Why are 50 percent of relationships in trouble? Best-selling author Phillip McGraw of the Courier News asked that question and came up with a startling answer.
Over and over you’ve been told all the “attributes” that make for a happy couple. You’ve been bombarded with images of what it means to be in love. You’ve been led to believe that you and your partner should be perfectly intertwined unit, floating through life in glorious harmony.
I’m sorry to say it, but I believe that marriage have been getting jerked around, What you’ve been told are myths, and if you continue to believe them, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Wrong information means wrong decisions, and wrong decisions mean wrong results. It’s a lot like the old joke: “We’re totally lost, but we sure are making good time!”
Your quest for greater happiness must begin with the right thinking–and that calls for getting the myths out of your head and out of your plans so you can focus on what really does matter in your marriage.
MYTH 1 A Great Relationship Depends on a Meeting of the Minds
I’ve rarely encountered a couple who didn’t think the answer to their problems (at least in part) was that they should be more alike, that they should try to see thinks through each other’s eyes. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? Well, it’s a crock. You’re not ever going to see things through your partner’s eyes because you’re totally different from your partner–genetically, physiologically, psychologically, and historically different.
I’m not some reactionary old coot who has no sympathy for the evolution of women’s and men’s roles, but I do believe that we are wired up differently, and for a reason, it is not natural for me to see a situation through my wife’s eyes, any more than it is natural for her to sec it through mine. Furthermore, it wouldn’t help our marriage if we could. Indeed, a relationship is far more enjoyable when you’re with someone who enriches your life, not simply reflects it.
MYTH 2 A Great Relationship Demands a Great Romance
Too many people believe that the ecstatic emotion one feels when first falling for some(me new is real love. They then judge their relationship against the sizzle of those early days, unfairly labeling a genuine quality marriage as being substandard.
Remember, you’re living in the real world here. Great romance can be as simple as sharing the newspaper in the morning, sharing fries at the Burger Doodle, and making love a couple of times a week, even though neither one of you would be caught dead in a thong. Great relationships and great romance? It’s all in the yardstick that you use to measure.
MYTH 3 A Great Relationship Requires Great Problem-Solving
In the 25 years that I’ve been working in the field of human behavior, I have seen few if any genuine conflicts get resolved. oh, maybe some everyday no-brainers, but most of the key issues that create differences in a marriage–sex, child rearing, money–never get sorted out. The problem is, some couples interpret their lack of agreement as an ominous sign. Other couples–healthier couples, in my opinion–simply agree to disagree. They relax and get on with their lives. They decide to reconnect at a feeling level rather titan disconnecting at an issue level a much more rewarding outcome.
MYTH 4 A Great Relationship Requires Common Interests That Bond You Together Forever
I’ll never forget a friend of mine who decided to try fly-fishing with her husband. After an hour of listening to him complain to her about how site wasn’t standing in the right place or casting to the correct part of the river, site dropped her rod and said, “it’s six A.M., it’s cold, you’re rude, and I’m going home. In case you haven’t heard, you can buy fish at the supermarket in the middle of the afternoon.”
Perhaps you and your husband have attempted some major project thinking it would bring the two of you closer. If it did, that’s fine. But don’t feel you must rush to ceramics class together in order to make the relationship more fulfilling. indeed, forcing yourselves into common activities can create tensions that weren’t there in the first place. (Just ask my wife about the time we decided to play tennis together in a mixed-doubles league.)
MYTH 5 A Great Relationship Is a Peaceful One
Many people worry that arguing is a sign of trouble. But it’s neither good nor bad–what counts is the way you express your disagreement and how you deal with the argument once it has rim its course. If, for example, one of you quickly abandons the issue and instead attacks the other’s worth, or if you pursue a take-no-prisoners approach, obviously arguments are going to be very destructive to your relationship. Conversely, if you tend to “gunnysack” your emotions, only to have them come bursting out later, that’s equally destructive.
Instead of avoiding fights, you need to avoid making them too personal. You need to let your partner off the hook and learn how to make your escape with your feelings intact. None of this means, necessarily, that you, should strive: to solve the problem. It means that you get your mind and heart in balance and allow your husband to do the same.
MYTH 6 A Great Relationship Lets You Vent’ All Your Feelings
Because we live in an era in which we are constantly exhorted to get in touch with our inner this or that, and then let it all come out, it would seem to make sense that we should follow this dictate with our relationships. Although it may feel good, I’ve seen many a relationship destroyed because one or both partners simply could not forgive something that was said in the process of venting. I’m not telling you to hide truths, but I am telling you to think first. Be sure you know how you genuinely feel. Know if what you’re about to say is going to be said in the most appropriate manner. That may take more deliberation than is available in the heat of the moment.
MYTH 7 A Great Relationship Has Nothing to Do with Sex
Don’t you believe it for a minute. Sex provides an important time-out from the stresses and strains of a fast-paced world and adds a quality of closeness that is extremely important. For most couples, it is perhaps tine item tin a very short list of things that distinguish their particular relationship from all the others experienced in the world. You are not friends who share a life. You are mates.
MYTH 8 There Is a Right Way and a Wrong Way to Make Your Relationship Great
My grandparents defied every relationship rule or model I have ever heard about. They probably exchanged no more than 25 words a week. But they spoke about each other whenever they had the chance: He told everybody that she was crazy as a “peach orchard borer”; she told people he was so old that she had to remind him to breathe. Yet no matter where they were or what they were doing, they managed to be physically very close and in most cases actually touching. They had a huge dinner table in a giant old house, and they would sit at one little corner of the table–just the two of them–scrunched up together. They were married 68 years when my grandfather passed away.
What’s important is that you find ways of being together that work flit you. Whether or not they meet some standard you find in a book or conform to what your mother and father think you ought to be doing should not be the measure you use for defining your relationship.
MYTH 9 Your Relationship Can Only Become Great When You Get Your Partner Straightened Out
When I ask people I’m counseling whom, if they had a choice, they would most like to influence, they invariably say their mates. Maybe you, too, think if you could just change your husband in some way, your relationship would be better. Not true. If your marriage isn’t everything you want it to be, you are at least jointly responsible. There’s some payoff you’re getting from the situation, and once you understand what it is, you can start working for real change. But as you change, you will inspire your husband to behave and think and feel in different ways too.
Never think, though, that you can control your partner. And never think it’s up to your partner to make your life better. You are in charge of yourself.