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Marriage Counseling Myths: “You Complete Me”
Debunking Marriage Myths: “You Are My Better Half/ You Complete Me”
As you attend marriage counseling with your spouse, you will work on skills that improve your trust and appreciation for each other. It is important to find significance in the role you each play in each other’s lives. Well-meaning people will say this means that the right partner makes you complete or whole. For example, you might say your partner is “your better half” or that “they complete you”.
However, as great as those ideas might sound, it is not helpful to expect your spouse to be your “better half” when it comes to your marriage. Today, you will learn why “you complete me” and other similar ideas about marriage are hurtful and not helpful. (Related Articles: Marriage Counseling Myths #1 and #2).
Marriage Myth #3: “You Are My Better Half”/”You Complete Me”
The idea that your relationship should “complete” your true self is a common misconception. It’s romantic to daydream about your “better half” who might find you one day. Then, you can live happily ever after together! Sadly, it is not that simple. You might be familiar with my other articles about marriage myths, so you know where this is going! (Related Article: Marriage Counseling: Team Building).
The idea of a “better half” can be counterintuitive to your marriage improvement goals. Let’s talk about this idea, and learn some healthier approaches for you and your partner.
An important idea that you will probably learn in therapy is differentiation. In a nutshell, differentiation is your ability to separate your own beliefs and goals from those of your marriage or spouse. (Source). Now, differentiation does not mean that you completely disconnect from your spouse in all areas of your life. The idea is to find the right balance between you and your partner’s points of view and your marriage goals and values.
A Hierarchy of Needs
But what does that have to do with you? And why does that negate the idea of a “better half” in your marriage?
Marriage has evolved a lot in recent history (Related Article: Marriage History). Humans went from marrying for survival and reproduction. Then, as our shelter and food stabilized, we had more free time to try to discover new things and improve ourselves. That meant that we also started to marry less for economic reasons and more for love and fulfillment.
Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who is credited with creating the theory of the “hierarchy of needs”. He theorized that, as your basic needs are met, you will work to fill your more complex needs. These needs include your social life, self esteem, and self-improvement.
This idea also applies to your marriage. For instance, your marriage probably helps you and your partner achieve basic needs like food, shelter, and safety. However, it’s a common misconception that after you get married, all of your interests, goals, and perspectives must be shared. If you decide that marriage is simply to find “your other half” or to “complete” yourself, good differentiation probably won’t happen. (Related Article: Marriage Counseling- Promoting Partnership). If all of your goals are shared, or if you believe that your personal goals can only be achieved through your partner or marriage, you might also struggle. Especially when it comes to developing your individual identity.
That is the beauty of modern marriage. You do not have to wait to be “complete” once you are married or in a relationship. A well-differentiated marriage means that you and your spouse will continually work hard to be a great marriage team. Then, you will use the support that you create in your marriage to also achieve your personal goals and live fulfilling individual lives. If you and your spouse are strong individually, it will be easier to create a happy partnership.
You Aren’t Just a Half
Next, let’s talk about why you are not just a half waiting to become a whole. The idea that you are looking to be completed by a “better half” discounts the work you and your spouse put into improving yourselves as individuals. You will each continue to learn and grow, both before, during, and after you are with a partner. As you know better, you do better. (Related Article: How Couples Counseling Can Help).
As you attend marriage counseling, you will notice that change and improvement requires that both you and your spouse make the effort to be the best versions of yourselves. Ideally, instead of being “better halves” to each other, you will instead bring your fullest, best self to your marriage. Then, your best selves will work to ebb and flow with challenges and fill in gaps where the other lacks. (Related Article: Relationship Counseling- What to Know Before You Go). So, if you were trying to be your best self before you got married, and you and your partner still work on things individually, you will both be enough for each other.
Even Better Together
Now, you and your partner are even better together! You are working to improve the way you support each other and also improving yourselves as individuals. Marriage counseling can help you achieve your marriage goals. But, it can also help you each become better individual partners, too. Ready to find a marriage therapist and get started? Start couples therapy today in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork.
Written by Lauren Adkins