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Unrealistic Expectations In Relationships


Couples often come into therapy filled with disappointment in how their relationship has developed. One of the first conversations I have with these couples is about expectations they had about long term relations. What I find is that many of these expectations are unrealistic. These often stem from outdated advice from parents and others, from movies and television, or from reading incorrect or unresearched articles in magazines. Below are several of these unrealistic ideas and expectations that I encounter:

  1. You compromise on everything. While learning to compromise is definitely a helpful tool, what often becomes more important is learning how to pick and choose “battles” carefully. Arguing over every little thing will lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. Sometimes there is a “winner” and sometimes there is a compromise and sometimes a resolution will not be made at all. In fact, the vast majority of arguments are unresolved, even in happy, healthy relationships. Furthermore, a good chunk of these arguments are chronic, which means they happen over and over again. Healthy couples find a way to find some humor in these chronic arguments and discover a way to comfortably live with these issues.

  2. Never walk away from an argument. Getting to the point in an argument where one becomes so angry they need to leave is not necessarily advised, but it does happen. If someone has gotten to the point where they might end up saying something very hurtful to their partner, walking away and taking a breather is the better option. This allows the brain time to process and the body to cool down, allowing the prefrontal cortex of the brain to work more efficiently.

  3. Never go to sleep angry. If the argument is happening at night and is running into important sleep time, or if there does not seem to be a resolution in sight, sometimes going to sleep is necessary. While sleep in this situation may be restless, it will help to slow a person down and allow them to process things more thoroughly. Going to sleep does not necessarily mean the argument or discussion is over. If it is deemed an important issue, then be sure to continue the discussion the following day, do not just sweep it under the rug.

  4. Happy couples never argue or have a disagreement. This is just simply untrue. Everyone is each their own person, and therefore are inclined to disagree with those others, including loved ones. This is natural and normal. Furthermore, various things in life change overtime and these things can lead to stress and/or a difference in how to manage these changes.

  5. Happy couples are always passionate about each other. Sex in relationships often has peaks and valleys; however, when the first valley hits, many couples are unprepared and worry that it means something might be wrong with the relationship. Stress, illnesses, lifestyle changes, such as having children, and hormonal changes are just a few issues that may lead to a valley in a couple’s sex life. Maintaining the emotional and romantic connection will aid the couple in rebuilding their sexual connection.


*Initially posted during my time at Revive Therapy and Healing.

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