Relationship Myths: The Truth About What Really Works—and What Doesn’t

Posted on December 30, 2013 by VITAL WorkLife

Terri Orbuch is a professor and relationship therapist whose research includes The Early Years of Marriage (EYM) Project, a one-of-a-kind 20-year study of 373 couples. In a 2010 blog Dr. Orbuch wrote for the Huffington Post, she described four common relationship myths that contribute to unrealistic expectations:

  1. Myth: Opposites attract and are more likely to stay interesting to one another over the long haul.

    Fact: Dr. Orbuch's research and that of others show that similarities are what actually keep people together for the long term and lead to the most successful, happy relationships. In her study, she found that happy couples might have very different tastes in music, different social backgrounds, or even different religious, but the key aspect they shared was similar basic life values. This is the similarity that counts.

    The take-away: If you want to find someone to grow old with, look for someone who has values that are compatible with yours.

  2. Myth: A perfect relationship means no conflict.

    Fact: A lack of conflict in a relationship signals that you may not be dealing with issues that really matter. In Dr. Orbuch's long-term study of marriage, the couples who reported no tensions or differences about money, family, spouse's family, leisure time, religious beliefs or children were not very happy over time.

    The take away: Don't shy away from difficult conversations. Learning how to disagree in a healthy, productive manner is a key component of happy relationships.

  3. Myth: Having separate lives keeps couples together long term.

    Fact: Interdependence—social, emotional and financial—is what creates the incentive for couples to stay together. It's also important to be independent, to have your own interests, activities and friends. This adds excitement and freshness to relationships. But couples who live parallel lives and don't invite their spouse into their world on a regular basis tend to grow apart and be unhappy over the long term.

    The take-away: Couples who work on acquiring common interests as the years go by are much happier than those in which each partner gets increasingly involved in a separate set of activities.

  4. Myth: To be happy, you need to talk about relationship challenges and problems often.

    Fact: In order for intimacy to occur in a relationship, both partners need to share and disclose concerns from time to time. But, be careful about how much time you spend on conscious relationship maintenance, because men and women have very different tolerances for "relationship talk." Women, as a rule, have a positive association with relationship talk; it makes them feel connected and happy. Men, on the other hand, do not enjoy relationship talk; it makes them feel blamed, worried and distressed.

    The take-away: Women, carefully pick those moments when you feel it's necessary to talk about your relationship feelings. Men, realize that her need to clarify and check in feels reassuring to her, even if it doesn't to you.

Source: Posted: 10/31/2010 3:09 pm

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