In this post, I'm going to be 'busting' the top 5 relationship myths that I regularly hear couples bring into the counseling room.
1. 'Relationships should be easy' or 'It shouldn't be this hard'Really? Where did this idea come from? If we think this is true, every time an issue comes up to test or challenge us, we will hit a wall. Believing this will set you up to fail.
The fact is, sometimes relationships and human experiences are complicated, painful and difficult, but similarly the feelings of love and connection are also so amazing that it makes the tough times worth working through. It's the hardships that make you stronger and help you grow both as a couple and as individuals.
If you do feel like you've reached a standstill on an issue talking to a therapist can give you both the space you need to discuss any concerns that you have.
2. 'We should be able to work this out on our own'I often meet people who come into the counseling room with a resistance to the concept of needing therapy. They believe that if they are meant to be together, they should be able to work it out on their own without the need for any external help.
This is a frustrating place to start from. I mean, if you didn't learn at home from your family, get taught at school, or just magically happen to be good at relationships, then how on earth are you supposed to just know?
It's quite an expectation to have of yourself and your partner, when relationships, emotions and human beings are such complex, magnificent things. Relationships are a work in progress and a skill, just like everything else in life, you need to learn and practice and sometimes a little help is all you need.
3. 'Arguing is bad'All couples argue; it's a normal, healthy part of being in a relationship and I'd be more worried if a couple said they never argued because I'd be thinking, are there issues being bottled up?
It's not necessarily arguing that's bad; it's more to do with the way you argue and resolve conflict that can be bad. If your arguments are very intense and damaging and there's no apology and resolution to them, then arguments can feel very threatening in your relationship.
Relationship Counseling can help you to look at how to communicate more fairly and effectively so arguments are not so scary and bad, but can actually be seen as useful in getting issues resolved.
If you want to learn more about how you and your partner argue try our Arguments Check-up quiz
4. 'We should be having sex all the time'Some couples worry that they are not having as much sex as they think they should be. When I ask what's going on in their lives, they tell me about young children, work, study, travel, running households etc. and I'm not surprised that sex has dropped off the agenda.
Realistically our sex lives will ebb and flow according to the demands on our energy and time. If you're having loads of sex, everywhere, all the time, in lots of different positions, that's great! But I would say you're in the minority rather than that being the 'norm' for most couples.
At a purely physical level if you're very stressed and tired, all your blood will be rushing away from your genitals and the last thing you will feel like doing is having sex. This may not have anything to do with attraction to your partner or the state of your relationship.
Often it's the worry that you're not having sex that puts pressure on you. If you can talk about the fact that it's actually ok and take the pressure off yourselves, you might find when you relax, that's when the sexual feelings come back.
If you do want to improve your sex life, Sex Therapy can help you either create a more fulfilling sex life together, or give you a little kick start in reigniting the passion.
5. 'If they love me, they'll change'This is often the underlying feeling clients bring into the counseling room. I often see couples in limbo, unable to progress because they are caught in an internal struggle between what they want their partners to be and who they actually are.
Just because somebody loves you, doesn't mean that they can be someone they're not, or give you something they don't have. Even if they want to, it's like asking a cat to be a dog, or a poor person to give you a million pounds.
Saying that, of course there's room to grow and negotiate, but both parties have to be open to doing this for the relationship to work. But what it comes down to is you may have to accept your partner for who they are, or recognise that the relationship is not going to work long term and find someone who does meet your needs and gives you what you want.