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EP3 Relationship Reality Check: How Much Fun Are You To Live With?

Updated: Jan 20


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Phil in the Blanks

  • MYTH #1: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP DEPENDS ON A GREAT MEETING OF THE MINDS: You will never see things through your partner's eyes because you are two entirely different people. You are genetically, physiologically, psychologically and historically different. You will not solve your relationship problems by becoming more alike in your thinking. Men and women are wired differently. Attempting to blur your fundamentally different viewpoints is unnatural and even dangerous.

  • MYTH #2: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES A GREAT ROMANCE: Yes, your life with your partner should include plenty of romance. But don't kid yourself and expect an unrealistic Hollywood fairy-tale. The truth is that in the real world, being in love is not like falling in love. Falling in love is only the first stage of love. It's impossible to remain in that stage. A mature relationship will shift from dizzying infatuation to a deeper, more secure love.

  • MYTH #3: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES GREAT PROBLEM-SOLVING: Don't fall into the trap of believing that you and your partner can't be happy if you can't resolve your serious disagreements. Ninety percent of problems in a relationship are not solvable. There are things that you and your partner disagree about and will continue to disagree about. Why can't you once and for all resolve these issues? Because in order to do so, one of you would have to sacrifice your values and beliefs. You can simply agree to disagree and reach "emotional closure" even though you haven't reached closure on the issue. Don't make the common mistake of thinking that when the initial wild passion fades you aren't in love anymore. The answer is not to start a new relationship so you can recapture that emotional high with someone else. The answer is to learn how to move on to the next stages of love for a different but richer experience.

  • MYTH #4: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES COMMON INTERESTS THAT BOND YOU TOGETHER FOREVER: There is nothing wrong with your relationship if you don't share common interests and activities. If you and your partner are forcing yourselves to engage in common activities but the results are stress, tension and conflict, don't do it!

  • MYTH #5: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP IS A PEACEFUL ONE: Don't be afraid to argue because you think it's a sign of weakness or relationship breakdown. Even the healthiest couples argue. If approached properly, arguing can actually help the relationship by (a) releasing tension and (b) instilling the sense of peace and trust that comes from knowing you can release feelings without being abandoned or humiliated. Instead of worrying about how many times you argue, worry about how you argue. Here are some guidelines: Don't abandon the issue and attack the worth of your partner during an argument. -Don't seek conflict because it's stimulating. -Don't pursue a take-no-prisoners approach in your arguments. -Don't avoid achieving emotional closure at the end of an argument.


  • MYTH #6: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP LETS YOU VENT ALL YOUR FEELINGS: Getting things off your chest might feel good, but when you blurt something out in the heat of the moment, you risk damaging your relationship permanently. Many relationships are destroyed when one partner can't forgive something that was said during uncensored venting. Before you say something you might regret, bite your tongue and give yourself a moment to consider how you really feel. The things we say while we're letting loose often don't represent how we really feel and shouldn't be communicated — especially if they are potentially destructive.

  • MYTH #7: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX: The belief that sex is not important is a dangerous and intimacy-eroding myth. Sex provides an important time-out from the pressures of our daily lives and allows us to experience a quality level of closeness, vulnerability and sharing with our partners. Sex might not be everything but it registers higher (90 percent) on the "importance scale" if it's a source of frustration in your relationship. If your sex life is unfulfilled, it becomes a gigantic issue. On the other hand, couples that have satisfying sex lives rate sex at only 10 percent on the "importance scale." Don't restrict your thinking by considering sex to be something that only consists of the actual physical act. Touching, caressing, holding hands and any means by which you provide physical comfort to your partner can all be viewed as part of a fulfilling sex life.

  • MYTH #8: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP CANNOT SURVIVE A FLAWED PARTNER: Nobody's perfect. As long as your partner's quirks are non-abusive and non-destructive, you can learn to live with them. Instead of focusing on your partner's shortcomings, remember the qualities that attracted you in the first place. Perhaps some of these idiosyncrasies were part of the attraction? Just because a behavior isn't mainstream, doesn't mean that it's toxic to the relationship. Be careful to distinguish the difference between a partner with quirks and one with a serious problem. Serious problems that are destructive and abusive include substance abuse and mental/physical abuse. Unlike idiosyncrasies, these are not behaviors you should learn to live with.

  • MYTH #9: THERE IS A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY TO MAKE THE RELATIONSHIP GREAT: Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no definitive "right way" to be a good spouse, good parent, or to handle any relationship challenge that life throws you. Do what works for you rather than following some standards you might have read in a book or heard from a well-meaning friend. If what you and your partner are doing is generating the results you want, stick with it. If both of you are comfortable with the principles that work, you can write your own rules. Remember not to be rigid about the way in which you accept your partner's expressions of love. There is no "right way" for someone to love you. The fact that your partner expresses feelings differently doesn't make those feelings less genuine or of less value.

