Author John Gray wrote Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus in 1992. Since then, the book has sold over 55 million copies. If you think, as Gray does, that “Men Are Like Rubber Bands” and “Women Are Like Waves,” which are two of the chapters in his book, you might be feeling frustrated, and certainly misunderstood.
Do you and your partner react to this frustration by yelling when you try to communicate? Then this blog post is for you.
- Misconception #1 You should feel guilty for not doing “your fair share”.
Couples will criticize each other for not carrying their weight. This carries the presumption that people must carry their weight in a relationship. I’ve heard partners tally how many chores they each do in order to ensure for equity. There is no need for equity.
First, not everyone has equal time. For example, I work full-time (and blog), while my husband is semi-retired. He has far more time to take care of household chores than I do.
Next, not everyone has equal skills. Some partners are more handy when it comes to fixing broken items around the house. Many times one person in a couple is more “tech. savvy” than the other. If house-hold items start breaking, and only one person knows how to fix them, it is unrealistic to hope for equity.
What if one person in the relationship is better at math and money? They should deal with all the finances.
Also, often one person in a couple is better at, let’s say, cooking. Expecting both to cook
equally is not only unrealistic, but will provide for worse tasting food on days the less-skilled cook prepares the food. In the 1986 movie About Last Night, Demi Moore’s character explains that three nights of the week she cooks, three nights of the week her partner cooks, and the seventh night is “sandwich night”. What if only one of them can cook well? They are willing to eat worse tasting food three nights of the week for the sake of principle? If you like the movie’s idea of how to provide equity in the kitchen, go for it, but I say if one of you knows how to cook well, be grateful; don’t stand on principle.
Misconception #2 One partner should not “wear the pants”.
If Misconception #1 is you should have the same skill set and free time, Misconception #2 is you should have the same personality traits. It is okay to be with a partner that complements you. One of you can be introverted and the other outgoing, for example. I know many happy couples like this. One of you can be dominant while the other subdued. Two strong people will butt heads. While I know happily married exceptions, I know more happy couples where one has a dominant personality and the other more subdued. (Note: I read an article in Psychology Today written by a female psychology professor who vehemently disagrees with this point.)
Misconception #3 Don’t complain.
I read that all criticism is at least 10% true. If your partner criticizes you, and you feel there is no basis for the shortcomings you’re being accused of having, just know that the literature says even the most bogus-sounding arguments will have at least 10% of truth in them, and my experience supports this.
It is okay to complain. First, you will be heard. People aren’t psychic. Even if your partner argues up, down, and sideways that you’re wrong, you will be heard. Your wishes will enter your partner’s brain. You will find (at least my experience supports this) that at some later date, your partner will try to please you. I read that most men want to make their wives happy. My husband has an expression, “Happy wife, happy life.”
Another reason it’s actually good to complain is as follows. If you bottle complaints up, when they eventually come out, there will be an explosion. Then, you will need to follow my advice in How to End Communication Problems Once and For All Part II for diffusing arguments!
Misconception #4 Hope your partner knows you well enough to surprise you.
Once again, people aren’t psychic as much as you’d like them to be. What is more important, taking a gamble that they will successfully surprise you or telling them what will make you happy and increasing your odds of getting it?
Case in point, we know a couple who never exchanged anniversary gifts. Decades passed, without the resentful husband saying a word. When they reached a milestone anniversary, he exploded with expletives when he asked for a nice gift. (Review Misconception #3. He exploded when he finally complained since he had bottled his feelings up for years.) How to Have Happier Holidays explains why surprises are bad.
Misconception #5 You must be like other couples.
I don’t understand couples that have “his” and “her” money, yet so many couples I encounter treat money this way. I heard (read?) people mostly break up over money, family, and sexual problems. I can understand why if they divide money this way. I’ve heard couples who divide money into “his” and “hers” argue over who is paying for what expenses. I predict way too many arguments for my liking.
Misconception #6 You better have a BFF on hand (or Mom) to vent to about your romantic problems.
It’s a myth. While you and your partner will make up and forget all about whatever issue caused all the fuss, your BFF and your mom won’t. Do you really want them reminding you indefinitely how your partner was so disappointing to you on that particular day about that particular issue? No. Who should you talk to, then? Venting is healthy. Why, your partner, of course, as Misconception #3 explains.
Misconception #7 Your “perfect” partner will be “perfect” forever.
It is so sad when people marry within the “honeymoon period” just to be blindsided when their partner “changed”. They didn’t change. They just hadn’t emerged from the “honeymoon period” yet. How long is “the honeymoon period”? Three months. You can wear those rose-colored glasses for three months, but that’s it. Do not make life-changing decisions within the first three months of the relationship. Again, you can take my suggestions for what they’re worth, but I’ve seen people give up apartments to cohabitate or even get married within three months. It is not a fair assessment of how the partner will behave forever. They will be on their best behavior, as will you, in the glow of the new romance. It is not a true criteria of whether you qualify for “happily ever after”.
Misconception #8 You don’t need your friends. You have your partner.
Misconception #7 said to give the new relationship three months before making life-changing decisions like dumping all your friends. In a new relationship, the couple “disappears”. All they can see is each other and not the periphery. By the way, if you are a friend of someone like this, give them time, they will emerge from “the honeymoon phase”.
A friend of mine complained that her BFF disappeared from her life as soon as she met her new boyfriend. She told her she would give her six months to come back to her. She is a supportive friend–I’m advising to give it three. How about this–don’t make life-changing decisions based on your new romance for three to six months.
Misconception #9 Relationships don’t lead to marriage.
I’m kind of out on a limb here. I’ve heard several women tell me that their spousal support will end when they remarry. Please do what you need to do financially. I’ve heard people say, “If you’re happy, you don’t need a piece of paper” (a marriage certificate). However, if you’re that happy that you’d even consider staying together for the long haul, then you want your relationship to last forever. This is, of course, provided you are in a state that legalizes marriage for you and your partner.
Misconception #10 People change after marriage.
They won’t. I had divorced women tell me this. They were presumptuous going into the marriage, believing the partner they had issues with would lose those issues after marriage. They didn’t, they don’t, they won’t. I know we don’t want to hear this, but remember what I said in Misconception #7 about “rose-colored” glasses? You only get to keep them on for three months.
Misconception #11 Couples aren’t lonely.
You can be lonely in a crowded room. When I was growing up, I had a surrogate aunt and uncle. When my “aunt” told my mother they were divorcing, my mother was devastated. The woman responded, “I am never so lonely as when I am with him.”
Misconception #12 If we can get past one difficulty, we will have smooth sailing.
So many couples are blindsided when they get past that one problem. They spend years having hope it will get solved, and then when it does, the quality of the relationship doesn’t improve. I know of one couple that wanted a house in an expensive area. They spent years dreaming of reaching their goal and saving for it. They were so disillusioned that when they finally got their dream of being a home-owner in that sought-after area they still had the same stress in their marriage, they divorced.
You can have smoothing sailing in your marriage–if you stop believing the 12 misconceptions that I’ve stated.
What do you think readers, are there any other misconceptions you can think of? Have you had any of these experiences or know of anyone who has that you’d like to share? I look forward to your views.