Many of us — whether we admit it or not — know a couple that we idealize in some way. It could be our parents, a close girlfriend and her husband, or even a picture-perfect celebrity couple that always seem to be caught on camera gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes. No matter how close we are to this perfect pair, however, we are not in their bedrooms and we never truly know what goes on behind closed doors.
Well, I get to glimpse into this world on occasion and let me tell you, things are rarely as they appear. Even the most picturesque couples have their baggage, and still struggle with many of the same relationship misconceptions as the rest of us.
For your viewing pleasure, I offer you a glimpse into the five relationship misconceptions I see most often in my office:
1. Every couple is having more sex, and more exciting sex, than us: Many couples assume that everyone around them is indulging in frequent, fulfilling, freaky sex. In reality, most couples in long-term relationships have sex only a couple times a week, and follow somewhat of a regular “routine” when they do. Sure, we all try our best to spice up the action with new toys, lingerie or weekend getaways — but most couples are generally content with sticking to the bedroom repertoire that has proven to produce the best results for them.
That said, if you are unhappy with your current level of sexual excitement, you shouldn’t ignore your feelings. But it is important to take a minute to think about whether your unhappiness might be linked to unrealistic comparisons and expectations.
2. I should learn to compromise in my daily life, but never in my choice of partner: As we all know, the ability to compromise at work and at home is crucial to keeping the peace and getting things done. However, many people have the idea that when it comes to their partner choice, compromising on their desired qualities is simply not an option.
Well, I hate to pop that fairytale bubble, but everyone compromises when it comes to choosing a mate. Yes, you may have snagged a great catch, someone arguably out of your league — your mother-in-law’s words, not mine — but I’m sure you still had to concede on a few minor items. Perhaps his height, pocket book or passions aren’t quite what you had envisioned, but don’t worry — he had to compromise on you as well.
3. I am not allowed to find other people attractive: Committing yourself to one person does not result in blindness. There is no reason why devoted, happy couples shouldn’t notice attractive people — after all, we are still sexual beings. Generally, the trouble lies more with respect (eying up a stranger in front of one’s partner) and trust issues (believing that your partner would never act on an attraction) than on the actual outside attraction. If respect and trust are not an issue, then giving yourself permission to “window shop” is not only healthy, but it can also be used to increase your awareness of your sexuality and channel that back into your current relationship.
4. The children should always come first: In theory this sounds great, but in practice it can actually weaken your relationship. If you constantly put your children ahead of your mate — and in essence, your relationship — you and your partner never get the TLC you each need to keep your relationship strong. Demonstrating to your children what a loving relationship looks like by creating time for each other, like booking adult-only activities and vacations, is a great way to model what healthy relationships encompass.
5. “Me” has to take a backseat to “we”: It’s important to do activities together and schedule regular date nights, but the time spent developing you and your interests should never be compromised. Not only does this alone time help to energize you, it keeps you happy and sane. Besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder! So take some “me” time to explore your ever evolving self, as developing new hobbies and ideas will keep you interesting to your partner and others. And though I can’t promise that your husband will be interested in hearing about your new love of yoga classes, I can guarantee that he will be interested in seeing them put to use — after all, they don’t call it a “Reclining Hero Pose” for nothing.
Dr. Teesha Morgan is a sex therapist based in Vancouver, BC.