Protect Your Relationship: 3 Myths that Destroy Couples
And they lived happily ever after. Sound familiar? Pretty much every fairy tale ends with a statement like this. The question one might ask though is how does a couple go about doing that? This statement makes it seem like relationships should be easy and flow naturally when love is present. Yet, our lives and the things we face in it tell a very different story.
As we grow up, we form blueprints in our heads of how relationships should look and feel. Some of the details in these blueprints come from the home we grew up in and the relationships we saw there. Other details come from our experiences in relationships with the good, the bad, and the ugly. All of this comes together to create the blueprint that we will compare our relationship against to gauge its quality.
The thing is, most of us do not actually know what is in our blueprint. We know when something happens in our relationship that goes against it because we start to feel uncomfortable and disconnected from our partners. Yet, we do not take the time to edit our blueprint actively. We run on auto-pilot and let it guide us in our relationships.
Obviously, there is quite a danger to operating in our relationships in this way. If our blueprint has outdated requirements in it, we will struggle to find connection. When our blueprints are unrealistic, we are asking for heartache. As we move forward in our lives and seek out relationships, it benefits us to know what is in our blueprint to avoid unnecessary pain.
The details in our blueprints are the beliefs we have about relationships. This includes how they should look, feel, what each partner should do, what is acceptable and what is not, what is expected of each partner, and anything else related to the functioning of a couple. Each belief we have is a measuring stick we will use to gauge our current relationships. The more unrealistic our blueprint, the more our relationship will struggle. The more we run on auto-pilot, the more we invite this struggle.
All of us have beliefs in our blueprint that could use some editing. The question is whether or not we are willing to put in the work necessary to make these changes. While each belief will look different for every one of us, there are some beliefs that create tension in a relationship no matter what. The following are three relationship myths that are destructive to any relationship. If it is a belief that is in your blueprint, it is time to make some changes!
Myth #1: If you love someone and they love you back, it should be easy
The Beatles have a popular song that says in its title, All You Need is Love. Is this true? If love is present in a relationship, is that all it needs to thrive? Unfortunately, a catchy song with a title like that gives the impression that relationships should be easy when love is present. The fact is, relationships are quite a bit more complicated than that.
Mutual love is an amazing foundation and can help foster the resilience needed in a relationship as it progresses through all its challenges. However, love does not mean that things will be easy. Life will throw curveballs at your relationship and increase the stress it feels. Conflict will arise and test the connection you have with your partner. Each of you brings in your own blueprints, and there will be times they do not jive together.
If one of our beliefs in the blueprint is the myth that with love the relationships should be easy, you are in for a rude awakening. There must be constant commitment and investment from each partner in the relationship to keep it going. As you work as a team, it is possible to get through the challenges and stressors of life. That does not mean that there will not be hard times. When we are operating from this myth, we will blow those hard times out of proportion and assume the worse. Instead of putting in the work, we will want to throw in the towel.
Love is an essential ingredient to a relationship; however, it is not going to make life easier suddenly. Each day you must actively choose to commit to your partner and the relationship and put in the work necessary to create a strong relationship. When each partner is willing to do this for one another, the relationship will take love and transform it, and their relationship, into something powerful and lasting.
Myth #2: A strong relationship is one that is 50/50
One of the details that make up the blueprint is what is expected of each partner. This includes how much they give to one another to keep the relationship flowing. A common myth is that the relationship needs to be 50/50, meaning each partner is holding up 50% to keep it even across the board. This insinuates that if at any time it fluctuates away from that 50/50, more is being asked of one partner than another and that is not fair.
Unfortunately, life is not always concerned about what is fair. Due to this, life will challenge your relationship in ways that will test the 50/50 myth to its breaking point. I cannot imagine a relationship that would last if one partner, amid a struggle, looked at their partner and said, “well I’ve given my 50, so I’m done giving.” This common myth is a dangerous belief to hold for a couple of reasons.
First, both you and your partner will not have the same view on what the 50/50 looks like. Remember, each of you come into the relationship with your own unique blueprints. The details and beliefs that make up your blueprint will not be the same, which means the way you perceive your relationship and the expectations you set up will be different. What happens when one partner’s 50% seems more like 30% to the other? Now you’ve opened the door to conflict over unrealistic or unrealized expectations, a nasty cycle that will trap your relationship.
A second reason this myth is dangerous to relationships is the precedent it sets up. Relationships where each partner is keeping score against the other are more likely to fail. Letting your relationship run from the 50/50 myth sets in motion the practice of keeping score. Over time, when a partner goes over 50, they will begin to hold this against their partner. Instead of being grateful for the efforts of one another, we begin to use this as ammo against one another. Not hard to predict that a relationship doing this is not likely to last.
The truth is that relationships are not 50/50. There are going to be times where one partner is giving more than the other and vice versa. As partners, the goal is to invest in each other and the relationship that is shared rather than keeping track and comparing how much each partner gives. The strongest couples are those that understand a relationship needs to be based on each partner giving what is needed, when it is needed, rather than being stuck on a certain percentage.
Myth #3: The longer we have been together, the more my partner should know my needs without me asking
The third myth is one that may be lying dormant in your blueprint and comes out as you and your partner are together for a longer period of time. This mistaken belief is that you should no longer have to ask for your needs to be met, your partner should just know. When our partners act in a way that is contrary to this and do not meet our unexpressed needs, we begin to feel resentment and frustration at our partner, and they don’t even know why!
In our relationships, we must be willing to ask our partners to help meet our needs. It does not matter how long you have been with a person, neither of you will develop the ability to read one another’s minds. This means that your partner will not be in sync with your needs at all times, nor will you be with theirs. That is why we must ask rather than assume our partners should know.
While it is true that over time we begin to learn about one another’s patterns and habits, this is not a 100% guarantee at all times. As we move through life, we cannot help but change and grow. We will not be the same person now that we were at the beginning of the relationship. This also means that our needs will change as well as how we would like them to be met. If I’m assuming my partner should just know what I need, I am not only setting them up for failure, I’m setting the relationship up for failure as well.
Couples with long-term relationship satisfaction can keep the lines of communication open to express their needs and wants. The connection will deepen as each partner feels their needs get met in the way they need them because their partner heard it and was willing to meet them. Assuming our partners should know our needs is an unrealistic expectation. Set your partner, and your relationship, up to succeed by being willing to discuss your needs openly. Now that’s a realistic expectation!
While there is more work needed than just love to live happily ever after, the truth is it is possible to have a lasting and fulfilling relationship. Taking the time to assess our views on relationships and making sure our expectations are realistic and reasonable goes a long way in creating lasting bonds with our partner. Taking the time to modify our beliefs is an investment that has dramatic returns on the quality of our relationship!