is just about the physical act. Touching, caressing, holding hands, checking in with your partner regularly, showing affection in public, caring gestures, or any other means by which you provide physical and emotional comfort to your partner should be considered as part of the sexual interlude. There will be times when life’s stressors get in the way of looking after ourselves, e.g. long hours, parenting, ill health, tiredness, fatigue, and when stress is at play it can be difficult to meet our own needs let alone the needs of the other.  It’s often the case that both parties aren’t getting their needs met, so have a look at what’s out of balance.

 

Your relationship can only become great when your partner changes.

If you’re stuck on trying to change your partner so you can feel happier in the relationship, you’re on the wrong track. It is not the responsibility of your partner to change so he/she can bring you happiness. It is your responsibility to look after yourself and find happiness. This means accepting your partner for who they are – warts and all. Both parties need to be jointly responsible for the problems in the relationship. So it’s important to focus back on yourself and ask – what unhelpful behaviours could I be bringing to the relationship that could contribute to the negative responses I’m receiving – and then work towards changing them.

If there’s domestic violence in the relationship, it’s your responsibility to find safety and protect yourself and any children.