YourTango experts are revealing 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 to do.
A recent survey of YourTango Experts, their 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 for five relationship and couple’s-therapy myths their experts busted:
Infidelity is the #1 reason couple break up. When asked why couples split, experts chose not infidelity but “communication issues” as the top reason, 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.”
The top two topics couples fight about are sex and money. Wrong. According to their 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
Interesting, right? And there’s more – as their experts reveal even more relationship myths.
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