This article about relationship and marriage myth was actually hard for me to write! I really don't like talking about relationships. When I talk about relationships with client, I know I am opening up a can worms that just can't be closed back up. Relationships and our beliefs about them are some of our first experiences in life and go right to the core who we think we are and what we are worth. Despite some the harsh tone of this rant this post is not anti-marriage or anti-relationship or even anti-family. In fact, I consider myself a great advocate of these things, which is probably why I want to make sure we are clear about how we are entering into and acting in our romantic relationships.
Because I am speaking from a holistic perspective on life, I take the stand in saying that a romantic relationship is not the penultimate thing to which we should be aspiring. Healthy people have the ability to all sorts of healthy relationships, not just romantic ones. And how we learn to have romantic and any other types of relationships is something so deeply entrenched in our hearts, minds, bodies, and energies that so many times our own issues are hidden for ourselves.
But let's get the hard part over with, let's explode some myths about romantic relationships!
Myth #1: We haven't had one fight so far and I can't imagine disagreeing with my partner!
Relationships are by their very nature not easy. The closer you get to someone, the deeper enmeshed you become in their lives, the more complicated it gets. Think of your relationship with your parents, your siblings, your extended family, and your friends, and now times that pressure by two, because of the sexual or potential sexual aspect of a romantic relationship.
Myth #2: My partner is so romantic, they make my heart race, they must be the “the One”!
Like everything else in life, romance has it's time and place, it has it's own ebbs and flows. It can never be forced. Additionally, the varieties of romance each person prefers is never usually the same as another person's in any given moment or phase of life. Candlelight dinners, kinky play, cuddling, long walks, sky diving, long and short trips can all be romantic to someone at some point. The devil is in the details of being responsive to your partner in the moment, instead of clinging to an ideal or idea of what you think romance is. Communication is crucial to romance, as we cannot read each other's minds and may not know what our significant others need or want on a given day.
Myth #3: I'm going to marry my partner, and buy the house, and have the kids and everything will be just great!
The minute you start believing that ALL couples should do this or that is the moment you step out of your own relationship and begin trying to live someone else's life. The minute you start believing in someone else's time frame is the minute you begin to distance yourself from the relationship you have in the present. Just because so and so did this in a certain amount of time or made a certain choice, doesn't mean you will get the same results if you try to force the same thing to happen in your present relationship.
Myth #4: My life will be complete when I find love.
True love will not magically make all your problems disappear or even bearable. While it can help to have someone to whom you can turn to for support, having two heads invested in a problem is not always what is needed or easiest. My husband quips, when there are two people in a room, there will be at least three opinions. I usually argue there will be more than three; Your opinion, your significant other's opinion, your parent's opinion, your significant other's parents opinion, and well I could continue, but you get the point. I can say you will feel your life is full...full of other's people's bullshit, but I cannot say that you will feel complete from this situation. Feeling complete is something you feel internally and does not come from another person.
Myth #5: My perfect partner will understand me perfectly and want to hear all my emotions and dreams.
Ummm, no. Remember how just the other day you were feeling annoyed and put upon when you had to listen to someone dump their emotions on you? Yeah...this myth is kind of the same thing, but instead of recognizing the FACT that we are all human and all interested in our own lives more than anything else, it tries to make love into this thing that will always accept you as you are and never require you to grow, adapt, or evolve. Because along with the presumption that only people who love us will be in tune with us, this kind of thinking also will tempt you to invalidate other relationships, either because they understand you better than your partner understands you (which might make your feel like your partner is less than perfect in your mind), or because you will feel no one will be able to understand you as well as your partner does (which is actually a form co-dependency).
Myth #6: It's okay, my partner and I have an open relationship.
This myth always cracks me up. I've even heard it touted that only mature relationships can handle sex being for gratification and so having sex outside the partnership, when mutually agreed upon, is healthy. I am certainly not saying that one person will always and continually fulfill all your needs, because that is just as untrue as sex not mattering in the equation at all. Energetically speaking, sex always matters because you are sharing part of your energy and life force with someone else, even if you never planned on calling them again or had to pay for that experience. Sex matters and so does loyalty and respect. Sex in the context of a continuous relationship does not go without the other two things because of the issue of TRUST. While sure, you may both begin this little experiment trusting each other. But when you stop talking about what each of you is actually doing, any form of trust you had is ready to fly right out the door because when it comes down it, unless you're agreeing to be in that room, you will never know what was said or done. You will never know if you have been lied to, and doubt can creep in so quick you didn’t even recognize it until you start acting all crazy and possessive. Why would you put yourself through that? Why is this an easier compromise to make than being responsive to what your partner likes?
Myth #7: I will have the perfect relationship when my significant other gets their life together
Relationships only require problem solving if you presume there is something wrong the relationship to begin with. If people are not PERFECT, then relationships are not PERFECT and can never really be. No one is going to change just because you said so, unless you're holding something over them. Which is so far from a “perfect” relationship, that if you don't get this paragraph, you better take a deep and long look at what you expect from others, lest you put yourself through yet another dramatizing round of disappointment.
Myth #8: My significant other is my reason for living.
Our culture, which is predicated on the fantasy of romantic love, posits that once you meet "The One," you will be lifted out of your sorry miserable life and put you into a state of perpetual happiness and that you and your partner should then dedicate your lives to maintaining and fulfilling that state of being. BUT, in reality you would need a continuous drip of love-inducing endorphins in order for this myth to even close to reality. Or you are co-dependent upon other people's approval, love, affection, and/or attention for your existence to be meaningful or good. That feeling of new love is high, like going down the big hill of a roller coaster. We cannot exist in that state indefinitely. It's like living on adrenaline. Given enough adrenaline will end up killing you, so why would you want to live your entire life that way?
Myth #9: Getting married will only bring us closer!
If there is already a dysfunctional energy exchange, read this as problem in the relationship, then planning a ceremony to make your union legally binding is probably one of the worst things you can do. Adding the layer of your relationship of being financially and legally bound to someone only adds a whole other layer of pressure to a relationship. If there are already weaknesses in the relationship, the added pressure, will only split the fractures more. Rarely does anyone, step up and begin to fly right simply because they have a piece of paper and a joint bank account.
Myth #10: A baby means marriage, and marriage means a baby
This is a sad myth for me. Too many people don't want to look at their own faults and are willing to try to be a family to a child with someone they are having issues with. They are trying so hard to conform to the idea of the perfect life, hoping that both will begin to tow the line again, because you have both now added more pressure to your relationship. Just as in myth #9, why are you adding more pressure to a situation where there are already weaknesses, hoping against hope that “things will work out”? In certain parts of the world, people don't have choices when an unplanned pregnancy occurs, so why would put a “shot gun life situation” on yourself or your partner? Choose wisely for yourself and your child.
Of course, there are those who will defy the norm. I'm just saying it's unrealistic to think you will be one who will defy that norm by maintaining of the above myths without having done a lot of self-discovery and self-work and having a partner who is equally committed to saying “yes” to your relationship every morning. But this in and of itself will put more pressure on your partner to ensure that you have this illusion intact.
Like any other relationship in your life your romantic relationship(s) should be based in mutual truth, trust, compassion and respect. I would argue that a romantic relationship headed towards marriage absolutely needs those things in order to thrive when the couple lives together and lives a full life together with up and downs, bills, work, and family pressures.
Keep your eyes open for the “ready for a relationship checklist”, which is a play off these myths meant help people who are looking for a relationship and those who already have a romantic relationship and want to make sure they have the best relationship for them and their partner. Did you know that couples can do life coaching too, not just individuals? Contact me to find out what couple's coaching is all about!