What is a happy relationship? The answer is simple, right? Two people meet, share interests, fall in love, and live happily ever after. While this relationship template works well for romantic comedies (who doesn’t love a good RomCom?), it rarely leads to a life of bliss with our partner.
It is important to consider our beliefs about relationships because our beliefs impact our behaviors, how we interpret our partner’s behaviors, and how we show up in the relationship. Let’s consider some relationship myths and the truth behind these myths.
Happy couples have sex at least three times a week.
If you scan the literature on couples and sexual frequency, it is relatively silent on the exact number of times that couples should be having sex. Rather, various factors impact sexual behaviors in long-term relationships, including each partner’s sex drive, stress, opportunity, health, and relationship quality; this is not an exhaustive list. What is most important is a couples’ ability to discuss their sexual desires together. If you are concerned about the frequency or quality of sexual time you are having with your partner, discuss it with them. Creating a fulfilling sex life starts with healthy communication.
My partner should be able to tell what I need.
Somewhere along the line, there has been a cultural message that the depth of our partner’s love is reflected in their ability to mindread. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet someone who is really good at mindreading. I certainly struggle to know what my partner is feeling all the time, and although, my partner can tell when I’m stressed or upset, he doesn’t always understand why or what I need most in those moments. Healthy relationships require frequent communication and bids for connection. In moments where you are needing your partner to understand your emotional experience, make a bid for connection, and clearly communicate what you are needing in a way that allows your partner to support you. After all, you are on the same team.
Healthy couples don’t argue.
This belief is simply not true. The health of a relationship is often not associated with the number of arguments, but the way a couple argues. A couple who never argues could be just as unhappy as a couple who frequently argues if both partners are avoiding relationship issues. So, what spells disaster in a couple conflict? Through his research, John Gottman identified four horsemen (or red flags) that can sabotage any relationship; these negative communication patterns include criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. The less these patterns are evident, the higher the chance of relationship success.
Dr. Debra Rezendes – Resident in Marriage and Family Counseling
Debra has over ten years of community and clinical work experience with individuals, children, parents, and families. She has been published in the Journal of Happiness Studies and Autism Research and Treatment. Debra received her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern University. She has skills in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), strengths-based therapies, self-compassion training, attachment-based therapies, play therapy, and solution-focused therapy. Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Rezendes.