  • MYTH #10: YOUR RELATIONSHIP CAN BECOME GREAT ONLY WHEN YOU STRAIGHTEN YOUR PARTNER OUT: Don't fall into the trap of believing that if you could change your partner, your relationship would be better. You are, at the very least, jointly accountable for the relationship. Let go of the childlike notion that falling in love means finding someone who will be responsible for your happiness. You need to take responsibility for your own happiness. If your relationship is distressed, the most important person for you to change might be yourself. Once you identify the payoffs you are subconsciously seeking with destructive behavior, you can choose to remove them from your life.



For worksheets, tests and more - click here.


Personal Concept Profile

This is designed to stimulate your thinking about your current relationship and how it has affected you. Use these insights and this information to create clarity about what's going on in your relationship. Use a journal to record your thoughts. The following are 42 sentences. You are to finish each sentence with an honest and spontaneous thought. Do not spend a great amount of time contemplating any one item. Your first reaction will probably be the most revealing. NOTE: Be brutally candid in all of your responses. Resist the temptation to put down a "right" answer. No one needs to see these responses but you.

1. I tend to deny ...

2. I am happiest when ...

3. Sometimes I ...

4. What makes me angry is ...

5. I wish ...

6. I hate it when ...

7. When I get angry I ...

8. I would give anything if my partner would ...

9. Sometimes ...

10. I would be more lovable if ...

11. My mother and father ...

12. If only I had ...

13. My best quality is ...

14. Sometimes at night ...

15. When I was a child ...

16. My worst trait is ...

17. My life really changed when ...

18. If my relationship ends it will be because ...

19. My partner hates it when I ...

20. When I am alone I ...

21. My partner gets angry when ...

22. My partner's greatest fear is ...

23. It hurts me when my partner ...

24. I feel the loneliest when ...

25. I am afraid ...

26. I love ...

27. We used to laugh more because ...

28. It would be best if ...

29. Friends ...

30. I feel like a phony when ...

31. I can't forgive ...

32. Together we ...

33. What surprises me is ...

34. I believe ...

35. Other people think ...

36. Men ...

37. Women ...

38. I regret ...

39. It doesn't pay to ...

40. It helps when we ...

41. If only ...

42. We never seem to ...

Whether you realize it or not, your answers to these questions have provided you with some important revelations about your attitudes, and some equally important patterns or trends in your behavior.

Based on your 42 responses, now answer the following questions:

1. Look at your responses to items 4, 6, 7, 16, 17, 24, 25, 31.

What do these answers tell you about anger in your life and your relationship? Write at least two paragraphs.

2. Look at your responses to items 1, 2, 14, 25, 27, 30. What do these answers tell you about fear in your life? Write at least two paragraphs.

3. Look at your responses to items 2, 8, 10, 14, 20, 23, 24, 42. What do these answers tell you about the loneliness in your life and relationship? Write a least two paragraphs.

4. Look at your responses to items 4, 6, 8, 11, 12, 16, 19, 31, 38, 41. What do these answers tell you about blame and forgiveness in your life and relationship? Write at least two paragraphs.

5. Look at your responses to items 2, 3, 5, 8, 12, 26, 28, 34, 41, 42. What do these answers tell you about the dreams in your life and relationship? Write at least two paragraphs.



Relationship Health Profile

Circle either True or False for each item.

