6 Most Common Relationship Myths
Interpersonal conflicts occur when there are differences between individuals; we experience them all the time. Dealing with these conflicts can be very complex because people have differences in beliefs, behaviors, and opinions. People’s perceptions, thoughts, feelings and values will influence how they deal with conflicts and can even shape the outcomes of these conflicts. While there are always differences between two people in a relationship, a critical factor to observe is not how the conflict occurs but more so how conflict gets resolved. Therefore, the way you respond to conflict can either be constructive or destructive. What separates the happily married couples from the rest are the ways that they deal with conflicts that arise. In each relationship conflict there are three elements that must be deal with if you want the conflict resolved and that is the issue, the relationship, and the emotion associated with the conflict.
MYTH # 1: “Communicating using active listening skills in attempting to reach conflict resolution will save your relationship.”
REALITY: While good communication or conflict resolution skills can decrease the risk of conflict, it alone cannot save your relationship. As Dr. Gottman points out, “even happily married couples can have screaming matches – loud arguments don’t necessarily harm a marriage.” We all have disagreements, and they are necessary at times. It’s important to always remember the love and affection that you hold for each other, ending your arguments on a positive note can override natural variations in argumentative style.
MYTH # 2: “Neuroses or personality problems ruin marriage.”
REALITY: We all have issues that we are not totally rational about, and sometimes our buttons can be pushed but that doesn’t necessarily interfere with our marriage. The key is no to find someone who has a “normal” personality, the key is to find someone that we mesh with, someone who gets us and vice versa. If you can view your differences with affection, respect, and love then what’s on the surface may seem irrational can actually bring you closer together than ever.
MYTH # 3: “Common interests keep you together.”
REALITY: Having common interests is a plus in a relationship but there are plenty of couples who have no common interests and are happily married. What matters more is how you interact with each other during those times. If skiing together brings you closer and deepens the love you have for each other is one thing. Another couple might equally enjoy skiing together but during the trip they criticize and have no mutual respect for one another, so there’s the difference.
MYTH # 4: You scratch my back and…
REALITY: Two people should strive to have balance in the relationship and help each other but the happily married couples realize that it’s never a 50/50 thing. Instead, they feel good about the relationship and don’t keep tabs on whose turn it is to wash the dishes after the dinner was cooked. It’s in the unhappy marriages were this quid pro quo comes in play were each feels the need to keep tabs one who did what. “I cleaned the house today so you must cook dinner.”
MYTH # 5: “Avoiding conflict will ruin your marriage.”
REALITY: Everyone has different methods of dealing with disagreements. The “say it how it is” no BS concept may not be the best policy for everyone. Honesty doesn’t work for everyone. Take Linda and Bob for example. When Linda gets annoyed with Bob she goes to her mother’s house, when Bob gets irritated with Linda he turns on National Geographic’s. Instead of dealing with their disagreements they shove them under the rug. Not once do they resolve the issue. If you ask them, they have been happily married for 25 years now. They honestly feel love, affection and respect for one another. Most couples just have different styles of conflict. Some need to resolve their differences on the spot, some avoid fights at all costs and some always seem to bump heads and fight. There is not a right or wrong style it’s what works for both people involved. If you need to talk it out and the other throws it under the rug, then there is a problem.
MYTH # 6: “Affairs are the root cause of divorce.”
REALITY: This is a big misconception that people have. Most of the time infidelity is the last reason for divorce. The first reason is the lack of marital problems that go unresolved thus causing you to throw yourself to have an affair. In the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman cites research by Lynn Gigy, PhD., and Joan Kelly, Ph.D., from the Divorce Meditation Project in Corte Madera,