12 Misconceptions About Romantic Relationships

By: | January 1, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Game Over 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

It is alright if one person in a relationship knows more than the other.  Balance is not important.

It is alright if one person in a relationship knows more than the other. Balance is not important.

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.

    • Janice Wald | at 11:38 pm

      Hi Renae,
      1. Sorry for the confusion this morning. I did hear from the people about the WordPress class after all. I’m looking forward to it.
      2. Regarding my thoughts. Sure, change can be good. “A woman of mystery,” “a man of mystery”… can bring a novelty to the relationship that will prevent it from getting boring. I mean that if you expect the person to change the way you want, you could be sorely disappointed. Hope for the best, but expect the worst. Sounds like a good topic for another blog post, LOL. Thanks for writing!
      Janice
      PS I noticed a bunch of errors in it which I have since fixed (from teacher to teacher).

  1. Kristen from The Road to Domestication | at 5:07 am

    I think there are TONS of misconceptions about marriage, but I think what really throws people is that their marriage cannot fit into the same “box” as someone else’s. What works for someone else may not work for them, and in the society we live in (always trying to be on “trend” with the culture) that can really cause some issues! Great post!

    • Janice Wald | at 4:02 am

      Thanks Kristen,
      Nice to see you here. By the way, do you still have your Linky party? I often go to your site looking for it.
      I agree with your point. I guess I’m guilty of that, because I judged people in my post that split their money. A few people wrote and agreed that was odd. However, you’re right. If they’re happy, good for them. Thanks for reading my writing and contacting me.
      Janice

  2. tamiprincipe | at 6:39 am

    I think there are two huge things in a relationship that you shouldn’t do. I think people get into a new relationship when they are not over the last one. I also think that people compare this relationship to that relationship, it could be their friends relationships or their previous ones. Nice blog, makes you think. 🙂

  3. Scott | at 6:59 am

    We are also confused when couples keep their money separate, but I’m sure they have a good reason for it. Especially if one has been proven to be really bad at handling it.

    • Janice Wald | at 3:57 am

      Hi Scott,
      If one has proven to be “really bad at handling money” there’s no excuse for keeping it separate. You and I are of like mind there. Are you aware I dedicated a post to you? Anonymously, of course. I’m pretty sure you’re the one who wrote the comment I reference in my intro. Here’s the link if you’d like to see it. http://wp.me/p5jxvv-cU Thanks for writing!
      Janice

  4. Tami | at 7:16 am

    I was guilty of #6 in the early years of my marriage and it almost destroyed our marriage. You are so right about others not being as forgiving as your partner.

    • Janice Wald | at 3:52 am

      I think I read that somewhere, and it helped me be a lot more tight-lipped when my partner and I had issues, and, in the past, discretion was never one of my strong suits! Thanks for reading what I wrote and the feedback!
      Janice

  5. ellahalligan | at 7:17 am

    I completely agree… I worked with a young nurse who was constantly trying to change/fix the guys she was with. She would fall “in love” with a guy, then change everything about him, and then complain that she didn’t “love” him anymore!

    I tell my girls, “Look, don’t walk down the aisle unless you’re positive that you can live with it if he never, ever changes a single bad habit he has.” It’s not that people can’t change… my own husband has grown amazingly over the time we’ve been married… but you can’t force or predict or count on it!

    • Janice Wald | at 3:48 am

      Hi Ella,
      Welcome! I know so many people that try and change the guy. I was guilty of this in the past myself. Too bad people (like me) have to learn the hard way. I like what you say to your daughters. I have daughters too. When they’re ready for marriage. I’ll share that, so thanks! Thanks as well for reading what I wrote and writing me.
      Janice

    • Janice Wald | at 3:46 am

      Thank you so much for writing! (So far,) you’re the only guy that wrote about the post. If you feel like writing back, I’d be curious from a guy’s perspective which you disagree with. My husband told me he agrees with them all, so I don’t get a male perspective. If you feel like it. Otherwise, thanks so much for reading what I wrote and commenting.
      Janice

  6. Elizabeth | at 7:40 am

    This is quite a comprehensive list. There was a relationship I had been in way longer than I should have been. It was then that I realized you could be much more lonely in a relationship than when you are by yourself. I have since expressed this thought with others, who have also agreed. But I guess it is just one of those things you don’t know until you know – especially in my case. I have often had to have my own experiences, rather than take another’s word for something. Nice to “meet” you…visiting from UBC. Happy New Year!

