Separating Relationship Myths From Reality

couples Mar 03, 2023

In popular culture, on social media, and even in couples therapists’ offices, myths about what constitutes a “good” relationship abound:

“If you’re with the right person, your relationship should be effortless.”

“Couples in good relationships don’t argue.”

We asked PACT Certified therapists about the most common misconceptions they see in their practice, how those misconceptions can derail couples from relationship satisfaction, and what’s really true when it comes to fulfilling, secure-functioning relationships. 

“Couples have erroneous ideals around what being a couple is. They are willing to work on their children, houses, work, bodies but strangely, the idea of working on a relationship is foreign,” says Eda Arduman, clinical psychologist in Istanbul, Turkey.

Ellen Boeder, MA and licensed professional counselor (LPC), in Boulder, Colorado agrees. “[Couples think] that if you're with the right...

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Folie Ć  deux

by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,

As a species, we are more herdlike than we are hermetic. Both tendencies exist in our society, but we tend to be happier and healthier when we herd as a group together than when we isolate ourselves. In fact, it has been established that even individuals without a history of mental illness are more likely to develop symptoms if they experience too much isolation, loneliness, or withdrawal from social connections.

Not only do isolated individuals become sicker both in body and mind than do connected individuals, but the same applies to couples. Couples can become isolates who are cut off from social engagement outside their tiny, exclusive orbit. These couples, I have found in my practice, become crazier and crazier the longer they isolate themselves. Sometimes one partner is crazier than the other; however, when they become socially isolated as a couple, both descend into madness together. This is known as folie à deux,* or shared...

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Attraction to Psychological Approaches

by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,

I’m an avid lover of theory, all kinds of theory—psychoanalytic, systems, humanistic-existential, and so on. I think my appreciation of theories grows as I age, as does my appreciation of people, relationships, music, art, and politics. As I grow older and hopefully wiser as a clinician and educator, my appreciation increases for the various approaches to psychotherapy available today, just as the illusion decreases that my particular approach to couple therapy is better than the other ones out there. In the couples arena, I greatly admire the work of Sue Johnson, Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson, David Schnarch, John and Julie Gottman, Esther Perel, Dan Wile, Harville Hendrix, Marion Solomon, Terry Real, Rob Fisher, and many others. These are not only master therapists, but enormously creative producers of inspiration to couple therapists worldwide.

Having developed an approach myself—in part, a result of having been...

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