Many of us have read the fairy tales and seen the movies. There’s the handsome prince who comes to save the day or the beautiful princess waiting to be rescued. They are usually depicted with perfect features, perfect figures, no flaws, and if you’re a fan of Disney movies, perfect singing voices. The characters are usually met with some type solvable problem and they ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after. The story usually ends with “the end,” as if happily ever after is all there will ever be.
We grow up with stories and images that lead us to believe once we find our prince or princess, all will be well. While many of us have life experiences that lead us to believe otherwise, there are those who still hold on to some relationship myths. “Happily ever after” is possible if we understand it means there will be some bumps along the way.
Myth 1: Intimacy is not Required
I was talking with some friends the other day and was astonished when one of my married friends stated that she and her husband were no longer intimate and had not been for years. This started an interesting discussion and sparked the question “is intimacy required for a happy relationship?”
Research shows that intimacy is important. Although it may decrease in frequency over time, couples who are intimate usually are happier. It is important to note that intimacy does not necessarily mean intercourse. Intimacy can include touching, kissing, holding hands, or any other displays of affection that leave a couple feeling close to each other.
Myth 2 – There is no “Cure-All” to Relationship Issues
Many self-help books, articles, seminars and retreats offer ways to fix your relationship. While they all offer good advice, all relationships exist between individuals. You should therefore receive individualized advice as to how to make your relationship work. Couples have to be willing to continue to work and find what works for them.
Myth 3: “It Will Get Better after My Partner Changes”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard variations of this one. I’ve heard “it’ll get better after we’re married” and “things will change once we are exclusive” and perhaps my favorite, “when (he or she) realizes how much I love (him or her), (he or she) will be better.”
The harsh reality is that if you don’t like things about your partner now, they are not very likely to change. Sure, if they put toilet paper on the roll in the opposite direction than you prefer, you may be able to negotiate. However, if there is a major character flaw or negative behavior that has been present for a while, it’s not likely to change.
Myth 4: We Have to Like All the Same Things
This myth makes me laugh. Imagine you had someone who liked everything you liked. Your partner wants to watch everything you watch, go everywhere you like, and orders the same food you order every time you go out to eat. This may seem cute at first, but may also get a little annoying over time. While similar interests are good, separate interests allow the couple to remain a couple, but have individuality at the same time.
It is also unwise to fake an interest for your partner. If your partner loves the opera and you think it’s awful, it’s OK. Faking interest often leads to resentment and anger.
Myth 5: “If We’re Really in Love, We Will Never Argue”
When working with couples, I tell them it’s natural to disagree. Sometimes disagreements may even lead to arguments. It’s important to remember that it’s not always if you argue, but how you argue. If disagreements are discussed in a respectful manner and conducted with good communication, they can be a platform to learn more about your partner. During an argument you may discover a new perspective regarding your partner’s feelings and may find better ways to communicate.