Does Your Relationship Need a Tune-Up?

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By Stacey Rose, LCSW

Many of us never learned about how to have a healthy relationship. We didn’t take a class in high school or college about how to communicate effectively, how to fight fairly, or how to keep love alive. So, how are we supposed to do these things in our relationships today? Imagine getting behind the wheel of a car without ever taking a driving course or lesson! Marriage isn’t any different. So, why then do so many people believe going into pre-marital counseling is a “bad sign”? I’ve heard numerous people say, “If we need to go into therapy now, and we aren’t even married yet, we are doomed!” But this is actually untrue. A myth. An unfortunate misconception. If anything, couples who do enter into short term pre-marital counseling have an opportunity to learn some of the necessary skills to maintain a healthy marriage, especially through the challenges that life presents. This is one of the many myths about relationships. Read on to find other relationship myths and how to start seeing your relationship more realistically.

“I’ll change him once we’re married.” This is a common belief among many women and also untrue. The myth suggests that women have the power to change men. False! No one can change another human being. We only have control over changing ourselves and how we choose to respond to others, including our spouses.

“If I don’t feel butterflies in my stomach anymore, I must not be in love. If I’m not in love, we shouldn’t be together.” Slow down here! The feeling of being “in love” is not a state that can be or should be maintained throughout an entire relationship. Instead of this “infatuation” stage of relationships, couples can develop a more mature, deeper, and even more rewarding type of love. (See Pat Love’s book, called “The Truth about Love”).

Only when couples are fighting and struggling do they typically talk about how incompatible they are together. When you and your partner are getting along well, how often do you discuss how wonderfully compatible you both are. While compatibility is important, you are your partner do not have to have all the same interests at all. Instead, you can support each other’s interests, even if they differ from your own.

Lastly, if you believe your spouse is responsible for your happiness, think again! You, and only you, are responsible for your happiness! To give the responsibility for your happiness to another person, leaves you powerless; simply waiting for him or her to do and say what you want. When it happens, great. But when it doesn’t, uh oh! So, imagine you being in charge of your life and what makes you happy. Certainly, your partner can contribute (or take away for that matter) some of your happiness, but the majority of it, rests in your hands.