    • Janice Wald | at 3:43 am

      Hey,
      Nice to meet YOU Elizabeth. United British Columbia? I was lonely in my second marriage, and I knew from the experience I shared from my childhood that you could be lonely in a relationship. However, I kept hoping he’d change, which was another one of my misconceptions that I described. You are right, people have to learn things the hard way. Everything is a learning curve. Thanks for writing. Welcome!

  7. TRTnursing ( | at 8:19 am

    I agree, we are not equal. (Yes, way down inside, but not on the outside.) To pretend we are all the same is actually harmful to all involved.

    We all bring our strengths and our foibles to a relationship. Learning to work as a team seems the key.

    What an interesting and detailed post!

    • Janice Wald | at 3:39 am

      Thank you so much! And how interesting that you agree with me. Maybe because of the money thing, and the example from the movie, and so many of my friends that disagree, I always assume I’m the only one that thinks this. Thanks for writing me and letting me know.
      Janice

  8. Nancy Kay | at 12:12 pm

    After being married for 20 years and then divorced from a very competitive spouse, I can see that
    each hot button area we would disagree about became a competition for each of us to “WIN” the other to our side.
    This was exhausting and eventually I gave up and just agreed with him to keep the peace. That in turn created even more distance between us as we just quit communicating altogether about anything we felt passionate about.

    • Janice Wald | at 3:37 am

      Hi,
      Sounds like my former marriage to a tee! Over the last week, I interviewed 15 couples about the secret of marital longevity. Tomorrow I publish the results in my post. Tune in! Quite a coincidence you wrote me about that tonight. Thank you for sharing!
      Janice

  9. minette2012 | at 4:54 pm

    Great list of reminders about relationships. I think the biggest lesson I have learned in 18 years is to manage my expectations and the second biggest lesson is to take responsibility for my own actions, thoughts and feelings – no blaming, judging or playing the victim. I love my husband dearly but neither of us is perfect, we are still happily married because we are willing to work on whatever is going on in our relationship!

    • Janice Wald | at 3:35 am

      Hi Minette,
      Thank you for reading what I wrote and writing me. My post that I have coming out tomorrow is on marital longevity, so it’s a coincidence that you wrote me about that tonight. Thank you for sharing. Not everyone is willing to work, so you’re lucky.
      Janice

  10. adrianscrazylife | at 12:38 am

    I think these are very thoughtful ideas and so many of them are true. I’ve been married for 30 years and it’s funny to see how things progress through the years. Things that irritated you in year 1, drove you nuts in year 5, infuriated you in year 10, after a while just don’t matter. But I think it’s great to have a flexible attitude when it comes to relationships. We’ve all seen way too many movies and real life is just NOT like that. #SITSSharefest

    • Janice Wald | at 3:26 am

      Hi Adrian,
      Thank you for reading what I wrote and writing me. The post I have coming out tomorrow is called “The 15 Secrets to Marital Longevity,” so it’s funny that you wrote me about your marriage tonight.
      Wouldn’t it be nice if life were like a movie–happy endings and all?
      Thank you for your marriage tips and for tagging your reply. As a new blogger, it’s important to try and learn where my traffic comes from. Thanks again,
      Janice

  11. Lauren | at 3:49 am

    #6 definitely! I try to be really careful not to talk negatively about my husband to other people, both because of the reason you stated and because I hate it when other women complain about their husbands all the time. Also, the obvious fact that I wouldn’t want him talking negatively about me, so I shouldn’t do it to him. #SITSBlogging

    • Janice Wald | at 12:27 pm

      Hi Lauren,
      I agree with you, and I never thought of that. I wouldn’t want my partner telling people bad things about me. I wouldn’t want it to taint their view of me. Great point. Hopefully, other readers on the post will read this. Thanks for sharing your rationale.
      Janice

  12. normaleverydaylifeblog | at 6:44 am

    Great post! The things we read about what marriage should be like are often damaging to our marriages. There’s no way to make everything equal all the time. Marriage always requires time and sacrifice. Happily ever after is never a state that we arrive at. It’s worth it though! #saturdaysharefest

