Relationship Experts Say One of the Most Dangerous Beliefs About Marriage Is That You’re Supposed to Make Your Spouse Happy

Spoiler alert: Self-care doesn't only benefit yourself.

Image by avpod/ Getty Images

I recently asked a series of relationship experts to share some relationship aphorisms that, despite being acknowledged as obvious wisdom, are simply not true.

Hal Runkel’s answer stood out. The idea that “you’re supposed to meet each other’s needs and make each other happy,” he said, is “BS.”

Runkel, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist, was similarly revolted by this particular notion when he spoke with Business Insider in 2017: “That is the most horrific piece of advice I can imagine.”

Specifically, he called out people who refer to their spouse as their “other half.” Runkel explained why this is the wrong way to approach a relationship, using his own wife as an example.

“I am a whole person,” Runkel said. “She is not powerful enough to complete me. I’m not powerful enough to complete her. She’s a complete person. That’s why I want her. Not because she’s half; she’s whole.”

Instead of needing each other, he suggested, how about wanting each other?

Suzie Pileggi Pawelski and James Pawelski, the married authors of “Happy Together,” shared something similar in a Psychology Today blog post.

One potential danger of looking for a soul mate that “completes” us, they wrote, “is that it may lead us to think that our perfect partner issomewhere out there, and that fate will bring us together. This view doesn’t involve any intentional action on our part, but instead leads to us wait around for romantic lightning to strike.”

It’s a twist on the notion that you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you. As Pileggi Pawelski and Pawelski write, it’s important to “work on your own self-development” to prepare yourself for a healthy relationship — whether you’re currently in one or not.

As Runkel said, “Your spouse will never respect you more than you respect yourself.”

Originally published on Businessinsider.com

More from Business Insider

The Happiest States in the US ranked

Being in love is good for your health

Here’s how to tell if you’re in a healthy relationship

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


The One Word That Will Diffuse Conflict in Your Relationship, According to a Therapist

by Business Insider
 Andrii Zastrozhnov/ Getty Images

Divorce Isn’t a Failure, Therapists Say. In Fact, It Could Mean the Marriage Was a Success.

by Shana Lebowitz

I Asked a Relationship Expert About The Secrets to a Happy Marriage

by Eric Barker

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.