YourTango Experts tell us what's true and false when it comes to sex, love and therapy.Surprisingly, the number one thing couples seek therapy for-and break up over-isn't something as juicy as an unsatisfying sex life, money battles or infidelity. It's communication. Specifically, the breakdown of it. In other words, learning how to communicate with your partner could be the best thing you ever learn how to do.
A recent survey of YourTango Experts, our esteemed organization of psychotherapists, counselors, coaches and other helping professionals revealed some surprising and myth-busting insights into the inner-workings of our relationships and the counseling that millions of couples seek in order to strengthen their bonds each year.
Read on to find out the 12 relationship and couples counseling myths our Experts busted:
1. Infidelity is the #1 reason couple break up. When asked why couples split, Experts chose not infidelity but "communication issues" as the top reason couples break up, followed by "loss of intimacy." Infidelity came in third.
"A lack of communication is the origin of most problems couples experience, often resulting in the break down of a relationship," YourTango Expert and Dating Coach, Norma Germain, explains. "Not understanding how to make feelings and wishes known to a partner in a non-threatening, non-combative fashion can lead to massive frustration and alienation from one another." Related: Weird Love News: Robbery Suspect Asks His Victim Out On A Date
2. It's only my husband who "never listens to me." Could your relationship use some help in the communication department? Don't worry, you're not alone. Seventy-two percent of therapists listed "communication problems" as the top reason couples seek therapy, followed by a lack of emotional intimacy. The feeling that "the spark is gone/we no longer enjoy one another" was third and infidelity came in fourth.
YourTango Expert and Relationship Coach Kim Sarrasin dispels another relationship myth-that it's primarily men who have trouble communicating: "Women believe they communicate more (and better) than their guy. The truth is, most women hold back a lot about what they really want for fear he'll run away and/or he's not interested in making her happy. If women understood how much men want to make them happy, they'd be asking for so much more and divorce stats would drop overnight."
3. The top two topics couples fight about are sex and money. Wrong. According to our survey, the number one reason couples fight is that one or both parties don't feel "important or valued by the other"; communication problems ranked second, followed by money in third place then sex at a distant fourth.
"It's a common misconception that people think most fights are about sex or money, but those are just symptoms," YourTango Expert and Relationship Coach Johanna Lyman says. "The underlying problems are a lack of clean communication."
Expert and Therapist Ilene Dillon adds that making your partner feel valued and important is actually rather simple: "Couples married a long time indicate that it's 'little things' that make the difference: being of service to one another, giving a touch on the shoulder, offering a love note in a lunch box, holding hands, giving a card or a single flower, creating a simple but great meal, or eagerly greeting one's partner." Related: Is Yoga Class An Affair Waiting To Happen?
4. Therapy takes years to work. In reality, the survey revealed most clients, on average, start to see improvements in 4-10 sessions.
"These results are not just fascinating but also very encouraging. Couples who have conflicts can look at this data and expect there's a good chance they can benefit from Expert help-relatively quickly, especially if they stick with it!" states YourTango CEO Andrea Miller. "Nearly 55 percent of the Experts indicated that couples quit therapy prematurely."
5. Therapy is going to kill our sex life. Au contraire! A whopping 80 percent of therapists said counseling leads their clients to "more sex."
YourTango Expert and Therapist Lynn Zakeri confirms this phenomenon. "When couples say they have not been intimate in months, and they are intimate in my office talking about their feelings, they often return with a smirk and a smile saying they were intimate in the bedroom over the past week and it felt so good to connect again."
6. It's hard to find a good therapist. The #1 cause for failure in therapy is the lack of effort from one or both partners (62 percent of Experts agreed). Only three percent of Experts cited a bad fit between the client and the therapist for failure in therapy.
YourTango Expert and Therapist Sandy Jardine agrees it's not difficult to find a good therapist but you have to know what you are looking for. She advises you ask about their training and experience as a couples therapist, the specific model of therapy they practice and whether or not they'll see you individually as well (which a good couples counselor should not do!). A couple extra practical tips? "Talk to them on the phone to get a feel for them prior to making an appointment" and "expect to pay for therapy," she says, as not all insurance plans cover couples counseling-at least in full.
7. Infidelity almost always leads to a divorce or breakup. While the Experts did deem infidelity as the most difficult issue for a couple to get over, therein lies the truth about infidelity-couples can work through it. To echo #1 on this list, it's communication issues-not infidelity-that most often leads a couple to split.
"I have found that infidelity is a symptom of other issues like lack of communication or intimacy," Expert and Therapist Kate Evans says. "Those who go outside their relationship are usually choosing to continue the patterns that got them here in the first place-not facing the true problems with their spouse. Once the infidelity has taken place, it's then the broken trust that becomes so difficult to overcome and requires commitment on both sides to sit through the pain instead of running."
8. Couples are most likely to cheat after being together for years-when boredom hits. Not so! In fact, the riskiest stretch for couples is the three-to-five year period in a relationship, as 40 percent of experts said this is the time where partners are most likely to cheat. Likewise, two-thirds of Experts agreed that the presence of kids in a relationship-which can increase stress-does not make a couple more susceptible to infidelity.
9. Gay couples face issues that are very different from the ones straight couples encounter. In reality, both homosexual and heterosexual couples split for the same top three reasons: communication issues, loss of intimacy and infidelity-though infidelity ranked second for gay couples and third for straight.
10. Our country's obsession with sports is all fun and games. While cheering on your favorite team now and again is no big deal, beware of going overboard. Fifty-seven percent of Experts said watching sports and consuming sports stats has a negative affect on relationships.
11. Checking my e-mail during dinner is harmless. Seventy percent of Experts said technology is talked about on some level with all clients (13 percent said with clients in every session).
12. Celebrities have it made. Anyone who follows celeb news knows that celebrities have their share of relationship problems. YourTango Experts sounded in on the relationships of those in the spotlight:
-44% thought Heidi Klum and Seal were the most in need of couples therapy, followed by Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith (19%), and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (17%) Related: Experts Say Heidi Klum And Seal Need Therapy
-51% said Kim Kardashian is the celebrity most in need of a dating coach, followed by Rihanna (26%)
-Arnold Schwarzenegger is the politician "most in need of therapy," closely followed by Newt Gingrich
-58% said Barack and Michelle Obama are the celebrities who seem to have the best relationship (followed by Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi and-garnering 0% of the vote-Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes)
YourTango Experts connects Experts with YourTango readers through poignant advice, videos and local directory search. Experts write on YourTango about the issues that most meaningful impact our lives. From dating to marriage and intimacy, parenting, self-esteem, mental health and more, our Experts translate their expertise in their private businesses into heartfelt content that our readers eagerly read and consume on a daily basis.
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