780 Views |  Like

Relationship Myths You Should Be Aware Of

Myth # 1 – “All you need is love.” – Wrong! The Beatles had it wrong. And so is the concept of unconditional love wrong except when it comes to babies, infants and small children. In fact, unconditional love should not exist between marital partners, period. The relationship needs instead to be covenantal, with established boundaries if the relationship has a prayer of working successfully long-term. Romance never carries a relationship long-term, Hollywood romantic fantasies to the contrary. Commitment is what carries a relationship long-term through serious interpersonal struggles with life, through personal and circumstantial issues, using proven interpersonal relationship skills that must be learned to cope with the relationship challenges. These skills do not come naturally. Being practical and asking clearly, kindly and respectfully for what you want, need and like, and asking clearly (but kindly and respectfully) also for what you do not want, need and dislike, along with what you need to feel loved, with clearly defined boundaries, are what work in successful relationships. Communicating kindly and respectfully and meeting each others’ needs are what hold relationships together long-term. It also helps if a couple has all three circles of human relationship in harmony – inner circle family intimacy, second circle friendship, and third circle mutual professional work support.(Love has two components, the masculine aspect of commitment and the feminine aspect of romance. It takes both. Commitment without romance is drudgery. Romance without commitment is like destructive wildfire. Men rightfully give commitment to receive romance. Women rightfully give romance in response to commitment.)
Myth # 2 – “People don’t really change.” – Wrong! Just ask any man who has been married longer that seven years how different his wife is today than when they got married. Plus, men go back to being who they were before they wined and dined their wives. The truth is, both partners and relationships can and
do change. Relationships are seldom static for long. Because most people do not have the tools to bring about meaningful change in themselves and in their relationship, they spin their wheels in unproductive efforts, often making matters worse. This creates frustration, and then they give up hope, and harbor despair about changing their relationship. Change begins by changing yourself. First, try giving more and/or something different to your relationship partner. Forget what’s in it for you. Forget protecting your rights first and foremost. Forget seeing yourself as a victim. Successful relationships are about mutual giving anyway as primary. If you do what you have always done, nothing will change. Learn relationship skills. Like anything else that is done well, relationship skills have to be learned and practiced. Relationships are not romantic magic. They require work, and there are time-tested skills that help make a relationship better.
Myth # 3 – “You create your own family legacy when you get married.” – Wrong! When you marry, you marry the family of your significant other. These “family values” were programmed into our subconscious when we were young, and they are the “monkeys that pull the strings in the dark”, particularly as we get older. We all tend to model our families, for better or worse, like how we grew up. That is our natural default mechanism, particularly under stress. This is why inner circle relationships (intimacy/family) are so much more difficult, and have entirely different dynamics, than second circle (friendship) and third circle (professional) relationships. This is why it is often wise to marry someone who had a similar upbringing and family dynamics, born in a similar tribe, as it were, if the family was not terribly dysfunctional. It is tough sledding bucking your family. If we can develop great relationships with our in-laws, we can probably get along well with our spouse long-term. Good in-law relationships strengthen marriages.
Myth # 4 – “My significant other does not know how to listen regardless of how much we talk.” – Wrong! There is a real difference between talking and communicating. We can talk ourselves into the ground and not communicate. We need to recognize that feelings are conditional; feelings are responders, and we must identify the root, the cause, the values behind our feelings, so we can determine if our feelings are helpful or harmful. Why? Because everything we hear said is first filtered through our feelings subjectively. This is why just expressing our feelings with brutal honesty usually creates more problems than it solves. It simply does not address the issue, but instead compounds and complicates it. It seldom works to use our version of the truth to hammer our partner, either. We need to learn the tools on how to express ourselves, learn how to listen, learn how to handle conflict, learn how to solve problems, and respond to make communicative progress in our relationship. Otherwise, more times than not, how we were raised and how we talked in our family govern our conversations, along with what we absorbed from our culture, peers, school and work.
Myth # 5 – “Being equal in a marriage, an egalitarian marriage, is easier and works better than a traditional marriage/relationship.” – Wrong! There is no such thing as equality, except maybe under the law in times past, but certainly not in a relationship. People simply are not equal. We all have different strengths and weaknesses in varying degrees. And our partner is not us, so by definition, we are different and therefore not equal. We are not clones of each other. What we can instead work toward is equity, fairness, where we need each other in our relationship partnership, and then synergistically trade off what we do best for what our partner does best. The division of labor between partners should be determined fairly, with equity, and by who wants to do what, and who does what best. It is the expectation of equality that do many relationships in. Paradigm conflicts, unfulfilled expectations (versus acceptance), feelings as primary, feelings of insufficient appreciation, stuffed anger and
resentment ever building – all this ferments in the increasingly boiling cauldron of the relationship nest, eventually destroying it.
Myth # 6 – “Children complete the family, solidify the marriage, and bring the spouses closer together.” – Wrong! Let’s face it. Babies, infants and children take a lot of time, are demanding, selfish and stressful by nature, all of which increases the stress in the marriage and gives the partners in the marriage less time, less reserves (of all types), and more difficult issues to face (including differences in child raising techniques), which in turn increase the strain on their relationship. Far from being a solidifying force to the relationship, children are usually a threat to it. It is even worse if a parent is foolish enough to place the importance of the child before his/her partner. Such is a stake in the heart of a relationship. Partners today already have enough difficulty finding quality time to spend with each other. A child aggravates that existing stressful situation, consuming time, physical, emotional and financial resources. And if the partners make the child the centerpiece of their relationship, they program the child with an unrealistic, often spoiled, world and life view, and further set themselves up for a real crisis as a couple, because by focusing on the child, they avoid dealing with their own issues and nurturing together as a couple. They apparently do not need each other, as long as they have the child. This is a disastrous role model for a child and sets the stage for an eventual inevitable relationship crisis.