    • Janice Wald | at 12:17 pm

      Hi,
      Thanks for letting me know where you found me! You came over from SITs! I’m glad you liked my writing. The funny part is that it sounds like you agree with me, but in today’s post “15 Secrets to Marital Longevity” I tell people how they can achieve “Happily Ever After”. LOL I agree with you. Marriage takes work. The couples I interviewed what makes their marriages work so they can achieve “happily ever after”. I guess this is your point. You can achieve it with work. It’s not automatic. Thanks for writing. Janice

  13. Maureen | at 7:04 am

    Oh I love this! Such truth and what a great reminder that every couple must read. I especially love #6. I am engaged to a really wonderful man and we do have our ups and downs but this is the first relationship I have that does not include me venting to friends about our love life. For the first time, he is my BFF as corny as it sounds but he really is and we talk about everything, even the not so fun stuffs.

    • Janice Wald | at 12:12 pm

      Wow! Thank you so much!!! I’ve never asked people to share, but if you think it will help others, please share it.
      I am like you, until I read this piece of advice, I wore my heart on my sleeve and my rationale was venting was good. We all need people to talk to. Due to this piece of advice, I’ve become a much more discreet person. My husband is a very private person and would be embarrassed if I shared with people. So, for both reasons, it’s better to keep a tight-lip. Wayne is also my BFF, and we also talk about everything good and bad.
      Thanks for the feedback.
      Janice

  14. Snarky Momma With ( | at 11:01 pm

    HI Janice,
    I agree with most of your list but have to disagree with you on # 9 Relationships don’t lead to marriage and # 10 People change after marriage.

    For # 9 Maybe I misunderstood this statement,
    ” 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”.
    Do you mean that in order for a relationship to have any hope of lasting ‘forever’ the couple needs to have that piece of paper you speak of?
    I like you have been married more than once.
    I was lucky that I wasn’t entirely miserable in my first marriage, I was simply cheated on and we moved on. The piece of paper did nothing to help us last ‘forever’. We were happy for a while. Until we weren’t. Then the marriage was over.

    Which brings me to #10. People Change after Marriage. They most certainly do change. Just don’t go into any relationship hoping to change your partner. That is a gesture in futility. But do count on your partner evolving, just as you will. People evolve everyday.You may not like the person your partner is ten years from the time you first met them. They may not like you. But if you are very lucky, you will change together and be able to form a unit that is able to evolve as a couple. But it doesn’t take a piece of paper for that to happen.

    As always, I enjoyed the heck out of your post. Always thought provoking and I end up wring a min blog on your blog!

    • Janice Wald | at 11:54 am

      Hi,
      I LOVED your thoughtful comments. I love that you write a “miniblog”. If the purpose of a blog is to “provoke thought,” then I wrote it well.
      Regarding #9: In the post I said “I heard” this. Now I recall I read it. A celebrity who’d been married a few times was being interviewed. She made this quote. I remembered it–about the “piece of paper”–because I agreed with her.
      Wayne and I had each been married twice. Staying boyfriend and girlfriend longer than five years, at our age especially, just did not fit. 1. We are each traditional people. Marriage is traditional. 2. At mid-life we really didn’t qualify for “boy” and “girl” anymore 3. As a domestic partner, I needed him to do spousal duties, but insurance companies, etc. wouldn’t talk to him since he wasn’t my husband. Like trying to put square peg into round hole.
      You didn’t explain why you “like” that I’ve been married more than once. Is it because it gives me a certain credibility to advise people on what does and doesn’t work? I hope so.
      You wrote,”Just don’t go into any relationship hoping to change your partner.” That’s all I was trying to say, yet somehow it came out that I was against change! LOL. I am not against change for the better. I am against HOPING for change for the better.
      I saw my friend Naomi yesterday. You and she interacted on my first Michael Brown post. She mentioned you fondly. That was months ago. You are memorable! You have a killer (look I’m using today’s slang) personality, both in your posts and in your comments.
      Thanks for the compliments–so much appreciated. By the way, I was hoping you could tell me where you get your killer (there I go again) graphics. I wrote you about them I think on Google Plus but didn’t hear back. Thanks!
      Janice

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