We can think some crazy stuff is true… about love.
I married. Then divorced. I was in a long-term relationship with a woman that ended, too.
My partners and I believed a few crazy ideas that didn’t help us stay together.
- Quite the opposite.
Here are the three myths that caused the most damage.
Myth 1: If you love each other, you won’t argue.
This is nuts. Most of us love family members who we have fought with for a big piece of our lives.
- If you’ve lived with anyone, you know you argue. It’s unavoidable.
When you’re in a relationship, you are happy to find stuff you DO agree on, once the romantic daze wears off.
- I’ve fought with my exes about money, family, in-laws, friends, work, and quality time.
- Plus, we argued about where to live, having kids, birth control (with the ex-husband), and sex.
My ex-husband gave me the silent treatment.
- I had poor boundaries-I wouldn’t stop talking about what we couldn’t agree on.
We rarely resolved our differences.
My ex-girlfriend screamed at me. Tried to wear me down.
- I checked out.
My love of my life boyfriend taught me how to fight fair and take time-outs.
- I learned from him that no argument is more important than us loving each other.
- We either come up with a solution we both agree on, or we agree to disagree.
We don’t second-guess ourselves.
- No whining allowed.
- Move on.
Why in the heck aren’t we taught how to work out differences?
While we’re in grade school, high school, church, home, or somewhere on this planet??
Myth 2: Your partner will change; the way you want them to.
I loved my ex-husband and ex-girlfriend just the way they were.
My ex-husband had been my best friend.
- After we got married, he became an angry, withdrawn boy who gave me the silent treatment.
- I lost my best friend and ended up with an angry man-child.
It took years to figure out that my ex-husband had become his mother, who I disliked.
- We spent a week with her and the rest of his family, and she acted just like he did.
That’s when I knew the marriage was hopeless.
No counseling was going to fix our nightmare of a marriage.
What happened in the NEXT long-term relationship?
My ex-girlfriend was a happy-go-lucky young woman. She loved to dance, meet people, and have parties.
- She went overseas with her military unit and came back an angry, hostile, bitter woman.
- I kept hoping I would get back the woman I’d loved, but she never came back.
- I waited for a long time.
You can’t freeze someone’s soul in time, or force them to be something they are not.
You can change yourself. It takes time and a lot of work.
- And for some of us, it takes a heck of a lot of therapy and prescription drugs.
I do believe in the expression: Better living through chemistry. Legal chemistry, of course.
Myth 3: Your partner has to be perfect. They know what you need, without you telling them.
If you’re not perfect, how can you expect your partner to be?
I didn’t know what I wanted out of a partner. I wanted them to love me.
But I didn’t think I was lovable. I found it hard to believe that people loved me.
- I asked my ex-girlfriend to say different words, then “I love you.”
When my parents said they loved me, it hurt to hear them say it.
- It meant something twisted and ugly when my parents said: “I love you.”
The words I heard when they said “I love you” were: they owned me.
- I had to do what my parents wanted.
- I had to think like them and believe like them, or they wouldn’t love me.
- And I stopped thinking or feeling like they did a long time ago.
I don’t know if my exes and I wanted each other to be perfect, but we were not what the other wanted in a partner.
I still don’t know what my ex-husband wanted. He either didn’t say, or I didn’t hear it, or both.
I did know some of the things my ex-girlfriend wanted. But even our therapist said they were unreasonable. “If I loved her, I’d know what she wanted without her telling me.”
And it wasn’t going to happen, not in this lifetime.
Who knows what another person needs if they don’t tell you?
- My boyfriend and I have said we want the other to be happy.
- That’s what we want of our partner.
We both work as hard as we can to love each other and cherish each other.
- We’re not perfect. We can get distracted, sad, sick.
And we’ve both changed.
- We’re encouraging each other, assuming the best of each other, cheering each other on.
We’re not afraid of the future or living in the past.
- We’re enjoying each other now. In the present.
- Not someday, on a distant date in the future, but NOW.
And we tell each other that we love each other, and show each other.
We each think it’s a miracle the other loves us.
And feel lucky.
I can hear him say, “I love you,” and now it feels terrific to listen to his voice, what he feels.
I’m not scared.
I love him too.