1. I am satisfied with my sex life. True / False

2. My partner doesn't really listen to me. True / False

3. I trust my partner. True / False

4. I feel picked on and put down. True / False

5. I feel hopeful about our future. True / False

6. It is not easy to share my feelings. True / False

7. My partner often says, "I love you." True / False

8. Sometimes I feel rage. True / False

9. I feel appreciated. True / False

10. I am out of control. True / False

11. My partner is there for me in hard times. True / False

12. My partner is harsh in his or her criticism. True / False

13. My partner understands me. True / False

14. I fear my partner is bored. True / False

15. My partner doesn't like to share what's on his or her mind. True / False

16. I imagine myself divorced. True / False

17. My relationship is what I always dreamed of. True / False

18. I know I am right. True / False

19. My partner treats me with dignity and respect. True / False

20. My partner is a taker. True / False

21. We often do fun things together. True / False

22. Sometimes I just want to hurt my partner. True / False

23. I feel loved. True / False

24. I would rather lie than deal with a problem. True / False

25. We still have a lot of passion in our relationship. True / False

26. I am trapped with no escape. True / False

27. My partner thinks I am fun to be with. True / False

28. Our relationship has gotten boring. True / False

29. We enjoy going out on dates alone. True / False

30. My partner is ashamed of me. True / False

31. We trust each other a great deal. True / False

32. We have become nothing more than roommates. True / False

33. I know my partner will never leave me. True / False

34. I am no longer proud of my body. True / False

35. My partner respects me. True / False

36. My partner constantly compares me to others. True / False

37. My partner still finds me desirable. True / False

38. We just seem to want different things. True / False

39. I am allowed to think for myself. True / False

40. I feel crowded by my partner. True / False

41. I am honest with my partner. True / False

42. People have no idea what our relationship is really like. True / False

43. My partner is open to suggestions. True / False

44. My partner has shut me out. True / False

45. My partner is my primary source of emotional support. True / False

46. I feel judged and rejected by my partner. True / False

47. My partner cares if I am upset or sad. True / False

48. My partner treats me like a child. True / False

49. My partner puts our relationship ahead of all others. True / False

50. I never satisfy my partner. True / False

51. My partner wants to hear my stories. True / False

52. I chose my partner for the wrong reasons. True / False

53. I look forward to our time together. True / False

54. My partner thinks I am boring in bed. True / False

55. My partner is lucky to have me. True / False

56. My partner treats me like an employee. True / False

57. I win my share of disputes. True / False

58. I envy my friends' relationships. True / False

59. My partner would protect me if necessary. True / False

60. I am suspicious of my partner. True / False

61. I feel needed by my partner. True / False

62. My partner is jealous of me. True / False

Scoring

Now go back over your test and count all of the even-numbered questions to which you answered True. Write down the total. Now go back and count all of the odd-numbered items to which you answered False. Add that number to your "True total" to get your overall score.

Even numbered "True" responses _______

Odd-numbered "False" responses _______

Overall Total _______

This test is designed to give you a quick snapshot of the health of your relationship.

If your overall score is above 32, it is likely that your relationship is in extreme danger of failing.

If your total score is between 20 and 32, then your relationship is seriously troubled and you may be living an "emotional divorce."

If your total score is between 12 and 19, then your relationship is probably about average (which is not great) and certainly needs work.

If your score is below 11, then your relationship is well above the norm and may have isolated areas in which you can improve.



Relationship Chemistry Test

Circle "True" for all of the statements that express at least occasional problems on your part.

1. I am no longer physically attracted to my partner. True False

2. My partner makes me feel sexy. True False

3. My partner and I no longer kiss and caress. True False

4. Sex with my partner is energetic and satisfying. True False

5. My partner and I no longer flirt with each other. True False

6. My partner and I would rather be together alone than with other people. True False

7. I no longer look my partner in the eye when we are alone together. True False

8. If we don't have sex every few days, I really begin to miss it. True False

9. At various times I resent my partner. True False

10. I love to give my partner physical pleasure. True False

Scoring

Any odd-numbered item to which you answered True or even-numbered item to which you answered False scores against your relationship.

If your score is higher than three, you obviously have problems with the intimate/sexual aspect of your relationship.

Note the items that scored against your relationship so as to use them as objectives in later planning.



Relationship Myths

Think your relationship is a failure because you and your partner aren't following certain "rules" or meeting certain standards? Dr. Phil blows the whistle on 10 of the most common but dangerous relationship myths.


MYTH #1: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP DEPENDS ON A GREAT MEETING OF THE MINDS

You will never see things through your partner's eyes because you are two entirely different people. You are genetically, physiologically, psychologically and historically different.

You will not solve your relationship problems by becoming more alike in your thinking. Men and women are wired differently. Attempting to blur your fundamentally different viewpoints is unnatural and even dangerous.

Recognize that a relationship is far more enjoyable when you're with someone who enriches your life, not simply reflects it. Appreciate your differences.

MYTH #2: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES A GREAT ROMANCE

Yes, your life with your partner should include plenty of romance. But don't kid yourself and expect an unrealistic Hollywood fairy-tale. The truth is that in the real world, being in love is not like falling in love.

Falling in love is only the first stage of love. It's impossible to remain in that stage. A mature relationship will shift from dizzying infatuation to a deeper, more secure love.

Don't make the common mistake of thinking that when the initial wild passion fades you aren't in love anymore. The answer is not to start a new relationship so you can recapture that emotional high with someone else. The answer is to learn how to move on to the next stages of love for a different but richer experience.

MYTH #3: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES GREAT PROBLEM-SOLVING

Don't fall into the trap of believing that you and your partner can't be happy if you can't resolve your serious disagreements. Ninety percent of problems in a relationship are not solvable.

There are things that you and your partner disagree about and will continue to disagree about. Why can't you once and for all resolve these issues? Because in order to do so, one of you would have to sacrifice your values and beliefs.

You can simply agree to disagree and reach "emotional closure" even though you haven't reached closure on the issue.

MYTH #4: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES COMMON INTERESTS THAT BOND YOU TOGETHER FOREVER

There is nothing wrong with your relationship if you don't share common interests and activities.

If you and your partner are forcing yourselves to engage in common activities but the results are stress, tension and conflict, don't do it!

MYTH #5: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP IS A PEACEFUL ONE

Don't be afraid to argue because you think it's a sign of weakness or relationship breakdown. Even the healthiest couples argue.

If approached properly, arguing can actually help the relationship by (a) releasing tension and (b) instilling the sense of peace and trust that comes from knowing you can release feelings without being abandoned or humiliated.

Instead of worrying about how many times you argue, worry about how you argue. Here are some guidelines:

Don't abandon the issue and attack the worth of your partner during an argument.

Don't seek conflict because it's stimulating.

Don't pursue a take-no-prisoners approach in your arguments.

Don't avoid achieving emotional closure at the end of an argument.



For worksheets, tests and more - click here.

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