4 Common Misconceptions about Marriage Problems
4 Common Misconceptions about Marriage Problems
How Conventional Wisdom Makes Things Worse
When you’re frustrated or stressed about your marriage, the natural thing to do is to look for advice online, like what you’re reading right now.
But there’s lots of advice online, much of it contradictory. How do you know which suggestions will bring you bliss and which will have the two of you backing into your respective corners?
Especially if you’re hurting and desperate for help, how in the world can you tell the wisdom from the weirdness?
Experimenting is one way. If you try something and it doesn’t work, then you can stop doing it.
That’s how I discovered that some of the ideas I considered immutable law were actually a bunch of bunk that was only setting me back from what I wanted in my relationship.
It made my head explode to realize I had bought into lies about marriage just because I’d heard them so many times. And they totally seemed like common sense.
1. Both people have to work on the relationship
One of the most common questions I get from women is, “Why doesn’t he have to work on the relationship too? Why does he just get a pass?”
Of course, you want him to work on the relationship too because he’s equally responsible. Why should he get to watch sports while you work so hard?
Seems pretty open and shut. He has to pull his weight. It takes two to tango.
But what if he says he will, then he doesn’t? Or what if he just refuses? Then what?
You can’t make him work on the relationship, but trying to will make things worse.
Your plea for him to change sounds like criticism (i.e., you suck at being a husband/boyfriend), which makes him defensive, which makes him hostile or distant.
If you’re anything like I was, this feels like a serious pickle because he’s the one who really needs to change!
But what if, by changing a few things yourself, you could bring about the response you’re wanting from him? That would be great, right?
Now that I’m on the other side of trying to fix my relationship, insisting that he had to work on it too seems like a monumental misconception. Of course I had to start with working on myself–even though that felt unfair–because I can’t change anyone else.
Otherwise I was just pointing my finger and making demands, which is not super inspiring and has never made anyone behave better in the history of the world.
When I took a different approach, he responded to me much better. Suddenly he was showing up and doing the things I wanted him to do back when I was trying to get him to work on the relationship, like kissing me spontaneously, cleaning up without being asked and getting me diamond earrings for my birthday.
2. Counseling is the best way to make your marriage strong
This one seems completely logical: You go to a third party who knows how to fix marriages, and that person gets your husband to understand why he needs to change so you can finally be happy.
What could possibly go wrong?
For one thing, we fought on the way home a lot. That made me feel pretty hopeless.
Little did I know when I dragged my husband to therapy that most couples separate after going to traditional behavioral marriage counseling.
Now that I’ve had the honor of helping thousands of women fix their marriages and of training several marriage counselors to become Certified Laura Doyle Relationship Coaches, I can see why complaining about each other for an hour a week (and these other detrimental aspects of marriage counseling) did more harm than good.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to fix your marriage by yourself. I’ll get to that shortly, but first, have you ever fallen for this fallacy?
3. The marriage problems are a result of childhood wounds
This theory claims that your spouse had a lousy mother or alcoholic father or was an orphan or was abused, or else you were, and that’s why you have marriage problems and that nothing is going to improve until both of you heal those old wounds.
A variation of this theory says that you had issues with trying to get your father’s attention so you married someone just like him and now you’re playing out the same painful script with him.
This is such a disempowering perspective it makes me want to punch someone in the nose for promulgating it.
What if you weren’t damaged or wounded at all and neither was your partner, but maybe nobody ever taught you the skills you need in order to have an amazing relationship? And therefore the frustration you feel is because of a lack of training, not because one or both of you are broken?
That’s been my experience and what I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing again and again with women who set out to transform their relationships with the Six Intimacy SkillsTM. Once we knew better, we did better.
One woman’s marriage counselor told her how broken her husband was emotionally and how many years of therapy it would take before he’d ever be close to being capable of meeting her needs.
Fortunately, she didn’t fall for that baloney.
Now she’s a relationship coach herself and shows other women how to have the great marriage she now enjoys with the same husband–who never did go back to counseling.
4. You have to talk things out
Maybe because of these other misconceptions, I thought talking about our relationship was the only way to fix it, but that’s simply not true. At all!
Unless you’re luxuriating in how great it is, talking about your relationship makes things worse. Much worse.
Ask yourself if any of your relationship talks has ever resulted in a lasting improvement in your relationship.
Sure, you might have felt some temporary gratification from venting, but did he later do what you told him you needed, like being more physically affectionate or planning a romantic getaway? Did he seek out your company or show up as a better father?
Or did you get the same results I got from that approach: even more hostility and distance? Or maybe a fleeting accommodation according to your directions before falling back into the old, unhappy routine?
These days I don’t need or want a state-of-the-union address. Learning to honor my desires, acknowledge my limits and express my feelings has given me what feel like superpowers to navigate my relationship with ease and joy.
Thousands of women who got their hands on the 6 Intimacy Skills and got a coach to help them implement these Skills say the same thing.
Which of these misconceptions is the hardest for you to let go of? Share your comments below.
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