Myth # 7 – “The sexual revolution has made great sex easier and better than ever.” – Wrong! Great sex comes from knowing your partner intimately at all levels – spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, from deep-seated caring and connection, from selfless attentiveness, from the relaxed security of knowing you are respected, cherished, loved and safe both physically and emotionally. Of course, external life stress and/or martial conflict interfere with good nurturing and satisfying sexual intimacy. Plus, all the fantasy perfect romances and sex of Hollywood get carried into the bedroom where tremendous manifestations of unreasonable expectations occur. What man can measure up to the sexual screen myth of James Bond? What woman can consistently successfully perform at a “10”? And the modern Hollywood-instilled mythology is that if your partner does not measure up to your expectations, well then, “Next”! The myth is that there is someone else out there who will meet your expectations, be your perfect soul mate, give you unconditional love and ecstatic sex, and you are missing out. Such an unrealistic expectation leads to a roiling, churning, gnawing lack of fulfillment, in an exhausting never-ending pursuit of a romantic sexual illusion – the perpetual perfect “10” for men, “James Bond” for women.
The church, the law, the extended family, the culture – all used to help hold marriages and families together. Today, these pillars of nuclear inner circle family support are all but gone. Commitment has given way to romance exclusively. It used to be the balance of commitment (masculine) and romance (feminine) both held marriages together. No more. Today, it is all the quicksand of feelings and romance. The clear role distinction of the providing respected father and homemaking cherished mother is extinct. Today, the extreme fall-out of the decadent Romantic Age rules. Both males and females hop in and out of beds and in and out of relationships and marriages like popcorn in an open popper. Dating has too often become a high stakes physical, emotional and financial game, where “whoever loves least is in control,” where whoever controls the bank account is in control, where selfish expectations of “me, me, me” rule – wanting it all – the perfect match that produces the perfectly fulfilled “me” in every way! We want to “be all we can be” in every way, and it is the solemn duty of our partner to ensure we achieve that lofty ambition, or at least not frustrate or distract our personal self-fulfillment efforts. Forget that relationships are inevitably about a clash of wills, values, goals, money, sex, children,
family, in laws, work, leisure time, location, home details and expectations. Forget empathy, understanding, acceptance, sacrifice, and service. Perfect compatibility today is the uncompromised immediate expectation of instant gratification and fulfillment. Less than perfect compatibility is not tolerated. Great Expectations are alive and well in the dating world of today. The myth that our perfect soul mate awaits us out there to complete and fulfill us in every way lies at the heart of the modern romantic myth. The historic tried-and-true norm that successful relationships are about sacrifice and service to each other has been jettisoned. Those who stay committed are ridiculed, considered cowards, made to feel ashamed of their less-than-perfect partner and their imperfect relationship, embarrassed that they are not blissfully happy in their union.
No one can live up to, or consistently obtain, this wildly excessive modern expectation of total self-fulfillment, boundless passion and endless happiness. But wait! Didn’t the US Founding Fathers guarantee us the “pursuit of happiness”? Uh oh! …Excess emotional expectations often collide with the practical realities, demands and limitations of life. The expectation in a relationship of consistently getting stimulated, of being high (like getting high on booze), demands an addiction to the endless pursuit of something new and different time and time again to quench the incessant craving – more relationships, like more booze, needing an ever-new “fix” to feel good. The result is seething dissatisfaction with partners, and an ever-present wanderlust sense that the perfect partner and soul mate awaits us out there if we can only magically romantically find him or her. The dark forces of adultery, prostitution, romance novels, soap operas, fantasy romantic TV, movies and pornography often fill in the disappointing gaps. Forget dealing with our true vulnerabilities and weaknesses that only can surface in the intimacy of a long-term committed inner circle relationship. So today, few people indeed are ever loved for who they are. So, we short circuit any real opportunity to discover the depth and meaning of true human fulfillment that only comes in a relationship personally, intimate at all levels, inner circle with a significant other, just as it only comes professionally in our yielding service to the marketplace. No, instead we live in the shallow superficial, toxic waters of romantic life, of media-mimicking sex and appearance substituting for real relationship and substance. Thus, our dissatisfaction with our present partner morphs into an ongoing selfish critique of his/her shortcomings, warped by our selfish and excessive personal expectations, eroding the relationship. This leads to a commitment limbo of “settling” for our present partner temporarily until something better comes along. Partners are swapped, traded, and exchanged like commodities, like pork bellies. No wonder they call the singles’ dating game today a “meat market”. It is.
In today’s dating world then, no one is right for any one for long. So, there is no real commitment today, no loyalty. There is no stable acceptance. There is accordingly no love. There is only selfishness, which the Koine Greek Bible tells us is “the root of all evil”. Today, the bitterly ignored eternal truth is there is not, and never has been, a “happily ever after” that comes from external stimulus. Joy only comes from above and within and radiates outward, as God has long told us. When such joy is first in place, then we have the capacity to enjoy and appreciate trappings of life, as well as flourish in a meaningful and mutually fulfilling inner circle loving relationship with a partner.