12 Relationship Myths That DON'T Actually Cause Divorce

Love, Sex

What you think led to your split was probably just a long-festering symptom.

What makes marriages fail and head for divorce? Some reasons are grounded, others are not, and a few are never considered. Knowing what to look for is a step toward not only saving the relationship, but making it stronger than ever. And that means forgetting these 12 whopping myths that seem to be taken as gospel:

1. Cheaters never win.

By stating that infidelity causes divorce, this  would be discussing the symptom, an affair, rather than the cause. The causes are emotional distancing and drifting apart, which might lead one or both of the partners to engage in extra relationships. Eighty percent of divorcees state that emotional drifting is the reason for their divorce. The partners' friendship and intimacy are so weak, they are driven to find this elsewhere, and it's rarely about sexual needs or "getting bored" with a partner.

Granted, the discovery of an affair is one of the most distressing crises that a couple might face, and it could hasten separation. However, the weeks, months and years leading to one having an affair must be examined. If the trust, friendship and intimacy that eroded over the years can be rebuild, a past affair is no longer cause for divorce, and chances are there won't be another affair.

2. Men just can't be monogamous.

Many theories promote the man as a philanderer, and his straying in turn erodes relationships, leading to divorce. Whether you believe in this cliché or not, it is not what causes a relationship to be dysfunctional. It is a symptom.

There are as many theorists promoting this view as a fallacy as there are ones supporting it. In fact, contemporary findings point to women philandering as much as men! Emotional distancing and drifting apart cause philandering, unless the polygamous partner has some underlying psychopathology.

3. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus!

The thought is that Mars and Venus may never develop a common language, resulting in communication issues that lead to relationship failure. However, recent research shows that men are as emotional as women, and women are as task oriented as men. 

4. He has to wear the pants.

He might always want to have the last word, but this is not a cause of relationship failure. Instead, relationship conflict occurs most when there is no clear division of responsibility for who controls what task. It becomes a matter of task specialization within the couple. If this structure is challenged,  and when there is no perception of fairness accompanied by emotional responsiveness from both partners, only then does this 'dominance' structure lead to dysfunction.

5. The romance died.

The premise is that couples start off with each person being important to the other and that the feeling diminishes over time, leading to relationship dysfunction. Research shows that in long-term relationships, to the contrary, the importance of the other partner grows rather than abates, through mutual act of kindness.

6. You take him for granted.

It's only when a relationship starts ailing that one partner becomes an accountant and keeps track of the emotional bank account and notices a lack of reciprocity. This accounting is characteristic of a failing relationship but is not the cause. It doesn't occur when the relationship is on stable grounds.

When things go awry, then a partner finds proofs of breaches of an implicit mutual care contract and rationalizes it, hence creating a logical explanation for his or her dissatisfaction. Before the relationship is failing, however, unbalanced giving and taking is never an issue. In fact, some relationships work just great despite an imbalance of give and take.

7. You just can't communicate anymore.

This is not the issue. No matter how skilled both partners are at handling conflict, 70 percent of  the issues over which a couple struggles will never be solved and will remain perpetual problem. As couples remain gridlocked, without any workable solution to resolving a conflict, they suppose that their communication pattern is faulty. It is not necessarily so.

8. One or both of you becomes a mindreader ... an illiterate mindreader.

This describes how people ascribe meaning, intentions, words and thoughts to their partner. It's not dysfunctional. Mind reading, if delivered positively, becomes a tool of communication. Marriage does not imply that people should become an expert at reading their partner, nor that should they stop reading their partner.

9. You just don't meet one another's needs.

An example would be that he is a dominant personality and hence needs a submissive partner in order for both to have a fulfilling relationship. Failing to meet this complementary need, then the relationship would be dysfunctional. No research so far corroborates this theory.

10. You have to fix your daddy issues.

This was popularized by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. We'd need to fix our past neuroses, as they developed in our family of origin to be able to have a fulfilling relationship with our partner. Yes, issues in the family of origin may transport to a relationship. However, it doesn't matter whether these issues are solvable or not at all, evaporate or not, but whether they can be managed. It is not a cause of relationship failure.

11. You project your insecurities on each other.

A belief is that we unconsciously project our own drama onto our partner and that we must become "aware" of this before we have a chance at a happy relationship. It's not the conflict that matters and whether it is caused by unconscious drives. It is about how couples relate in ordinary, conscious moments, and how they handle conscious issues, rather than being affected by "unconscious" ones.

12. You expect too much from him, so you're constantly disappointed.

Another belief is that people have such high expectations for a relationship that they become disappointed and instead, they should learn to lower their expectations so that the relationship remains functional. This is wrong. By expecting a lot, you get a lot. By expecting too few, you get what you ask for.